"People are perfectly happy to see women as sex objects, but the actual biologic of our bodies is apparently gross and unmentionable."
- Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Female bodies must always be:
- naturally beautiful (but hairless)
- sexually available (but not slutty)
- curvy (but not skinny, and certainly not fat)
- fertile (but not menstrual)
So… good luck?
This is simple to logically smash. The same magnitude of expectations are put on men. Please, stop, you’re just making yourself look stupid.
Are men socially expected to shave their legs or armpits? Does their sexual value depend on how they shave their pubic hair?
Are men shamed for having too much sex? Or is a “male whore” simply called a “player” (if even given a title at all) and perceived as the ultimate male?
Are the political achievements of powerful men (ex: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney) belittled by conversations about their bodies like their female counterparts (ex: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin)? Do interviewers ask male actors about their dieting techniques on the red carpet?
Are men defined by their ability to produce offspring? Or are their successes independent from marriage and children? Are they asked about their family plans in job interviews?
Look, men certainly have their problems. There’s no denying that fact. Masculinity is a hugely limiting construction that crushes boys and men while encouraging the oppression of girls and women. And that’s why feminist analysis of masculinity is hugely important— see the work of Jackson Katz, Michael Messner, Tony Porter, and Michael Kimmel for more.
But what’s important to note is that critiques of men are framed as failures of masculinity (aka bridges into femininity). Think of the insults: “pussy,” “fag,” “bitch”… They all equate failure with women.
So yes— men are oppressed by patriarchal structures. But they also benefit from them. Gender oppression is not an equal battle.
Some interesting info: This is very reminiscent of the Baby X experiments, in which it was discovered that people reacted differently to a baby’s behavior depending on whether or not they believed the baby to be male or female. People were asked to watch a video of a baby reacting to a startling image (a Jack-in-the-box popping up), and describe the baby’s emotional state. When people believed the baby to be female, they described the baby as being scared and upset; when they thought the baby was male, they perceived the baby to be angry. This was very telling, as it showed that literally identical behavior could be construed differently based on the perceived gender of the subject.
Now imagine a lifetime of gender specific socialization- male anger is par for the course while the same emotion in a woman is personal weakness. Ha oh sorry don’t have to imagine THAT’S REALITY
There was a post across my dash earlier about “If you’re cis, sit down and think about your gender identity and what it means to you” and there was someone in the comment who thought it was pointless for a cis person to think about why they are their gender and what that means because that’s the whole point of being cis but no. No. This is why it’s important to think about your gender and what it means, because if you’ve never thought about it you are not defining it for yourself.