Please see my introduction to this topic and reasons 1 through 3 here.
4. Because Fathers Do Not Get the Same Parenting Support as Mothers
Raising children is hard, and how it looks is changing. Many fathers are finding a renewed joy in parenthood, and mothers are finding their help invaluable while pursuing professional careers of their own in many cases.
Why does the society and government in America not recognize this? Because parenting is a woman’s job, it seems. By limiting women to “appropriate” work in the home, we inadvertently limit men to “appropriate” work outside of the home.
We do not have paternity leave. We do not have the same family allowances or ministries available for single dads as we do for single moms (I mean, WIC stands for “Women, Infants & Children”). We make men feel guilty or less-than for not being the provider or “breadwinner” in their household.
There is also this inexplicable stigma that a single dad is somehow “more tragic” than a single mom, because women are “supposed to” raise children. How dare she abandon a helpless man and expect him to know how to raise a kid? News flash: Dads aren’t stupid! They can feed, clothe, and change diapers, too.
Maybe when a woman can be a CEO without anyone batting an eyelash, the same can happen when a man is a stay-at-home dad.
5. Because Men Cannot Admit to Liking What They Like
I know this seems like a minor issue, but it still makes me sad.
Some (definitely not all) feminists will present their position on the female plight by talking about how the oppressive gender divide begins in childhood. While boys get to wear a whole rainbow of colors, girls are relegated to pink and purple if they want to seem “girly.” While girls are provided with dolls and doll houses, boys have a wide array of action toys marketed directly to them.
By feeling like little boys are privileged to be able to wear colors like red and black and play with action figures, we ignore the fact that some boys do not want to.
What about the boys that love pink and want to play with dolls, but are told that those things are “for girls?” They are just as oppressed as any girl who wants to play with matchbox cars. And what’s worse, they often grow up into men who are still afraid to admit their true likes and dislikes.
What about men who love to sew? Who actually enjoy shopping for clothes? Who enjoy babysitting? Who watch Pretty Little Liars? Who love figure skating but can’t stand hockey?
Of course girls shouldn’t stand out or be teased because they like sports or video games. I think these are beginning to be viewed as more normal. Hopefully a guy who is good at crochet will be equally normal soon.
6. Because Society Believes Men Cannot be Sexually & Physically Abused
This one is huge for me.
First I will start with the stupid of the stupid–the age-old phrase “Never hit a girl.” Never ever hit a girl. They’re weak and dainty and never deserve to be hit or hurt.
Really? Boys, never hit a girl. But girls, if a boy bothers you, kick him in the balls.
This is literally giving a get-out-of-jail free card to anyone, mail or female, who wants to hit a guy! I’m sure this is idea is a big part of why male victims of domestic violence are on the rise. Mentalities like this say it is okay to hurt them if they “deserve” it!
How about never hit ANYONE except in self-defense? And then if they pull a knife on you, I don’t care if they’re male, female, neither, or both–punch them in the freaking face.
The following issue is a little more serious.
There are a lot of arguments flying around that one of the biggest reasons feminism needs to transform society is that women are taught “don’t get raped” instead of men being taught “don’t rape.” Obviously this is a problem that transcends just sexism, but think about the ridiculous ways we portray the victim in a sexual assault case.
Woman Is Molested: Well, sure. Women are easy to overpower, and they often dress in a way that makes it hard for men to control themselves.
Man Is Molested: What? Men can’t get raped. They’re too strong to be coerced, and they always want sex.
The trauma that female victims of rape have to endure is an atrocity. How much worse is it for male victims who have experienced the same abuse and then a) have people try to convince them it was actually consensual. (“You’re a guy. Don’t you like sex?”) or b) are ridiculed or looked down on as weak.
This is not a an issue that women invite by being the “weaker sex.” Men can be hurt, too. We need to make it okay for them to seek help.
Thank you for exploring some of the reasons why improving the rights of women will open the doors to improved treatment of all human beings oppressed by gender stereotypes. We love men!
I can’t recommend enough Joss Whedon’s thoughts on why “feminism” isn’t a good word, but I still tend to use it because I know a lot of people disagree with him. Maybe I’ll transform my vocabulary someday soon.