Journalism

5 Common Complaints From Men that Could be Solved Through Feminism

Female Male

By Rosie McKenna

We all know how feminism is trying to make life easier for the ladies, (we all should know, any how) but you still often hear dudes complaining that being a man isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, some complaints can’t really be helped by fighting for women’s rights; apparently having a penis is super annoying at times and I hear there are some odd guys who would really love to be able to give birth (I am in full support of this) but a surprising number of these sucks-to-be-a-man complaints are actually being fought for already. By feminists. So you can stop thinking of it as a dirty word, feeling sorry for yourself ‘cause they’ve already got your back, OK? Like these:

#5. ‘Men are always expected to provide financially.’

A very common thing to hear when listening to someone complaining about being a guy. A woman might lament on the internet how unfair it is that society expects us to look great all the time and guaranteed the comments will be an ocean of ‘Oh boo-hoo you have to shave your legs and put on make-up well who’s buying your dinner?’ (Only usually with a lot more profanity and a lot less punctuation). And the stress of supporting a family financially is still a huge worry to many a family man despite the amount of women in the workforce.

How are feminists going to help with that?

Actually, most women I know would say that they’re fine with not having dinner paid for them. In fact, they’re actively in favour of splitting the bill and going in halvsies on the rent. (That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy presents or anything, it just means that you are equally entitled to being showered with gifts).

Still, there is an actual reason behind this issue that feminists are trying to fix. I spoke with a feminist activist, Sasha Rocket and also a feminist activist (and man) Jonny Sims about these issues so you’re going to see some quotes from them crop up throughout this article (just a heads-up).

Sasha told me,

“The reason men have been expected to pay for things is that historically they were the only ones who could. Women were not allowed to work or earn their own money”.

This was because women were not deemed able to work and were expected to marry to a man who could do that kind of thing for her. And our friend Jonny came up with a good point that I will share with you,

“Getting a free meal, yes, that’s a good thing but it still comes out of this idea that women are second-class people.”

Well said, Jonny.

In fact, this view of women is so ingrained in society that women still don’t get paid the same amount as men for doing the same job. There are a lot of statistics being thrown around as to what percentage of wages that women are making compared to men. A common one is 77%. However an interview in Business Insider stated that:

“[Q:] So there was a 9 percent difference in pay you couldn’t explain even when you considered the jobs women do, the education they have, or the years they spent in the workforce.

[A:] Right.”

9%. That’s still quite a lot. Especially considering the amount of people who adamantly claim that sexism is over and women have all the same opportunities as men. There’s actually even a wage gap for kids! Because the best way to hide any unfairness or ugliness is to sneak it in at a young age so people don’t really question it. For doing the same chores, a boy will get paid 15% more than a girl.

All of this means that men will have more money to buy things. Feminists are fighting to correct this imbalance which will in turn stop men from feeling like they need to pay for dinner.

What else do our friends Sasha and Jonny have to say about this? Well,

Sasha: “Also yes, traditionally men were the ones to bring in the money but traditionally men did no work in maintaining the household or raising the family. They could go out and earn money because someone else was at home doing all of the labour.”

Jonny: “If you want to see the extreme consequences of ‘Men should provide for their family’ then watch Breaking Bad. Or just watch Breaking Bad anyway because it’s fucking brilliant.”

Quite.

#4. ‘Men need to be physically and emotionally strong’.

Think of a man. Like, a real man. A really manly man’s man. Chances are you’re picturing Bruce Willis in Die Hard and if you’re not, picture Bruce Willis in Die Hard. You know the bit. With the white vest, covered in dirt and the blood of various bad-guys, a gun taped to his back? Man, that guy was super manly. How many times do you think I can get the word ‘man’ in this paragraph? Man.*

It’s no wonder that the millions of boys watching that film way too young and growing up thinking ‘I’m going to be just like John McClane when I’m older’ might become slightly disappointed with themselves when they hit 25 and still don’t fill out a white vest like that. I mean, they might try smothering themselves in dirt and people would just shout at them to go get a shower. They then go and have a good ol’ cry about it and feel even worse because hey, boys don’t cry. Man up, man!

(Jonny says: “There are times when I think crying would have definitely been the healthier response but at the time it doesn’t even seem like an option”.)

How are feminists going to help with that?

So this whole Masculine Man and Feminine Woman thing sucks for both genders and is still enforced by these gender archetypes that ‘society’ insists on perpetuating. And yes, some men are super manly, (Bruce Willis in Die Hard) and some women are super feminine but there’s also a lot of in-between and cross-overs and other things. And that is completely awesome.

If feminist can manage to break down the Gender stereotypes, they can get rid of this whole, ‘Women belong in the kitchen, keep your knees closed, don’t talk out of place and be a nice girl’ malarkey which will also solve the problem of all of those dudes who would rather go into floristry than climb down elevator shafts.

Hey, Jonny and Sasha. What’s that?

Jonny: ”Well, like every study has shown, if you remove the societal pressure, women and men are just as empathic as each other.”
Sasha: “The problem is people are not being seen as people, they’re being seen as representatives of their gender.”

#3. ‘Fathers are constantly overlooked in favour of mothers.’

