After having read Laurie Penny’s man bashing article (http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2016/02/maybe-you-should-just-be-single ), I’d like to begin by way of an apology. I’m sorry I’m a man. As a kid I did repeatedly punch myself in the groin in the hope that it would turn my manhood into a lady garden but it never happened. I even watched and enjoyed the first two seasons of Desperate Housewives. Until it became boring. But I watched all eight seasons of Dexter and by the end, it really was bad storytelling. Clearly that makes me a complete sexist. Or maybe I like watching specs of blood wedged between two small rectangles of glass. Freud would love that, wouldn’t he?
When I’ve decided that I want a friendship group that includes women who are preeminent in their fields, far outpacing my career and financial prospects, that has somehow neutered me as a man. My worth is either judged by my bank balance or my left wing credentials. Any of my views which don’t agree with this status quo make me a disgusting human being. Which, to be fair, I am.
Let’s say for example, I argue that part of the problem of the gender pay gap is that many women make the choice to stay at home. Together with their partners, the woman has made the decision to look after their kids and that’s why there’s more men in positions of power even today. This opinion makes me a chauvinist.
Or maybe recognise that the modern world is a complex one. Maybe for every woman who decides to spend more time with her kids, there’s another one that’s being paid less than her male counterparts for no other reason than her dangly bits and orifices. For every man wrongly accused of a sexual crime there are a thousand others that get away with it. For every boyfriend or husband that tries to subjugate their partners, another one is supporting them to achieve their dreams. In short, we’re all individuals and should be treated as such.
I have read so many mainstream articles recently, decrying not the patriarchy, but men themselves. This is highly destructive to social harmony. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where young boys can use the excuse of patriarchy to treat women badly. Women will also judge otherwise honest men as being inherently bad. Even if they’re good on the surface, odds are they’re bastards underneath.
What both these perspectives do is to increase misunderstanding between the sexes, creating disharmony and worst of all, negatively impact on relationships. Rather than berating men, we should teach both boys and girls what is meant by a “good” relationship. We should teach that whilst we may have the huge weight of thousands of years of gender normative behaviour on our shoulders, we are each our own fallible person. We control our own beliefs, our own actions and our own fate. Good relationships stem from thinking about the needs of the other person and considering where the point of compromise is. Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus. We’re all spinning round the galaxy together and until we recognise that, we’ll never be the best we can be.