Last week I wrote about 10 things feminists are sick of hearing. Item 10 was, “Men can’t be feminists”. I’ve heard this phrase quite a few times in addition to comments like, “Why would a man want to be a feminist? Don’t feminists hate men? Won’t that emasculate him?” What if I told you that the patriarchy hurts men too? Intrigued? Go ahead, keep reading.
First of all, what is “the Patriarchy”? Merriam-Webster defines the word “patriarchy” as:
1: social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
2: a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy
1. ‘Sow Your Wild Oats’2. ‘Always Be In Control’3. ‘Value Hotness (Traditional Measures of Physical Attractiveness) Above Everything.’4. ‘If She Doesn’t Stop You, You’re Good to Go!’5. This All Culminates in One Thing: Male Entitlement to Sex
“Of course, #notallmen end up overtly expressing this learned entitlement through violence, but we all get the same messaging, and there are countless ways for us to act on our sexual entitlement by hurting others.
So how does this entitlement show up in the form of violence?
The most extreme form of this violence shows up when men murder out of this entitlement, as we saw in a sensationalized way with the Isla Vista killings and as we see every single day when at least three men kill their intimate partners.
This violence appears in the form of relationship violence, most recently in the public eye because of Ray Rice’s violence against Janay Palmer, and with at least two million men per year beating their intimate partners.
This violence shows up in sexual violence, where, though it is hard to truly study perpetrators of sexual violence, the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are men (yes really, MRAs).
This violence shows up in street harassment, where the vast majority of street harassment is committed by men.
Sadly, I could go on and on with this list, but the common denominator is entitlement that is intimately woven into patriarchal masculinity.”
“To create loving men, we must love males. Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist-defined notions of male identity. Caring about men because of what they do for us is not the same as loving males for simply being. When we love maleness, we extend our love whether males are performing or not. Performance is different from simply being. In patriarchal culture males are not allowed simply to be who they are and to glory in their unique identity. Their value is always determined by what they do. In an anti-patriarchal culture males do not have to prove their value and worth. They know from birth that simply being gives them value, the right to be cherished and loved.”
― Bell Hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love