Have you ever heard the phrase ‘men get assaulted too’? It was likely that this phrase was used as a rebuttal in an argument about sexual harassment against women. Unfortunately, that’s how society views men’s rights: a way to shut down feminists. No one tends to look any further into the struggles of men than to use it as a point in an argument. After that, the wellbeing of men simply gets swept under the rug.
The true goal of feminism has been lost, leading many people to believe that it aims only to help women, and portray them as the ‘better sex’. In reality, the goal of feminism is to achieve equality between all genders. That includes men. Yes, though it may be hard to believe, gender roles and stereotypes affect everyone, not just women.
For example, society has placed men as a whole on a pedestal, expecting them to never cry or express emotions, be the main breadwinner of their family and always be a bubbling fountain of masculinity and testosterone. According to a study conducted by the Office for National Statistics in 2018, the differences in the number of suicides in Europe between men and women is 4:1. That means that 80% of all suicide victims are male.
Men often feel burdened by society's expectations of them, but are also expected never to show it. Men suffering from mental health disorders such as depression, feel pressured not to seek professional help, and thus end up committing suicide as they see no better way out. The fact that, as a society, we have forced some men into feeling like they have no more options is disgraceful.
Of course, it is important to mention that gender isn’t the only factor that plays into these statistics. Race and ethnicity, as well as sexuality affect these statistics, as the prejudice these men face heavily impact their lives.
Another misconception held by many people is that men cannot be sexually assaulted. They think men can only be the perpetrator and never the victim. Even though there are fewer male victims than female, male victims do exist, and can feel ignored due to the lack of awareness surrounding the topic.
As previously mentioned, men feel pressured to act and dress masculine, and any man who dares step outside the realms of masculinity is frowned upon. This includes men who use makeup, wear skirts, use skincare products and just act in a manner that society perceives as overly feminine. These men are often stereotyped as gay and are seen as ‘weak’ and ‘less manly’. There is no right way to be a man, and the idea that all men should look and act a certain way is harmful and repressive.
This phenomenon is better known as toxic masculinity, and is deeply rooted in sexism and men being perceived as the ‘dominant sex’.
We all know that the feminist movement is important for fighting for change and equality, but it is important to not let men’s issues be ignored, as they also face problems inflicted by society. We need to take a step back and realise that at the end of the day, we won’t make any changes if we can’t stop talking over each other.