Men need feminism. Here’s why.

Before I begin this article on why feminism is beneficial to men, it’s important to clarify what feminism is.  Contrary to the popular belief of those opposed to feminism, true feminists are not radical exclusionary, man-hating women. Feminists and feminism advocate for the equal treatment of all sexes and genders on a social, economic, political, and personal level.

Men can be feminists. Transgender and non-binary people can be feminists. In fact, those who oppose feminism reject the very force that advocates for them. True feminists support the gender identity of each individual (I’m looking at you TERFs- tut, tut). For the purpose of absolute clarity: feminists believe in the equality of the sexes, and therefore also think men should be treated on an equal level to women, and vice versa. Lastly, feminists do not believe that women are better than men, nor do they hate men - they simply don’t. To dispute this fact means you entirely reject everything feminism stands for – i.e. equality. Now, onto the purpose of this article - men need and benefit from feminism, here’s why:

 

Expectations can be a harmful thing. Expecting a woman to fulfill the traditional role of housewife and caregiver strips women of their potential. Through the feminist movement and the efforts of women overall, women gained the opportunity to contribute to the economy by joining the workforce.

“So, big deal? In what way does this benefit men?” I hear you say. Well, following WWII, after women proved their contribution to the workforce, they gained the right to work. This resulted in our economies seeing a massive boost in productivity. When people work, they have money, and when they have money, this money gets taxed and spent. This money that is taxed helps fund welfare programs (such as the NHS) and this new workforce spend their money at local businesses, thus supporting the local economy. This, in turn, benefits everyone, including (you guessed it) men. Not only did this benefit everyone as a whole, but it also relieved some of the pressure men felt to bring in an income to support their families.

 

As discussed before, feminism advocates for gender equality, meaning that parental leave is also a feminist issue. Paid leave traditionally only benefited mothers, however through the advocacy and demand for equal treatment of parents, fathers now have and can share this allowance. This is beneficial for all as this allows fathers to forge a stronger bond with their children, which creates better foundations for childhood development. Furthermore, fathers that are more involved in the early stages of their child’s development are more likely to invest in that child’s life for the rest of its life.

 

Perceived masculinity and mental health are issues that are largely intertwined for many men. The way society currently views how men should express their emotions is slowly changing, but there are many harmful expectations that men still face, that are propagated by the patriarchy. From early on in their childhoods, men are told that ‘boys should not cry’. This is clearly damaging as it forces men to suppress their feelings and makes them believe that they are not allowed to seek help when they may need it. This can affect romantic relationships where the other person does not feel that their feelings are reciprocated, or that the other is closed off. Ultimately, this suppression of emotions leads to many men taking the only alternative they know, suicide. This is reflected in the suicide rates within the United Kingdom that show that men make up 75% of suicides.

I think it’s easy to accept that this is a problem that needs to be addressed – you would be hard pressed to find someone that does not agree – and feminism is one of the forces that challenge this issue. So what does feminism do to combat this issue? The answer to that is that it confronts and opposes the effects that this toxic masculinity has on men and works to combat the negative effects that it has on both men and women.

 

The #metoo movement is a feminist movement against the sexual harassment that people have faced in Hollywood, the music industry, and in governmental positions. Through this movement, many women have been given the reassurance and voice they need to share their experiences of sexual harassment. The benefit of this is that those who have and may have acted in an inappropriate, sexual manner have been called out and shows that we as a society do not accept or allow this behaviour. Even though women are the ones mainly benefiting from this movement, it also provides room for men to voice their experiences, too. Far too often, men are made to feel that they cannot discuss their personal feelings and experiences because of fear that they will be viewed as being less manly. Male victims of sexual abuse and harassment now have a place where their voices are recognised and aren’t undermined due to the expectations forced on their sex. If both men and women continue to stand up together against this sexual harassment and abuse that far too many people face, together we can hopefully put an end to it.

 

Feminine qualities and interests are often deemed to be less valuable than their masculine counterparts. This results in many men feeling emasculated because of their hobbies and interests. From not liking sports and being emotional, to liking the colour pink and caring about their appearance, men are constrained by what is deemed acceptable or not for them to enjoy. We live in a society that genders everything from jobs, to hobbies, colours, clothes, skills, the role within in the home, and much more. This is restrictive for both men and women as it acts as an exclusionary tool for these individuals. Men are less likely to seek roles that are considered to be caring such as nursing, childcare etc. as it is traditionally viewed as a women’s role. Limitations such as these are counter-productive as it removes a potential source of happiness that a person may gain, but also means that fewer people are doing a job or hobby that they are passionate about. If feminists raise the value of feminine qualities and interests within society, then it allows for both men and women to feel empowered doing what pleases them. No one can argue that a happier society isn’t a better society.

 

In summary, the patriarchy is an oppressive system in which we are all the oppressed. Feminism is one movement that challenges this system in an attempt to gain gender equality for all. Feminism in the past has improved the treatment of men, and it will continue to help men in the future. As we continue to fight for gender equality it is important that we ensure we also help empower our less privileged brothers and sisters around the globe as the focus, for far too long, has existed solely on white feminism. If we continue our pursuit of gender equality, we may one day, live in a society that does not assume your value based on your gender identity or the gendered characteristics that you employ or conform to.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/15/men-share-parental-leave-entitlement-women-equality-fathers

 

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5911685/male-suicide-rates-uk-awareness-the-samaritans-2018/