Where are the men? No, seriously. That’s not a rhetorical question—I want to know. Take a walk through the mall, browse any newsstand, or simply flip through TV stations: Women, women, women, EVERYWHERE. Women products, women’s issues, women’s support groups, breast cancer awareness; you’d think the entire world required a bra and a tampon just to function. It’s true that the former sentence was sort of tasteless, but after being spoon-fed my need to acknowledge and observe women’s ability to be as good as men, I can’t taste anymore—my tongue is numb.
I’m not hear to tell you that women and women’s issues don’t deserve attention. I’m not writing this under some misogynistic agenda. But the crazy thing is, just mentioning that men require more attention sparks the kind of heated debate that could hold its own in the race for World War III. That’s how taboo it is to try and raise awareness about men in American culture. Men have virtually become invisible, UNLESS, of course, you fulfill the archaic stereotypes of being a man: powerful, successful, and having high-income. Women will beat you over the head until you can’t see straight over issues regarding the traditional stereotypes of women, and how such stereotypes subject them to an impoverished life behind metaphorical bars. Yet, try spinning it the other way; try talking about how a man without a job has (ZERO) worth in society, while a woman with no education, no income, unmarried and without child can STILL retain value. Without income or success, men are unequivocally invisible. Try asking questions the other way around, too; instead of asking why women aren’t treated equally to men, ask: Why are men not treated equally to women? But, we can’t ask those questions. We can’t even suggest that men have been marginalized in a society that has raised women up so high above men, that they sit upon our shoulders while we buckle at the knees in mud up to our hips just to support them.
I love women. I love equality. But there’s something wrong with the way equality is executed in American culture. Equality isn’t created in the way that it should be—by raising the awareness and opportunities of one group to the SAME level as another. Equality in America, especially in the case of women, has been achieved by raising the awareness and opportunities of women while simultaneously devaluing and obscuring men. The great heights that women have achieved are well deserved and necessary indeed. However, the means by which such gains have been obtained are unjust, and so, has resulted in a great disservice to men.
This is an extremely dangerous situation if you think about it hard enough. To better illustrate this point, try to think of men and women as stocks. The value of women, and therefore the stock price of women has skyrocketed far above its true value. This indicates that investors’ expectations are high for the performance of the stock “women”. In societal terms, this translates to the all-too-often gripes of women that argue that society expects too much of them: they have to be the beautiful, sexy, and desirable female; they have to be the professional career women that has high-income; and they have to be mothers and cleaners and cooks etc. Under these expectations, given the limited nature and abilities of human beings in general, the stock will crash; it’s overvalued and creates severe volatility. But that’s not even the worst thing. The worst part of it is that men are undervalued. As a stock, “men” isn’t receiving the investment dollars it needs to grow and innovate, making sure that it stays competitive in the market. This translates to the very little investment society makes in men, still believing that men issues don’t need awareness or advocation. Without deliberate and specific investments in men, the quality of men that society produces dwindles, and civilization suffers as a whole.
Check this article out. The rate of male high-school and college dropouts has risen steadily over the past two decades, and women overwhelmingly outnumber men in undergraduate and graduate degrees. During my first year of college, it was a well-known fact that females dominated the campus at about almost 60%. While these numbers seemed awesome for the sex drive of a young male like me, who was just trying to get laid, the widening gap suggested by such data have a more negative implication for society as a whole: not enough males are getting enough education. Somewhere along the way, while we were trying to make sure girls weren’t left behind, we forgot about the boys. So why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why aren’t there signs, scholarships, and coaching programs aimed specifically at pushing males to go for higher education? I must have seen over 100 specialized scholarships aimed at females who want to be doctors or enter mathematics, and literally none that favor men outside the realm of sports. With a majority of females in higher education now, advocation for females continues to be a priority and future decisions will be made that keep female education in the lime light.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Everywhere you go you’ll find both men and women donned with pink ribbons. But that’s not all. Houses will have pink ribbons tied to their mail boxes, there will be millions of dollars spent on commercials to solicit donations, and huge billboards overlooking highways across the country will ask you to think about boobs. I love boobs. Breasts are one of those things that make the worst situations bearable. Literally. Bad day at work? Let’s look at some boobs. Behind on your car payment again? Time to check out boobs. Argument with the in-laws? Boobs. Look, we get it: Breasts are awesome and undoubtably deserve our attention. But you know what, prostate cancer awareness month was last month, September. I have a prostate, and I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW about such a campaign. I’ve lost two family members to prostate cancer, while my aunt was successfully saved from a death my breast cancer. According to an article I read, the National Institute of Health estimates that, in the U.S., 207,090 women AND 1,970 men will get new cases of breast cancer, while 39,840 women AND 390 men will likely die from the disease. The estimated new cases of prostate cancer this year—affecting ONLY men—is 217,730, while it is predicted 32,050 will die from the disease. With such comparable death rates, why is it that prostate cancer receives nearly half the federal funding that breast cancer does? Where are the parades, marches, marathons, and billboards for a cancer that kills men by the thousands each year? Nowhere, that’s where.
