Men’s issues and inequality

Inequality doesn’t just affect women, it can affect men too, sometimes differently to women, but there are prejudices, unfair sweeping criticisms and institutional biases against men as well as against women.

This shouldn’t detract for issues that women face, they are overdue for addressing, but things aren’t entirely stacked for men and against women.

One example that is often quoted is the apparent assumption by police that in violent domestic situations men are the instigators and perpetrators and are the ones that must be removed from family homes. I don’t know how true this is now, in 2018, because the treatment of domestic violence has changed markedly over the last fifty years, but it is an obvious issue of concern still.

A thread at Reddit looks at men’s issues: ‘You idiots, Google it’ – Jack Tame fires up over commenters asking ‘where’s International Men’s Day?’

“I’d love to have a conversation about men’s issues that wasn’t set in the frame work of anti-feminism or misogyny for once.”

“Check out r/menslib. It is just sub to say these are the issues facing men, and no, feminists aren’t the cause.”

“I was going to recommend the same place. Good, positive community. Feminist aligned, rainbow alphabet friendly. Angry misogynists need not apply…”

On domestic violence:

I think it’s fair to direct some criticism at feminists for at least not helping, if not holding back addressing men’s issues.

A good example of this is domestic violence research. Feminist researchers pushed there ideological point of view and inhibited research that showed female perpetrators and male victims. See this articleThis video has clips of a Dunedin Longitudinal study researcher talking about the problems they had with sharing their research. Here another video of a partner violence researcher talking about the difficulty of presenting research that is counter to the feminist ideological position.

On the bias towards women’s issues:

I think there is a real issue with influential feminists and feminist theory though.

For example, Dr. Jackie Blue from the human rights commision frame gender equality as exclusively a woman’s issue. Julie Anne Genter believes there is no need to have specific measures to address men’s inequalities. It these attitudes from people in power that make progress on men’s issues difficult.

I don’t know if this is accurate about Dr Jackie Blue and Julie Anne Genter.

As Minister for Women it is Genter’s job to advocate for women, not men.

And what’s wrong with that, exactly? As a male, I too am concerned about men’s issues in terms of mental health, education and justice laws. These are inequalities that can and should be solved through fixing policies within these particular areas and overcoming the societal problems that cause these discrepancies in the first place (eg. alternatives in the justice system towards rehabilitation will by definition benefit men primarily). Women face unique institutional barriers in representation in parliament, pay equity, and have unique health issues that men don’t face(in terms of pregnancy etc.) that need require a dedicated policy more than the equivalent for men do.

Nor, am I convinced it’s JAG’s job to institute these changes. Why not take it up with men that are directly responsible for these issues? Like Ministers David Clark for Health or Kelvin Davis for corrections?

Health and Corrections (prisons) are two areas that men can have disadvantages – far more of them are imprisoned and stuck in incarceration, re-offending cycles, and screening programs for illnesses that largely afflict men lag that of women’s health issues.

Life expectancy for men still lags that for women.

Men face unique institutional barriers as well albeit different ones. I’m actually researching this at the moment so I can make a submission to the UN human rights review. The biggest issue so far is that we haven’t been reporting violations of men’s human rights to the UN. We should have equality under the law, and currently, we have a few laws that discriminate against men. This has not been reported. The amount of violence against women has been reported, but the figure for male victims have been left out.

Another issue is that the Ministry for Women is the government’s expert on gender. It unreasonable for the MfW to have the expertise and knowledge of men’s issues. Cabinet papers are required to have a gender analysis, but this is focused on the effects on women.

Some of men’s issues simply haven’t improved. Boys and men have been behind in education for decades. Suicide rates for men have dropped since the nineties but have flattened out and are still significantly higher than the lowest point. The Justice Minister isn’t interested in addressing the bias against men in the justice system.

You can’t have one gender equality standard for women and another for men. That’s not gender equality.

I’ve made a similar point before – equality means equal standards for anyone regardless of gender.

Problems aren’t always gender equal – for example men are more likely to be violent than women 9but not exclusively), and breast cancer and prostrate cancer are not gender equal.

