“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong…it is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideas.”
― Emma Watson
I believe that we learn the best when we talk to people whose ideas don’t align with ours and so, I have always loved informed exchanges.
I have met and conversed with many educated people about important topics such as war and politics, deprivation and crime, gender, racial and cultural discrimination and the impact of all these on mass.
Many times, the topic of gender equality in the world comes under light and when it does, it always finds a stop at male discrimination.
Many people I have conversed with are of the belief that male discrimination affects gender equality in the world.
The question is how does male discrimination affect gender equality in the world?
Feminist Movement and Gender Equality in the World
Let’s first understand the main idea behind feminist movement and why it was needed for the attainment of gender equality in the world.
Why did we need it in the first place? What were we being denied, as a group that made us so uneasy, that we started marching on the streets and raising our voices?
The answer is subjective. My understanding is that we were denied our dignity.
Women are not the same as men. We are biologically and psychologically different from men. Still, we demand gender equality in the world. Because the difference doesn’t make us inferior. We are neither animals, nor goddesses. We are simply humans.
The feminist movement started when the realisation occurred that conventional practises do not see us as equal members of the society and that gender equality in the world cannot be realised as things were.
Women were denied the right to vote, the right to inherit or own property, educate themselves, have the custody of their own children and work.
Extreme traditions and practises such as finger amputation to mourn death in Indonesia, Sati practise in India, widow cleansing in Tanzania and Kenya, are many and abundant in the world.
Then comes the subtle forms of oppression that speak loud such as stereotyping and generalising the way women should behave or the work they should be doing. It also includes ignoring and even shaming women’s sexual preferences and practises as well as denial of the right to make decisions about our bodies.
Reforms have been brought and are still being introduced to achieve gender equality in the world.
Many things have changed, many practices have been abolished and laws have been introduced. We have come far and have a long way to go.
Oppression of Men and Male Discrimination
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
― Gloria Steinem
Now, let’s try to understand how male discrimination affects men by taking the examples of some stereotypical sayings.
- Boys don’t cry
- Men don’t feel pain (Mard ko dard nahi hota)
- You are a man. How can you be afraid?
- He is the man of the house! He must not show weakness or complacency.
- Why do you want to go for higher studies? You are a man! You have to earn and provide for your family.
These are the phrases that we so commonly hear that our ears don’t even perk up at the absolute absurdity. Men too, have been oppressed, though not in the same manner as women.
Men have been denied the right to show any emotions. They always have to be brave, strong and stern or their “masculinity” is challenged.
A man who is a homemaker is not respected as a man who is the family’s breadwinner and faces male discrimination, whereas a woman who is a homemaker is applauded. In fact, any man who deviates from societal expectations faces severe male discrimination.
Recently, one of my juniors completed his teaching degree and was looking for a job as a special educator in one of the metropolitan cities In India.
Here, male discrimination affected his employability and is an example of how male discrimination affects many career paths. He was discriminated against and women were favoured for the role, even though he was competent.
The Symbiosis between Toxic Masculinity and Patriarchy
What I talked about in the previous section, is a phenomenon called toxic masculinity. It is a phenomenon directly fueled by patriarchy and vice versa.
It is the stereotyping of gender norms that affects not only women, but also men. It leads to men doing male discrimination if their fellow being does something that is not considered inherently “masculine”.
The femininity in men is so brutally pushed into them that it can’t find an escape. It is crushed in the absence of expression.
From simple things such as wearing pink or applying makeup to complex issues such as asking for help during times of crisis and an emotionally informed parenting, each and everything go against the laws of toxic masculinity.
In such situations, the person is often targeted and faces serious backlash from his family and community.
At the global level, it prevents the realisation of gender equality in the world and at the individual level, it leads to male discrimination as well as severe emotional and psychological distress.
Male Discrimination and Gender Equality in the World: Friends or Foes?
So, how does male discrimination affect gender equality in the world?
We have somehow tuned ourselves to see the feminist struggle as a struggle against men and hence, we all keep on losing it. It is a struggle with men against the social, political, economical, psychological and personal barriers to attain gender equality in the world.
Neither of the genders is the lesser being and neither is more. Respect, dignity and human rights shouldn’t be subject to the gender of the person.
Both women and men are shackled. Even when we break those shackles, it leaves behind a scar and we struggle with it.
Male discrimination also leads many men to develop extreme hatred towards the idea of feminism as they believe that gender equality in the world that feminists strive for, comes at their cost. When in reality, feminism works for the benefit of both the genders.
Feminism, in its truest sense, acknowledges the struggles of not just women, but also men and tackles the issue of male discrimination as well to achieve gender equality in the world.
It understands that men, women and all the other genders are integral parts of the society. We all need each other to function and keep going.
It is imperative to understand these finer truths about the feminist struggle to achieve gender equality in the world. Without this understanding, we may promote male discrimination and bring more harm than good.
In that case, gender equality in the world will always remain a hazy dream, something we may not even be able to define.
Have you or anyone you know has ever seen any instance of male discrimination and spoken against it?
Do you think it brought us a step closer to achieving gender equality in the world? Comment below and share your story with us!