How the Patriarchy Hurts Men: Feminism Is for Everyone


Walking into my therapist’s office in 2017, I knew two things with absolute certainty:

1 – I was a toxic man. (Essentially, this meant that I lived my life according to toxic masculinity). For those of you who don’t know, toxic masculinity (TM) is a system of rules, norms, values, beliefs and behaviors that are harmful to men and everyone else, that are primarily taught to men. Things like “men don’t cry” or “just man up” or the normalisation of displaying violence, homophobia etc.

2 – I knew that my life couldn’t go on this way. Because I was bitter, aggressive, angry, miserable and disconnected from anything that made me feel good and authentic to who I was.

At the same time, I was in university studying sociology. It was there that I learnt another horrifying truth: that I was not alone. In fact, quite the opposite. I was in a large and overwhelming majority of men whose lives are depleted because of TM. In case anyone is wondering how bad it really is, here are some statistics I’ve found over the last 5 years of research:

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men die from suicide 3.88x more than women. And white men accounted for 69.68% of all suicides deaths (in 2020). The Sentencing Project estimates that 1 in 9 men in the US will end up in prison at some point (compared to 1 in 56 women). In England, men make up only 36% of referrals for therapy in the NHS. 87% of insomniacs in England are men. The rate of addiction in men is almost 2x that of the rate in women. The WHO estimates that men have a 4x higher risk of dying from any cause. Men are 7x more likely to die via homicide than women (with the killer most likely to be another man). 36% of all male deaths are from preventable diseases compared to 19% of the time in females.

From these stats, one more thing became abundantly clear to me: Men are in pain. And its due to TM. But where does it come from? And what could be done about it?

It didn’t take long on my journey to find the culprit: The patriarchy. Essentially, the patriarchy is a societal system (prevalent in almost every society in the world) where men are seen as the leaders/decision makers. And everyone else follows suit. You may be thinking (like I did) “how can a system built to benefit men actually be harmful to men?”. Well. There is one important caveat: the patriarchy only benefits a specific type of man.

 Typically, the men who ‘lead’ patriarchal systems are white, straight, cis-gendered, educated, stubborn, aggressive, racist, homophobic, sexist and misogynistic (prejudiced against women). The more that men display these kind of behaviors, the more likely they are to move up the social ladder of the patriarchy. Because the patriarchy knows that these traits help keep men in power and allow almost no one else in. Self-preservation. So: If you’re a man but you don’t display the traits shown above, then the patriarchy isn’t working for you. It’s actively working against you. The patriarchy normalizes these behaviors in men. And uses TM to do so. If the patriarchy was a car: TM can be taught of as the ‘factory’ which produces the doors, tires, engine and seats.

In my work as a Sociologist, Life Coach and content creator, I (evidently) come across men in pain. Many men exhausted and angry by how agonising their lives have become. And they want to know who to ‘blame’ for this. Some of the men I work with start by blaming feminism. They say that the huge disparities in the qualities of men’s lives compared to women are due to the feminist movement, ‘cancel culture’ and the MeToo movement. They say that due to feminism, women have it easy and that no one cares about men. That men are ignored and pushed aside and just treated like human ATMs. I hear things like “feminism is a war on men”. “Feminism wants to hurt men”. “More men die in war than women do. More men go to prison than women do. More men die of suicide than women do. Feminism is bullshit”.

On my Instagram page, whenever I loudly and proudly say that I’m a feminist, I get comments or messages with the words ‘traitor’, ‘simp’, ‘unmanly’, ‘beta’, ‘moron’ peppered in. I tell them all the same thing: “what you are really angry at, is the patriarchy. And you should be”.

The patriarchy is the system that believes the only thing men are good for is fighting in wars and working their minds/bodies until exhaustion. It is what normalises men into not seeking therapy when things are tough. It is what normalises the inhumane method of ‘bottling up your feelings’, so much that men can’t take it anymore and seek drugs, alcohol, sex, suicide or a combination of these to numb the pain. The patriarchy is what ‘normalised’ the notion that men are supposed to be bread winners and handle all the financial responsibility alone in a household. The patriarchy believes that men can’t be good at raising children or aren’t natural caregivers. Which is why there are almost no diaper station in men’s restrooms or why single fathers are often seen as a rare breed of unicorn. It is the patriarchy that makes it seem ‘weird’, ‘unmanly’ or ‘weak’ when a man gets sexually assaulted or is a victim of domestic violence. It tells us that there is something wrong with him and not the abuser (I mean look what happened to Johnny Depp for all those years).

I tell them, the patriarchy hurts everyone. Of all genders. Of all races. Class. Financial background. Sexual orientation. It is pain. All the time.

I tell them, there is one system on earth that wishes to dismantle the patriarchy: Feminism. The core values of feminism are extremely simple to understand: that everyone on earth deserves to live a happy and safe life. Regardless of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, creed, money, religion etc. Every human being deserves to be who they truly are and be protected from harm, judgement, prejudice and violence. A feminist is someone who says “how can I help those around me be safe and feel heard and protected?”. For men wanting to heal from TM, I often tell them that feminism wants what is best for men. Which is the dismantlement of the patriarchy. Because the patriarchy (and by extension, TM) hurts men, who go on to hurt others. And it’s a vicious cycle.

 If we stop the patriarchy, we stop everyone’s pain along with it.

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