Men are People, Too

[This was a guest post I originally wrote for Sophia Hudson over at Please Excuse My Vagina while I was still running The Big Blog of All the S#!t I Know. I’m re-posting this both out of Monday laziness and because this is one of the few social topics that I feel very strongly about. The battle of the sexes is an unfortunately effective divide-and-conquer tactic that inhibits vast potentials for progress toward true equity. I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below – actually, I’m requesting it, if you have the time. I want to actively sharpen and refine this line of thinking. All constructive feedback is infinitely welcome. Happy Monday.]

The following is a note that my colleague Moose wrote on the first page of a book he was reading at the time:

“There are certain women’s libbers (feminists) who have an attitude that is ironically disempowering of women in general. They think that everything is all the fault of men.”

No apologetics are necessary for this note, so I’m just going to launch into my thoughts on the topic of feminism. I post this note for two simple reasons: I both disagree and agree with his statement.

I myself am a female in body and mind – “cisgender” for those of you who like to get technical. I believe in a woman’s right to choose not only in the arena of pregnancy, but in all aspects of her life. I also believe in a man’s right to choose in all aspects of his life. And while there are so many other gender identities available to us humans, I am neither skilled nor interested enough at this time to delve into them all. My partner Moose is a man in body and mind. However, neither of us identify as a feminine female or masculine male, respectively. We often joke that I am the dude-Woman in the relationship and he is the chick-Man. And while it is true that as a woman, I am located on a rung lower than my partner in our culture’s hierarchy, I am not treated especially poorly as a human being. I do not feel defeminated or constantly oppressed for having tits and a vagina. I don’t suffer from abuse. I am socially awkward and a great deal of that awkwardness does stem from self-image struggles, a feature of our culture I despise, and in this my partner feels the same way about himself.

He is 6’4″, slender, blue-eyed, with high cheek bones and the ability to pull off the five o’clock shadow as well as the full grizzle. He’s far from perfect, but he is an attractive man – physically, mentally, and emotionally (no bias here, of course). But he is confused. He is confused more acutely than I am confused. In truth, we are all confused – and trapped. We are potential wolves stuck in the domesticated chihuahua phase of maturation. In order for our civilization to function, the people must be kept in this infantile state. This is only one of many tendrils at the root of our societal angst. We have no real rituals in our society that borne us into adulthood, no rites of passage that trigger the shift from girl to Woman, from boy to Man. Getting jobs, graduating schools, getting married, having 2.4 kids – these are the shallow imitations of progress of the natural human.

Men have felt this struggle for and against manhood for centuries and it has only been within the past few decades that it has risen so much as near the top of social consciousness. Most people laugh at a comment such as “Hey, if there’s a women’s movement, why isn’t there a men’s movement?” Such an inquiry would be answered by backhands across the face, vitriol at the ignorance still so obviously present in our society, the reason why feminism is so absolutely necessary. And it’s true: feminism is necessary. But so is the men’s movement. Feminism is the back swing of a cultural pendulum that has been rising and falling since the inception of culture. In all our supposed complexity and high intellectual capacity, we are still animals and as animals, when we come across something repulsive we do just that – repulse. We throw ourselves either far forward or far backward. Back and forth, back and forth. Just as Romanticism was a reaction to Rationalism was a reaction to religionism was a reaction to scientism (don’t quote my historical accuracy), the women’s movement is a reaction to patriarchy is a reaction to civilization is a reaction to agriculture… And thus we have the men’s movement.

It is as unfair to call all followers of the men’s movement women-haters as it is to call all women’s rights activists man-haters. Of course there are the douchebags, the male supremacist types, the assholes. But there are the people like Moose, the sensitive assholes, the husbands abused by wives, the boys without father figures, the people ashamed of being male in our society. As a virile feminine male, Moose wants nothing more than to be able to flaunt his peacock as a man, to stand his ground like a man, to get laid like a man, to make love like a man. He and so many men in our society want to stop feeling guilty for having dicks and testicles. They want to feel like natural, confident Men.

