Updated: Feb 27
Every time we hear the word “patriarchy”, the social issues that come to our minds are related to women, from getting equal opportunity to study or to get an equal wage for equal work. No doubt women face more problems, but patriarchy also puts up certain criteria for a man. Since childhood, men are told to be financially successful or else they will not be able to feed their family. Is a man’s worth defined based on what money he brings to the table?
Though having a financial goal is good, but for men, it becomes exceptionally high.
So what is the patriarchal society teaching us? It is always assumed that the man is going to be the bread-earner of the family and should be earning more than his wife, or he is not man enough, or capable enough to handle his family. Women, from an early age, are fed with the thought that men will always spend on you, thus putting all sorts of pressure on the man to have a higher income. Even when a couple is married lives together and earns together, it is assumed that the money spent should be of the man, he must be the one to secure the family’s future.
What does this indicate? The norms set by society are extremes for both men and women. This patriarchal society does not benefit any individual regardless of gender. Rather, it puts restrictions on your life or puts you under the pressure to achieve a huge goal in life, even when you don’t want to aim for that goal. The 21st century talks a lot about gender inequality and how women suffer from these inequalities but we also need to address the issues men face in their life due to the very same society.
Various reports and studies signify that the cause for anxiety, depression, and mental stress among men is major because of the extremely high expectations of doing well in life. We see young boys committing suicide majorly because they aren’t able to find success, either in studies or finding a job. This proves that boys suffer, but do we acknowledge their suffering? As we have started acknowledging women’s suffering and have at least started working towards a better life for women.
Every young boy you see is told to earn, be successful, and are not taught how to handle failures. We often use the phrase ‘man up’ to disregard their emotions. Whenever they fail, they are called various names, which strongly suggests society’s discrimination towards its men.
Other phrases like ‘men don’t cry’, ‘men aren’t sensitive’, ‘men need to carry the family’, ‘men can’t act timid’, ‘men always need to stand fierce’, ‘men can’t feel low’ add on to their pressures. On one hand, there are high expectations, and on the other hand, they can’t honestly explain what they are going through. This only leads them to have a lonelier life, where they don’t feel like talking to anyone because all they feel is judged. Showing a sign of vulnerability may add up to people telling him to ‘MAN UP’. It discourages a person from being himself even in front of his closest friends, building up frustration and bottling emotions.
A young man is always told to act a certain way, whenever with a girl. Men are the ones who are expected to make grand gestures and pay every time they go out together. Is this the equality that our society is looking for? Its high time we start talking about the extreme expectations the patriarchal society puts on men.
The principle of gender equality is that all the genders are given the same opportunities, the same rights to express their emotions, to take care of their family and to spend on each other. Acknowledging the fact that gender inequality exists for all the genders in this society is the first and foremost step towards change. Similar to how menstruations are being normalized in society by first acknowledging that it is natural and no one has control over it. The idea that men do suffer due to unrealistic expectations needs to be normalized in our society.
Secondly, the idea of how men can also get depressed or suffer from anxiety with all the pressure in society needs to be tackled by talking to your friends or partners about the problems that they are facing and sharing the burden.
Yes, women do face a lot more than what men face, but for a society to be equal, both need to be respected and cared for as human beings. If either of them falls, society as we know it will cease to exist. Everyone is a victim to these patriarchal norms in some way or the other, and that needs to change for a better, equal and more peaceful world.