What About the Men? Why Our Gender System Sucks for Men, Too
Continued from previous page
That’s fine: it’s not any particular feminist’s duty to create a safe landing space. Education is often difficult activist work, and many people are not suited to it: it takes a lot out of you to answer the same questions about “But is there really a gendered wage gap?” over and over again, particularly when the people you’re answering feel like their questions are very original. You can’t have every place be a safe landing space for everyone: you’d never get anything done.
That is just one of the ways that masculism will benefit feminism. Because masculism can be a safe landing space for men entering into gender egalitarianism, the same way that feminism is a safe landing space for women entering into gender egalitarianism. It will engage with their problems and issues that they can see affecting their own lives. It will provide a supportive environment for men unlearning their sexism. It will answer the questions men have about gender theory and the realities of how sexism works in our society. It will socialize them into the norms of social justice work, such as call-outs and checking one’s privilege. In fact, it will do all the things that feminism does for women in similar situations, and that is an unambiguously good thing.
Ultimately, however, there’s another reason why feminism needs men—more than practical issues of making the movement more efficient, more than ethical issues of inclusion. In fact, it is impossible for feminism to accomplish its goals without men; liberating any gender requires liberating all genders.
One of the central principles we’ve come to recognize is that, in the binary-gender thinking of most culture, sexist stereotypes always come paired. Generally speaking, any stereotype or assumption about women carries with it an implicit stereotype or assumption about men, and vice versa.
Men have to be the breadwinners… women have to take care of the family.
Men are all slobs… women should be keeping house.
Women need to cover up their bodies or they’re asking to be raped… men are animals who commit immediate rape at the sight of cleavage.
Women shouldn’t feel desire for men… men can’t be desired by women.
Men always want sex… women never want sex.
Men don’t cry… women are hysterical.
Men don’t need emotional support… women need constant emotional support.
Women are expected to know how to take care of children… men can’t be expected to even know how to change a diaper.
Men who put on makeup are gay… women who don’t put on makeup are dykes.
Women are all golddiggers… men are only valuable for their success and money.
Women are only valuable for their looks… men are all shallow.
You can sit all day and come up with sexist tropes about men and women and pair them up. The moment one looks beyond the surface, it becomes impossible to come up with something stupid and sexist about one gender that doesn’t link directly to something stupid and sexist about another gender.
Based on this, we have proposed a rule of thumb called Ozy’s Law: It is impossible to form a stereotype about either of the two primary genders without simultaneously forming a concurrent and complementary stereotype about the other.
Or, more simply: Misandry mirrors misogyny.
This isn’t to say that in any given case, the misandry and misogyny are necessarily equivalent. Sometimes they are, other times one or the other definitely predominates. But they’re always paired. Often they’re just an unspoken assumption, something people take for granted as axiomatic, which is why it’s so difficult to notice the trend.