Men and masculinity

By Jessica Nicol

I took a sociology unit once with a lecturer who was a self-proclaimed lesbian, the course was Men and Masculinities and she, by her own admission, disliked men.

During the lecture a discussion began where she proclaimed that masculinity – in its physical sense – is nothing more than a social construct, and of course several people agreed.

In layman’s terms: men are only physically stronger because they’re taught they are stronger.
I disagreed so naturally the people that agreed, turned on me.

They argued men are brought up believing they are stronger physically.
And that is why, injustices between the sexes occur.

Because men are raised as demi-gods and women are not.
I said that I believe it’s physiology and to argue otherwise is incorrect. 
A lion rules the pride and whilst the lioness runs the show, anatomically, the lion is stronger.

This is not an ode to men, this is not an admission that women are weak, they are not.

But if a lioness met a fully-grown adult male in the wild, and they fought to the death, statistically speaking, the male would win.

Because he is physically stronger.

My point is not about variables, my point is that men are not stronger because they are told they are but because when someone like Eurydice Dixon, Jill Meagher, or Aya Maasarwe come up against a monster in the dark, physically they stand little chance.

Perhaps though, when it comes to masculinity and the emotional aspect the statement, ‘Men are stronger because they are taught they are’, is not so far-fetched.

All of the men that raped and killed Eurydice, Jill and Aya felt they were owed something.
Their victims nothing more than a self-serving subject for their misogynistic needs.

A recent article in The Age by Clementine Ford called on men of Australia to ‘Pick a side’.

And once again I found myself offering a different point of view, as women banded together and thousands shared and commented on her piece, I argued it was self-serving.

If we write articles that lump all men together, we give opportunities for people to focus on anything other than the tragedies themselves.

And as a war between genders burns on, alienating the very sub-group we need to undergo self-examination seems unwise to me.

We can call on men to ‘pick a side’, the words seem poetic, powerful.
But if they deter men from looking within themselves I’d argue they’re pointless.

We are inciting the wrong group to rise up.

We need to hear the voices of Australian men we need to hear their horror at hearing about what has happened and we need to give them the platforms to do so.
We need to hear how they are raising their boys to be kind – to all sexes, races, religions.
We need to hear how they’re combating hate; generational hate, that seeps into the innocence of a child and spits out evil men and women.

I respect the voices of women, and their disgust.

But I am tired of reading their views on toxic-masculinity.

I want men to have the floor, I want them to find their voice and I don’t think a call to arms by Clementine, or a Gillette add implying men are from the stone age, is going to kick start the movement we need.

So, I thank all the wonderful men in my life that have protected me, that have kept me from harm and have loved me.

I could list a hundred instances where I was drunk or travelling alone and put myself in a vulnerable position but a man chose not to rape, or kill me.

You hear all the time about what a woman could’ve done better but the truth is it’s like Russian roulette. When evil exists, it comes down to chance; whether you missed a tram, caught a taxi, chose to get a ride home instead of walk.

If someone seeks out to rape or kill another human being, what they’re wearing or how much they’ve drank seems inconsequential.

I thank the men that have raised me to be smart, and brave and strong.

I ask those men to come forward, to let their love and light shine.

So brightly that men like Adrian Earnest Bailey, and Jaymes Todd, and Codey Herrmann are burned into extinction.

Monsters exist, but lumping men all together won’t eradicate crimes against women.

Advocating for good men to continue being good, to continue calling out those amongst them that are not – might.

And so, I ask us all to pick a side, between good and evil and what we know to be right and true and hold ourselves and those around us, to that standard; regardless of race, religion or gender.

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