The argument that women’s issues are different or worse isn’t an argument against a men’s ministry (or equivalent) it’s an argument for a women’s ministry.

The fact that we have some stubborn negative outcomes for men that we haven’t been able to make good progress on in the current system should be enough to consider a men’s ministry or some specific intervention.

Another consideration is that we have obligations under human rights treaties to protect men’s and women’s rights equally.

I wonder if how exactly people expect individual government departments will address men’s issues? Perhaps they will need a men’s advocate for each department and someone to coordinate between departments? Maybe someone who is an expert on men’s issues and can be consulted by other ministers?

A contentious comment:

Except mainstream Western feminism is the very thing that is trying to keep men from discussing their issues. When it began criticising patriarchal gender roles and stereotypes, it made men analyse their own situations and they began to realise things weren’t right.

Feminism needs men to be complacent and accepting of their lot in life. More so it relies on men and their sacrificial tendencies, their need to work for the greater good in order to actually advance their agenda. Hence why feminism doesn’t want men becoming aware because it would result in women losing social and legal privileges, something which the movement today does not want.

A response:

That is just not true. I have lost men in my life to suicide and it has been feminists who offered the most support and only feminists that have been interested in discussing gender roles and the influence they play in the suffering of many men in our society let alone acting to challenge those roles.

Just as male equality and female equality and genders issues are not equal, not all feminists and feminist issues are equal.

There is a tendency to highlight the worst rather than the best examples of feminist activism.

A response to Jack Tame’s comment:

Well he has a point. “What about men’s day” is often used as a reason not to care about woman’s day rather than a genuine call to arms on men’s issues. I do support more attention on a specific men’s day/issues focus tho.

One thing in which men are, in general, not equal is their reluctance or inability to discuss serious issues. There has been a tendency for men, in New Zealand at least, to be ‘strong, silent types’, with debate over ‘strong’.

It can be a weakness to keep problems to yourself. It can adversely affect your well being, and it increases the risks of pent up anger exploding into violence, or of pent up depression or feelings of hopelessness resulting in self harm and suicide – men unequally figure in suicide statistics.

If men want better advocacy on male issues they need to take responsibility for it themselves and not moan about the gains that women’s advocacy have made in recent decades.

If men want a Ministry for men or an International Men’s Day then men should make them happen.

Inequality will not be resolved by inaction.

20 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  March 12, 2018

    In my experience with friends and acquaintances the abuse, either emotional or physical has been 3/4 done by women 1/4 done by men.

    It’s very hard for men to ask for help for emotional abuse and likewise not covered by law.

  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  March 12, 2018

    Where’s International Men’s Day?

    It’s International Men’s Day 364 days of the year…

    Men still earn nearly 15% more than women
    Men are less likely to work in low paid jobs
    Men are more likely to run businesses and countries
    Men don’t die in childbirth, menstruate, go through menopause or get sacked from TV presenting if they get a grey hair
    Men don’t have to deal with workplace sexism, patronising mechanics or strangers telling them what they can and can’t do with their own bodies
    Men don’t walk home at night with the fear of sexual assault, and men don’t have to endure constant attacks on their body image from every magazine they read, poster they see or building site they pass.

    And that’s just in enlightened societies. Some parts of the world are still in the Dark Ages.

    A real International Men’s Day is about celebrating positive role models, about highlighting the good men among us, about promoting better health for men and boys and about promoting gender equality so men live longer, better, happier lives. It’s about celebrating the best of men and working out how to help the worst, about celebrating what men do well and finding ways to fix what men don’t do well.

    That sounds pretty good to me, but do we really need a special day to do that?

    This post is like the tantrum that I see reflected in men’s rights activists’ howls of protests: a tantrum arising out of the inability to see the bigger picture, the reality of other people’s lives and the way in which society works. And it’s deeply ironic that the most misogynistic men’s rights activists are the ones who keep demonstrating the need for feminism.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 12, 2018

      Women talk too much. And then complain when men say something.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  March 12, 2018

        and right on cue … another demonstration of the need for feminism.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 12, 2018

          QED.

