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Gender norms lead to continued inequality of sexes

Oppressed Men (Perspectives) Megan Lien

 What is equality? Many social movements for equality focus on trying to empower women, in order to bring them to the same social status as men. But, if you ask a person if men are mistreated, most would say no, and that they are the oppressors. However, because it is commonly enforced by pop culture, male gender roles continue to exist.

 Growing up, boys are taught to be stoic and hardy, that the sign of any emotion is the epitome of weakness. As a result, many neglect their feelings and emotional state in fear of persecution from peers and judgement from society.

 Youth who do not follow the status quo, however, are called derogatory terms, potentially leading to both emotional and physical abuse. This often results in constant harassment from friends who tell them to “man up,” insisting that by expressing themselves, they are undeserving of being called a man, leading to thoughts of ending their lives.

 While women are more inclined to have thoughts of suicide, reports from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention state that men commit suicide 3.5 times more often than women. This is due to males either neglecting their emotions or being abused for expressing their emotions.

 Due to the conviction that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness, gender roles push men to have an unrealistic amount of strength and perseverance.

 In the workforce, men make up the majority of blue collar jobs, which are jobs that refer to manual labor. In accordance to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, men made up 93% of workplace fatalities.

 In addition, not only are men socially pressured to be strong, but they have been legally obligated to register for the draft. In 1940, President Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act, which created the draft to employ more people to fight in WW2. It is now 2017, and despite politicians’ discussions, men are still the only gender required to register for the draft.

 The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2018 (NDAA), was a legislative bill which had a proposal that would require women to register for the draft, saying that men and women should be treated equally. However, it was later dropped because of a 33-28 vote from the committee who made NDAA. Opponents believed that the time simply was not right yet. But when will the right time be? If men and women want to be treated equally they should be subject to the same service.

 Furthermore, these unhealthy expectations of men are especially detrimental to those who have experienced abuse. These cases of domestic abuse go largely unreported because victims will face backlash at the lack of their “masculinity.” In fact, males facing abuse lack the largely needed support, because of the miniscule amount of  emotional abuse shelters dedicated towards men.

 Additionally, as a result of being stereotyped as emotionless muscle heads, men in sexual relationships face the social stigma of being branded as abusers.

  The most common example of this, is the rhetoric that we should “teach men not to rape.”

Even though women could be perpetrators of sexual assault as well, these sexist remarks labeling men as the only main aggressors  are common in many popular social movements. They only incite the stereotype that men are abusers and are born rapists.

 Endorsing these misnomers is damaging to adolescents growing up. For example, the classification of men as abusers has led to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model). The Duluth Model supports the stereotype that men abuse to assert dominance in order to control. It is an ineffective idea because it only reinforces gender roles and stereotypes, and is not beneficial for cases where men face domestic abuse.

  As a progressing society, we should focus on the equalization of the genders. Our first step as a society could be to make the draft a requirement to both men and women, which is a large step in shattering gender norms. If we grant the same legal opportunities to all, then it would pave the way for equality.

The enforcement of gender roles has harmed both sexes, yet many ignore the impact on males. Since society is neglecting the problems faced by not only women but by men as well, it will only prolong the goal of true equality.

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