The Discrimination Against Men
The world today must deal with many problems. Our society has been struggling to cope with difficulties ranging from environmental problems to economic problems. Solutions to these problems, however, are not too hard to find. There is one problem, however, that our society has been dealing with for a very long time. The problem is sexual discrimination. When thinking of discrimination, one tends to think mostly of sexism directed against women.. Sexism against women has become a noticeable part of our society and it is slowly on it's way to a solution. That is only part of the problem. Discrimination against men is a problem that rarely goes noticed. As William Farrell states, "With all the focus on discrimination against women, few understand the sexism directed against men." (249) Women and men should be treated as equals, however, more attention is directed towards discrimination towards women. In the 1990s, the men's movement arose in society to try and deal with the problem of sexism against men. This movement came about due to a medley of factors: women's criticisms of men's shortcomings as husbands, fathers, and lovers; the debilitating pressures of the economy and men's unequal responsibility to succeed in the workplace, to prove their worth by making money; and men's confusion over what it means to be a man today.
There are many stereotypes about men and women that are heard every day. The most common, however, is how men are considered jerks. That is one of the most popular ideas in our society today. Women have come to accept this idea as an excuse or answer to their problems with the opposite sex. How do they get this idea? It is unknowingly slipped into women's subconscious by a variety of forces. One of the strongest forces, however, is the media. "The complaints about men, the idea that "men are jerks" have become so integrated into our unconscious that even advertisers have caught on." (Farrell 249) Advertisers have used this very common and influential fact to make money. They negatively portray men in their products in order to attract women consumers. Examples of making men look like the "bad guys" are prominent in greeting cards. An excerpt from a card reveals, "If they can send one man to the moon, why can't they send them all?" Another example would be titles of certain books. Titles such as, "No Good Men." and, "Men Who Can't Love." (Farrell 250) These are examples of negative stereotypes against men and are a huge part of the problem. Men are unfairly portrayed as monsters and women end up believing that all men are heartless and uncaring. The media is a strong influence, and if it continues to produce negative stereotypes against men, then women will continue to believe them.
Another factor which is a part of male sexism is the pressure that men feel to be successful. Men have come to see it as their obligation to have a good education, get a high-paying job, get married and have kids, and be the sole-bread winner of the family. They are the ones who have to support their family, and they are looked down upon if they fail to do so. Men are literally not worth as much without money. As stated by Ian Harris: "The media and society as a whole need to bury the popular myth that male
success consists of making money." (588) The pressures on males and females to be successful are highly unequal. Men see becoming successful as an responsibility and obligation, whereas for women, becoming successful is a choice. It is normal in our society for a women to marry a successful man and not work, but it is definitely seen as strange when a man marries a successful woman and does not work. He is accused of marrying her for her money, whereas she is not accused of anything. Being a successful male has become the society's rule. "Occupational achievement, measured by job status and financial success, has become the yardstick of contemporary masculinity for middle-aged and upper-class America." (Master, Johnson, and Kolodny 554) Without having a successful career, or at least a high education, men are seen as disappointments. They have no use. How successful or how highly educated a man is not a basis to see how valuable he is to our society.
With all the pressures that men have today, it is clear to see that they may not know what it means to be a man in our society. Our society has produced many confusing expectations of what men should do to be "real men." A man must be a good provider to his family, he must be a good father, and he must be sensitive and gentle. Other characteristics include being cool, collected, and controlled. (Goldberg 160) Men must be the providers in our society, however in order to be accepted by the women, they not only have to be successful, they have to be good looking. Men have learned that in order to succeed in relationships, they must succeed in their occupation. They learn from high school that: "Good-looking boy does not equal good-looking girl." (Farrell 251) Women possess superior qualities and power if they are attractive. If men want to reach that level, they must be both attractive and successful. Society has made requirements for both men and women, and the men are struggling to cope with these pressures.
Discrimination is a problem that must be solved. What was thought as first just as a "women's problem," has also become known as a "man's problem." There are many ways in which women are treated unfairly towards men, however, this should not mean that the treatment of men should be ignored. If men and women are fighting to be equals, they must realize that they both have problems. Men and women both experience unfair treatment, and the only way to stop it, is for both sexes to take time to see how and why the discrimination happens. The attention surrounding sexism directed towards females has become so prominent that it has left the male movement trailing behind, unnoticed. Equality of the sexes will begin with equal attention on both movements. The society must realize that focusing on discrimination of women is only creating discrimination against men. The more attention women receive, the more power they receive over men, which leaves men powerless. Robert Moore, a psychoanalyst at the C.G Jung Institute in Chicago, states that it is ridiculous to conclude that "the empowerment of women means the disempowerment of men." (qtd. in Allis 256) Men and women should receive equal treatment, and the only way that it will happen is if our society realizes that there is no such thing as the "better sex."
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