Opinion: Feminism helps men too

Despite+common+stigmas%2C+feminism+helps+men+just+as+much+as+it+helps+women.+If+society+collectively+comes+together%2C+we+can+push+toward+a+better%2C+more+gender-equal+world+that+benefits+both+women+and+men.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Despite common stigmas, feminism helps men just as much as it helps women. If society collectively comes together, we can push toward a better, more gender-equal world that benefits both women and men.

The dictionary definition of feminism is achieving equality between men and women. Despite this, there is a distinct difference between the paper definition and how people perceive feminism. 

Since the term originated, people have perceived feminism as driving women’s rights forward while oppressing men. As a result, the creation of various men’s rights groups has skyrocketed. Some of these groups have brought up perfectly valid points regarding real issues that men face, but many do not realize that the feminist movement can help men too.

The NCFM is one of the most prominent men’s rights groups to rise during the feminist movement, highlighting many of the issues men face. It addresses seriously neglected matters and shows that men are systematically discriminated against in domestic and sexual violence laws that disregard male victims, custody, and parenting rights. 

On top of this, men make up 80-99% of homeless adults, job deaths, and school dropouts. 

Although men’s rights groups have done an excellent job at bringing attention to genuine issues men face, many critique feminism, using the movement as a scapegoat for their problems while blindly overlooking the cause of men’s issues. 

Whenever feminism is brought up between men and women, instead of working through a discussion, many tend to grow defensive simply because they feel they are being personally reprimanded or even targeted. Due to this, conversations around feminism crumble into a contest of which side of the gender-rights fence is “more oppressed.” 

This is discouraging because men do face real issues, but the cause is not women’s rights but the fact that masculinity is rooted in damaging patriarchal cultures that actively harm men. As feminists have been saying, the patriarchy harms not just women, but men too.

As feminists have been saying, the patriarchy harms not just women, but men too.”

— Staff Writer Jax Rainey

Concluding that women’s rights are gained at the expense of men could not be further from the truth, as recent evidence shows that men have benefited more than ever in a more gender-equal society. 

The World Health Organization has recently conducted a study comparing 41 European countries and found that men’s health was worse in gender-unequal countries. 

WHO has also found that men and women living in more equal countries report that they sleep better than those who live in socially unequal countries. 

Recent European studies like this found that this is not because of a lack of stress but because men take better care of themselves in gender-equal societies. 

Studies have found that men are half as likely to be depressed and reported that they even experience less chronic back pain in more socially equal countries. Out of the 41 countries observed, Iceland has the most minor social gender gap, and as a result, they have found that Icelandic men have the highest life expectancy in Europe.  

[W]e should begin to examine the way traditional masculinity and social cultures often harm men and women.”

— Staff Writer Jax Rainey

Instead of divulging into senseless arguments over who has it worse or blaming each side for causing or taking away from real issues both genders face daily, we should begin to examine the way traditional masculinity and social cultures often harm men and women. 

Many feminist groups, such as MenEngage and Promudo, focus on changing these social norms of male behavior and supporting men’s mental health to help advance gender equality. Ingrained gender roles must be identified, and we must work toward ironing them out. 

The notions that to ‘man up’ is strong and to be ‘a girl’ is weak are outdated and actively harm younger generations growing up with these ideals.

Despite the stigma that feminism is only for women or that it actively blames or takes away from men’s issues, we need to come together as a society and realize that these social, cultural, and behavioral expectations harm men just as much as they do women. 

Together we can dispel false narratives around feminism and recognize that the feminist movement is here to push toward a better world for not only women, but for men too.

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