Photo by Brenda Lin

Many people falsely believe that feminism is specifically for women, but equal rights can benefit everyone. Men’s rights activists have risen to more prominence in the last few years and the thing that bothers me most about them is that they are fighting for the same equalities as women. Most men’s rights complaints can be completely resolved by feminism; specifically, societal expectations, parental rights, domestic violence and rape.

Gender roles in society often hurt men as much as women, especially emotionally. Female attributes are often considered negative and used as insults for men. This negativity prohibits men from being able to express emotion or show any form of weakness just because it is considered “feminine.”

We cannot allow one gender to grow up completely repressing their feelings. Phrases such as “you throw like a girl” and “don’t be a pussy” are detrimental to young girls and boys alike. These sayings teach boys that they always have to be strong and teach girls that they are not as valuable as boys. Men should be free to express their emotions as readily as women and make decisions in their life based on what they want rather than on others’ expectations of them.

Women have long fought the idea that they need to stay home and raise a family. But now men are beginning leave traditional jobs to be a stay at home parent. Because of the perception of parenthood as a woman’s job, men often face judgement for their choice. Fathers should have the option to be just as involved in their child’s life as the child’s mother.

Additionally, since parenting is thought of as a woman’s role, it is much harder for men to win custody of their children, even if the child’s mother is unfit. The court system in the United States is biased against fathers because child rearing is not their job. Men should be the breadwinner, while women should be focusing on cooking and cleaning.

By dissociating the burden of raising a child from the mother, we can allow both men and women to choose the life they want. The perception that men always want one thing and women always want another can be harmful in more than one way.

Domestic violence incidents and rapes committed against men are grossly under-reported. Because men are considered so much stronger than women, people believe that a woman cannot sexually or physically abuse a man. Not only is this idea untrue, but it prevents men from coming forward and speaking about the abuse they have suffered.

People sometimes laugh at and ridicule male survivors of domestic abuse rather than providing them with the support they need. This problem also applies strongly to rape. Rapes committed against men are not uncommon, but they are under-reported. The main reason for this is the idea that men always want sex and women don’t and the fact that men tend to be stronger than women.

If a man gets raped he could be told “he’s lucky” for getting laid or that it is not rape if he enjoyed it. No matter whether it’s a man or a woman in the particular scenario, consent is always necessary. As a society we need to allow and encourage men who have survived domestic abuse or sexual assault to come forward and tell their stories because it does not make them any less of a man.

The equality of men and women does not solely benefit women. By dissociating negativity from being feminine we can allow both men and women to progress. Men’s rights are about allowing me to live the way they want contrary to perceptions that it makes them any less human to be feminine.