June 21, 2012

About the 'What About the Men?' Response

There's a common... conception among a lot of men that men have become the undermined sex, these days: that they are the easy target, that they can be the stupid characters in adverts, that jokes can be made about men without consequence, etc etc. So, whenever women complain about patriarchy and sexism against women and all that jazz, men rise up and start pointing out all the ways that men and maleness is being undermined.

And to some extent, they're right.

Wait, wait, bear with me on this. I mean, you must have noticed the "stupid dad" trope, common to a lot of adverts - that the father figure is a clumsy fool who can't do anything right and has to be saved by the resourceful mother character. And yes, there are a lot of jokes about men and how they only think with their penis or whatever. And there is some genuine debate to have about child custody, etc, etc. And these are just a few of the ways than men can be maligned by society.

But here's the important point - this doesn't wipe out the fact that we're still in a patriarchal society which still quite significantly favours men over women in a lot of ways. What's happened is that men notice when they are the butt of jokes, or if they are discriminated against in some way. Suddenly, it becomes a big deal. And this is a good opportunity to once again explain privilege.

See, men, we just don't notice when it's other people being maligned. Because we are privileged enough not to suffer in the same way as women: that we don't get looked over for better jobs as often, that our opinions are taken more seriously, that we get better characters in film and TV, that we don't have to be sexualised to be noticed, that we aren't expected to be barbie dolls, that we have to worry much less about being sexually assaulted, that our national-level sports are basically ignored, etc etc etc... We don't notice because it's not happening to us. But it is still happening and has been happening for way, way longer than any of these men-biased issues we've started to notice.

The balance hasn't turned in women's favour. Men just are blind to all the shit women still have to deal with. Check yo' privilege. Okay?

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