Scour any Facebook posting that shows a female becoming recently single and you’ll find hordes of both men and women “liking” it. The females offer support, the men offer to take them out, and the recently-single woman gets all the assurance she needs. Everyone tells her that
A.) She’s better off without her now ex-boyfriend, and
B.) That everyone is here to help her through this difficult time.
In the case where a man becomes recently single…mmmmm not so much support. You won’t get likes, and you most certainly won’t get the outpour of support that females have the privilege of garnering. In fact, you’d be lucky to even hear crickets beyond that one close friend that says “What happened bro?” There is tons of research to support the notion that women enjoy far more social support, and as a result, rebound from loss and setbacks much better than men. The problem is, no one is talking about why, or how to better help men cope. It’s certainly not on the news or taken very seriously. We’ll hear all-day long about women who’ve been sexually harassed or didn’t get that job promotion she thinks she deserved, but not about the men who put pistols in their mouths because they felt they had no one to turn to. No, we don’t hear about depressed and hurting men. We push them aside until they go on a shooting spree and end up on the evening news. Then, we label them “mentally ill” or “unstable”, forgetting that society tells them to never talk about their emotions. We tell men to shut up and bear it. We literally tell them that only women show hurt, only women cry, that being a man means you’re not allowed to be hurt.
I read an article recently, entitled, 10 Things You Should Know About Male Depression. The entire article talks about how men are likely to engage in violent behavior, drinking or using drugs to mask it, and even that there might me a chromosomal component that affects men at the genetic level. What the article fails to discuss are the social expectations placed on men that prevent them from seeking help. The article vaguely mentions that men don’t ask for help right before pulling the trigger on themselves, but leaves the bigger discussion on the table. The article doesn’t talk about the reasons why men turn to drugs, use anger, and are more successful at committing suicide. As a man myself, it’s quite clear that men don’t have the same permissions that women do in our culture. Whereas women are encouraged to talk about their feelings and have a good cry, men are almost completely ignored. Even our best friends (which happens to be a significantly smaller circle than that of females) will offer the shallowest of support, “Gotta move on bro, you’ll get over it”, a phrase that indicates a societal prescription for the isolation of men and their woes.
The best part of this entire article was when I examined the author: a woman. I mean, great, you’ve done some of your research lady. But, how the hell are you going to talk about male depression with any kind of serious authority? A woman has no idea what its like to endure the expectations that exist for men, the culture of silence placed on our shoulders as we “suck it up” and go back to work the next day (because a man without a paycheck is worthless).
The Bottom Line.
Women have achieved great strides in equality in relation to men, as they should. I’m proud and thankful that my girlfriend, Yoko, doesn’t have to be a housewife and can pursue her own career. I’m happy and support the fact that she can challenge men on their own grounds. That’s what makes her so hot. But Yoko also values me as a man, as a person. The problem I see these days is that modern women have been taught that in order for them to have value, they have to marginalized men. This kind of agenda, pushed through by extreme feminists (because those are the only kind that make it on TV and in the news), insist that women are undervalued, when it simply isn’t true. The biggest problem is that this kind of dialogue promotes an attitude that teaches women to VALUE men LESS. And so now you have a situation where men, overall, are not a big part of consideration for anything. By default, men are perceived to “have enough advantages” and somehow that men continue to owe women “retribution” for past discriminations. The hard work and earnings and accomplishments of men are seen as “normal” as “that’s what they should do”, whereas when a woman does something, the whole world takes a photo and writes a story about it. The point is, women have been fighting for equality and equality means that both men and women are treated equally, not that men are irrelevant. Men have become increasingly invisible in American society, a place where the demands and ails of women are screamed far louder over the silence of men. The funny thing about it is that, at the end of the day, when all the TV cameras are off and the spotlight dies, it’s just us: men and women together. And, we need each other.
While writing this article today, I was discussing the premise of it with one of my more feminist friends, who replied at one point,
“honestly, i have huge sympathy for men
i really do. i feel really bad for how they are raised
and what they are taught and i think that attending to that issue could/would help women’s issues as a result”
I agree with her. I don’t think you can attack equality issues from one side of the fence. I think if the ails of men were more recognized and addressed, and more investments were made in supporting men, it would pay dividends for women as well. Please share this article and message. Thank you.