We need to reduce violence against women, break the glass ceiling, and close the pay gap. When gender equality is discussed, it often sounds like women would be the sole beneficiaries of a more gender equal world. Indubitably, physical disadvantage and economic suppression likely make women those who suffer most from gender inequality, but men do experience profound disadvantage from gender inequality, too. Three points, all backed up by research, make clear that gender equality is beneficial to women, to men, and to society as a whole.
First, men would greatly benefit from a more gender equal attitudes towards emotions and vulnerable. Men, unlike women, are frequently expected to be tough and to experience a very limited set of emotions. Whilst it is acceptable for a man to experience anger in an unpleasant situation, it is less acceptable to experience emotions that seem to indicate vulnerability. Already in childhood, many boys learn that they cannot cry because “real men don’t cry”, and are later told to “man up” or to “grow a pair of balls”. We are quick to call men who experience and display sadness, fear, or helplessness “softies” or “wimps”. However, it is natural to experience these negative emotions as they serve important functions. Crying, for instance helps to blow off steam, and also communicates to other people that you are in need of help. Suppressing these emotions often bears negative long-term consequences, such as depression, drug addiction, or suicide. It is not a coincidence that in our society young males commit more suicide than any other demographic group. Expressing anger, rather than sadness, further leads to violence and crime, which explains why a lot more men than women are incarcerated.
Further, to be “a real man” it does not suffice to avoid appearing weak. The stigma is so dreaded so much that men actively seek to engage in risky behaviour to prove their courage and alleged manhood. Young men have been found to engage in more risk-taking behaviour, such as drug consumption and drunk driving, than other groups. This leads to a decrease in health and an increase in accidents among young men.
Second, research found that men are happier in equal relationships. Sharing the role of the breadwinner with your partner comes with a lot of advantages. Men in equal relationships spend more quality time with their family and friends, and establish closer, more satisfying bonds with their children. If we believe emerging men’s rights groups, a closer bond to their children, and equal rights with regards to their children, is what many men desire these days.
Further, men might also perceive being the only person that is earning money for the family as burdensome. It is stressful if the entire family’s existence depends on one’s ability to work. This realisation might rightfully create anxiety and stress for men, which will almost certainly decrease their well-being and quality of life. By sharing this responsibility with a partner a safety net for the family is created, which releases the burden from the men, and increases his chances to a long and healthy life.
Third, boards perform better if they consist of both men and women. Diverse groups make better decisions due to a variety of perspectives considered within the board. Hence, if more women were in the workforce, better outcomes could be achieved. For instance, as a result of sensible decision-making, companies might make more profit, bodies of government might develop more beneficial policies, and courts might make fairer decisions. All members of society, including men, would benefit from each one of these improvements.
For these reasons, striving for gender equality is not only morally right, but also valuable for men. Men, just like women, have a lot to gain from supporting gender equality and the feminist movement. I would hence like to encourage everyone to regard gender inequality as a societal, rather than a female, issue. All of us will benefit from progress in this domain, and should hence set out to get there together.