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…is the name of this article. It was written by Alex Gibson, a modern history student at Magdalen College, Oxford. Apparently, “He is very proud to add feminism to a list of ‘isms’ he cares passionately about, and is quite fond of making his friends uncomfortable in the pub by talking about it”. Go him – I’m glad that there are men out there that identify with feminism. But while I’m happy for him that he can add feminism to his impressive list, I had a few issues with his article.

In essence, it was fair enough. Men have to face gender stereotypes and that sucks for them. Poor things. But right from the title, I was perplexed. “Why Men Should Care About Gender Stereotypes”…well, why should they? The message is clear – because it affects them, too. In fact, some stereotypes about men are “allowed to flourish in – dare I say it – a much more brazen way than the stereotypes about women”. Of course, if it only affected women then, one is led to assume, men shouldn’t care about gender stereotypes.

While I agree with him over several of his points, this overall principle, that the reason men should care is because it affects them too, marred my opinion of the whole article. Not only this, but also his attitude to feminism as though it were purely for advancing women. While there is a clear focus upon women within feminism, as it is, more often than not, about equality and women being treated equally to men, his article seemed to suggest that feminism only rejects the ludicrous ideas held about women and that, indeed, there is nothing that addresses the issue of supposed ‘masculinity’.

The problem is, while women are encouraged to reject the ludicrous ideas that are held about them, men are supposed to embrace them.

The idea of all women rejecting gender stereotypes is a wonderful one. What bliss, when all women are raised by feminists who ensure that they shed gender stereotypes and consider themselves as individuals. But that is not reality. When so many women and men are brought up in the clutches of gender stereotypes, it is not right to say that women reject gender stereotypes while men are expected to embrace them. Both ‘genders’ are expected to conform to the stereotypes that are rife in modern society, but I would never go so far as to say that stereotypes about men are allowed to flourish more than those about women. When the ‘worst’ swear word in England, cunt, describes the female anatomy, when women are portrayed on tv, in programmes and adverts and films and in books, cartoons, and games as conforming to ‘stereotypes’, when there are still ‘girls mags‘ which expect women to only care about make-up, clothes, shoes, and, of course, men, when feminism comes under ‘life & style‘ if acknowledged at all in national papers, when to ignore the advances of other men makes you a ‘slut’, how can you say that stereotypes about men flourish more?

I’d love to know.

Yes, Alex isn’t an anti-feminist. And he wouldn’t want to undermine the wrongs done to women – I appreciate this. However the way that he has approached the issue is deplorable, as he not only sees it as an issue for men just because they are also victims of it, but also seems to think that men have a harder time than women when it comes to gender stereotypes

I would never dare to suggest that men have a harder time than women in general society, because that’s just patently untrue, but in terms of stereotypes we fail utterly.

Yes, he has some good points. The main one, of course, is that men also suffer from patriarchy.

Men are often characterised as spoiled, helpless brats utterly unable to perform simple household tasks, too stupid to remember anniversaries and appointments and completely unable to understand these strange female creatures and their hysterical emotions. We’re base brutes ruled by our overactive sex drives who simply can’t help being crass and immature, because that is the way God made us. Basically, we are mentally deficient lumps who require a female carer to function in society.

But to then say that

This is precisely the kind of ridiculous stereotype that, if applied to women, would be torn to shreds in intelligent debate.

seems rather naive. Yes, in intelligent debate it would be. But so would ridiculous stereotypes about men. However, more often than not we aren’t dealing with intelligent debate. We’re dealing with one-sided views, we’re dealing with people who have grown up being told what girls do and what boys do, so have been socialised into accepting these stereotypes. We’re dealing with anti-feminists who believe the stereotypes that they have been fed with.

Also, to assume that the stereotype of men as ‘mentally deficient lumps’ is the prevalent one could also be misguided. There are a great deal of stereotypes that say that men are more intelligent, more capable of achieving, better at academic studies while women are supposed to flourish creatively. However, Alex clearly hasn’t experienced these as he believes that male academics aren’t celebrated.

Let’s stop putting sports stars on a pedestal and start celebrating poets, writers, scientists and artists.

Actually, male poets, writers, scientists and artists are celebrated widely. Hell, the new freebee with the Guardian is ‘Great Poets of the 20th Century’ and guess how many women poets were great?

One.

Out of seven.

Of course, Plath was amazing. But anyone would believe she’s the only woman that’s ever written decent poetry.

Anyway, I feel that I have dwelled on this for too long. Basically, I agree that gender stereotypes are wrong, both logically and morally. But to suggest that male stereotypes are almost worse than female? I have an issue with that. Also, to suggest that the only reason men should care is because they are affected by it is ridiculous.

I’d be interested to hear what y’all think of the article, and, to balance it, look at this un:

Yay

She talks about supposedly ‘sexist’ feminism, and about the ideas put forward by Alex about male stereotypes. And there are some good links to male ‘movements’ at the end 🙂

And on that note – Adieu!

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