Sexism: Men and women in common, not at odds

A recent article appearing in The Atlantic discusses the subject of men as victims of sexism, making some interesting — and, likely, for some people, some unexpected — points along the way.

A preliminary point made in the piece is its assertion that, yes indeed, men, just as women, are sometimes discriminated against along gender lines. This is perhaps most common in the area of family law and following divorce.

Fathers’ rights advocates readily note, for example (and the experience of many men seems to quite objectively reveal), that divorced males can sometimes be saddled for, literally, a lifetime with alimony payments that don’t seem to make much sense. Moreover, far more than mere anecdotal evidence exists showing that men frequently fight an uphill battle and some firmly established assumptions when involved in child custody matters. The Atlantic notes that men are awarded custody only about 10 percent of the time in the United States.

A central point made by the article is that, notwithstanding sexism against men, it is seldom directed by women. That is, feminists and women’s movements care far more about workplace rights and equal pay than they do about spousal support and child custody/support as feminist topics. What The Atlantic notes is that such issues are fueled, rather, by a “reactionary image of female domesticity that feminism has spent most of the last 60-odd years fighting against.”

Sexism against women is fueled by stereotypes. Sexism against men is also fueled by stereotypes. Just as women are often perceived as passive and domestic, men “are supposed to be active and violent.” Such a view goes far in explaining why men are not often perceived as the best parent in custody disputes, or why domestic violence against men doesn’t, comparatively, get much attention.

“[R]igid gender roles harm everyone,” states the article, and that understanding “should be a spur to creating alliances, not fissures.”

Source: The Atlantic, “When men experience sexism,” Noah Berlatsky, May 29, 2013

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