Men have had their role in society dictated to them their whole lives. For a very long time, dating even further into western civilization, men have been given roles and were each expected to assume those roles whether it was true to who they are or not. They were not given the free will to do as they please, or think as they please; they were given expectations that for a long time were forced upon them; the outcome is in todays society because a patriarchal way of living has now become the norm.
We often don’t speak of the pressures that were put on by men or why men have been given authority or if they truly even want it. Most people defend feminist and say that women should be equal to men, women should have the same power as men, and so much more. However, although women have been put through sufferings that should have never existed, it is still very important to understand who we are criticizing, is it men, or is it the patriarchal role that society for a long time has put on men? Bell hooks and Michael Kimmel have written documents clarifying this issue and opening people’s eyes to the reason why men have been portrayed this way. They stories make us realize that men have gone through hardships as well which caused them to have internal conflicts.
Bell hooks article called “Understanding Patriarchy” really opened my eyes. If I hadn’t read the text I wouldn’t have realized what men went through and I wouldn’t have thought of how to understand why men have been giving these roles. Bell Hooks talks about personal experiences in her family; her dad once beat her because she didn’t comply to the “girls” expectations of society. She explained how her brother was more passive and sweeter, whereas she was more aggressive; they were both forced to change who they are in order to be a proper man and women at that time. She mentions that a man was suppose have no emotions, be the leader of the house, be aggressive and tough, but not all men are born with those characteristics. When someone is forced to act out of their character, they create an inner conflict in which they don’t understand which can cause mal behaviour. For example, Bell Hooks explained how men have so much pressure to maintain power and authority, therefore when they feel as though their lacking control over their families, they may act out in abusive or sexually violating ways to reinstate their power. So, although their actions are very wrong, it is still extremely important to understand why they become like this and what we are trying to change. We have been so accustomed to this patriarchal lifestyle that some people don’t want to change, Hooks says how women even unconsciously input a male dominant role with their children.
Men have been brainwashed since the beginning of time; this reasons for why society is the way it is and makes us understand that the man is not the issue but rather it is the societal expectations of how a man is supposed to be that we need to change.
Michael Kimmel talks about a very similar story as Hooks. He explains how men have been harshly judged which makes them scared of other men, scared of being called a sissy, or scared of being judged as homosexual. He says how there have been so many insults and judgements on men that they don’t feel free to be who they are and instead try to comply to what people think men should be like. Men act out in violence because it shows aggressiveness and strength. If we didn’t have these expectations for men, then they would feel free to be who they are and to show emotions. He also explains how the definition of man has been so manipulated that people don’t all support relieving the social disapproval of gays, men of colour, women and etc., because it would lessen the definition of what it is to be a man which would make them more insecure.
From the aid of these articles, I understood that a man could be liberated when we stop all our expectations of what we think a man is supposed to be. We are brought into our lives to be who we are and have our own experiences; there should not be any character distinction between a man and a woman. We are who we are, if a man is more gentle, passive and warm hearted then it is okay. If a woman is aggressive and carries authority in the household, it is okay. Qualities exists for everyone to share. It would be very hard and it would be a very long process to change the worlds view on gender roles since it has been instilled in our minds for a long time, but, slowly if we change the way we think and be more accepting, men would feel relieved from social pressures and women equality with men will prevail.
Redefining the definition of masculinity will liberate us all. If there are no expectations of what a real man is supposed to be, then everyone will be seen as equal; a guy won’t be seen as less of a man by the color of his skin or so on but instead will be judged on who they are as a person. With no expectations of men, men can be who they are, and women will feel freer to be who we are. With no social gender roles, I am sure people will be more welcoming and understanding and not judge others for immoral reasons. We weren’t born in this world with the mind set of discriminating others and knowing we had to have certain traits. We are born clueless and end up developing a personality, so if we are being nurtured with the thoughts of everyone is equal and having no expectations, then people can be who they naturally are to the core.