This comment was by Salvice concerning the post “Why Men and Boys Don’t Get What They Need“.
Awesome awesome awesome piece, but I would like to toss in a note on one additional complication. There is an underlying belief that the ways established in old masculinities are ultimately the ideal. Sure, today we pick apart many of the negatives associated with traditional masculine identities, but ultimately to be equal to men is (assumed) to be in the ideal state of being.
Traditional mainstream gender roles dictate that women are the weak, the easily victimized. Men are strong and dominant. Under the old thought paradigm, for a man to admit to victimization is to admit to femininity, and that has until very recently been regarded as the worst thing a man can do. To regard the Selective Service as a victimizing force is to feminize men. To regard prisons as a victimizing force is to feminize men. Under the old thought paradigm, no man wants to admit to victimization; no man wants to admit to feminization.
Calling into question “what is today’s state of man?”… really breaking down the patterns of institutionalized violence via conscription and lengthy imprisonment, homelessness, and substance use for example, what we find is a sizable proportion of men living in a state of being that is hardly worth striving for. Yet because many (men and women) view the minimally well-placed man as the ideal model of equal status, the afflictions of men and boys are viewed as normal and are not criticized as products of an old and restrictive system.
The same thought and action systems that restricted and commanded the lives of women are the same thought and action systems that have restricted and commanded the lives of men.
The undervaluing of male life predates feminism, and to point the finger at the women’s movement for today’s struggles ignores the fundamental reasons of why we as the human race are divided in the first place. The masculine image under the old paradigm was beyond reproach. Conscription? Unquestionably good. Labor, even (or especially) under hazardous conditions? Unquestionably good. They were masculine pursuits, which were unquestionably good and have not been criticized as destructive forces until only recently. Please be patient with others as they slowly come to criticize the thought systems they have followed without question.
The very vocal and disrespectful few within the women’s movement that many on this site characterize as the totality of feminism are still stuck in the old thought patterns of the past: that men can not be victims, that all men benefited equally from old power structures (laughable), that old masculine pursuits are fundamentally better. They missed the point of the movement that they claim as their own. The goal from the beginning has been equality. The “feminists” who ignore men’s struggles are as backwards as the men who beat, bully, and alienate other men for not fulfilling traditional masculine gender roles. They are as backwards as the men who think it is acceptable to subject other men to violence just because they are men. Both serve to keep men in the a state of silent and isolated struggle, but in their own unique way.
Neither collective serves to benefit men or women as equals, as both parties view men and women as fundamentally unequal.
What I have learned from studying feminist and masculinities literature is that most of the goals for equality are the same. A lot of men have been turned off of the feminist movement because of some sour folk who spew hate from under the umbrella of feminism and give the movement a bad name. If a man (or woman at that) does not want to identify as a feminist as a result, that is totally understandable, and is 100% okay. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No matter the movement label you choose, or if you choose to not identify with a particular movement, what matters most is the goal for equality and a willingness to criticize current power structures as restrictive and victimizing forces for both men and women. The ways that men and women experience restriction and inequality are different, but both men and women are restricted nonetheless.
Admitting to victimization does not make one weak. It makes one honest. And the ability to acknowledge another person’s victimization makes one empathetic. Let’s be honest where we can be honest, and let’s be empathetic where we can be empathetic. Women and men, men and women alike. We all serve to benefit from acknowledging, respecting, and supporting one-another through the shared struggle of human existence.
The world was f***ed up long before any of us got here, after all.
Advocates from within the masculinities movement and the feminist movement will only benefit from the reciprocal exchange of ideas, especially when those ideas are exchanged using a demeanor that is respectful to all parties involved. Topics can get heated, and there is still a lot of bitterness and snark that slithers into the conversation, but once we can all put that aside, we can all move towards equality as men and women, and most importantly as humans.