Tuesday, June 30, 2009

...The truth is, one of the problems in talking about this stuff is that saying “women and men are the same” is not the same as saying “women and men are equal.” Equality is not predicated on absolute likeness, nor should it be. Asserting that women and men are equal speaks to there being no fundamental differences between their capacities to learn and achieve, to their deserving the same pay for the same work and the same right to vote and the same opportunities. Women and men don’t have to be the same to achieve equality, and they are not. We’re different—and there’s nothing wrong with saying so, unless it’s used as an excuse for the perpetuation of inequality. Indeed, I would argue that substituting “sameness” for “equality” actually undermines our ability to celebrate our respective strengths and how they can complement each other to the betterment of us all.

Problematically, while we never seem to suffer from a lack of people willing to critique, from every conceivable angle and spanning the spectrum from fair to absurd, how women’s sex-specific qualities manifest themselves, what they mean for policy, and how they affect women and men, there is much less exploration of men’s sex-specific qualities and how they function in a changing culture. Critiques of the patriarchy (which is a crap paradigm for most men, too—especially not-rich ones) or sexism are not the same as redefining manhood, the women’s equivalent of which is rooted in the feminist movement, of which there is no male-centered counterpart. Certainly feminism is about achieving equality for women, but it is also about womanhood, which is both biological and cultural.

The lack of such an equivalent framework for men is part of what discerning biological difference versus cultural difference within themselves a dubious proposition for many men. As we see with women who reject feminism, they are keen to believe that what are easily identified cultural imperatives are really biological ones. For straight men, who exist in a culture largely structured to accommodate male primacy, pulling apart the intrinsic nature of men from the socialization borne of a society that reinforces the privilege of maleness, is exponentially more difficult.

And thusly, lots of men cannot dissociate their rigid understanding of manhood from the societal influences which are largely mutable; they’ve had no reason to question whether a society that so perfectly suits them has created a definition of manhood that isn’t “real,” and so attempts to change society are inextricably linked to attempts to change men in ways they believe they cannot be changed. And that makes a lot of men angry.

Continue the article at: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2006/10/angry-men-searching-menand-what-they.html

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