Sexism is often associated with only the female gender, and those men who face the wrath of gendercidal, genocidal, sexist laws and inequitable stereotypes are often overshadowed by the many cases of women seeking justice against the same flaws.
It is important to understand that men can and do suffer from sexism in ways very similar to women.The reason behind why both genders feel the skewed effect of sexism is not because the other gender rules the world and wants to win over their opposite sex, but because, gender differences from the past have creeped into the minds of our contemporary society to form irrelevant stereotypes that do much more harm than good. Here are some ways in which sexist stereotypes affect men in our society.
#10 Sexism in advertising
It has become increasingly harder for a man to advertise his product/ service without the aid of a woman. It is a surveyed and an estimated fact that if you use a woman’s voice, photograph or video to promote your cause, event, product or service, you have a much higher chance of getting attention. The society’s outlook has made it harder for men to shine and showcase their talent without featuring a woman.
#9 Occupational sexism
There are several occupations and fields that do not look very welcomingly at men. The term “nurse” is evocative of a motherly woman with a red cross stitched on her pocket, whereas “nursing” is merely a “profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families and communities.” When my guy friend asked his mother if he could take up nursing as a major, his mother called me up discreetly to ask me if he was gay. Nursing, child care, primary school teaching are some roles where men enter at their own risk since they are stereotypically reserved for women. Men who do brave those positions are prone to be judged as lacking in masculinity or as homosexuals.
#8 Pressure to be the breadwinner
In universities it is interesting to observe how a computer science or an engineering class is predominated with men whereas an English or a liberal arts class barely has a handful of men. This is because boys are pressured by society to “be the breadwinner and earn enough to raise a family.”
It is harder for parents to accept that their son wants to pursue music or fine arts than to accept their daughter doing the same, because the idea is that even if the daughter fails in her career, she will always be able to depend on the man she marries for financial support, whereas the man must always be ready to provide for the family and cannot pursue a career with a higher risk of gaining success. This ideology also affects women in several ways—one of them being forced to prioritize looks over books from an early age. There should be no space to entertain this mindset in the 21st century where both men and women are able to work and earn.
#7 Why does a woman invoke more pity than a man?
How many homeless men do you walk by on your way to work? And how many homeless women do you walk by on your way to work? Women on streets invoke sympathy whereas people don’t even bat an eyelid at seeing a man holding a cup of cents outside a Starbucks. There is a skewed effort in aiding homelessness for women than for men. Even migrant women are accepted into communities more easily than men.
Why do headlines after a terror attack say, “100+ people found dead, including 20 women and children.” A child dying at a premature age is more catastrophic for obvious reasons, but why is a woman’s life considered more valuable than that of a man’s? Life is valuable—be it a man's or a woman's!
#6 Men are not allowed to be openly emotional
How many of us have heard, “Don’t cry like a girl.” Studies show that opening up to emotions result in lower stress levels and lighter minds. Societal gender constructs teach young boys to control their tears when they’re hurt by threatening them with an image of being weak and of the opposite sex. This does harm to both genders. As they grow older, men are expected to suppress their emotions and put on a brave front. This sexist stereotype could play a big role in the reason why men are more prone to stress induced heart attacks than women of the same age are.
#5 Sexist romantic expectations
While women are expected to date up, men are expected to date down. In a man and woman couple, the man is expected to be older, taller, smarter, more athletic, and earn more than his female companion. If however, that is not the case, the woman is asked to find a better match for herself, whereas the man is spoken as undeserving of the woman. Why is the man expected to propose to and pay for the woman?
#4 Same voice and action, different reactions
When a man and a woman commit the same crime, the man will almost always receive a harsher treatment and punishment than the woman— even if they were partners in crime. Similarly, if a woman hits a man she is considered to be “strong and powerful” whereas a man would be shamed and looked down on if they were to ever hit a woman.
#3 More power to men might actually be detrimental for them
Men are expected to hold building doors, car doors, and chairs for women lest they’re looked down as unmannered or unchivalrous. They are expected to pay the cheques after a meal and pay head to a what a woman has to say lest they’re considered as unstable. It is always in your best interest to be selfless, to give a helping hand and put others around you before yourself, however, it is awfully wrong to judge men more than women for not being selfless. All of the above mentioned acts are of selflessness and should be practiced by all—regardless of gender.
#2 Sexist marriage and divorce laws
Men are considered to be the heavier side of the balance when judged for marriage and divorce laws—especially in countries like the United States. In many cases men are expected and often bound by law to provide financial support for their wives after the marriage is broken whereas emotional support from the wife for the husband is unexpected and unheard of. Moreover, there is an alarmingly strong bias against the father in regards to dispute during awarding the custody of children during a divorce, irrespective of which is the better and stable parent. In the United States, in only 1 out of 10 cases do men receive custody of children.
#1 Skewed laws for sexual harassment or rape
The minute a woman files an FIR against a man, he is arrested without further interrogation. A woman has the power to ruin a man’s reputation, career and life if they decided to fake some bruises, cook up a story and file a case of rape, assault, harassment or abuse. For the better or the worse, there is no such equivalent dramatic law for a man to resort to with his false cry against a woman. Furthermore, upsettingly enough it is an estimated fact that only 1 in 10 male rape victims reports his experience to the police.
Let’s work towards spreading awareness of irrelevant gender stereotypes and eradicating the same to welcome a harmonious society of both genders.
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