I write about gender issues from the male perspective. Most notably, I challenge the negative stereotypes of men, fathers, and masculinity.
I became involved in this work after going through a dark time in my life. I was raised in an environment which was heavily influenced by alcoholism. The chaos and abuses I experienced caused personal turmoil throughout my life. It finally reached a pinnacle in my early thirties at which point I sought help.
One of the steps I took to address my issues was to become involved in a men’s only group. In this environment, a group of men address many different events that have affected their lives, from the obscure to the most serious. Through this process, a man could not only rebuild his own life, but in the process, help other men rebuild their lives also.
As a part of this process, I learned a lot about myself, about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of other men, and about the dynamics of masculinity – its truths and its myths.
Thus began a personal mission which led me to research issues facing men, and society’s perceptions of masculinity. This led to studies on gender. Unfortunately, what I found did not corroborate my personal experiences.
I found most gender studies were conducted by feminist researchers, or researchers that are sympathetic, or sensitive to women’s issues. Therefore, I began to question the legitimacy of these same people writing intimately and conclusively about men and masculine behavior. It seemed absurd that groups of mostly women were writing with confidence about male emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and confident they were more right than wrong . Reverse the genders, and these same actions would be considered sexists.
But most disturbing was how traditional genders studies focused exclusively on the faults and vices of men, and proliferated an ideology that masculinity is inferior to femininity. As somebody who once supported feminism, I began to become skeptical of its agenda. I have always believed in equality between men and women, and still do. But I began to question the women’s movement and their sincerity towards equality for the sexes.
So I began comparing my own experiences with men to what I was reading in gender research studies. I found almost all negative male behaviors and issues were blamed on the patriarchy within gender research, and assiduously corroborated with men’s need for power and control. My own experiences taught me that this was a shallow look at the issues facing men and masculinity. What is exactly is power and control? How does it manifest itself in men? What are the top five events or influences in a man’s life that cause it? At what age does it begin to surface? And if it is inherited from our “masculine” society, then why do so many young boys grow up harboring these patriarchal “power and control” issues when in their most impressionable and influential years – childhood, daycare, school years, working mothers, etc, – they are dominated by powerful female influences? Not to mention as to why power and control behavior is viewed as a masculine trait when I see so many women with power and control issues themselves? How do the feminist explain the same wide spread behavior in females?
What is most disturbing is that the solution for many male faults such as these offered by feminist is to reconstruct masculinity to look more like femininity. The more I read, the more it appeared that from a feminist perspective, masculinity was deeply flawed, and the only way to save/salvage it was to infuse it with heavy doses of femininity. If men became in touch with their feminine side, they would evolve into better men, better human beings, and in return, all societal ills would be mitigated.
So according to feminist, if we look like them, think like them, and act like them, the world would be a better place. The idea that one group of people telling another that acting more like them would “cure” their discrepancies is an ideology that is not unique to feminism. This same belief has been present in racism for years. For years white people indulged in the belief that if African-Americans dropped their inherent identity and learned to become more “white”, they would suffer less discrimination. And in the long term, their new “white” qualities would definitely make them better people, and therefore, more acceptable to society – and of course the world would be a safer place.
I refuse to accept this form of discrimination.
I have found through my experiences that masculinity actually comprises many of the components associated with femininity such as compassion, empathy, caring, nurturing, selflessness, etc. Contrary to feminist ideology, masculinity is multifaceted, not overly simplistic. But what I really discovered is that since masculinity harbors these same traits, it is discriminatory and ignorant to call them feminine – they are human traits. Men carry the same emotional components as women; we just go about addressing and managing them differently. It’s the recognition that selfishness, irresponsibility, dominating behavior, controlling behavior, blaming, and risk taking are not masculine traits; they are human ones. Women are just as guilty of these behaviors as men.
After ten years of quietly reading, listening, and observing men and women in society, I decided to start writing about my experiences, my observations, and my opinions.
Over the years I’ve uncovered many distortions and myths about men, women, and the genders, and how these distortions and myths have created a negative image of men within society.
Through my writings I hope to point out these indiscretions, and offer another point of view, one that not only restores our faith in men and masculinity, but shows how the negative behaviors of men, and men’s issues in general, are dealt with differently in society; usually being ignored, disparaged, or discriminated against, particularly when compared to how women’s issues are addressed.
Women receive understanding and compassion; men receive blame and shame.
Men need to receive more than this. At this moment the male population is under the burden of having the highest suicide rates, increasing rates of incarceration, struggling academically, experiencing substantial drop out rates, more likely to be over diagnosed as children and under diagnosed as adults with respect to behavioral issues, experiencing rates of violence that are four to one over females, more likely than women to be imprisoned on false criminal charges, and guaranteed to be burdened with more severe criminal sentencing than women for similar crimes – just to name a few.
I feel it’s time for a change. I hope to be one voice of many in this process.