Sexism Against Men?

Up until recently I didn’t know there was such thing as sexism against men. It seemed like a paradox, like racism against white people. When I looked into it, I was struck by how incredibly true it was. Although I never really considered it, there are certain rules about how real men are supposed to behave. We are supposed to be tough, strong, independent and never express any emotion except anger. Talking about your feelings or being dependent on someone else are signs of weakness and the worse thing in the world for a man is to be seen as weak.

This was the culture I was brought up in (I come from a small town in the West of Ireland but I think these are general comments). This made it hard for me as I was a skinny, bookish kid with glasses. It was made clear that real men had big muscles and that having the smallest muscles meant I was towards the bottom of the group. Guys were judged based on how good they were at sports. Being strong and beating other guys, that’s what real men did. That, drinking and girls. These are measurements of success for men. They are trophies to brag to other guys about. The more you can drink and the more girls you shift the better you are. If guy can’t handle his drink or can’t get with girls, then he’s gay. Proving you weren’t gay is the main aim of most teenage boys. While being gay doesn’t mean you’ll get bullied (at least not in my experience) you’re not considered fully normal.

The strongest imprint my upbringing had on me was my determination to do everything myself. If you ask for help that means you’re not able to do it yourself. Real men don’t need help, they don’t rely on anyone, they’re independent. This particularly came from my woodwork classes. Almost every lad in the year did woodwork (roughly 60 out 75) and one girl (everyone thought this was weird). I remember having to do a woodwork project that wasn’t going well. I asked the teacher for help only to get relentlessly slagged for it. I had broken the Golden Rule, I had asked for help. This was interpreted as weakness on my part. Real men don’t need help. I was dependent on someone else, unable to do it myself. My friends would say that the teacher should have his name on the project as he had done most of the work. It was clear that asking for help was the same as giving up, which is what failures do. Since then I always do things myself for fear of being mocked.

This post is very difficult to write because I mention times when I was weak, which is something men are never supposed to mention. If you were weak at any moment you’re supposed to keep it to yourself, bottle it up. This is why the male suicide rate is four times the female rate. I am constantly deleting and rewriting passages. It doesn’t feel right discussing feelings and emotions; those things are for girls and gays. Worst of all I’m afraid some people will pity me and pity is the thing all self-respecting men avoid. There is a very tight set of rules of what is and is not acceptable for men to do and I’m finding it hard to break out of it.

Men are required to be the bread winners. They are supposed to provide for their family. They are the hero that their wife and kids depend upon. Hence unemployment is the ultimate failure. Unemployed men suffer huge psychological damage because they are unable to fulfil their duty in life. They are redundant. I once read somewhere that the reason men don’t live as long as women is that once they retire their life loses meaning and purpose. Men were born to work and without they lose the will to live.

Another reason why men don’t live as long is that they avoid doctors as much as possible. Most men treat illness as a sign of weakness, that you’re not as good as everyone else. There is also the male fear of being a burden or redundant. They are supposed to look after the helpless women, not the other way around.

Men aren’t supposed to show emotions even (or especially?) around their close friends. Me and my friends never complement each other or even admit we are close friends (as though that level of intimacy is gay). Instead we insult each other. In fact, the amount you insult each other is measure of how strong your friendship is. The more you insult someone the better friends you are. Insults are manly, saying nice things is pretty gay.

Men aren’t supposed to be caring. It is natural and expected for women to mind children yet it seems strange if a man does it. If a man is playing with children that are not his own, it is seen as weird and many would have suspicions at the back of their mind about pedophilia. Caring is for wimps, real men are too tough for that. Most girls at some stage babysit for neighbours. It is seen as common or natural. Yet no male babysitter would ever make much money. Male babysitters are called in only in absolute emergencies when there is literally no women available. It’s not their place. Whenever couples divorce, the wife almost always gets custody of the children. That is seen as the natural way. Women are the ones you get maternity leave and spend the early formative weeks with the new baby. Men often mourn the fact they don’t properly know their own children. Yet it would seem strange if the man stayed at home with the child while the woman worked (this is a situation that many women are not happy about).

Men don’t cry. No matter how bad the loss, men aren’t supposed to show their pain. Slight exceptions can be made at funerals but even still it is a source of shame that most try to hide and cover up. If tears are shed it is part of the unwritten rules that they are never mentioned and everyone pretends it never happened. Emotions are to be bottled up and suppressed until they explode in violence or suicide or addiction.

