I’ve been poking around the subject of feminism, radical feminism and misogyny lately, and in the course of my travels stumbled upon an interesting article by one Carla Louise, who has extended an invitation to men to describe how the patriarchy hurts men as well as women.
I’ve decided to take up this invitation, though between feeling exhausting from several sleepless nights courtesy of my daughter and the beer I’ve just had, now may not be the best time to be writing an in-depth, serious post. Nevertheless, I shall try.
The first question to answer is – does the patriarchy indeed hurt men? To begin to answer that question, we must first define patriarchy, which according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is a ‘social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.’
Is this bad for men? Well, it certainly assists in creating stereotypes that men are expected to live by.
If the man is the head of the household, then it falls to the man to be the breadwinner – to go out to work every day, working whatever hours are required of them and to be strong in the face of anything and everything. A leader is after all, impervious to pain, to stress or anxiety – they can weather any storm, without requiring help from anyone. A man is to be ‘manly’ (which is usually explained with examples of barrel and bear-chested muscle-bound men, who can grow a beard just by thinking about it, whilst chugging ten pints of beer and sweeping every women they meet off their feet). A man is to show no emotion, for emotion is weakness.
As a man who cannot grow a beard, who is far from muscular, and certainly not someone who can charm every woman off their feet (which presumes I would even want to, but I’ll be coming back to that particular point in a moment), I feel I am meant to feel inadequate about myself (I don’t, but society wants me to feel that way) if I am not living to the standards of ‘manliness’ and the patriarchy.
Coming back to the ‘charming women’ point, not only does this expose a double standard (why is it a man who sleeps around is almost revered, yet a woman condemned as a slut?), but what happened to the idea of loyalty? Of love? When I married my wife, it wasn’t a one-way commitment – yes, she said her vows, but I said mine as well. I declared before witnesses, on holy ground, that I would love and honour my wife, and I do not expect her to obey me – I only want for her to love me. At the risk of getting overly personal, my deepest, most passionate fantasies involve… my wife! There is nothing wrong with that, yet it isn’t ‘cool’ in the eyes of misogynistic men who believe women are property and should be treated as such.
It’s almost as though the elements of society that support a patriarchal/misogynistic approach to the world are afraid of strong, confident women. Why on earth should we as men be afraid of women as equal partners? What difference does it make to us as men if women earn the same, or if we stay home to look after the kids?
Men are indirectly taught to be afraid of this because we are taught to be the strong sturdy type. Without that, we would apparently have no identity. I for one disagree. My daughter deserves the same opportunities as any man, and I do not want to be labelled, simply because I am a man. I don’t see why I should have to conform to anyone’s expectations of me other than my own, and I will not dance to anyone else’s tune.