Several years ago, he was introduced to the ManKind Project (MKP), an organization started in the ’80s by an ex-Marine officer, a feminist therapist, and an academic, who sought life fulfillment through men’s work. Women are allowed to get together in circles and talk about their feelings, express their worries, fears, joys, and excitements. This is damn near taboo for men, which is where MKP comes in. In MKP groups, men are allowed to do emotional work with the support of fellow men. They are allowed a safe place to take down the facade of the “tough guise” and laugh and cry and listen and talk and not feel nearly as trapped as they did before.

Women are people. And men are people, too. Feminism is important, but it is only another link in the chain toward equality for all. Our work is far from over.

[Header image source: Pexels]

9 Replies to “Men are People, Too”

  1. I cannot even read this whole post defending men or its comments yet. I cannot even type for myself. I have to use Google Voice to recognize my words to say hi grateful I am for someone being able to bend over backwards and actually defend my kind. I don’t know if I’m some kind of self-hating man or what, but when I reread my comment referring the “women’s libbers” I feel shame. Of course I’ll read it all now, I just had to say that first. #notashamedtocry

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Life is simpler for me if I focus on people as individuals, each doing his/her best to be the best they can be. Often falling short, at times spectacularly soaring, but still individual human beings. The tendency we all have to label and thereby simplify our understanding of a person is unfortunate, though so common we all do it at times. Each of us is way more complex than can be captured in a label.

    Thanks for following my 80Insights blog. I look forward to seeing your comments on my posts as I shall also be following yours. Best of luck on your journey of self-understanding. We’re all in this together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Likewise! Arbitrarily clumping people together can be quite dangerous, especially since it’s so easy to do. Labels have their value, but they aren’t as official as I think some would like them to be.

      Thanks for your thoughts and for visiting our blog! 🙂 See you around.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree – both sexes are equally important and face challenges unique to their situation. I call myself a feminist but am far from a man-hater – my version of feminism is just about everyone having choices in their lives and being treated respectfully. I extend that same approach to men too – we should all be able to express who we are, and there is a lot of pressure on men to suppress themselves unless they’re naturally the macho ideal. The thing that concerns me the most at the moment is that the huge focus on women’s issues is eclipsing the fact men have problems too – I live in Australia and we have a huge government funded push at the moment towards stopping domestic violence…against women. That’s fantastic, but abuse is abuse regardless of who the perpetrator or the victim is. Women may not report it as often as it’s happening, but it’s a no brainer that men being abused by their partners aren’t speaking up in a society that condemns men for not standing up for themselves, not being the ‘man’ in a relationship etc etc. I’m glad to see there are other people in the world who think in a similar way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your response! I think I’m in the same feminist boat as you. And the percentage of self-proclaimed feminists who are true man-haters are definitely a minority – often a very loud minority, unfortunately. It’s difficult coming up with truly holistic solutions. That example about domestic abuse is something I’ve thought about, too. And part of my overall response to what seems like gross one-sidedness is that metaphor about the pendulum swinging. Men have been afforded way more rights and protections that we feel it’s okay to flip the tables and go so far as to ignore men – for now. As long as we keep our eye on the ball and work toward swinging closer and closer to the middle, where no one’s voices are ignored, such one-sidedness is acceptable (if only just barely).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s true, it really is a swing back and forth. Hopefully each time the extent of the swing gets smaller, so we’re slowly winding down to resting somewhere in the middle where everyone’s at peace with each other. We can all only do our part to get it there, and share our thoughts like you’ve done!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was just discussing this (or topics related to this one) with another woman tonight. I feel that as a society, there is a great disservice being done to men right now, and it boils down to them losing their identity. I think men are feeling a bit lost on where they fit into our modern society and what is expected of their public and private personas. There is a lot of pressure to embrace hardcore porn and ignore feelings of love and vulnerability. The result of this is an inability to connect with a partner in a meaningful relationship.

    Liked by 3 people

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