Some of those people are idiotic gender separatists who can't see the difference between what they want and what every woman wants.
Some of those people are narrow-minded conservatives who have fond feelings about an imagined ideal past.
And some of them are the dew-eyed refugees of the Women's Liberation movement: men.
Here's the thing. Women have moved forward plenty. They've got the vote, a wider range of clothing options, a wider range of career opportunities, a balanced education, Girl Power, ladies' night, maternity leave, sexual harassment laws, confidence in their own abilities, the freedom to make their own choices and own their own destinies.
Don't mean life is quite perfect, but I can't complain.
However, men never had a revolution. Sure, they've got rights. But they never actually changed their attitudes about themselves. While women's options have expanded considerably, men still toe the same perimeters of masculinity as they did before. There's still an accepted standard for male behaviour and interests. Like what?
boys don't cryAnd, of course, everything that's been appropriated by the gay community is no longer masculine and must be avoided at all costs.
men are always up for it
men are brave and invulnerable
men will fight to defend your honour
men don't talk, they do
boys don't care how they look
men are providers, not nurturers
boys like boy things
boys don't understand girl things
men are big (in every way)
For many men, this attitude is deeply restrictive - not because they all yearn to open flower shops and talk about their feelings, but because they don't even realise that would be possible. They have grown up entirely on one side of the fence and don't think it's physically possible to get to the other side (whereas we have now located the gate).
At the same time, the western world is becoming utterly overrun with women. Women are rife in the streets. You gotta make space for it. You're still expected to lift heavy things for girls, but they're allowed to get offended if you offer. There are support groups for all kinds of women in all kinds of circumstances - rape survivors, domestic abuse survivors, single mothers, women who choose to be the home-oriented half of a single-income family.
And yet... I was reading a Sydney Morning Herald article, Do Men Get A Rough Deal?, and found this in the comment section:
I agree with the sentiments of the article in relation to my experience of breast cancer, which is more of a "woman's" disease. The same year my husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma [cancer of the organ linings - commonly develops from exposure to asbestos]... a "man's" cancer... I was absolutely inundated with assistance while he was given a year to live and left to get on with it.This is such a sad situation. Empowered women have gathered the resources to become vocal about suffering and really do something about it, yet men still have some strange outmoded notion that they have to keep a stiff upper lip and bear it out.
Of course, all this is reminding me of Fight Club. How could it not? Fight Club opens as the narrator is attending "Remaining Men Together", a support group for survivors of testicular cancer. These men have given in to a woman-dominated society (by attending a support group) and literally lost their balls.
Fight Club is the story of a world run by women. Everyone is polite and supportive. The doctor prescribes natural remedies. The boss is concerned about which shade of blue will send the right message. And into this wilting world steps Tyler Durden, The Man Himself, and revives masculinity through violence, silence (you don't talk about fight club) and the destruction of this tidy compartmentalised society.
Is this really what men are afraid of? Are they really, really scared that if they let themselves share in what once belonged only to women, they will become meek castrated slaves in need of some apocalyptic saviour?
“People are confusing equal opportunities with equal outcomes", says Catherine Hakim, prominent sociologist and proponent of preference theory. She's talking about women's rights and choices, but she could just as easily be talking about men's. Just because you can be a stay-at-home daddy doesn't mean you hafta. Just because you can wear fun pretty pastels doesn't mean you hafta.
But listen to me. You do yourself a disservice by refusing to consider a whopping 50% of your options in life. I'm currently helping to edit a site for a new psychology centre, and one of their concerns is that men often resist counselling because it isn't seen as a "manly" solution to problems. (You can read about it on this page, When Men Say No.)
Sometimes I wish it were possible to wash away the damage caused by generations of gender-profiling, so that we could just for a moment see ourselves as people and make our choices based on what's truly best for us.
The point is, it's a choice.