Are the roots of sexism a lack of confidence and a fear of rejection?
Why do some men go into a panic the moment their ‘authority’ is challenged by a woman, especially when they are in a relationship with the woman? The ‘panic’ can lead to metaphorical or literal punches being thrown in an attempt to confirm who is wearing the ‘pants’ in the relationship.
Quickly, both partners feel frustrated and dissatisfied. They feel stuck in a cycle of mutual recrimination. At this point, the sexual fire in the relationship usually dies away, and the one of the partners may resort to having an affair, or start fantasizing over sexual images which are all too easily available on screen these days.
Thankfully, there are also many men who are not afraid to nurture, and be nurtured by, their partners. Partners who they see and treat as equal while not wanting their to be ‘the same’ as them. Men who learn about, accept, support and celebrate equally with their partners.
I am sad for the men who are apparently unable, or unwilling, to experience the pleasures of sharing mutual acceptance and respect with their partners. It look me a while to feel at ease with this idea and appreciate how fulfilling and enjoyable a mutual raltionship is. I think and hope that more men are realizing the same thing. If we cut ourselves off from our feelings because we’re afraid it’s not ‘manly’ to show emotion, we become so out of balance it’s equivalent to a kind of mental illness. In that state of mind, we’re unable to give or receive the love we actually crave. We can become a danger to those we are close to, as well as to ourselves.
In spite of all the continuing news stories about male sexual violence, more men seem to be becoming more at ease with appreciating ‘the powerful feminine’ (in women, and in themselves). Perhaps, paradoxically, these scandals involving male sexual violence have raised awareness of the issue, and the need for men to take more responsibility for understanding and stopping the problem. Men becoming at ease with appreciating ‘the powerful feminine’ will hopefully lead to a reduction in the fearful feeling that men need to defend themselves or retaliate against women. A real win!
Meanwhile, this ‘Everyday Sexism’ video was a real eye opener for me.
I knew this kind of sexism happened to women on the street and in other public places, but I didn’t realize how often it happens, or what it must feel like to be on the receiving end. As well as how ridiculous and insulting it is.
I’m not sure that the sexist men represented in this clip are necessarily conscious of what underlies their feelings, or their need to behave like this. Maybe, if they scratched a little bit below the surface and were brave enough to admit their feelings to themselves, they would find the roots of the behavior might be in a lack of confidence and a fear of rejection by women.
If there is any hope of changing this unattractive and archaic male behavior, we men need to do more to untangle and understand the ambivalent feelings, attitudes, and behavior towards women that most of us have participated in at some time. Let’s not fall back on dismissing sexist men as “arseholes” etc. We can begin to grow and earn the respect of women. The respect most men actually want, but sometimes we feel too inadequate (and ashamed) to deserve it.
Photo Credit: Getty Images