The common enemy is…

Excellent find this morning through the Livejournal Reader’s List (something you may want to check out):

Ampersand re-posted one of his more popular essays last week, giving a list based on male privilege. It includes among the many items listed the following:

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

29. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

30. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

36. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

I agree with Ampersand as I read down the list, especially with many of the items that point out the double standard when it comes to what’s ‘acceptable’ behavior for men, but not for women, and vice versa. A double standard that can, all too often, lead to violence and complete denial of opportunity.

Still, I had issues with the list, as have others as noted by Ampersand. For instance if you have a man and a women asked the question, “What is your current job” and both answer, “I’m unemployed” the respect for the man will decrease. Men who don’t ‘work’ in a given profession, who stay at home to take care of home or kids or garden or whatever, are considered lazy; women who do the same, are considered traditional, but not lazy.

As for child care, I have known men denied custody of their children just because it’s ‘traditional’ to give such to the woman. Even if the father is emotionally or financially better equipped to raise the children.

Sexism is a two-edged sword, and it cuts both ways. As effectively noted by Yuki Onna who wrote:

Sexism is not a women’s issue, it’s not a men’s issue–it’s a human issue. And to list all the things that men have going for them that women don’t is to ignore that the gender system is just as harmful to them as it is to us. The line that men must walk in order to be considered men is as tight a rope as the one we walk in order not to be considered objects. It’s this kind of separation that keeps us from transcending such a system in the first place. We should be banding together to say “fuck all of this.” Instead we snipe at each other and draw lines in the playground sand.

She offers a counter-list, with items such as:

1. If I choose not to have a career, but stay at home with my kids while my partner works, my masculinity and my worth as a man will be called into question.

2. If I choose to embrace personal hygiene and show interest in such things as perfume, lotions, body hair removal, or any remotely scented product, I will be mocked. If I prefer clothing which is anything other than conservative and earth-toned, my masculinity will be called into question.

7. I am the target of endless marketing of products to keep me perpetually erect, and if I am not willing to have sex at any time, my masculinity and my worth as a man will be called into question.

8. If I am raped, I am even less likely to be believed than a woman, and very likely to be derided as less than a man. If I am the victim of domestic abuse, however statistically unlikely this is, I will probably be laughed at.

9. No matter what my personal desires, the only images of women I am presented with are unhealthily underweight and surgically altered. If I am not attracted to this version of femininity, my masculinity and worth as a man will be called into question.

Of course, when compared side by side, the threat of being stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock, or forced into wearing head to toe covering and not being allowed access to education or health care isn’t quite balanced by being forced into a perpetual erection or called effeminate for wearing a pink tie. Still, if you combine both lists into one, you can see the real enemy that’s common to both is sexism; something both of these writers would agree on.

What we all need to work toward is equal human rights for all. I am amazed, though, that in this day that we still have to fight this battle–that we still have to plead for equal rights for all.

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