          • Gezza

             /  March 12, 2018

            Thinking in slogans never helps much.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              Neither does talking without thinking. Or thinking only about yourself.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  March 12, 2018

        Seriously Alan, if women around you complain when you talk, then you ought to look at what you say and how you say it…

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 12, 2018

          Actually they only complain when I don’t talk, Joe. I guess you heard about the guy who didn’t talk to his wife for 30 years? He didn”t like to interrupt. I don’t have that problem as I do interrupt.

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  March 12, 2018

      Joe – a lot of what you say is correct or at least I agree with you. BUT

      “Men still earn nearly 15% more than women”
      The Pay equity issue is NOT cut and dried. There is a large element of choice in this issue in terms of women choosing to have children and thereby stalling their careers. You may not like that it stalls there careers – BUT experience does bear on pay rates. And it would be unfair on a person to have their pay rate curtailed to meet some equality standard, or equaled by someone who stepped away from their career for 3 years and comes back demanding the same rate as someone who kept working, developing their skill set and gain workplace wisdom

      “Men are less likely to work in low paid jobs”
      Probably true. But also men have traditionally done work that is much more dangerous like mining etc as a balance to pay rate inequality. $17 an hour to look after elderly versus $20 an hour down a mine? Which would you prefer??

      Men are more likely to run businesses and countries
      Running businesses is a choice. plenty of woman run their own businesses i.e. small businesses. corporate life is changing and more woman are in senior positions. BUT the discussion above about pay equity also comes to bear on this issue. Someone leaves and comes back after 18 months on leave looking after bubs… meanwhile their peers have continued working and demonstrating capability – they therefore get promoted and end up at the top of the management pyramid… Should those who keep working be restrained in favour of a returning parent in some type of reverse discrimination approach???

      “Men don’t die in childbirth, menstruate, go through menopause or get sacked from TV presenting if they get a grey hair”
      True as far as it goes – except men do suffer form testosterone depletion as they age which has health impacts, its the male equivalent of menopause..

      “Men don’t have to deal with workplace sexism, patronising mechanics or strangers telling them what they can and can’t do with their own bodies”
      No sorry – that is in part bullshit. I have been subject to casual sexism. “Boys” comments – implications that males are stupid – have been made in the work place by older woman. And as I have aged I have seen it continue and be directed at other younger males.I have worked in bars when a student – the sexist harassing from hens parties is quite something and very demeaning to male bar staff who just have to suck it up or get labelled soft. I have also observed males get targeted by groups of women with quite nasty gossip – designed to destroy that mans standing at work, because the man is a threat to their way of work. Woman are not above playing the harassment card either to smear some men. Sexism is not a one way street

      “Men don’t walk home at night with the fear of sexual assault, and men don’t have to endure constant attacks on their body image from every magazine they read, poster they see or building site they pass.”
      True fear of sexual assault outside of jail is not a big issue for men. But again the body image issue is just not factually true anymore. Mens bodies are increasingly commodified by media and advertising, and their is pressure particularly on the under 30’s to conform with certain body images promoted by the fashion industry – see the whole metrosexual thing, see the increasing body shaving phenomena. For older men it is bemusing what some young men do to attract women and fit in with fashion trends..

      Just a few counter arguments to your points Joe…..

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  March 12, 2018

        T_E, nothing you say is incorrect of itself, but what you don’t point out is that every situation you raise is weighted in favour of men:

        Men may be commodified by media and advertising but the pressures to conform are nowhere near as great as they are for women

        Women hugely outnumber men as victims of sexual assault

        You may have been occasionally singled out for harrassment – women are constantly singled out

        Men may “suffer” from testosterone depletion – but can you really compare that with the universailty of menopause for women?

        Why should women be obliged to accept less than men simply because they are the child-bearers? Given the pain of childbirth many women would far prefer men take over that role.

        There’s a whole world of male privilege that didn’t get mentioned by you and that’s the nub of the discussion.

