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Men – the unacknowledged wounded of Patriarchy

Women are the face of every feminist movement this world has witnessed so far. They have fought their way to the right to vote, right to reproduction, right to work, right to voice and they still are paving their way through.

But if women were the only ones impacted by patriarchy, then why have not we healed this world yet? Why is blood still oozing? Whose wounds are these? Whose broken bones are these? Why do we still hear cries of confusions, pains, of shame, of fear and of guilt? And those voices – to whom do they belong?

These last centuries a lot of energy has been invested in decoding how patriarchy affects women, however, we leave out a hugely important part of the conversation — namely, the ways Patriarchy affects men.

This paper holds no intention to justify the atrocities endured by women, neither does it want to condone the barbarous acts perpetrated against women and vulnerable groups by men and allies. As a woman, I speak from my own experiences and the experiences of those who share my womanhood in other contexts. I’ve felt some of these wounds. I know this story. And because of that, I have often argued disproportionately for the negative impact of patriarchy on women, and have overlooked the way that men are held captive by this culture too.

It’s easy to think that because men have the power and privilege, that they truly have everything. But, I’ve come to recognize that patriarchy’s picture of manhood is woefully inaccurate—and men suffer as a result of that narrowness.

The fact is – Patriarchy hurts men too. Among all the wounds that Patriarchy has brought unto men, the one that triggers most to me as a human is “Denial to their Emotional System”.

Author, Feminist and Social Activist Bell Hooks puts it as follows “Patriarchy as a system has denied males access to full emotional well-being, which is not the same as feeling rewarded, successful, or powerful because of one’s capacity to assert control over others.

Patriarchy teaches our men that “crying means they are sissies”, “asking for help and support makes them less” “grieving means they are weak”, “shying makes them drama-queens”, “loving equates to being in control”, “being gentle and caring means you are penis-less” and the best for the last “feeling makes them less manly”.

Men who are denied access to feel are incomplete beings and they will spend years of their life looking that one thing to complete them – that very thing they will sadly run away from which are their emotions. And ultimately, emotionally undeveloped men lead to a sick society.

And the whispers from this sick society are bloodily endless.

When he goes through that divorce or unworkable relationship, no wonder, he feels less, he despises her most and he freaks out for Patriarchy teaches him that “he is to be in control”, “if he loses, then this makes of him an eternal failure” and if he pains then “this make him less manly”. Does it surprise you that most men will have a harder time letting go of a failed relationship; their manhood will be trashed because of one encounter which involved two persons? Does it surprise you that most men will drown themselves in their job or other activities or even go to the extent of substance abuse when they go through such sensitive phases?

If only, he was taught that to “ask for help is normal”, maybe he would not come home from a stressful day to lash it out on others and the rest. Maybe he would have understood that seeking help and support is “the way of being human”.

If he was taught that “being you is what matters most”, then maybe he would not play the ranking game among other men to see who is further on the social and professional ladder. Maybe his self-esteem would not hit him so hard and he would not feel less of himself. For Patriarchy does teach men that self-esteem and self-love is conditional based on what they possess and what they have achieved – a definition of manhood. Does it surprise you that gay are considered less of man? Who decided about this? Who defined this manhood?

If only he was taught that listening to his heart is the way to living, we would have more fulfilled men who made that choice to follow their voice instead of carrying that “fake illusion of them having to care and cater for the entire world”. The social researcher Daniel Yankelovich has suggested that about 80% of U.S. male workers experience their jobs as intrinsically meaningless and onerous. They experience their jobs and themselves as worthwhile only through priding themselves on the hard work and personal sacrifice they are making to be breadwinners for their families Accepting these hardships reaffirms their role as family providers and therefore as true men.

If only we were daring enough to whisper back that “toughest and power lies in being true to what you feel – “then our men would be real men with tears, fears, shears, pains and still they would be glowing a glow of completeness for men who delve connected to their hearts are the real men; for men who dare follow their dreams are alive men; for men who choose to re-create society are the ones we need most.”

Sisters, Mothers, Godmothers, Maidens and Crones – if we truly believe that our mission is to elevate this world to the next level, then this calls for more than just inviting men on the same table. It calls for getting men to activate their own healing but beyond all, standing in acknowledgement and honoring the tedious and painful path these men have been through. Men are not less broken, less paining, less teared than us women. For in truth, Patriarchy has never been to Men’s advancement, they are lost ones and they have lost their way to their selves.

Gender-based Violence
Positive Masculinity
Human Rights
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