8 Ways Patriarchy Is Equally Harmful to Men
Gender stereotypes are equally harmful to men as they are to women. In our constant quest to be accepted and be normal, we put unnecessary pressure on men to adhere to a set of constrictive (and harmful) stereotypes. As such, we’re often guilty of ignoring the male gender in our constant gender struggle. But to understand how and when we’re unfair to men, it is crucial to reevaluate our long standing impressions of what it means to be a man in Indian society (and outside), and how each of us, even at a subconscious level, are guilty of perpetrating harmful notions of masculinity and propriety.
Here are 8 notions of patriarchy that harm men and ought to be eradicated if we are to be true to our quest of gender equality.
Men should be the sole breadwinners of the family.
It’s unfair that men are supposed to choose a well-paying job and are pressured to work even when they don’t want to. After getting married, it's common for a woman to let go of her career (or choose one which pays less than the husband), which puts all the pressures on the man to be the sole funder of the family. Wouldn’t it be so much better if both men and women were open to choosing where they would like to work, or if they'd want to work that way at all?
Men should be ‘protectors’ of the women in their lives.
The idea that women can’t fend for themselves and can’t make it alive on their own puts equal pressure on women and men. If we bring up boys and girls in an egalitarian environment where women can look after themselves and be self reliant, there is no need for men to be looked at as the constant guardians of women’s ‘honour.’ Do we really need men to be family chauffeurs, or general escorts to sisters/mothers/girlfriends.
Men are supposed to be macho and 'man up.'
A patriarchal society puts pressures on men to be ‘strong’ and ‘manly.’ Being sensitive, emotional, and even physically weak is looked down upon in men. If men had the freedom to and would admit to crying (and women admitted to masturbating?) this world would already be a better place to live in.
Men should choose a ‘stable’ career.
It is unfair that men are expected to choose stable and ‘socially acceptable,’ or ‘masculine’ careers. Men can make equally good babysitters, hairdressers, pre-school teachers, nursing staff & caretakers and so on. If men could actually ‘choose’ what they want to do for a living, it would create a harmonious society of equals.
Men are not supposed to take up ‘womanly’ responsibilities, like looking after the kids or cooking for the family.
There is hardly any place in society for a man who genuinely wants to look after his kids and be the primary caregiver of the family. Men can be so much more than just the sperm donors in their kids’ lives. We can do more to be more accommodating towards full-time fathers. Perhaps, have baby product ads which feature a man for a change? Or diaper stations in men’s public bathrooms as well? Maybe more flexible paternity leave could be a good start.
Men’s appearances are supposed to be a certain 'manly' way.
Men shouldn’t be under pressure to be and look a certain way. Having long hair and wearing pink should be choices open to men, as much as they are to everyone else. Gender stereotypes are unfair for everyone.
Men are supposed to choose a daughter-in-law for the family, instead of a wife for themselves.
It is unfair to assume that men are supposed to choose a wife who would be a family support, ( buddhape ka sahara? ) and thus, be a daughter-in-law first and a wife later. In our country, choosing one’s life-partner based entirely on personal choice and commitment is still an uncommon concept. Wouldn’t it be so much better if people could actually marry for love and not for ‘taking care of the family’ and the ' log kya kahenge ?'
Men can’t be feminists.
If you believe women are people you’re a feminist . And you can be a feminist no matter what your gender, sexual orientation, or race. So we really need to stop name calling and insulting men who actually care about gender equality.
For those who're unclear on what makes a femnist, may read this .
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We can only grow as a society once we understand that patriarchy is the problem, and men & women are not each other's enemies.