Photo courtesy of LotusPalm.com
On March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day as a reminder of the strength and power that women across the world have. What should have been a day filled with pride and joy was sadly tainted by idiocy on social media by men. I fully expected reactions from men saying that International Women’s Day was unnecessary or to see a man say “what about international men’s day?” The thing is, every day is international men’s day, and yet they aren’t satisfied.
In a recent article, “The Boys Are Not All Right” published in The New York Times, a conversation began about the damage caused by modern masculinity. The article claimed that “boys are broken” and that women are thriving because of feminism’s successes. I am in no way trying to say that boys aren’t broken, but what I will say is that this argument is a bunch of crap.
Masculine struggles do not face the same struggles of feminism. There have not been hundreds of years of oppression of men, and there have not been enough triumphs for women. The issues of gender inequality are not one size fits all, and masculinity crises are not the same as feminist ones.
Before anyone (men) gets too worked up about the claims I have made, let me clarify a few things. There undoubtedly are problems with the expectations of men and it is nearly impossible to fit into the modern masculine molds. The strides that women have also made toward equality are incredible, and feminism in the past few decades has changed the world. There are recognitions to be made for each side of this issue, but there are also many problems.
The issue with The New York Times article is that it insinuates that women and men face the same gender inequalities. To make the claim that women are the “(beneficiaries) of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood” is to completely neglect the inequalities that women still face every day. Yes, feminism has advanced women’s rights immensely, and people are more socially conscious of the issues that women face. The issue, however, is that women’s rights are still relatively far from solved. There are still gender biases, pay gaps, reproductive rights and stereotype battles to be won. To say that women “benefit” from the few decades of revolution coming from a lifetime of oppression is overestimating reality.
One of the other issues addressed in the article is the fact that men don’t have an outlet for their emotions without feeling ostracized for being feminine. This may be the case for some men, but to say that men “don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel” is just not true. Men have the language they need, they just don’t use it. Did women have the language they needed to fight the hundreds of years of oppression?
I think it is important to reiterate the issue of masculinity. I realize that being a woman, I am not necessarily equipped to speak on behalf of men who struggle with the pressures of being a man. The complexities of masculinity are things I will never fully understand, and the repercussions of these seem to be more catastrophic than of those of women, so societal standards of men need attention.
I can say pretty confidently, however, that men do not have the same movement in society as women do. That’s because they don’t need one. Men have not been questioned throughout history in the same way that women have been. Men do not face the same battles as we do, and to say that they do is an exercise in denial. The bottom line is that men may have their issues, but blaming them on the successes of feminism is not a probable solution.
Sydney Sanders is a sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public and Political Science double major and Head Photo Editor for the Newswire from Cincinnati.