This is our truth, tell us yours
Today is International Mens Day and there have been jokes aplenty of a pretty obvious nature. There has also been some righteous anger, such as in this post by Stavvers over on Another Angry Woman. Reading the Return of the King website, one of the most misogynistic pieces of crap I have had the misfortune to come across in a very long time it is easy to see why there is so much anger.
It is the case that if you are at the top of the heap, everyday is your day. However to claim that all men are equally privileged, and do not also suffer under our system of patriarchy, or perhaps kyriarchy is the more accurate term, is to not only ignore the principles of intersectionality but to allow those structures which oppress us all to be reinforced.
We live in a world which champions certain ideas of acceptable masculinity, just as it polices and controls acceptable ways of being a woman. Look at how teenage boys who are the victims of sexual predators are treated. There is an excellent piece by Ally Fogg here. If a male teacher has sex with a pupil it is seen as an abuse of power, if a female teacher has sex with a male pupil it is seen as a bit of luck. Same sex grooming and abuse are of course ignored completely as they boys of the North Wales children’s homes or the victims of Cyril Smith can testify.
The idea a teenage boy is not a victim, but a more than willing accomplice comes from the belief that males of any age are always ready for, and wanting sex. The controlled by their cock meme that leads straight into rape culture and men being ungovernable beasts who cannot help themselves. The belief that claims rape would not happen if only we acted better, less sluttily, less proactively. Of course a whole part of this is the idea men cannot be raped, since any real man either wants sex all the time, and is willing to fight to the death rather than submit to unwanted male intercourse. (Incidentally I think this is part of the thinking behind the “real rape” feckwittery. Patriarchy tells men that not being 1000% hetro is unthinkable, and therefore anal penetration can never be allowed. These men believe that women should fight dishonour with the same vehemence they would. Or as Oglaf put it, you have no honour, like a woman.
I tweeted out the link to a post by Carter about male body image and patriarchal norms earlier today . It is well worth reading. In my own life I have been close to two men with diagnosed eating disorders. They both shared with me how they felt the world viewed them as less masculine for having anorexia. In a world where dieting and concern about weight is seen as a female norm that even young girls adopt, this is no surprise. But if we are to challenge the huge pressure women and girls are under to look a certain way then we must also challenge the idea there is something intrinsically feminine about dieting.
Wherever we look we can see issues that are supposedly mens issues that also show how we live in a patriarchal society that benefits a very few at the top. It is currently Movember, an attempt to raise awareness of prostate cancer (though of course not just men can get this) The sexualisation of breast cancer has been one of the most sexist and frankly misogynistic campaigns of the past few years. We apparently have to care about breast cancer because patriarchy views women with boobs, of a certain size, as acceptable. We must protect the boobage at all costs. We end up with certain cancers talked about, not because they are the biggest killers but because they make sexy copy. So Movember, but no mention of the fact men get breast cancer or women are not defined by their breasts.
I could go on, but you will be glad to know I wont. These, and many other issues, are why I as an intersectional feminist think we need more days like today, not fewer.