I love women. I love feminism, I believe, truly, that there should be equal rights and pay for men and women in the workforce, higher education, and all aspects for life. We live in an age where being a strong woman is more and more acceptable than it was in the past. BU’s women’s resource center is a meaningful step in the advancement of woman and the education about their rights and health.
I don’t have a problem with feminism and the support of women. What I do have a problem with, and am utterly hurt and confused by, is the lack of male resources, re-education, and community.
I, as a male in a predominantly female school, find myself in an identity crisis. There is a constant question of: “What does it mean to be a man and be supportive of feminism?” Culturally and historically, what I’ve been taught it means to be a man is to be Macho, to objectify women, to brag about exploits, to be the major bread winner, and to not express emotions. This idealized “masculinity” is something I feel uncomfortable with as a man trying to be cognizant of the inequality of the sexes. I don’t want to be that guy, I don’t want to fit into male stereotypes and perpetuate negative, hurtful attitudes about women.
As a male in a society approaching egalitarian or feminist, I see little dialogue about how a Man should act. Should we simply continue being “traditional men,” and try to be cognizant of the difficulties women face? To me, that seems like a major contradiction, like something that would cause more harm than good.
To me, the answer is this: we as a society need to start discussing seriously what it means to be a man in a feminist society, and help re-define the gender roles of both sexes, not just women. I was deeply bothered, on Wednesday night, when Student Health Services had a panel on body image and there wasn’t even a single male individual on the board. I felt unwelcome, but most of all I was hurt that it seemed like body image was a completely female concern.
I fear that we, as a society, risk causing a new kind of sexism by not addressing the real problems men face in the same serious nature that we address the problems facing women. I submit this to culture shock anonymously because despite these feelings, even as a man I am not sure if I am an outlier. Do other men feel this conflict, do they agree that there is a need to re-define what it means to be a man? Help me out here people, I need to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way.