And What If We Like It?
- From: "MCP" <gf010w5035@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 05:34:44 -0000
By Pelle Billing
One of the key findings of the men's movement is that defining feature of
the male gender role is disposability. Throughout history, men have been
expected to sacrifice their lives in wars, accidents and dangerous jobs. The
influence men have had on society has invariably been coupled to this
willingness to take on dangerous, heavy and dirty tasks that nobody really
wants to perform. Helping men realize that being disposable is no longer
necessary in modern and postmodern societies is a big step forward, and
enables men to let go of the learned helpnessless that characterizes many
men when they sacrifice their own life without knowing why. In some ways,
there is a direct parallell here to the women's movement helping women
realize that they do not need to be housewives; instead they can work and
earn their own living, just like men.
So far so good. But what happens if liberated men continue to choose jobs
that are dangerous, and liberated women choose to stay at home with the kids
(part-time or full-time)? Does this mean that we've gotten nowhere in our
struggle to help liberate the sexes?
The distinction that needs to be made here is that truly realizing what
options you have, and what choices you actually make, are two completely
different things. If I know that I as a man do not have more of a
responsibility to be a police officer than a women has, then I have been
liberated from my gender role, regardless of whether I choose to actually be
a police officer or not. Similarly, a woman has been liberated from her
traditional gender role if she knows that she has every option to prioritize
her career-even if she then proceeds to focus most of her time on having a
In my opinion, the reason that we even focus on the actual choices of the
sexes to determine whether we have reached some sort of gender equality, is
due to the fact that mainstream feminism has repeatedly taught us that we
aren't equal until women work as much as men do outside the home. This
narrow focus on making the sexes identical, has very little to do with
gender liberation. Gender equality need not mean gender sameness, regardless
of what we have been led to believe.
There is a lot of work still to be done for the men's movement. Men are
still committing suicide far too often, most of the homeless are men, boys
are performing badly in school, men are removed from their children after
divorces, etc etc. But as we are working to change the conditions for men,
let us not make the mistake of telling men how to behave, or what kind of
lifestyle is "approved". Feminism has already walked down that path once,
and it simply doesn't work.
Pelle Billing is an M.D. who writes and lectures about men's issues and
gender liberation beyond feminism.