Male Bashing: Where'd
That Come From?
For many men, I have noticed, there is nothing like enduring
a divorce to bring to their attention the severe limitations and
unfair expectations which our society places upon men. But it
was long before my own divorce, 15 years ago, that I became
aware that men face just as many -- if not more -- hurdles and
stereotypes than women have been confronting for many decades.
My awakening began when I heard a radio talk show that
portrayed men as less emotional and sensitive than women. That
really annoyed me. There I was, sharing the parenting role for
my daughter equally with my wife -- and by no means did I have
to be coerced into it. I was really enjoying it! Yet according
to this talk show -- and many other voices in society that I
began to notice -- as a man, by definition, I was deficient in
these human qualities. But it seemed so obvious to me that I was
just as feeling and caring as any woman -- if not more so than
most -- and that I had no difficulty in expressing my feelings
and nurturing instincts for my family. So the prevailing
societal attitude about men seemed to be prompting me to ask
myself some paradoxical questions. If I were indeed fully human,
did this somehow make me less of a man? Was it somehow wrong
for me to be a man and to be emotional and sensitive?
Of course not!
I began to take note of the many ways that society both
pigeonholes men and unfairly pressures men into conformist
behaviors -- while granting women the right to express the full
spectrum of who they are as human beings. Eventually I became
active in the fledgling men's rights movement, trying to make a
difference in men's lives by enlightening both men and women of
the need to treat the two sexes equally in all arenas.
Over the years, I have admiringly watched men as they have
valiantly juggled the dual responsibilities of breadwinner and
family man -- while American society and the media (aided and
abetted by feminist propaganda) have scoffingly portrayed men as
lazy, insensitive clods. Indeed, men are the only group that
political correctness still allows us to stereotype. Fathers are
shown recoiling from their own baby's dirty diaper and behave as
if they've never cooked a meal before -- so, inevitably, the
wives come to the rescue when these bumbling husbands fail to
solve the simplest domestic problems. And should these men ever
become divorced -- always due completely to their own failings,
of course -- the presumption is that they turn into deadbeat
dads. Rounding out the character defamation of men, the media
tell us that men are inherently violent. Yet when women commit
violence it is simply "explained away" as an
exceptional aberration to their inherently docile character --
and is therefore somehow justifiable.
Why all this male bashing?
I think that while women have largely escaped from strict
gender roles, most men are still constrained by them. Male
bashing helps to enforce the male gender role. Society still
demands that our men provide for and protect our loved ones, no
matter the cost to men -- and without complaint. Can't be a
doctor or lawyer? Pick something else that's remunerative (and
not necessarily enjoyable) because a man's worth, like it or
not, is measured by his utility -- his ability to provide and
protect. Unfortunately, many men who can't cope with these
pressures turn to drugs, alcohol or suicide to remedy the
resulting depression. The suicide rate for men is five times
greater than it is for women, which is why I think it is a myth
that women suffer from depression more often than men do. Can't
get any job at all? For some, the last resort might be crime.
What other nettling problems do men face? Studies show that
women initiate divorce at least two-thirds of the time,
dispelling the myth that men are primarily the ones leaving
their families. And when this break-up occurs, men are almost
always put out of their own home, lose daily contact with their
children and become -- in the eyes of a family court judge --
little more than a source for child-support checks. In the face
of such dehumanization, who wouldn't become angry and resentful?
Yet the media still trumpet, "It's a man's world."
I feel heartened, though, that many enlightened men and women
are making a difference. In NCFM, I feel a solidarity in the
fight for equal rights with other like-minded people, and I no
longer feel isolated in my thoughts about gender issues and the
ideas I have for bringing about change.
Centereach, New York
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