Well, Actually… the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too

We asked guest blogger, Ashley, to write about one thing: MEN.  Here’s what she has to say:

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to specifically write about men.  I typically write about topics when I don’t think there is gender involved (so about men, the power dominant social group generally deems itself invisible[1]) or I set out to specifically highlight women or women’s contributions.

Before we get any further, I might as well tell you I am a militant, anti-racist, queer, marxist feminist and a women’s studies student. You were bound to figure it out sooner or later and I wanted to lay it all out on the table. (All of you are probably thinking, who is this lunatic fringe Rachel is brushing shoulders with??) Please note that feminists don’t only write about women. Angela Davis[2] writes about the oppression of Black men.

Also, disclaimer: gender, race, and class can intertwine and intersect in so many ways to create a different power politics situation for every person. I would be writing this piece for the rest of my life if I were to create an exhaustive article also encompassing sexuality, ability, religion, etc. and all the other things that can shape people into who they are (and I only have until Friday, so let’s keep going).

So the “assignment” is to write about men. I mentioned in the first paragraph that when we think something isn’t present, it’s usually the ideals of the dominant class lurking in the shadows *gasp*. So which men am I writing about? White men? Black men? Poor, bisexual, deaf, Afro-Latino men?? This is how white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy hurts men, too! It silences marginalized experiences. (Find out more by reading bell hooks, she’s fab!) [3]

Does this mean white men can’t suffer? Of course (not)! They just won’t suffer because they are white. Men’s gender roles and expectations are frequently limiting and harmful. Jackson Katz in “Tough Guise[4] examines how trends of male violence in bullying, school shootings, gay bashing, violence against women stem from how we raise boys. While they’re growing up, we tell them to “man up” and that men don’t cry – essentially teaching them to stifle their emotions, not to talk about them, and to deal with their feelings in unhealthy ways. Junot Díaz writes about harmful macho masculinity in Latino communities in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.[5]

As adults, men tend to be much more resistant to getting mental help than women. Tragically, men die by suicide at three time the rate of women.[6] Patriarchy and its emotionally-stunted gender expectations hurt men.

We also cannot ignore the roles of the patriarchy and men in the pandemic of violence against women.

From a young age, through learning by example from adult men and from media, men can subconsciously internalize the idea that women exist for their consumption. (Yes, men are cannibals, finally someone said it!) Consumption of women with their eyes and hands and benefiting from their cheap labor.[7]

Maybe “#not all men”[8] feel they do this but “#yes all women”[9] have a story where they felt violated by a man.

This can be on the spectrum of “a creepy man, 50 years their senior, undressing them with their eyes to rape or murder while they’re trying to work their food service job” (that was last night for me).

Okay, but consumption of their labor?

Yes. Women perform quite a lot of work for free in the US[10] and globally, meanwhile men, families, and the (white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist) economy benefits.

Traditional, internalized gender roles dictate that when women rear children they become unpaid family secretaries, cooks, cleaners, home organizers, chaperones, medical caregivers, and so much more, and they are more likely to take off work over the man to care for the children (at the expense of her career) because her job usually pays less and is therefore “less important.” Globally, women do over half the agricultural work (60-80% in the global south) but own less than 2% of the land.[11]

I realize this paragraph isn’t strictly about men, but it can exemplify two things:

  1. Patriarchy causes women’s work to be devalued, hurting women.
  2. Patriarchy causes men’s work to be overvalued, benefiting men

We cannot hold “men’s” work to be the “standard” because men are not the “standard gender.” (If anything, women are, all fetuses start as female, this is why everyone has nipples. Read about it here.) I also understand how there is no intrinsic “women’s work” and “men’s work” dichotomy and such tasks vary between region and decade – but global historical trends y’all!

When will patriarchy end? It obviously sucks for basically everyone. I don’t know, but I hope it’s soon. Disagree? Have other ideas? Tell me! (Somehow, I don’t know. Facebook me?)

Men: do not assume I know less than you about science or politics or sports or literally anything simply because of my gender. Mansplaining is real, annoying, belittling, and a waste of everyone’s time.

Do you understand the title now?

If not: These soaps are for you! Finally something just for men! [12]men-soaps

And if you do, these jokes are for you:


Well, I’m way past word count (sorry, Rachel!) but I totally have more resources (and opinions) if anyone is interested in having a chat! Thanks!

-Ashley, guest blogger




[1] Try the We The People exercise. Which people did they mean? All people? Does it work with all adjectives? It really only originally worked with “We The (white, male, land owning) People.” But the dominant class seems invisible and the marginalized and oppressed people consequently weren’t protected by the US Constitution.

[2] About Angela Davis http://feministstudies.ucsc.edu/faculty/singleton.php?singleton=true&cruz_id=aydavis

[3] bell hooks and white supremacist capitalist patriarchy http://garconniere.tumblr.com/post/5548519811/why-white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy

[4] Jackson Katz, Tough Guise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3exzMPT4nGI

[5] Junot Díaz https://www.amazon.com/Brief-Wondrous-Life-Oscar-Wao/dp/1594483299

[6] Male suicide http://www.menshealth.com/health/suicide-rates-middle-age-men

[7] Wage statistics by sex and race http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0882775.html

[8] #NotAllMen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NotAllMen

[9] #YesAllWomen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YesAllWomen

[10] The Invisible Workload that Drags Women Down  http://time.com/money/4561314/women-work-home-gender-gap/

[11] Wittman. H., (2011), Food Sovereignty: A new rights framework for food and nature?, Environment and Society, v. 2, p. 87-105.

[12] It’s funny because basically everything is about men and soaps don’t need to be gendered. Anyone can use any soap, okay? Okay??


Further reading?

Women and the Capitalist Family, read about here

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

Patricia Hills Collins, read about here

Peggy Seeger’s “Gonna Be An Engineer,” listen here

Her brother, famous folk singer Pete Seeger covered it, it’s funny when a man sings it, too, listen here

Kimberly Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) breaks down the important work Black Feminism has done in advancing justice within the Black community and beyond, watch here

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