I’ve been involved in a lot of talk lately around the theme of feminism and there seems to be a fair amount of conjecture regarding what men’s roles are within all of this. There’s no doubt that the predominant form of patriarchy in which society currently rests on is an inherent blockage point to the promotion of women’s rights. But what doesn’t get spoken about enough, is that it’s also a huge obstacle to gender equality as a whole.
When I speak of the term gender, I refer to both genders which are social constructs on the differences between men and women as opposed to biological elements which determine the sexes. The predominant culture which has entrenched harmful forms of masculinity is an inhibiting factor for both sexes. Society as it is today ingrains ideas of strength, machismo and dominance onto men and boys and asserts traits of purity, demureness and over emotion with women and girls. Catchcry’s such as ‘man up’, ‘don’t be a pussy’ and ‘throws like a girl’ play into rigid gender roles which inhibit the lives of all genders, and I refer to transgender people here also.
We seem to live in a world in which we tell young boys that they cannot express emotion or show any signs of perceived weakness because that is not what a man does. Through this misconceived discernment we have also asserted that for a man to play into his prescribed gender role, he needs to physically assert his dominance and in most instances, the use of violence is okay if it is wielded in defence of his manhood. The whole idea of a ‘pack mentality’ reaffirms the need for conformist and aggressive behaviour around gendered masculine roles which have become the social norm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not under representing the fight for women’s rights, on the contrary I am attempting to highlight that this fight isn’t just a woman’s alone. There is a vital role for men around the world to play to banish harmful forms of masculinity and entrenched structures of patriarchy. Of which dually deny women of their rights and also inhibit men from achieving their own full potential. We as a society on the whole need to change and re-write the definitions of what masculinity and femininity entail and work towards a world in which ones life opportunities are not determinant around rigid and destructive concepts of gendered experience.