Both men and women are defined by specified roles in today’s society. Women – through the feminist movement and other efforts through the years – have gained many of the socially acceptable rights and responsibilities of men. They can wear pants, earn a living wage, vote, etc., etc. That’s not to say they’re equal in all things, just that they have made significant progress in many parts of the world. Men… men have not had a similar movement. It’s not socially acceptable for men to wear dresses, be a stay at home parent, or express emotion. Though I have recently seen progress being made in this direction! To balance men’s requirement to maintain traditional masculinity, women must therefore maintain a certain level of the traditional role. Men are being limited and that in turn limits all of society.
One definition of feminism is equality of the sexes. Yet the words feminism and maleism are polarizing and, in some ways, biased by their very names. The first portion of the word “fem” for female or “male” for… well… male draws the focus. We need a new word. One that encompasses the full spectrum of gender variation. When trying to come up with this word my grand idea was to create the thought of equality for all using the term “genderism” only to find that genderism is already defined as the concept that there are two and only two genders. Grand idea fail. So while I ponder the name, here’s some more food for thought.
It is my firm belief that gender equality cannot move forward with half of the equation (masculinity) frozen into a particular shape. Don’t think, just respond: Would you rather your male child play with cars or dolls? What about your female child? Many forward thinking people would be insulted at the idea of their female child only being allowed to play with dolls, she can do anything a boy can! But the same is not true at all for the boys. Can’t they do everything that a girl can? Shouldn’t they be allowed and encouraged? What is so very wrong about a boy playing with a doll?
The same double standard exists for emotions and behaviors. Women and girls are more and more encouraged to show leadership skills (previously called “being bossy”) while men and boys are still not encouraged to show empathy for others (as is needed for care based tasks). “Stronger” emotions include anger, conviction, and confidence while “weaker” emotions include things like crying, vulnerability, and uncertainty. You, the reader, already know via social norms that we all experience which genders are associated with which emotions and the negativity associated with expressing emotions “owned” by the opposite sex.
So how do we move forward? How do we free all genders to express themselves as a human without following a scripted gender role? Let us start by exploring and supporting the concept that gender equality can only be reached by all genders supporting … all genders. Gender equality for all.
1) Maleism: slang word for “Masculism”; belief of men’s rights and defending the male image from the extremist views of feminist groups. The opposite of Feminism; the male’s version of Feminisim.
2) Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes OR organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
3) Genderism: Genderism, or gender binarism, is the cultural belief that gender is a binary, or that there are, or should be, only two genders — man and woman — and that the aspects of one’s gender are inherently linked to the sex in which they were assigned at birth.