December 7, 2016

Annabelle Pendlebury

At its very core, the ideology of feminism aims for equality between men and women. It means getting rid of the strict gender roles that are typically forced upon us from an early age.

So, if everyone in the world decided to take on the role of a feminist and work towards achieving this goal – what kind of world could we expect to live in? Would it result in a lopsided, matriarchal world where only women reap the benefits? Or would it really be beneficial for men too?

If you are in any doubt about the answer to that question, here are 5 key reasons why equality between the sexes improves the lives of everyone, not just women:

1. Whoever wants to be a caregiver, can be a caregiver

dad-babyFeminism stresses that women are free to break away from the traditional limitations of society and that their primary role no longer has to be limited to homemakers and caregivers. But this concept works in the favour of both genders – it also means dismantling a culture that tells men that, typically, they must prioritise their career ahead of anything else. Yet who is to say that men do not adore playing with their children as much as women? It is utterly unfair to deny someone the option of spending their days with their children, simply because they have the ‘wrong’ anatomy for it. Feminism promotes a balanced society, in which the partner who stays at home or looks after the children is the one who prefers to do so. Feminism brings free choice back into family life and for this reason, men are also at an advantage.

2. No one is pressured to behave according to gender stereotypes

dad-toyThe gender stereotyping for boys and girls starts at an incredibly early age – just look at the toys that are to be found in the ‘girl’ and ‘boy aisles’. Boys are encouraged to play with cars, action figures, guns and other similarly themed toys, instilling in them the message that they must be aggressive, macho and strong in order to be masculine. Ultimately, this can be restrictive when it comes to lifestyle choices such as sports, recreational activities and even career choices. By escaping these rigid stereotypes, boys and girls are free to follow their passions and do what interests them (rather than doing what society tells them should interest them).

3. Everyone is allowed to express their emotionsdad-cryBy breaking the stereotypes around gender roles, feminism is also helping to eliminate the stigma about men’s mental health. According to the Australian Psychological Society, one significant reason for high rates of male suicide in Australia is the tendency amongst men not to recognise or act upon their own unhappiness and negative emotions. Studies say men are less likely to communicate their negative emotions, such as despair and hopelessness, and are more likely to adopt a front of indifference. Ultimately, this can lead to more serious and fatal responses from men when suffering from mental ill health. The fight against gender inequality is one we must all support because it means eradicating stereotypes that promote the idea that men are not entitled to feel sadness and are discouraged from seeking help.

4. Feminism promotes body positivity for everyone
dad-body-imageFeminism has helped raise awareness about the harmful representations of women in media and this in turn has opened up discussions about body image and the media in general. These discussions benefit men too because it means alleviating pressure for men to live up to idealistic expectations of being lean and muscular, in order to appear ‘masculine’. Research has shown that boys too are increasingly feeling pressure in regards to their appearance, with obsessions about body weight becoming more common amongst men. Eating Disorders Australia says that 24 per cent of healthy weight men believe themselves to be overweight. Body image issues still plague females to a stronger degree, with 45 per cent of healthy weight women believing they were overweight, yet it is nevertheless a major problem amongst boys too. Changing this culture will only lead to a healthier, happier society.

5. Feminism can help reduce a culture of violence


The feminist movement helps to prevent violence against women and this means creating a safer, more peaceful world in which the regular loss of our female family members is not tolerated. In Australia, one woman is killed by her partner every week. So with domestic violence at alarmingly high levels in Australia, putting an end to the subjugation of women is essential. In particular, we must all attempt to overturn the traditional gender roles that suggest men must be dominant and powerful, turning to violence as a solution. Rather than maintaining the traditional stereotype of a macho man who dominates women and does not show emotions, if we discourage violent behaviour then we can create a safer world for us all.

– Annabelle Pendlebury

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