There are strict rules about what men are supposed to do and not do. They are self-imposed by other men (and almost never come from women who from my experience more likely to encourage breaking of these rules). In order to be respected you must be tough, strong, unemotional and never show signs of weakness. Whatever is going on inside your head has to stay there, it is forbidden to discuss your feelings. I am seriously contemplating not posting this because of the taboos I break. There is also a lot else I’m not going to mention.

30 Comments

Filed under Politics

30 responses to “Sexism Against Men?

  1. It is long overdue this got some real attention.

  2. Reblogged this on yasniger and commented:
    It is long overdue this got some real attention.

  3. WOW! this is fortunate! i have just posted a little piece of my work about the stereotype of how men should be too! (http://servicecommand.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-exclusives/)
    and I’m going to talk about this too. in my next post,this is inspiring! Don’t worry, I’m not going to plagiarize this :D hahaha

    To be different takes a big heart! Thank you for sharing your story!

  4. I do think that most of these beliefs are losing strength. We haven’t completely eliminated them, but some progress has been made, just as it has with women.

  5. poetjena

    Smash down the walls of ‘taboo’ , the gates of Ireland if you must!! I believe in all jail breaks, of this nature anyway. No regrets. You will find you are not alone in your subject matter! Support flies to you from unexpected corners. Whatever you do, don’t look back now,.. just keep going!

  6. The real difference between the genders is that male interactions tend to be based on their position in a hierarchy whereas women tend to want to be mutual, on the same level as their friends/colleagues… and you describe movingly how painful it can be, to be in the straitjacket of that hierarchical system.

    I do not experience there to be much difference in the spectrum of internal emotional worlds between men and women, but I am very aware of how limited, is the average man’s knowledge of how other men think and feel… I’ve always thought that many men are really quite scared because they believe themselves to be weird or different because they don’t feel the way that the world has told them ‘men should feel’… and you acknowledge that! Keep on being honest and open because women will love you for it, and so will the men who are emotionally evolved enough.

  7. I think that another problem is not that there is sexism (there is sexism in any side), but that in the last 50 years or so males had to deal with conflicting expectations: in addition to being strong, they had also to become sensitive; in addition to being perceived unemotional they also had to not be afraid to show the feelings.

  8. I’d have to say that I wouldn’t call this sexism against mean, but rather the patriarchy backfiring on males. I know it might seem pedantic, but I think it’s an important point to make. Gender roles hurt everyone

    • Well if sexism is confining people to certain behaviours based on their gender, then I suppose it still would be. I’m not saying men are the real victims or anything like that, we clearly still have it far better than women. But I do feel there are certain actions expected of us and others frowned upon if they don’t live up to the ideal of what men “should” do. Its not the 1950s in reverse but still limits us in many ways.

      • I hesitate to call it sexism in the same way I hesitate to call prejudice against white people racism, although I’d say there is a much stronger case for the former. I do think there is a problem and I think that you summed it up very well, but I think it stems from society’s view of anything feminine being “weak” and undesirable, which has its roots in sexism towards women. I think I’m quite aware of the expectations of being a “man” in society and what it feels like not to live up to them ha.

        That’s why I said it’s the patriarchy backfiring. I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I’m just arguing over the semantics of what that problem should be called (if that makes any sense).

        • I see what you mean and where you’re coming from. To be honest I never studied sociology so I’m on shaky ground. I never thought of patriarchy back firing but it does make sense. In a way it could be seen as an extension of sexism against women and the downgrading of feminine attributes.

          • There’s a parable to be drawn out of this line of thinking. Something about how if you exclude others from bearing their share of the load because they’re the wrong gender (or race, or religion or whatever) eventually you end up with the weight of the world on your shoulders and it breaks you down, body and soul.

            It’s not reverse ‘ism, but rather the consequences of ‘ism cutting both ways, harmful to all involved. The way out is to reverse the process, exercising the same power and privilege that was used to exclude, to include. Recognizing that the status quo is enforced from the position of power and it’s men who are in that position.

            When we as men stop treating “feminine” attributes as markers of weakness and inferiority it’s a win-win as women gain access to the full range of life’s options and we get to ask for help/go to the doctor/not be so stressed out & alcoholic/share the world as happier men with happier women.

