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Being a Man Means to Help Women Become Equal

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Table of contents

  1. What can be done to construct gender equality?
  2. But what defines a woman?
  3. What is hegemonic masculinity?
  4. References

“Gender equality is a human right, but our world faces a persistent gap in access to opportunities and decision-making power for woman and men”. In the article ‘Women’s Humans Rights’ stated that women’s right is the fundamental human rights that have been around for over 70 years. All women are entitled to these rights, yet they are being stripped and denied from them simply because of their gender. In this generation, they are many types of people, different races, backgrounds, culture, and different stories. Living in such a diverse world and a dream of all race and people be equal. However, that is not reality. Dating way back before the idea of feminism and gender equality, cultural practices have formed these boundaries, the entire idea of gender inequality had been institutionalized. There had always been the segregation of males and females, the way they are taught, raised, even to the type of occupation they choose. Eventually, over time these norms have set gender boundaries.

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What can be done to construct gender equality?

Michael Kimmel speaks on a video ‘why gender equality is good for everyone’ he says that when a woman looks in a mirror she sees a woman, but when a man looks in the mirror he sees a generic human being. He further goes to say that privilege is invisible to those who have it. Without the involvement of men this matter that shows men are privileged (hegemonic masculinity), having dominance over women, objectifying and classifying women as the other, will continue with gender inequality.

But what defines a woman?

In a journal article ‘Woman as other’ Simone de Beauvoir questions what is the place of a woman and what their place should be.  Being a woman is having a womb. This is saying that a woman’s place is to be at home taking care of the kids since the woman has those body parts. Since they (woman) are looked down on as just house keeps and mothers if children this denies them of their achievement. Beauvoir also spoke about a “well-known writer who refused to permit her portrait to appear in a series of photographs those devoted to women writers. She had wished to be counted among the men but, in order to gain this privilege, she made use of her husband’s influence!”. This a clear depiction that shows the belittlement of women as this writer wanted to be counted amongst the men since that show more authority and isn’t question about (the work of a female is always questionable). But not only she didn’t have the power to be counted amongst the men, it was only thru the influence of her husband. This shows the power of men and how women are subscribed under male dominance. The word of a man is more powerful than a woman’s for example if a man speaks “you think thus and so because you are a woman; but I know that my only defence is to reply: I think thus and so because it is true”. When a woman speaks it doesn’t have much credibility as that of a man. When the man replied, “you think thus and so because you are a woman” this is belittling the speech of woman but when a man speaks he has the authority and power and should not be questioned. Beauvoir also referred to St Thomas for his input that a woman is an “imperfect man, an incidental being”. This is a religious take on the matter that symbolizes Genesis, where Eve was made from that, is called the ‘supernumerary bone’ of Adam. St Thomas called women an incidental being, synonymous to the word incidental is ‘secondary, subordinate’ this makes man the primary. This is still practised today in most religion where the woman should submit to her husband the man of the house. This is also practised in traditional cultures whereas when the man wants to be engaged he or his parents chooses a woman for him, during this process the woman of interest is not consulted but the father (man), he then decides the fate of his daughter. She must submit the decision made. This shows that not only it is practised in traditional cultures but it is institutionalized (in culture, religions, learning institutions etc.). Beauvoir also stated that “Throughout history they have always been subordinated to men, and hence their dependency is not the result of a historical event or a social change – it was not something that occurred.”  Since it has been institutionalized in society it has become very hard for gender equality. This clearly shows that the history had been like this, women were not stripped and enslaved of their autonomous freedom. Men have the power over females and in order for them to achieve equality the men must grant them with the actions that help women become equal.

What is hegemonic masculinity?

In the ‘European Institute for Gender Equality’ glossary, it is defined as the “Cultural norm that continuously connects men to power and economic achievements.” Men had always been in power. They had dominance over women. This made man masculine, masculinity is often associated with being arrogant, biggity, self-centred, non-emotional. Being a man is not to show emotions, being a man it is important to keep up such standards so that those who are subordinate may have respect and maintain that power. Being a man expressing feelings is a sign of weakness. In the journal article ‘Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity’ by Sharon Bird she stated that “masculine is being not-female”. A male child when playing he doesn’t want a doll and if a fellow child has a doll he would be called a ‘wuss’ or feminine. So as a child it is already placed in the minds of young males that being a man is being not-female. Having competition with a fellow man is also considered being manly, whenever in a sport being a man is to compete to win. This is the same sense as the ‘alpha male’ whereby if your team won it is looked upon as being more masculine (alpha). Men often sexually objectify woman as Sharon Bird said that men frequently have ‘competitive sex talk’ in an example she gave “I can step out, shoot her up, and get back in the bar 5 or 10 minutes”. This kind of ‘shop talk’ men does belittle and objectify women making them objects that can be used for sexual pleasures. The practice that men has upon woman as an object for sexual pleasures is still occurring presently. So with men showing emotions, stop being competitive, and quit making women as a sexual object, and cease to do so such habits only then will women accomplish gender equality.

Many research had been done over the past years, for instance, “The initial work of the United Nations in this area was labelled ‘advancement of women’. Efforts focused on compiling data and statistics and analyzing the situation of women around the world. Work on the empowerment of women and on securing the human rights of women, for example, political rights, was given importance at an early stage.” Despite the many research done this is only one key factor which is MEN. Men have a very crucial role in the gender equality revolution. Is it changing the entire structure of ‘what is consider to be a man’. The Harvard club also stated that an “important reason for the slow progress in achieving equality between women and men is the failure to adequately raise awareness of and involve men at all levels. Gender equality cannot be achieved by women alone or by focusing exclusively on women. Gender equality concerns both women and men and change in this area requires the involvement of men as well as women.”. This research proves that men are required to participate in the feminine discourse to make a change in gender equality.

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In conclusion, the achievement of gender equality still has many other factors to address to make a change. To reiterate men’s role is vital in the gender equality process since the whole idea of women being the other is because of men and all the other factors mentioned (sexually objectifying, competing for women, having the privilege etc.). Feminist Nikki van der Gaag spoke in a conference on ‘Tedd Talks’ hoping for a change saying “So I’d like men to stand up to other men. I’d like them to say enough violence against women. Enough decimations. Enough of men holding all the power. Enough of women and girls as second class citizens.” If men don’t say enough. Women will forever remain as the other, objectified and belittled.


  • Beauvoir, S. d. (1949). Woman as other, 1-8.
  • Bird, S. (1996). Welcome to men’s club. Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity, 120-131.
  • Connell. (n.d.). European Institute for gender equality . Retrieved from hegemonic masculinity:
  • Gaag, N. (Director). (2015). Why feminism needs men and men need feminism
  • Harvard Club. (2007). The role of men and boys in promoting gender equality , 1-10.
  • Peace Corps. (2018). Retrieved from Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
  • Why gender is good for everyone (2015).

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