Mothers are awarded more maternity leave than men, who are only entitled to two weeks as opposed to the woman’s 26 weeks and mandatory 2 weeks (this makes sense, though, seeing as the woman has to recover physically from pregnancy and childbirth). Fathers are also less likely to win in child-custody cases unless they can prove the mother is unfit. I have heard complaints from men who claim that people don’t seem to trust them when they take their children to the park. It’s like our base line of thinking is that a guy hanging around kids is creepy and unnatural whereas a woman hanging around kids is just her embracing her maternal instincts and is nothing to be questioned.

How are feminists going to help with that?

Well, this problem stems from the idea that women are natural caregivers. Baby-making machines despite anything they may say to the contrary. This idea also ties in with the image of the super masculine bread-winner of a man. Feminism may not be actively trying to boost the reputation of fathers everywhere but by eradicating this viewpoint that women are all great mothers naturally and that we all instinctively have the perfect recipe for Victoria Sponge cake, that women can be all kinds of people, including bad parents, it will also lift up the image of fathers to a more level playing field.

Hey look, it’s Sasha!:

Sasha: “One of the things feminists battle is this idea that all women are just mothers waiting to give birth.”

#2. ‘There’s a lack of protection for men.’

This one is a pretty serious one. I didn’t put it as number one on the list because I thought it might be a bit of a downer to end on. An example would be if a woman hit a man in public, people would not rush to the help of the man in the same way they would rush to the help of a woman if the genders were reversed. Now, there are two ways men complain about this one, though, and one way is perfectly legitimate. The first way is to say, ‘Hey, I don’t get the right treatment or taken seriously enough when I am attacked by a woman or even a man’. The other way is to say, ‘Hey, I should be able to hit a woman.’ Subtle difference, but the first one is a valid point and the second one makes you a dick who’s trying to use ‘gender equality’ as an excuse to beat up ladies. (Basically, the rule here is it’s not cool to beat up anyone and if someone is beaten up, you should take them seriously regardless of gender or anything else.)

A big issue with this is that a lot of men don’t feel comfortable enough coming forward or admitting that they have been abused domestically or raped because of how little they feel they’d be taken seriously. This means that there’s not enough data on this subject for it to be accurate and is a huge problem in itself.

How are feminists going to help with that?

Well this, again, stems from the idea that there’s no way a man could possibly be overpowered or outwitted by a woman because he’s so manly and she’s so weak. The idea that a man could lose in a fight to a woman is even the punch-line to many a joke in comedies. How many times have you heard a male character on a TV show be mocked for being beaten up by a girl? Or that he throws like a girl? Or fights like a girl? All of these things can be and are often used to get laughs (it’s a very safe joke, too) because of the idea that men are superior to women and to lose to one is embarrassing and means that you are less than what you should be. Feminists are trying to fight against this notion that women are less than and once women are seen to be equal to men and not fragile creatures it will become less of an embarrassment for a man to admit to the violence that is actually happening to them now.

Sasha: “The reason men are not taken seriously when he gets attacked by a woman is because women are not seen as being able to be a threat”.

#1. ‘Men are portrayed as incompetent idiots in the media’.

When I was looking up common complaints for this article (hey, I do my research) and I noticed this one crop up a few times in some threads. When men complain about this one they are usually referring to those sitcoms where the husband is a balding, overweight numskull or those advertisements where the husband is just too incompetent for words. (Infomercials don’t count as they portray a world inhabited solely by morons who have never mastered their opposable thumbs). The idea of the bumbling idiot man is I think most prominent in advertisements for cleaning products. The husband might make a huge mess in the kitchen in the process of making his wife breakfast in bed, like an adorable, stupid puppy and when the wife comes down to see the mess, oh no, he sure thinks he’s in for an ear-full. Gasp! But what’s this? Why, it’s a super kitchen cleaner that fizzes and smells like a meadow and might as well pack your kids a school lunch because it’s just so multi-functional. So the end of the story sees a relieved husband, a happy, kitted-out wife and a dangerously shiny kitchen.

How are feminists going to help with that?

With this one, I was kind of intrigued. Honestly, I can think of a lot more diversity in male characters than female ones. For every Homer Simpson there’s a Don Draper or a (going back to Die Hard for a second) John McClane. No matter, if it is what the men are complaining about, it’s going in here.

Having thought pretty hard on this one and after consulting Sasha and Jonny, we’ve come to the conclusion that yes, this is a problem and it’s does indeed suck. It’s not fair that men are portrayed as inept when it comes to standard household chores and traditionally feminine roles but it also sucks that there seem to be at least as many unfair depictions of women in the media. I would say more, definitely. Have you opened a magazine? Turned on the TV? Looked at any YouTube comment section? Yeah, the media portrayal of men can be really insulting but then again, it’s pretty much insulting for everyone so at least there’s that.

Jonny: “It’s largely because men are allowed to be all kinds of characters. They’re allowed to have a huge range of characteristics beyond the fact that they are men.”

Oh and feminism can actually solve this by breaking down the (say it with me now) traditional gender stereotypes.

* 9. I got the word ‘man’ in there 9 times.

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