It’s unfortunate that the growing awareness of toxic masculinity has not extended to centuries-old oppressive systems of masculinity, often referred to as patriarchy. We all exist in patriarchal systems, regardless of whether we agree with them or are even aware of them, that automatically privilege men while oppressing women politically, socially, economically, culturally, physically—excluding them from the moral authority of a society. These systems are unconsciously internalized in both women and men, effecting a wide range of perceptions from female stereotypes to male entitlements.
Josh Singer implores us all—but men in particular—to champion women’s rights in the political sphere and beyond. He writes in his two-part series, “Toxic Patriarchy,” that it isn’t enough to be a better man in one’s personal life, or to settle for correcting “locker room” talk, but that men should undertake political advocacy. He calls, specifically, for the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, equal pay and non-discrimination in the workplace, fair access to abortion and healthcare more generally, and universal childcare.
He also encourages men to use their privilege to amplify the voices of not only women but also people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. In my own experience, this is difficult in practice because privilege, while more commonly examined in the media than ever before, remains controversial as a tool for social change. Am I, as a white man, unwittingly amplifying my own voice or promoting my own interests when I attempt to defend my female colleague after she confides in me that she was sexually harassed—for example? Is her own voice and self-advocacy sufficient? Or if I witnessed the harassment, what does my direct knowledge of the incident require me to do? Tell us what YOU think.
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