I know this comes as a surprise to some but the capitalist-patriarchy hurts men too. It certainly doesn't come as a surprise to feminists; after all, when feminists talk about liberating women, we aren't advocating the mass murder of men. Feminists are advocating the full liberation of women from the oppressive structures of the capitalist-patriarchy. We know it is more harmful to women and children. We know women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence , rape , sexual violence and murder by men. According to Women Under Siege, women are disproportionately targeted in war zones and frequently gang-raped to punish men. Fawcett Society research demonstrates that women are far more likely to live in poverty than men and are less likely to access education and healthcare. The capitalist-patriarchy and its construction of a racist, homophobic, disablist hyper-masculinity hurts men too. Hyper-masculinity is damaging and destructive. It assumes that men are predisposed to violence; that men are nothing more than violent sexual predators incapable of self-control and empathy. The capitalist-patriarchy states that men are inherently violent and that nothing will ever change that.
We are now raising a generation of boys to believe that being a man requires violence: violence against women and children and violence against other men. But, men aren't inherently violent. It is our culture that claims that "real men" must be violent. It is the capitalist-patriarchy that assumes that all men are too stupid to understand the concept of consent and are, therefore, biologically programmed to be rapists. We teach young boys that girls don't mean no when they say no. We teach our daughters that boys who pull their hair when they are five do so because "they like them". We teach our sons that being violent is the best way to tell someone they love them. We let our sons learn about sex from violent pornography. We are teaching our sons that football is more important than a young girls bodily integrity.
How do we expect our sons to understand what consent actually is if we constantly tell them that girls don't mean no when they say no? How do we expect our sons to have healthy sexual relationships if they learn about sex through violent pornography? How do we expect our sons to have loving and fulfilling relationships with their partners if we don't teach them to respect themselves and women first? How do we expect our sons to grow up happy and healthy if we teach them that you cannot be a man without being violent? Statistically, men are far more likely to commit suicide than women. Violence against the self and others is not the sign of a healthy masculinity.
We do need to acknowledge that men hold the political and economic power within the capitalist-patriarchy. Men perpetuate the majority of the harm caused by our culture. It is men who voted against extended paternity leave and men who assume that childcare is the preserve of women. That is the reason women get main residency in cases of divorce: they do the vast majority of the childcare before. Men are also the main perpetrators of domestic violence against women and other men. Men are the perpetrators of rape in war. It is men in charge of governments and industrial-military complexes who make the decision to go to war. It is these same men who commit genocide and massive human rights abuses against civilian populations.
Our sons deserve better than growing up in a capitalist-patriarchy that labels them violent sexual predators incapable of acting like human beings. Our sons deserve to have healthy relationships with their families and friends.
The answer to the damage caused by hyper-masculinity in the capitalist-patriarchy is feminism. It is feminists who argue for the destruction of the harmful gender binaries. It is feminists who argue that men aren't inherently violent; that men aren't biologically programmed to rape. It is feminists who fight against the racist, disabilist, homophobic and misogynistic capitalist-patriarchy which privileges white wealthy men at the expense of everyone else.
Radical feminism is the fight for the liberation of women. Radical feminists believe that sex-based oppression is the root of all oppression, and by striking at that root, radical feminism seeks to end oppression all together. This includes the oppression of men. We need men to step up to and fight for liberation too. We need more male feminist allies to fight for their brothers, sons and fathers. We need men to want to end the culture of hyper-masculinity. Men need to start tackling racism, disablism, homophobia and misogyny in politics and sport. We need men need to start taking responsibility for childcare and housework. We need men need to start taking responsibility for rape culture. Our culture is toxic. We need to destroy it.
If I genuinely believed men were inherently violent my political practice would be very different. I would be living in a yurt in the middle of nowhere with my children to protect them from male violence. We need to destroy the capitalist-patriarchy so that our daughters and sons have a chance to grow up to be who they want to be rather than what society dictates they should be.
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