Is campaigning against misogyny men's work? Chris Flux from Men Against Violence in Preston says it is and explains here why he thinks tackling sexism against women is good for everyone.
---This is article #45 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
It always concerns me when people blindly attack feminism on social media, labelling the entire movement as ‘evil’ and its proponents as ‘man-haters’.
This does not mean that feminism is some perfect ideology that should never be challenged or that there aren’t some women with some deeply unfair ideas about men. No, what bothers me is that often when someone challenges or merely expresses concern about the way in which some men treat women they get an aggressive response, their ideas misrepresented and constant accusations of man-hating which rarely have any foundation. (most feminists I have met in person or online have been okay with me as a man)
There can be a similar response when anyone (male or female) suggests that men should be more caring, thoughtful or respect women. This doesn’t mean that men should put women on a pedestal (that’s not equality) or that men should be ‘emasculated’ ‘weaklings’ who are prevented from enjoying traditional male pursuits such as sport, beer and sex. It’s just that it’s SO frustrating that there is so much effort aimed at trying to silence these progressive ideas instead of trying to assess them through thoughtful analysis and respectful dialogue.
How does misogyny hurt men?
Whilst reactionary defences of misogyny (the hatred of women) is obviously bad for women, its also VERY BAD for men too as it holds us back as people and causes us a lot of suffering too. These are some of the ways in which misogyny actually hurts men:
- Misogyny believes the worst about men. (i.e that we are innately brutal sexist jerks)
- Misogyny makes men look bad and creates distrust between the sexes.
- Misogyny literally hurts and sometimes kills women (through domestic abuse etc…) that men care about like family members and friends.
- Misogyny demands that men conform to very rigid gender roles which limit men’s choices as well as women’s. Men who don’t conform to certain ideals are shamed, abuse and ridiculed for it.(often by being compared to women)
- Misogyny creates such a fear in men of being perceived as feminine that they refuse to get medical or emotional help which increases their chances of committing suicide or dying of health conditions which were preventable and treatable (e.g. prostate cancer)
- Misogyny creates such a fear in men of being perceived as feminine that they must constantly compete with other men (sometimes through violence) to prove that they are ‘Real Men’. This creates a ‘dog eat dog world’ where women wanting to prove themselves must follow the same rules as men.
- Misogyny in porn and the sexual objectication of women damages men’s relationships with women by creating false expectations of sex and damaging intimacy.
Finally, there is often a lot of talk online about misandry and whilst some women are prejudiced against men, amongst the worst and most prominent misandry I have come across comes (ironically) from male chauvinists and rape apologists who excuse sexual violence as being an expression of ‘uncontrollable male lust’. This offensive idea is rejected outright by most feminists who also believe it puts the blame for sexual assault onto the victim.
My message to men is that Misogyny is not your friend but probably your worst enemy! If we unite with women to attempt to end it then we ultimately help ourselves.
If we have a society where women are respected and treated as equals, we also have a society where:
- Men are seen as innately caring, decent and trustworthy.
- Men don’t have to worry about whether their female friends or relatives are safe.
- Men can freely express who they are and choose their own roles. (whether traditional or non-traditional)
- Men can access social, medical and professional support without fear of ridicule.
- Men are so confident in who they are that they don’t have to prove their maleness.
And finally! In a world without where women are seen as ‘sexual beings’ rather than ‘sexual objects’; sex is going to be better for EVERYONE!
Photo Credit: flickr/Jeremy Keith
Chris Flux is the Campaign Director of Men Against Violence which is “a men's campaign to end violence against women” which is also “concerned about male victims of abuse and homophobic bullying.” This article is his own opinion and not necessarily the opinion of Men Against Violence.
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men's Day 2014 by clicking on this link---#100Voices4Men---and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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