“So what about the men?!” Is a sentiment that plagues every contemporary feminist who is actively advocating for the dismantlement of patriarchal constructs. Typically it’s said in response to any miniscule advancement that women have made (after centuries of women being subordinated or being shut out of economic and educational opportunities) and typically said by someone who’s not paying attention. This week, WE are looking at how feminism impacts men and boys.
The ultimate goal of a feminist mandate is to uproot the violent system of patriarchy. In advancement of that goal, feminists have done extensive work and research to investigate social norms and to expose them for how detrimental they are for our societies, including men. It was through feminism that we started to question the notion of masculinity and how we constructed it in such a rigid fashion that created emotionally stunted men and, in worse case scenario, violence perpetrators that are incapable of resolving conflict in a healthy way. Feminism has, at the very base of it, advocated that it’s okay for men to cry. Even further, it was feminist activists that fought for men’s right to paternity leaves and for men to be more involved in the lives of their children and their domestic affairs. Now WE won’t labour on how patriarchy relegated women to the home, but WE will point out that women carry the burden of care work ( meaning they wash, cook, clean, feed the children and any elderly relatives that may reside with or is dependent on them, provide emotional support) in the home than men in addition to their income earning jobs. Through the work of feminists, the family dynamic and division of labour in the home is (slowly but surely) being shifted as more and more questions about the harmfulness of genderizing care and domestic work arose.
More importantly, what feminism has done is hold men accountable in a system that praises men for their wrongdoing, rather than punishing them. Now, some men view this is a threat rather than a benefit. However, by critiquing harmful behaviours perpetrated by men, feminists are setting of the next generation of men to be more self-critical and reflective in their actions and stamping out misogyny one generation at a time.