Millennial Musing
January 9, 2018
Male stereotypes

In my last column, I spoke about female stereotypes, but I also mentioned male stereotypes very briefly. This week, I will elaborate more on this topic, as male and female stereotypes do not exist within a bubble; they affect each other and often lead to undesired outcomes.

The first stereotype is that ‘men aren’t emotional’. I’ve touched on this topic before; however, I will wrap it up succinctly. If you are a woman capable of having feelings, then sorry to break it to you, men can have these same feelings. The only difference between men and women is that men aren’t allowed to express themselves. It is only socially acceptable for men to cry at their mother’s funeral and at the birth of their first-born child (the second or third aren’t important enough). Luckily, I see this trend changing, as more men (particularly the younger generation) are more open about crying and expressing their emotions. Emotional expression is imperative for mental health, and considering men have the highest suicide rate, they arguably need it the most.

The second stereotype relates to parental rights, specifically us believing that women are automatically better parents than men. Historically, women have been the primary caretakers, whether for the elderly or children. Women are automatically seen as more nurturing and caring than their male counterparts. This might be true sometimes, but not always. Too often men lose all custody rights to their children because of divorce. Our court systems do not even have proper procedures in place when assessing the better parent; the default is always simply the mother. It is a fallacy to presume that the better parent is always the mother. Abusive mothers exist, and negligent mothers exist; pretending they don’t only puts the child at risk.

The third stereotype is that men can’t be raped or sexually assaulted. This topic might make some people uncomfortable, but it is true. Most countries in the Caribbean do not even recognize rape between men as a crime; its existence is simply ignored. The idea that a man would “allow” another man to rape him is interpreted as emasculating and shameful. This archaic way of thinking is toxic, as it allows perpetrators to escape the law and continue hurting others. It also prevents the victims from seeking counselling and the medical attention they may need, resulting from the assault. It is approximated that one in seven men would have been the victim of sexual assault; yet I don’t personally know any male who has ever been assaulted. This tells us that men very rarely report sexual assault and this needs to change. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; rapists and assaulters should pay for their crimes.

Women’s issues and men’s issues might seem unrelated, but they are deeply interlinked. We cannot fix one without considering the other. There are too many social rules plaguing us, which have no real merit or function in our lives. Once again, I am asking you to assess your life and see why you do the things you do and how they affect your life. Change is uncomfortable, but it cannot be stopped. When you look back at your choices, will you be on the right side of history?