Have you ever wondered why men have a harder time expressing their feelings? We spoke to Juan Guillermo Figueroa Pereda, doctor in sociology and researcher at Colegio de Mexico, who explained the role of men in society and why movements such as feminism are an essential part of everyday life for men and women.
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What is masculinity?
Masculinity is a difficult concept to define. Some people refer to masculinity as anything inherent in men, but there is a great need to define this term, as not all men do the same; there are even women who develop masculine traits. Hence there is a need to define this word.
According to Dr. Juan Guillermo, some people describe masculinity as what makes certain individuals distinguish themselves from those who they do not find 'manly'. "There are men who fit into something called the dominant model or hegemonic model disqualifying both women and male subjects who do not fit into that model. Academically speaking, one could say that masculinity refers to power relations and relations between individuals,” says Guillermo.
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What are the challenges that men face in embracing feminism?
"One of the great lessons that feminism has left human relations is that, as the intellectual Simone de Beauvoir said, you are not born a woman, you learn to be one. Applying this phrase to men, they are not born men, they learn to be and that apprehension is socially determined.
Men and especially women are told what behaviors are accepted; society supplies us with a kind of training, an imposition of what it expects us to be. While for women, being a male is a privilege in a patriarchal society – little is said about the cost of it. Men are taught that self-care and prevention do not fit the stereotype of what it is to be a man in the socially accepted sense. The goal is not to victimize men or women, it’s to work for equality and fairness for both."
"Men die as men" What is meant by this phrase?
"Men learn that they want to be men, but in that process, they learn that they have to be brave, reckless, violent and not recognize weaknesses and self-care practices. So they then engage in a series of practices that some scholars have called suicidal negligence towards themselves. They literally end up dying as men. Michel Foucault speaks of self-care, understanding it as loving themselves in other contexts. When someone loves themselves, they take care of themselves, but if someone is seeking recognition from others, that person is quite brash and in this situation they will find their own death."
Many feminists assume in a very simple way that being a man encompasses only privilege.
"Being a man in a patriarchal society gives many advantages, but sometimes the negative costs that those same patriarchal references have are not named or expressed. We literally just end up dying like men. I want to be very manly, so I fight with other men. I can get wasted and pretend I'm okay to drive and that nothing will happen. So in being a man, I take on the risk of dying. There are many deaths that would be preventable, not with better health services, but by changing certain models of being a man."
What about men who are being raised by feminist women?
Not only women are raising men, even men are doing it. Apart from the fact that many women spend more time with their children than fathers, the absence of him also educates and context does the same. Everything is a challenge because many more discussions through messages and communication resources should be made publicly to show that we both have the same rights, but also to make clear that we can both live through violent episodes.
Today, it is believed that the only ones living through violence are women but the statistics suggest otherwise: there are more homicides of men than women. That does not mean that we minimize any fight against femicide, but what is very clear is that there are more violent deaths of men than women. The small problem is that some actors in society say that if men kill men, then it is less severe. It is worrying that women and men get killed by other men. Apart from that, many men are dying from violent causes, while the life expectancy of this group is declining and that only happens when there are large military events like a world war or when there are epidemics.
On the other hand, the rights of others can be restricted, not denied, when you change the rights of others, that is the logic of prisons. So, for men to have more legitimacy to defend our own rights, we would need to explicitly recognize the rights of women.