Image by StockSnap on Pixabay

Some of you may be wondering, how can patriarchy hurt men when it was built by them, for them, and favors them over the two sexes? This topic may sound like an oxymoron, but it is actually true. Patriarchy is a social system that makes men the upholder of power over every aspect of life – political, social, moral, you name it. They dominate the public, as well as the private space and, are inherently privileged. But this privilege comes at a cost. Men don’t realize that the system that oppresses women is counterproductive and toxic to them as well. It pulls their strings to live a life full of high expectations and consequent failures.

The patriarchal standard of masculinity is not only absurd but also impossible to achieve in today’s world. This is termed toxic masculinity by modern feminists. It is filled with ego, male chauvinism, and unnatural standards to live by. This has led to a plethora of issues that have wreaked havoc throughout the male psyche. Here is my list of why and how patriarchy is killing men more than women:

Idea of Masculinity

Image by Vinson Tan on Pixabay

Whether it’s Hollywood’s western characters like John Wayne or comic book superheroes like the Wolverine, this idea of rugged individuals appropriating manliness has conditioned many to buy into this idea of manhood that romanticizes violence and emotional turbidity. The upcoming Bollywood movie Tadap whose trailer looks like Kabir Singh on steroids, is a prime example of that in India. It sure looks good on screen, and I even dare to say that such characters can be attractive to the opposite gender. But in reality, such an obsessive personality with a throw-away attitude is only destructive in the long run. People in India don’t consider actors as mere actors. They call them heroes/ stars and aspire to be like them. When their hero is antisocial, rude, and physically violent, they get signs of affirmation from their role model’s actions. Subconsciously, they are conditioned to believe that’s how ideal men look, and that’s what they do. It can happen to anyone, and they wouldn’t even notice the behavioral changes until it’s too late.

The result is an entitled man/ child who has no concept of hygiene or accountability of their actions. There was a time when women reluctantly married such men because they had no other choice. But today’s women are much more educated, financially independent, and have access to Tinder. They no longer need to marry narcissists who can’t even boil eggs. The massive disparity in the sex ratio compounded with such realization by the female population has caused a large number of men to be left single in India. Almost 253 million men Indians remain unmarried out of which 57 million men are between the age of 20 and 34 (Source).

Status and Money

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

It’s common sense that a male-centered species driven by power will be obsessed with social and financial status. The truth is not everyone can achieve the same. Instead of being content with what one has, everyone is running a rat race for success. The success one is promised in a supposedly free market in a capitalistic society is often an illusion one must overcome to live a peaceful life. In a patriarchal society, men are expected to be competitive, status-conscious, always striving for better financial success, ready to confront and fight to defend their territory. A healthy competition and growth mindset is actually good to become the best version of yourself. The problem arises when society shames those who fail to meet these prerequisites.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, more men in the US are single than ever in their three decades of research. While there’s a variety of reasons why this is happening, one of them is the growing economic pressure on men. 

Emotional Vulnerability

Image by Yogendra Singh on Pixabay

Men cannot cry. That’s what patriarchy teaches men to look brave and manly enough. As a result, all those negative emotions stay crammed up inside until they come out in outbursts of pure rage, or they make the individual jaded, turning him into a psychopath. Men suffer from traumatic experiences of life just like women do. But having the emotional range of two – anger and silence is not helpful to cope with them. Avoiding emotional vulnerability only makes them more vulnerable, leading them to depression, stress, anxiety, and a series of mental disorders. Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes become excuses to hide their feelings and distract their minds off of what’s actually bothering them. I don’t think I need to explain how such addictions turn men into monsters and ruin not just their own, but the lives of everyone around them. According to Wikipedia, the male to female suicide ratio in 2019 was 70.2 : 29.8. That is more than twice the number of females. For a society that oppresses women, the number says otherwise.

Body dysmorphia

Image by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Patriarchy has ridiculous beauty stereotypes around the world for women. Fair skin, slim waists, small feet, long necks (seriously?) are some examples. They have caused serious health concerns among young girls. What’s not talked about is the impact of patriarchy on men when it comes to physical insecurities. Natural bodybuilding and exercise are preferable since they lead to a healthy lifestyle. But a large number of men can’t afford that life. Some men take extreme steps to fit into these standards set by society. The most common is taking steroids to build muscles. Such supplements and injections have harrowing side effects and fatal complications. Some men take extreme steps of cosmetic surgeries and Synthol injections – a synthetic fat, into their muscles to look bigger. It’s not surprising that their obsession with being manly lands them eventually in the ER.

Another criterion to be a man in the eyes of patriarchy is to be tall. Short men are perceived to be weaker so, they often struggle to be in relationships and find it difficult to get into certain professions, like the military. Discrimination based on height is more common than one might think. Bullying and ridiculing such men is widely accepted in virtual space as well as in real life. This develops an inferiority complex among short guys. It has been reported that some men administer metal rods into their shin bones to become taller!

Marriage and Sexuality

Sexual conquest is often used as a gauge of manhood or that of one’s sexual identity. Men are expected to get married (only with women!) and be sexually present at all times. They are supposed to produce kids, preferably boys, and extend their patrilineal descent. Men are meant to be the subject – the agent, the actor, the person doing something – while women are the objects – inactive, to receive actions from men. This relationship hurts everybody. It puts the burden of honor and responsibilities on men, which they must protect at any cost throughout their life. Hence, it becomes the man’s duty to safeguard and control his object’s actions so that he can fulfill this purpose in life. Domestic violence and marital rape become the consequences of such mentality.

Courts usually favor women in case of a divorce for the same idea I have mentioned above, making them the one who benefits from the breakup. While this topic is highly subjective, there is no denying that the judicial system leaves the man more vulnerable.

The sexual virility of a man is a must in a patriarchal society. Otherwise, he is considered less and mocked for his incapability to produce offspring. A man with effeminate body type or looks is scoffed at by calling him slurs that are homophobic or transphobic in nature. Homophobia in patriarchy is nothing but condemnation of femininity as something inferior to men.

Image by Pexels on Pixabay

While we fight for equality in a male-oriented world, we must remind ourselves that our fight is not with the men but with the evils of the patriarchy. The same system that privileges men as a class harms them as individuals. Men are as much the victims of gender hierarchy as women. It is only a matter of time before we all stand together.

Thank you for reading my article!

.   .   .