Why you need to address Feminism

We've all heard the following types of feminist slogans:
"Women are oppressed by men"
"Women are subordinated to men"
"We need to give women more power"
"Women need to be liberated, which men already are"

As a man, when you regularly hear these kinds of messages being transmitted, it's hard not to feel bad about yourself. After all, if men are mean, oppressive and keep women down - then how can you feel good about yourself?

For a man, the result of being exposed to feminism is usually a deep sense of shame, whether you are conscious of it or not. This shame can hinder your personal development, as well as prevent you from accessing your true self and your authentic manhood. This is a precarious scenario indeed, and the effect that the feminist movement has had on the self-esteem of men cannot be underestimated.

Reclaiming Your Power

So what is the solution to this situation that a lot of men find themselves in these days? I believe that there are two vital components that are needed to move forward, and you ignore either one of them at your own peril.

The first component is the one that my friend Eivind is working on. As men, we need to rediscover what it means to be a man, and what it means to be masculine. Clinging to the traditional definition of manhood simply isn't a choice, since the purifying fire of postmodern culture has deconstructed the old male (and female) gender roles. Nor is it an attractive choice to let women define who we are and who we should be - which has been the trend for the past few decades. Thus, it is up to us men to explore and define what masculinity will look like in the 21st century.

Looking back in time, we can see that healthy masculinity has been instrumental in the development of human culture. The development of culture is an ongoing process that never stops, and the quality of that process is a direct result of the quality of the contributing individuals. Your choices are to either step up to the plate and contribute, or to keep on doing whatever seems pleasurable in the moment. Will you reclaim your balls and your heart, so that you can offer yourself fully to the world?

Dealing With Feminism

The second component needed for men to move forward is easily overlooked, especially by men who primarily focus on personal development and following a spiritual path. This second part is about realizing that feminist rhetoric is not only one-dimensional, but sometimes inaccurate too. But don't take my word for it; instead, let's have a closer look at the accuracy of feminist ideology by investigating how gender roles came about, and what the gender dynamics look like nowadays.

Throughout history, one of the main preoccupations of humankind has been to secure adequate amounts of food. This means that the organization of communities and the formation of gender roles has always heavily influenced by the need to survive. It is only in industrialized societies that the production of food becomes a secondary concern.

As it turns out, certain ways of producing food were a better fit for men while other ways were a better fit for women. Hunting and operating a heavy plow when farming, required the upper body strength of men and were impossible to even contemplate doing if you were a pregnant woman. This meant that men were much more likely to work away from home. Conversely, gathering food from the ground and doing other light chores were a good fit for women, since they required less muscular strength and were compatible with nursing a baby.

Another important historical factor that has determined how gender roles have crystallized into being, is that women are the only ones with wombs. This might seem like a stupid and self-evident biological fact, but its effects are profound. Before industrialization, any culture that wanted to expand its influence and prosperity needed to make sure that its population grew. Therefore they desperately needed to keep women safe, so that all wombs could be used to produce the next generation of humans. Sperm, on the other hand, has never been in short supply the same way that wombs are - which meant that men could be sent off to do all the high risk tasks such as trading and warfare.

This brief historical exposé informs us that gender roles have always been a functional fit to the circumstances at hand. In other words: whatever division of labor that has served the survival and development of human culture is the one that has been implemented. This means that our current gender roles are not the result of oppression, they are simply a reflection of the choices that human beings needed to make in order to survive - or even thrive - in historical times. Regardless of what you may have been told, there never was a worldwide male conspiracy to keep women down, which is usually a relief for men who have been exposed to feminism since their childhood.

Gender Roles Today

However, some people may argue that history is one thing, but what about today? Aren't women terribly discriminated against whereas men are given the best deal in most situations? It may seem that men get the best deal in life, but the reason for perception being so prevalent is that feminism has taught us about how women are shortchanged in various ways, while actively downplaying how men are shortchanged. To illustrate what I mean, take a look at the following facts:

* Men do almost all of the dangerous jobs in society, and fight all wars. Men are also expected to protect women at all times. This means that men are expendable, while a higher value is place on women's lives.

* Intimate partner violence is perpetrated by women just as often as by men, and when it comes to psychological violence women outperform men. These facts are backed up by a mountain of academic research.

* Equal pay for equal work has already been achieved in the West. There is no wage gap when you correct wages for education, experience, hours worked, work description, willingness to travel, willingness to work overtime, etc.

* After a divorce, the man usually has more financial capital, while the woman has more social capital (i.e. closer connections to the children and to friends). We have laws regulating that the man must share his financial capital, but we generally don't care that the man loses all his social capital. This is one of the reasons that men are 10 times as likely as women to commit suicide after a divorce.

* Biological brain differences between the sexes, that influence behaviors and life choices, are a reality. While cultural conditioning is a very important factor for maintaining gender roles, the belief that gender differences are nothing but a cultural construct has been thoroughly disproved by modern biomedical research.

It's Up to You Now

What's my point with all this? My point is that as men we have no reason to feel guilty about the gender roles in the past or in the present. This is not to say that we cannot work alongside women in order to create gender roles that are freer and more evolved, but there is no need for any shame or guilt in all of this - as the facts clearly demonstrate.

So as you are working to reconnect to your masculine core, and as you are increasingly showing up in an authentic way in the world, remember that it's OK to be a man - it is even OK to be proud of being a man. Feminism ideology is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, and the new gender discourse is being created by women and men who have let go of the blame game and who focus on facts instead of ideology.

Please, keep on exploring what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Eivind is offering you a tremendous tool in Masculinity Movies, since stories are exceptionally powerful for understanding ourselves and for inspiring change. By being a male role model who's authentically masculine and who has transcended the feminist myths, you are co-creating a better future for all of us.

Pelle Billing is an expert on gender issues, a tango instructor and a doctor. You can read more from him at www.pellebilling.com.

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