    • To call sexism against men patriarchy backfiring, you have to ignore women’s role in it. A lot of a man’s gender role comes not from male expectations, but female expectations… and a lot of the legal discrimination men face was lobbied for by female organizations. “Patriarchy” is an oversimplification that tries to put the blame on men for men’s troubles, when all of society has had a hand in it, and women are just as responsible.

      • graycloud

        Oh, bullshit. It’s the master trying to blame it’s slaves for it’s own ego trip.

        You go to some backwater hellhole in India, watch a woman have to eat off the same plate as her husband (after he’s done), and then get her genitals drilled with a lock, and say that same bullshit.

        It’s a complete patriarchy. Do you know the women who like the patriarchy, and try to ‘force’ men to act tough? The one’s who have succumb to the stupidity. We’ve bred women to be as helpless as possible, and then you turn around and bitch when they start trying to completely rely on you? You’re a complete idiot.

        Religion, politics, genetics, the whole history of this race has been the subjugation of women for sexual power. Any time we finally get women educated, self-reliant, etc. etc., here comes one of us dumbshit men on an ego-trip to try and get them back into a more childlike state.

        Women don’t have a hand it in. Fuck, they’ve only gotten to VOTE in this past century. Please don’t continue to be an idiot.

        • Anonymous Coward

          You didn’t say anything to disprove him.
          Most women favour tough *manly* men. As long as this is true men will strive to be *men*. I have to fake the whole thing because it is striking as day and night how much more respect and attention you get from women when you act as a *man*. I feel no such expectation from my males friends, but well I live in a very different culture than the author’s.

  9. Expectations of traditional roles are by nature what skews averages and proportionality distribution in every sphere of endeavour (which cannot be undone by laws, as a side note). Men are subject to sexism just as whites are subject to racism. Which is why Friedman’s “horrendous” video on equality laws is correct.

    • Friedman’s video was delusional. He claimed women could fight discrimination by accepting lower pay. Rather than acknowledging that men and women suffer from sexism, Friedman denied it exists all together. He claimed sexism doesn’t exist in a free market and as we have a free market, therefore sexism doesn’t exist. That’s why I called it horrendous.

      • He was giving an argument. He did not deny sexism.

        • I’m just gonna jump in and dispute the claim that “Men are subject to sexism just as whites are subject to racism.” Prejudice =/= racism or sexism. Racism and sexism are forms of institutionalised oppression, whereas prejudice is simply preconceived notions of a group of people or a person based on a group they are a member of. In this way, prejudice can be racist or sexist, but it is not always necessarily either.

          Laws can’t, by themselves, end sexism or racism, but they can help develop a culture by which we remove the barriers that women and PoC face in society.

  10. graycloud

    Ok, it’s not ‘sexism’. Sexism implies opposites, as in an opposite sex forcing standards on you. That’s not the case. It’s a simple act of us men blindly following the stupid comic-book ideals that we’ve perpetuated for who knows how long. Any women who buys into it does so because she’s been bred to be a good slave, and look for the ego-centered male who can take care of her uneducated, physically shriveled, unconfident self.

    It’s the phenomenon of the slave owner. It paints itself in power, authority, etc., and does well to stay away from anything that has to do with their slaves (like, you know, emotions). The hyper-masculinity/stupidity of today has been something in the making over the course of the last few decades in particular; art, literature, everything in the past was more ambiguous. IE., men invented high heels to wear, their art/writing was more emotionally charged, etc.

    I mean, go to the damn gym and see the stupidity. Women on treadmills doing their best to become weaker and more childlike. A lot of them have been completely fooled, and so have the men. They’re starting to realize that their ancestors power trips were just the actions of weak-minded children who, unfortunately, evolved greater muscle tone then the opposite sex.

  11. Dont know if you know this but all legal and lethal sexual discrimination in the western world is against men. Check out realsexism.com to see what I am talking about.

    • Your site is a collection of dubious and misleading facts. You highlight that men are more likely to violently attacked or killed in war as this was somehow due to sexism. You fail to mention that they are mostly killed by other men.

      To claim “all legal and lethal” discrimination is solely against men is daft.

      • Actually the same rule applies to civilian deaths, men are the ones out risking sniper fire and getting food for the family in hostile situations while women stay at home and mind the kids. How is this not sexism?
        Give me one serious example of legal discrimination against women in the western world, give me one example of a situation where women are expected to risk life more than men? Its daft to deny the obvious because of gynocentric imprinting and conditioning. How is the fact that they are getting killed by other men somehow magically making it ok?

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