5 Ways the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too

Guys, I promise, the next post won’t be a list like this. I know it’s becoming a pattern.  I swear, the next post will be in normal rambling paragraph form.

But lists are nice, and they’re neat, and right now, I think this is a list of issues people don’t think about enough.  When people say that feminism is just about women, they overlook the fact that men are, in fact, also harmed by the very system that feminists are trying to combat; that the same prejudices and underlying issues that hurt women can, in some cases, hurt men as well.  These are five examples of how the Patriarchy ALSO hurts men:

Male Victims of Domestic Violence are often not taken seriously either by the courts or by society itself.  This is a fairly serious problem, because it means that a lot of victims are potentially falling through the cracks.  This in turn reduces the likelihood that domestic violence against men will be reported, because men don’t want to be emasculated on the basis of being a victim.  It’s not considered “manly” to be a victim.

Male Victims of Sexual Assault experience the same sort of problems that male victims of domestic violence do: people don’t necessarily take them seriously and society tells them that men are not men if they are sexually assaulted.  This is also a big problem, because they are also unlikely to report instances of rape or sexual abuses, resulting in ongoing psychological harm and a lack of justice for the victims.  On top of that, the original definitions of rape did not even RECOGNIZE that men could be raped-~-it’s only the modified and updated versions of rape law that acknowledge that male rape victims even exist.

Fathers During Custody Hearings are less likely to acquire custody of their children.  Courts presume that the mother is the more suitable caretaker because the Patriarchy perpetuates the gender binary in such a way that masculinity becomes divorced from the concepts of care and nurture, while femininity becomes inherently tied to this.  This also harms male children who may be better off with their father than their mother but are given to their mother based on this rigid gender divide.

Gay Men can also be harmed by the Patriarchy.  As I discovered when I was doing my research on social networks and identity formation, the concept of gender correlates strongly with expectations of sexuality.  Because of this, societies often emasculate gay men, based either on their sexual activities alone or based on preconceived notions of homosexuality.  This in turn helps to perpetuate violence against homosexuals in many instances, and is used to justify other related prejudices.  The harm is even greater in societies in which hypermasculinity is a problem, because it forces gay men to either behave in a hypermasculinized way that is also hypersexualized and heternormative, or suffer the consequences of deviating from this gender expectation (we see this, for example, in Mexico where machismo is a prominent social feature)

Men in General because the Patriarchy helps to promote a gender binary that categorizes displays of emotion as particularly feminine.  This often results in a lack of or at least limited emotional literacy among men, and places men who DO show emotion in an uncomfortable position wherein their behavior is read as “unmanly”.  Because of this constant suppression of emotion men often have problems rooted in miscommunication (especially with women).  On top of this, studies have shown that most decision-making is rooted in emotion; but the ability to express the decision-making process often presents a challenge to men who lack this emotional literacy due to the norms imposed by the current gender binary.


There are other examples of this, of course.  Men who are gender-nonconforming, transsexuals, etc. are also harmed by the Patriarchy.  For everyone who wants to say that feminism is JUST about women, it’s not.  When women are considered equal to men, and the behaviors and traits associated with women (however accurately or inaccurately) are respected the way traits associated with men are, these harms can potentially be diminished.  The Patriarchy is not just hurting those of us with uteri-~-it’s hurting everyone.

~ by Randi Saunders on April 16, 2012.

9 Responses to “5 Ways the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too”

  1. Reblogged this on inmyinternest and commented:
    Here’s an excellent post about the benefits of gender equality for men.

  2. Always nice to see someone thinking of all the angles 🙂

  3. […] Five Ways the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too […]

  4. […] fight the patriarchy and so don’t. But I don’t think that’s it. For starters, the patriarchy hurts men too. The only men who really have quality stakes in keeping a patriarchy going are white men (and […]

  5. I also think that too much emphasis on physical violence discounts the trauma that can occur with emotional or psychic violence. Wounds from the patriarchic system can be acted out by women, who are far more prone to act out in words or reactivity than by physical violence. Also, the schooling in the system for professions like doctors, lawyers and business leaders is by its nature violent and numbing, where you have to work long hours, disconnect from your needs, and essentially join the groupthink, like a cult. Dr. Gabor Mate recently compared med school to a cult. I think rather than create divisions based on genders, we need to recognize all forms of violence and join together against it.

  6. […] paternity leave, etc.) are the same things feminists want and in fact can be accomplished by embracing the work of Feminism instead of railing against it. Feminism is not a hatred of or attempt to destroy individual men (or […]

  7. Re: court and custody – statistically, when men actually seek custody, they win it much of the time (source: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/archives/2012/04/child_supportcu.html is the one I used today but it is WELL DOCUMENTED). Men often don’t seek custody because of the patriarchal idea that it’s women’s job to raise the children; it might seem like a subtle difference but please don’t try and frame this like women are privileged or treated specially in court.

    Also, your assertion that patriarchy doesn’t just hurt people with uteri is cissexist – I assume you meant that the patriarchy doesn’t just hurt women, but not all women have a uterus and not all people with uteri are women.

    • Thanks for your comment! I wrote this a while ago before I started to become more aware of cissexism and the ways it manifests itself and I know I’m still not perfect but I’ve been trying to get better at making sure I don’t write things in ways that exclude trans individuals. I did of course mean that Patriarchy doesn’t just hurt women, and I also never meant to imply that women are privileged in court–I’ve actually also talked about ways in which women are discriminated against in courts in other posts in this blog. When I wrote this I was pulling from multiple sources and one of them had mentioned the issue of men not getting custody, and I suspect that I didn’t do enough to fact-check this when I originally posted this.

  8. Very interesting and thought provoking.

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