Sunday, January 27, 2013


SEXISM (noun) \ˈsek-ˌsi-zəm\
: Prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially, discrimination against women
: Behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Society these days would like us to believe that women are the only victims of sexism. True. It’s a men’s world out there, and the empowered women of our generation are ever more eager to turn this men’s world around. There is nothing wrong with women fighting sexism, asserting their rights, and creating their own place in society. But little does society know that men can be victims of sexism too; and that both men and women can be perpetrators of sexist acts against men.

What are the common sexist stereotypes against men?

Society expects men to be providers/breadwinners. I guess this stems from the perspective developed from the hunter-gathering stage of human evolution. Men are supposed to be hunters, out for the kill so at the end of the day they have a beast to lay down their woman’s feet to feed the family for the coming days. The same today—men work backbreaking hours so that at the end of fifteen days he has a fat pay check to surrender to his commander. Men are not supposed to be doing domestic jobs such as housekeeping and raising kids. If a man does not have a car, a bank account, or a house of his own, don’t bother finding love anytime soon.

Society expects men to be physically attractive. Media these days has everything to say about what men should look like. They should be tall, well built, clean, handsome—the works of being a real gentleman. If you have a big tummy, unibrows, oily face, crooked teeth, too much hair, short height, it’s going to be a challenge finding a nice and lovely lady to fall in love with. Nerds and geeks have no place in a real man’s world as media would like to show.

Society expects men to be strong and not emotional. "Boys don’t cry" is a line often mentioned in song. Men aren't expected to watch chick flicks, read romance literature, or even write one. Men aren't supposed to be experience emotions such as giddiness, sentimentality, or utter despair. When women leave us for another, we are expected not to wail and whine like babies looking for their mothers. Men can’t be loud, talkative, and opinionated as these are qualities often associated with women.

Society expects men to be decisive and firm. Men shouldn't have difficulty making up their minds about something, let alone change their minds from time to time. Hence the reason why society used to give typhoons in the Philippines lady names like “Rosing” or “Bising” because of the erroneous belief that only women are temperamental, moody, and can change their mind at the drop of a hat. In times of crisis, men are supposed to show composure, without a hint of confusion and fear.

Society portrays all men as cheats. Let's face it: there are more films where men are portrayed as cheats. As if some women aren't capable of infidelity whether physical or emotional. If a guy notices a beautiful woman other than his girlfriend, women are quick to judge that they are cheaters. But when a woman goes mushing for a handsome, macho man other than her boyfriend, there is neither stigma nor judgement involved. And when a woman is being flirted on by other men other than her boyfriend, her friends will even say to her, "Ang haba ng hair mo girl!" Imagine how this could be cruel and demeaning for the boyfriend. Our society hails cougars but disdains older men in a relationship with younger women as dirty old men (DOMs).

At some point, I have no problem with these expectations if there are no thick lines that say these are what men are supposed to be. I understand that men have to work because it’s a necessity to survival, that men have to be well groomed because for health and hygiene reasons, that men have to be decisive at some point in a crisis, that man have to be strong in order to protect his family, that men have to be physically fit and healthy in order to accomplish his responsibilities as a guy.

But everywhere we look, there are thick lines that box us men inside these expectations.

Say, a guy gets laid off his job. He has difficulty finding one because of tough economic times. He is dubbed a bum, a hobo, a tambay (in Filipino, short for standby). Even if he stays in the house and take responsibility for domestic stuff like cleaning and laundry, the stigma of not having a job will always be there. Many men have been left by their wives just because they don’t have a job or preferred to stay at home to be house husbands instead of blue or white collar men who earn a fat pay check enough to buy women their whims and caprices in life.

"From time to time, men have to be the gatherers
and women have to be the hunters."
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not condoning indolence and laziness on the part of men. I’m just saying we should look at men and women fairly. When women stay a home and become housewives, nothing bad is said of them—which is a totally different case for men. This should not be the case; society has to accept the reversal of evolutionary gender roles. From time to time, men have to be the gatherers and women have to be the hunters.

I am also not condoning emotional instability. All I am saying here is men should be allowed to show some vulnerability when they have to. Like in the example above, when a woman leaves a man, can’t we cry out loud in pain like normal human beings do? Can we not show our despair through tears and wails, and be a total wreck from time to time? Can't we be like Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness" who despite his many pitfalls, wrong turns, and despair in life still managed to turn it all around?

Men who do not cry end up being mass murderers; Have you ever seen a woman in a shooting rampage? No. Because women let it out when they’re sad. They are allowed to show weakness, insecurity, and fear. But us men, we are expected to show strength even when deep inside we are frail and unstable. Just as women, our emotional needs need to be taken care of too.

But the worst of these thick lines is how society makes it a requirement for men to be physically attractive. I guess that’s the reason why we have a proliferation of beauty products for men and tremendously vain metrosexuals. In the eyes of traditional women, we should always be the dashing prince out to save them from being locked up in their tower. If you’re not packing abs or sporting some muscle, you don’t get the girl’s number, you don’t get steaming hot sex, and you don’t get true love.

What society does not understand is how this distorted view causes a lot of insecurity in men perceived as not physically attractive. Hence, in order to make the cut, some men become unnatural by trying to be who they’re not. These men aspire for greater height, desire longer penises, and pushing themselves beyond their limit at the gym.

True. Physicality has something to do with finding the right partners in life. That in the evolutionary perspective, big muscles for men and big boobs for women signifies the capacity to procreate good offspring. But this is the same reason why the Nazis cleansed Germany of men and women who are perceived to be of bad genes. But we are not Nazis looking for true love. Hence, we shouldn't label nerdy, geeky, unibrow sporting men as degenerates.

We should not define manliness in the context of physique, capability, or capacity; manliness flows from the mere humanity of a person—how at the beginning, he cries in the face of fear, but still faces it with all might, how he provides not just material but also non-material things, how despite his imperfect self—he still loves you with everything he has.

True. Man has to be able to provide for himself. It is an indicator of whether he can take care of someone else in his life. The same should be true for women. We are not entering a relationship because we want somebody to take care of us. If it is for this reason, then we should more probably enter a nursing home or hire a caregiver instead. Men and women enter in a relationship out of their mutual want to live a life of love and care for each other. If you cannot give it to yourself, then how else can you be expected to give it to another person? If you only expect to receive love and care and not reciprocate it, why call it a relationship in the first place?

This paradigm shift goes both ways; it applies to how society traditionally and evolutionarily sees both men and women. I’m calling on society to take off the glasses of physicality and materialism and see people in the context of love and humanity. TSS
People shouldn't try so hard to change people; rather, we must change the way we look at people. - Anonymous

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