I was raised to believe that everything is created equal. This belief was suddenly changed when I entered college. People’s perception and opinion has in a way awakened me to the reality that our choices in life are sometimes affected by the inequalities set by our society. These inequalities have adversely influenced people’s choices and roles in life. These may sometimes come in a very subtle form of formal compliance to the expected responsibilities and roles that a person should assume in the society yet these are harsh forms of deprivation of individual’s decision and expression of one’s being.
Society’ stereotyping of men and women’s role and responsibilities has created so much damage to people especially among men. In this new age where everything is fast changing and evolving, society should learn to view men and women equally and try to eradicate stereotyping in the system. Society should learn to be fair and equitable in its dealings between men and women.
Both are human beings who have the right to live according to personal choices and preferences, rather than according to society’s unfair expectations and bias opinions. Men and women alike should be given equal opportunities to discover their purpose in life rather than force to assume traditional roles in the family, society and in the country.
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It is a reality that nowadays society still viewed women favorably than men. Women are afforded more tolerance and understanding while men are stiffly expected to do their roles with ease and comfort. This treatment is even reinforced because of greater advocacy to the protection of women’s rights rather than on the promotion of the equality of the two sexes.
Studies have shown that feminist movement is more prevalent and supported than men movements. Indeed, society’s treatment between men and women created a huge distance between the two sexes that in effect encouraged men and women alike to strengthen movements purportedly for the purpose of asserting and protecting their respective rights in the society. Conflicts are then heightened rather than resolved.
It is said that the most challenging and significant issue that men in the US face today is the oppression among men. This issue is anchored on the reality that society’s treatment to men sometimes partake the nature of oppression. Men are being unfairly deprived from opportunities to express real self. Most often they are pushed to assume roles like that of being the family’s provider, a responsibility that can be traced back traditionally. These norms of roles and responsibilities set by the society are seen as oppressive yet unrecognized by many. According to Schenk “men’s form of oppression have not been adequately defined, thus they are perceived to be non-existent”. Because of this, society continued to set the standard of behaviors and roles for men and dictate men’s actions and decisions.
Since childhood, men are taught to be tough and strong. They are taught not to cry or to demonstrate emotions. Their minds are conditioned to be the provider of the family and the defender of the country. Should they fall short on these social expectations they are criticized, punished, rejected or harmed often throughout their lifetime for the effects of the social conditioning that has been put upon them.
Also, men have been systematically trained to give up their beginning inherent, easy expectation of having relaxed attention from another when they are tense. The big boys don't cry principle even begins very early in a boy’s life unless his parents have made the effort that is needed to allow his emotional release process to be left intact. This mistreatment forces males to hide or defend their distresses, which sometimes makes the process of recovering one's inherent individuality and discovering one’s potential and capabilities much more challenging.
Indeed social expectations are more difficult for men rather than women and society has not done significant actions to break this vicious and unfair cycle. Rather society allows the continued oppression against men by several institutions. Society’s institutions like the armed services, the courts, police and prisons, the drug and alcohol industries, the sports industry, and the work place has directly and indirectly hurt men. Whether society is aware of this is beyond comprehension as society’s only concern is for men to continue serving women and the society in the same old traditional system of thinking and behavior.
Men are also falsely portrayed in the media. They are treated stereotypically and as less than human throughout society. Oftentimes they are projected as the violent sex and oppressive to women. This bad projection has created an indelible mark on the perception of many even to the young generation that makes it more difficult to break the vicious cycle of unrecognized oppression among men.
Men in a way do get privilege from the way society sets up everyone with the roles they are in. But the privileges are real and material. It lacks substance and do not in a way satisfy the highest need of men which is to have positive self-esteem. It should be noted that the very best of being human is not material or material privilege, it is our human qualities to be close, to care for others, build many relationships of all kinds, to feel significant and to have positive self-concept. In these areas the lives of men are certainly not privileged and mostly not yet powerful.
On the other hand, the extent to which men accept mistreatment and less-than-fully-human relationships is the extent that they not only accept their own oppression but also contribute to that oppression and pass the received oppression to other groups. The internalization of their own group's oppression is all that has been needed to maintain the oppressions of all other groups. When anyone gets tense and behaves in a less-than-fully-human way this behavior reinforces the stereotypes for all the people involved. The oppression of men affects all men.
The challenge to face and help resolve the issues of oppression among men is so immense. At my stage now, I may not be able to even make a great contribution to these issues. However, my learnings to these issues in life of men and women would help me a lot in my decisions in life. According to Benett-Goleman, “life itself can be a teacher, presenting us with the chances to transmute the emotions brought up in us.
When life disappoints us, it offers an opportunity to reach beyond ordinary conventions and understandings toward a greater perspective” (365). My awareness and understanding to these issues would then strengthen my resolve that I have to stand firm on my decisions and choices. I may not be able to make a significant effect in the society but at least I can make a difference starting from my own life sphere with the significant people in my life. At least I can break-free from this vicious paradigm of behavior.
Benett-Goleman, Tara. Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind can Heal the Heart. New York:
Three Rivers Press, 2001.
Schenk, Roy. Shame and Male Oppression. National Coalition of Free Men. Retrieved February
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