        • Gezza

           /  March 12, 2018

          Men may be commodified by media and advertising but the pressures to conform are nowhere near as great as they are for women
          Where does that pressure come from? How much of it comes from other women themselves?

          Women hugely outnumber men as victims of sexual assault
          No doubt about that more women get raped by men than the other way round, but seen plenty of reported examples of women like teachers targeting teenage boys too.

          You may have been occasionally singled out for harrassment – women are constantly singled out.
          It takes different forms when some women harrass men in offices. They’re not physical assaults but they can definitely be unwanted touching & brushing against you.

          Men may “suffer” from testosterone depletion – but can you really compare that with the universailty of menopause for women?
          Not all women are devastated by that. I’ve had more than one say, irritating, but end of bloody periods: great! Biggest problem afterwards is staving off bone loss. Try male pattern baldness & figuring out how you want to deal with that?

          Why should women be obliged to accept less than men simply because they are the child-bearers? Given the pain of childbirth many women would far prefer men take over that role.

          On the earnings issue – sort that one out yourselves. You’re making progress in business & in the professions – so keep at it.

          On the childbirth pain issue – watching the woman they love go thru it, many men wish they could, or at least could somehow share & lessen it. We didn’t bloody design our or your bodies. Take it up with the creator.

          Male privelege to some women is male burden to another. The pressures men feel under are just as strong in different ways to those women feel under. And good men resent feeling tarred by feminist accusations tantamount to implying all men but wimpy metrosexuals on the make are bastards – sex-crazed, selfish, mysogynistic, insensitive, monsters.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  March 12, 2018

            I’ll say it again Gezza:

            A real International Men’s Day is about celebrating positive role models, about highlighting the good men among us, about promoting better health for men and boys and about promoting gender equality so men live longer, better, happier lives. It’s about celebrating the best of men and working out how to help the worst, about celebrating what men do well and finding ways to fix what men don’t do well.

            That sounds pretty good to me, but do we really need a special day to do that?

            • Gezza

               /  March 12, 2018

              Soz. Query for you below.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              Why is a woman trying to tell us what a mens day should be about? I think you just made Gezza’s point.

          • Gezza

             /  March 12, 2018

            What do you reckon women don’t do well, out of interest?

        • David

           /  March 12, 2018

          “Why should women be obliged to accept less than men simply because they are the child-bearers?”

          Why do you place no value on child-bearing? That is something women can do that men will never be able too.

  3. Pickled Possum

     /  March 12, 2018

    Women used to stay home to look after the children and the house
    they were un-paid lawyers doctors accountants peace keepers for their families.

    Men went to work to pay for it all, as well as do Sat sports day car pooling
    mow the lawns, dig the veggie garden over and plant.
    Take the family to church on Sunday morning and the beach in the arvo,
    some men even did the Sunday roast.

    Somewhere along the line men and woman changed roles,
    Woman began to do it all and with out a man to lean on.
    Our children soon grew up without a male role model
    A man that watered the seeds they planted.

    Was this the day of the domestic benefit?

    Was it feminism or did the men just buckled under the weight of all that stress.

    In saying that, men do have Issues that should be recognised and
    resolved with men groups that do not threaten their all ready fragile egos.

    A strong man is a man that cries and says ‘sorry darling yes you are right!’

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 12, 2018

      Good comment, Possum. It bites harder at the bottom of the pyramid than at the top. Unskilled male jobs disappeared and welfare took over.

    • Gezza

       /  March 12, 2018

      I remember an interview on tv with Celia Lashley, talking about how she’d had very strong feminist views but once she’d spent quite a bit of time working in prisons discovered how many lost young men there were in prison with no idea how young men were supposed to behave because what she now noticed had been happening was all these young men had experienced was women believing they knew better how to bring up boys than men did.

      Mums, teachers. I remember one phrase she used in particular because I’ve seen it happen. She said too often now what happens is an adolescent boy approaches dad with a problem, and mum straight away says “Get out of the way & let me handle this: you’re no good at this sort of thing. That boy approached dad because he really needed dad’s opinion this time, not mum’s.”