This is a comment by John D on the post “A Few Common Feminist Misconceptions“.
“When discussing male privilege and female oppression of the past I would agree with the (from what I have seen is the) commonly held feminist belief that women in the past have had their agency stolen and obstructed. The thing to remember is that men (at least 95% of men) were not lords or power brokers or even king of the castle in their home as we seem to think of the past (remember whoever is leader of the family is under enormous pressure).
“Female limitations were male expectations. Men might have been leaders within the family unit, but they had much less systemized protection of life and limb outside of the house. 32,000 men died building the Panama Canal. (Can you even imagine a world in which it’s just a history blip in which hundreds of thousands of women were socialized to face malaria and accidents to build a construction project and it just rolls blithely as a factoid 32,000 women died doing it?).
“They died for something as ephemeral as speeding up world trade. Look to any large construction project like dams/railway tunnels through mountains/suspension bridges and you will see the deaths of dozens to hundreds of exclusively men.
“When suffragettes were fighting for the vote, men too young to vote were socialized to fight for their country. In the UK there was the white feather campaign to improve recruitment during WWI in which women would give young men in civilian clothes a white feather as a shaming tactic. This was very successful. Stranger women’s opinion of a man meant so much that men were willing to risk death. Does that sound like a lake of agency/power for women?
“Were women in the past objectified? Yes. Were the overwhelming majority of men also objectified? Yes. Women were treated as objects too precious to risk in cavalier ways.
“Men were treated as crass and common tools to be used until broken. If that man was broken (suffered PTSD, injured or died) f*ck it, there was millions more where he came from. Men who refused to be made into a tool were treated horribly.
“Here is a clip of Patton slapping a soldier who claims shell shock and threatening a firing line. It’s time to get off the oppression olympics merry-go-round, fully embrace men’s humanity and just say everybody who is hurting deserves help. Men should be advocated for (even before women) where and when it makes sense and it is deserved.
“Men do face discrimination (not just patriarchy hurts men too) of a systemic nature in mental health, preventative care, reproductive rights and access (as detailed here even ACA deeply discriminates against men by not paying for the same BC options that are guaranteed to women), parental rights, DV victims resources, education, homelessness, on-the-job safety, criminal sentencing. The list literally goes on and on. Let’s stop playing gender politics and help everybody who needs it.”
Photo credit: Flickr / Highways Agency