March is an important month for the fight for gender equality. As you are aware, International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March.
For this year’s International Women’s Day, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge and, with this in mind, we decided to #ChooseToChallenge masculinity. This article aims to discuss the male role in society and how men can join women to fight for a more equal and justice society.
When we discuss the importance of feminism and gender equity, we are not talking only about women, we are also talking about men. Collaboration and empathy among the two parts are essential to achieve a fairly equal world.
But what is the male role in this discussion? Does the patriarchal model also prejudice men? Let’s discuss some topics towards masculinity that are crucial to moving our discussion forward.
1- The Male Privilege
Male privilege is a system of advantages that is available to men based on the “ideal masculine norm”. This is not personal to any men, this is a historical result of a patriarchal society, the patriarchy is male centric and it benefits men rather than women.
If you analyse the numbers of men vs. women in politics, in high-level roles in corporations, and also consider the gender pay gap, male privilege is clear. And those are just some of the examples. Many men are not consciously aware of this system, because they’ve always lived and enjoyed those privileges. So it is important to be aware and, especially, challenge them!
2- Negative Masculinity
Negative masculinity, sometimes labelled “Toxic Masculinity” is used to describe behaviours that can be harmful to women, non-binary people and to men themselves, such as violence, abuse, control, discrimination etc. It relates to the pressure against men to “be a real man”, “not to cry”, “not to be vulnerable” and “not to make mistakes”, etc. This social role takes men to high levels of stress, anxiety and buildup of emotions. It is important to highlight that these attitudes affect men’s mental health and their relationships.
Intersectionality is a term created in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how different aspects of a person’s social and political identities (race, sex, gender, class, sexuality, disability, religion, for example) combines to create different forms of discrimination and privilege. So it is fundamental to be aware of different forms of oppressions such as racism, LGBTQIA+phobia, disability.
4- Changing the Gender Roles
The male or female gender we are assigned at birth has behavioural expectations. For example, boys are expected to show bravery, being a leader, being competitive and tough. Girls are expected to be caring, polite, pleasant, sensitive and nice. Women and men are expected to behave almost the opposite way. Sometimes we see some people resistant and threatened by the change of dynamics between male and female, but it benefits us all! Why can’t men cry? Why can’t women be leaders? There is no such thing as something “for men” or “for women”. We should be allies against all forms of discrimination and help to create new forms of masculine and feminine.
IrelandTogether welcome men, women, and non-binary people to join us this March4Men. The open dialogue about masculinity must happen to expand the discussion on gender equity and bring new perspectives.
We invite you to transform together! Check our series of events here.