Posted in Gender

Being Male: Success Object And Utilitarian Value

There is no two ways about it – men are objectified in society for our success, wealth and status. It is expected of us from ourselves, from women, from our families and from society in general. Man objectified for what he has is as damaging as woman the sex object, yet few notice and even fewer care. Christian Grey personifies how the contents of a man’s bank account is more important than the content of his character.

Stop being a pussy, grow a set, be a man.

Feminists think this is privilege.

Get a job.

No, get a better one, one that pays you more. I don’t care if you’re happy in this one or that a better paying one makes you miserable.

Why don’t you have a better job? Why won’t you get a better job? Aren’t you a real man?

If this is supposed to be privilege then why the pressure to succeed? Why the stress and anxiety? Why the condemnation of men who opt out? Why are decent men who work at McDonalds “losers” if they are happy in that job? If something is driving thousands of men to take their lives every year, then I contend that that is not a privilege.

It is a sentence.

When people talk about male privilege, it usually refers to the domination of men in business and success in general. What isn’t really talked about in society, and certainly not by feminists (because perhaps it’s avoided as in inconvenient truth), is how much pressure we put on men to succeed and continue to succeed and to prove their worth in their successes.

When Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2013, ending 77 years of British drought at the games’ premier tournament, only after he won was he asked whether he would now marry his fiance. This is the sort of shit we get all the time. “Now you have finished university will you marry her?” “Now you have got that promotion, will you marry her?” “Now you are world champion, will you marry her?” Hey, you deserve her now so we give you permission to consider yourself a worthy human being.

This is how we objectify men – that we only “deserve” a woman’s love and attention and hand in marriage when we have accomplished something and proven that that accomplishment is enough to deserve her.

Yet still we champion success and ambition as “male privilege”. Rarely does this pressure feel like privilege, rarely does this demand to succeed and condemnation of failure to live up to it feel like an honour, rarely does opting out of these games feel like a privilege, rarely does seeing broken men feeling like failures taking their own lives in despair feel like privilege, rarely does having such high suicide rates blamed purely on “toxic masculinity” feel like privilege.

When you go through life feeling you will never be successful enough, rich enough or powerful enough – all the time being condemned for holding people back because of that success – it never feels like a privilege. Sorry feminists, but it’s about time you checked yours too.

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

11 thoughts on “Being Male: Success Object And Utilitarian Value

  1. You have made some good points and I think both men and women need to shed some of the stereotypes and expectations they have of each other.

    1. I agree with that absolutely. I’m just resentful of this persistent notion that we men have it so easy – we don’t.

  2. Unfortunately, this relates to what each gender finds attractive in the other. Feminism was able to give women the choice to work outside the home because men’s attraction to women is not contingent on women’s work role. However, feminism was not able to free women from the “beauty myth”, because men’s attraction to women very much depends on their appearance.
    In the same way, feminism (or masculism) can not free men from female expectations of material success, because their attraction to men (at least, in terms of marriage quality) is highly dependent on this.
    I agree with everything you wrote in your post…..I just don’t see it changing. A less successful man can learn to accept himself as he is, in the same way an overweight woman can, but his romantic prospects will be reduced in the same way hers will.

    1. I don’t think feminism changed The Beauty Myth, but it has raised awareness of body positivity, and perhaps even taken it a little too far in attraction-shaming of men for not generally liking bigger women. I can’t log into Facebook without a variation of the meme of “REAL men prefer curves”.

      I think we can raise awareness of how the high expectations of men can be damaging to our mental health, because that’s precisely what I am trying to do here, and there’s nothing wrong will challenging society’s rigid strictures about maleness. If I can just reach through to one person to consider that a man is a human being and not merely an appliance, then I feel I will have succeeded in some small degree.

  3. I think that is a very noble and important goal, and that is part of why I read your blog. But I don’t foresee Facebook memes of ‘real women prefer under- employed men.’

    I agree that society objectifies women for beauty and men for success/utility. I agree that such objectification can be harmful. But because feminism idealizes success and utility as ideals, and frankly as GOALS for women, they are unlikely to perceive the problem. They don’t understand the very different implications that financial success or lack thereof has for men vs women.

    1. I don’t foresee Facebook memes of ‘real women prefer under- employed men.’

      lol! but it would be good to see if only for ironys sake. I doubt the people it is aimed at would actually get it though or would make excuses for why it’s different.

      But because feminism idealizes success and utility as ideals, and frankly as GOALS for women, they are unlikely to perceive the problem.

      Of course,and to throw their own trope back at them. it’s because those who have privilege are blind to it.

  4. Hi CUCH, believe it or not, but I worked with a woman, (same age as me) who dumped her husband for a significantly older wealthy man. She divorced her husband, not because he was a horrible husband but because he didn’t earn enough money and she wanted him to earn more. She felt he wasn’t motivated enough and lazy. So she dumped his ass, married this older guy, and is now living the life she has always felt she deserved.

    Imagine?

    1. Sadly, it proves some of my points above – the ex-husband may have felt fulfilled by his job, but as men we rarely have the luxury of choosing a low-wage job we love and being respected for it (with one or two exceptions, I think).

      1. Indeed it does. It earned a decent wage. Probably around the six figure range but this woman wanted more more more and because she didn’t earn that wage, working as a secretary like me, she went out looking for someone to give her life she wanted. I don’t know how women do that, honestly. It makes me sick and I liken it to selling one’s soul.

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