A firm yet sympathetic open letter to the dudebros [/cis men]
“Dudebros: When you’re a proud member of a class that has been dominant for millennia, and occasionally you find yourself not on top, that’s not oppression–that’s backfiring. It’s a side effect. No system is perfect. When you’ve created and enforced a system of gender roles in which “real men” are strong, fearless, stoic, and violent; and “real women” are delicate, emotional, compassionate, and nurturing; you will occasionally find yourself held to those same standards. When you’ve established combat and money-earning as “men’s work” and childrearing and caregiving as “women’s work,” you will occasionally find yourself stuffed into an assigned role. Even when they aren’t your standards or your preferred roles, per se–when you personally want to diverge from them and are being punished for it–it’s still your system, your patriarchy, and you’re still soaking in its benefits.
And while I know I might come across as unsympathetic here, sincerely I’m not. I’m right there with you. If you want to know how damaging it can be to function under a patriarchy, ask a woman–or, for that matter, a gender-nonconforming man who probably did try to tell you about it until it became apparent that society was okay with you punching him.
So no, a delicate, emotional little flower of a woman isn’t going to be sent to the front lines in combat, is going to be automatically assigned custody of a kid, isn’tgoing to find accommodations in the workplace that make it feasible for her to return to work full-time, and is going to be shuttled into a career arc that assumes she’s going to bail the moment her biological clock rings. And it isn’t because feminists are rubbing their hands together and crowing, “Pack up your pants and grab your pearls, ladies! The 1950s Express is rolling in–destination: you!”
The good news is that women aren’t all fragile and emotional, and some of them want to fight on the front lines, and some of them don’t want to have kids, and some of them want to do both! The bad news is that patriarchy is your baby, so if you want any of this to benefit you, you have to stop calling other men pussies and women bitches when they don’t conform to those gender roles you love so much, and you have to stop accusing women of handing out beejers when they excel in the workplace, you have to stop committing violence against us and each other (for goodness’ sake), and you have to stop talking about “babysitting” your own kids whenever you take care of them. And that’s just to start with.”