Patriarchy or matriarchy – both are oppressive systems of thinking. Freedom of all members is the ultimate goal.
Feminism is often talked in reference to women. But many don’t realize that the movement plays a significant role in helping men break free from their caged roles as well.
1)“Boys will be Boys” Myth
There is a harmful and pervasive myth that men cannot control their urges and they are some kind of perpetually aroused, sex-starved species. That myth is just as harmful as the slut-shaming women receive for “teasing” men with their attire.
Boys will NOT always be boys. Boys are just as complex as girls, with their own strengths and weaknesses. They are stressed to have high libidos and an uncanny ability to please in bed on the one hand, and they are not taken seriously as victims of sexual assault on the other.
Matter of the fact is that men can control their urges and many desire a world where both genders flourish with equal opportunities.
I am fortunate to know many feminist men who will gladly tear down this myth with ease.
2) Comfortable with their sexuality
Like men instead of women? Cool!
Consider yourself asexual? That’s cool too!
Patriarchy will force you to believe that men should only lust for women and women are solely born to satisfy him sexually. That anyone who feels differently is a deviant and should be treated like an outcast.
Recently, a transgender teenager, Leelah Alcorn, took her own life because she could no longer take the pain of being trapped as a girl inside a boy’s body from the taunts of society. Heck, many countries don’t recognize LBGT communities as citizens, let alone, allow them to marry or work.
More progress is needed in this sphere.
3) Being in tune with their feelings
If you are a man, you may have been taught to appear strong all the time since a little boy. This pressurizing notion may have been fed to you from many factors in your environment.
While it’s true that men do not share their feelings to the extent that women do, I’m certain that men feel the need to express themselves and sometimes even cry, but they hesitate from the fear of emasculation.
Instead of saying how they honestly feel, they will mask it as jealousy, or anger, and unfortunately, this suppression of emotions can translate into violence. Women are guilty of this too but it is true that we have more freedom to emote in public.
Personally, a man who lets out his emotions by crying (considered as a powerful bodily mechanism to relieve grief) is far more manly than one who resorts to violence.
4) Role Model Fathers
You may argue that a dad need not be a feminist to be a good father to his kids.
But a dad who is aware of how girls and boys are pressurized to behave in cookie-cutter roles and one who challenges those oppressive restrictions can do wonders for his kids.
What if, one day, your daughter wants a tool box to build or repair a gadget instead of playing with a doll?
Will you tell her that those things are only for boys because they are stronger?
Take inspiration from Mahavir Singh, a resident of Haryana, who coached his daughter, Geeta Phogat in wrestling, defying many gender roles and taboo about women in sports. Geeta was the first Indian women to win a gold in Women’s Wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010! 🙂
5) Pressure to be breadwinner of the family
Think of the couples in your extended family. How many of them have men as the sole earner of the household? In my case, it is all of them.
If more women are better represented and paid equal for the same work as men in the workplace, would that not lessen the burden of men to do all the earning?
In fact, if women are empowered to maintain their careers (pre and post baby), that means there is more disposable income to help in times of a financial crisis. Mentoring women and other marginalized citizens to earn helps relieve that pressure of one person being the sole earner, plus it builds their independence and confidence too!
p.s. There is no shame if the man chooses to take care of the kids and his partner goes to work. These societal stigmas will hopefully disappear with time.
Let’s work together to support each other and achieve equality and freedom for all 🙂