Posted in Gender, Self Esteem

Why Women’s Perception of Men’s Lived Experiences Needs to Change

Because of the expectations put on men to always be strong, to keep a stiff upper lip, to “man up” and “grow a set”, it is often difficult for us men to talk about our difficulties and struggles. That is something that needs to change before we can even begin to tackle the crises facing modern men.

Half the difficulty, I feel, is the average woman’s perception of how men live, think and act. Adverts like this from Pantene do nothing to help.

I understand the notion behind it, but on the other hand it continues to reinforce just how easy men have it in life. It reinforces a social attitude that has been around for centuries, attitudes that lead to women saying stuff like:

  • “You have it easier, you’re a man!”
  • “It’s different for you, you’re a man!”
  • “Stop whining. Check your privilege!”

The Good Men Project asks: “Is this really how women think the world is for men? For every struggle, for every choice made, does it just seem like we have only a gold star waiting for us at the end of every achievement, every little gesture?”

Personally, I would damn well hope not but I sometimes have to wonder. I have been far more conscious of it recently too since reading this article – whenever there is a panel show where a man talks about his struggles or difficulties, or the difficulties of being a man, invariably there will be a woman to shut him down and remind him about how much harder she has it purely because she is a woman (or to remind him that being a man means he has it easier), usually starting with “yes but we women….” in a condescending way. The message is clear “your struggles could never hold a candle to mine.”

It’s almost as though it is difficult for some women to accept that (white) men even have difficulties. Possibly this is because it goes against patriarchal theory that all men have privilege over all women. If you have privilege, then you can’t have disadvantages, and therefore can’t understand or experience difficulty. However, men are statistically more like to:

  • Be unemployed
  • Be homeless
  • Be injured in the workplace
  • Be killed in the workplace
  • Die by suicide
  • Die young

That’s privileges I would rather go without, thank you very much.

We’re not going to really get anywhere until we stop with the notion that only women and girls have problems, and that men and boys simply are problems.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Why Women’s Perception of Men’s Lived Experiences Needs to Change

  1. I believe that there is an even more insidious problem here – the fact that women are unaware of their own female privilege, and believe that men share in it. Female privilege is, of course, the ability to be needy and still be respected – the ability to ask for help and be helped without being thought less of. The ability to share emotions without being thought of as defective. The ability to step back and be supported by others who feel a duty to support you. This is female privilege, and men DON’T HAVE IT.

    Women believe men have it, and only lack it by their own choices. Hence women tell men to explore their feminine side, not be afraid to cry, etc. But although women may believe, in theory, that men should do these things, women are not attracted to men who do, and neither men nor women are inclined to help needy men. A homeless woman is far more likely to be given money than a homeless man. A woman asking for help is far more likely to be helped than a man. A woman who cries in public is likely to be helped, while a man who cries is likely to be avoided. A man who loses his job is far more likely to be divorced by his wife than vice versa, and a man who makes less money than his ex-wife is far less likely to receive alimony than vice versa.

    Feminism has removed male privilege, by and large, but has retained female privilege. So the idea that men always have it better than women is antiquated – and in today’s day and age, the reverse is often true.

    1. Very, very good points made here. This is why I generally cannot engage with feminists – they deny there is such a thing as female gender privilege but you have highlighted just some of the most common.

      While feminists continue to deny there is female privilege, it is unlikely to be removed and we will never have true equality.

      Female privilege is the right to wear a T-shirt saying Boys Are Stupid, Throws Rocks at Them and say it’s “just a bit of fun” while turning the whole world against a scientist who wore a shirt with images of bikini clad women on it. Female privilege is also thinking it’s “fabulous” that a man who asks for a divorce winds up with his penis cut off, and keeping your job for laughing about it.

  2. I am not certain I can articulate this well but here goes…

    I am a 48 year old woman, born in the USA. I work for one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world. The particular group I work in, is comprised primarily of college graduates — all young, mostly male, some female and while working along side them, I see a shift happening.

    Background: Having grown up in the 1970s, born of depression era parents with residue beliefs stemming from: The Great Depression, WWII, Korea, and lastly Vietnam. I grew up surrounded by adults whose beliefs were that men do not cry, a man should, as you said, “man up” and “grow a pair”.

    Belief/View: A man is *only* a man if he can swing a hammer and fix a car.

    These *macho* beliefs were instilled not only in young boys but young girls. If a boy didn’t fall into this *macho* category, he was considered a “sissy”.

    Unfortunately for me, I still maintain these beliefs, mostly subconsciously, I feel. Before I got married, if I would meet a man, he had to fit into my “criteria of a man” before I would consider dating him. As a result, I married a contractor – a man who acted totally macho, a man’s man if you will, who in turn, treated me like sh*t a good percentage of the time we were married. I took his mistreatment of me because I believed that’s how “real men” treated women.

    WRONG!

    Now I no longer judge a man by how “masculine” he appear or by his ability to swing or not swing a hammer but rather by how he treats women in general and his overall view of women in our society.

    Anyway.

    Back to my first paragraph. The young men I work with, fresh out of college have a different view, as do the young women. The young girls I work with (also fresh out of college) do not subscribe to the macho belief systems I was raised to believe. The men appear to act as though they are on equal footing as the the women. I do not get a sense of entitlement from either side. There seems to be a shared equality here.

    I also do not sense any gender role bias. These young men *appear* to be completely willing to share the responsibilities of raising kids, changing diapers etc… they do not seem to have a problem with a female boss and so on…

    I know, I know, make your point Susan. Well I can’t CUCH. I guess what I am trying to say, very inarticulately is I think these up and coming younger generations may change this gender bias.

    Maybe…

    1. I think you’re right and you made your point very clearly.

      What bugs me most about rad fems and MRA in general is that they are so wrapped up in the concept that the other are involved in a conspiracy. Both sides make some very good points but both also have it so critically wrong. Both ignore reasonable arguments presented by the other side, both ignore facts and figures. My hope is that they will destroy each other, leaving only reasonable people in its wake. It’s a dream but a reasonable and rational one.

      I’ve been accused of being a voice for the other side by both sides. I am a man so I see the disadvantages of being a man, I see female gender privilege. I am also a reasonable human being which means I see where women are disadvantaged too – I would never deny that.

      Until both sides are willing to open their eyes and see that the other side has both privileges and disadvantages, they are never going to get anywhere.

      That said, I think what you say about the younger generation is certainly true. Feminists attack younger women for not identifying as feminist – this is one of the reasons why, people are seeing that the concepts of “men’s rights” and “women’s rights” can sometimes be contrary to equality. Generation Y gets it. A shame most of our fellow Gen-Xers can’t 🙂

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