Politics, yep it makes me super uncomfortable to talk about. However, being a sociologist is the only way I can stomach the discussion.
What I want to talk about is the concept that sexism affects and can hurt men too. I love men, yes I do! I always wished I grew up with brothers, but, alas, I was the youngest of 3 daughters. The vast majority of my closest friends are men, and I am the proud auntie to 3 beautiful nephews.
As a woman, you might assume that I would write about sexism from a female point of view. My particular feeling is that 1) I definitely might in the future and 2) I kind of feel the subject has been well covered through the years.
Here are my suggestions that lead me to believe that sexism hurts men.
- You gotta fight for your right to party. Besides being a kick-ass Beastie Boys song lyric, many men are taught they should be ready and willing to put up their dukes and fight. Whether they are protecting the honor of their female partner/paramour/wife, pissed because some douche-bag flipped him off on the freeway, or are seething because of some perceived lack of respect, the typical man will feel like it is his expectation to make things right. If he is in a group, he might feel compelled to take physical action against someone and if he is alone, he might feel like he needs to be a man and stand up for himself. What's a man to do? Fight or flight? If he flees then he is a pussy and if he fights, then he is a juiced-up meat-head who belongs on the Jersey Shore.
- Make big bucks. Men have historically been the breadwinners in the relationship. I don't have to look far to see evidence of this close to home; my dad, an anesthesiologist, requested that my mom vacate her nursing job a short time before they married. My husband makes a very good income as an engineering manager working in Silicon Valley. We live very comfortably in a place that is well known for being ridiculously expensive to live. However, we have been together for an awfully long time and he was a starving graduate students for the first few years of our marriage. Ok, well he wasn't exactly starving. He is extremely smart and received a stipend throughout his graduate program. Even so, I was making more money from my criminal justice jobs during our tenure in Colorado. There is a very small chance that I might make more money then him in the future. Who knows what my future holds, and it comforts me to know that he wouldn't feel less of a man if that were to ever happen.
- Got kids? I sympathize with this one a lot. As a woman, I have always known that I have never wanted kids. People have told me that I would change my mind, my biological clock would click, and I would eventually sing another tune. Well it never did. I think that men get what I'm talking about here, but to a lesser extent. As a Bay Area dating coach, I see this take many forms. Women might not want to date a man who is a bit older because he might have young kids, women might not also want to date a man who is a bit older if he doesn't have children because there must be something wrong with him. Men who don't have or want children are afraid to date women with children, and it goes on and on. News flash: not everyone wants children.
- Got viagra? In this society, men are supposed to always want sex. Period. It's instinctual (kinda like spreading your seed in order to reproduce), and unless you want to be called gay, you should be having sex with any woman who is interested. Many men will tell you that the expectation is that they are supposed to not only want but be ready for sex at the drop of a dime. And if a man happens to find himself with a low sex drive due to things like medications, stress, lack of emotional connection, disability or illness, lack of physical attraction, etc, there is always viagra.
- Emotions are for women and pussies. Because men are always supposed to have a "stiff upper lip". Remember that scene with Tom Hanks in the movie "A League of Their Own" where he says "...Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!" I kinda figured that this is how many boys learn about how not to show emotion. This stiff upper lip notion is so confusing to me because I know that most women purposely steer clear of men who are devoid of emotion. Emotions make you human.
- So, are you gay or what? Is it just me, or does it seem like the majority of men would rather be perceived as poor or dumb then be considered even a little bit gay. It's funny how you can usually spot male hetero friends out in public. In Silicon Valley you will often see groups of 3 or 4 male friends instead of just 2. It's almost as if many men don't want to be seen in any social setting that might render them gay-adjacent.
One of my sexuality educator friends, Charlie Glickman, is one of the few educators I know who offers a workshop on this topic called "Act Like a Man: Male Gender Socialization" and I strongly recommend you check out his website and blog for more information.