An agenda without men?

20 May

Should gender studies only be about women or should it incorporate male studies? Obviously there are two genders and both genders can be victims of abuse, discrimination, exploitation etc. This thinking has led a former LSE student to take this great establishment to court. In his view, by excluding ‘male studies’ from the course and without talking about the issues facing men, the LSE are pedalling a “sexist agenda”.

It is true that as feminists and students of gender studies we talk predominantly about issues affecting women – about misogyny, patriarchy, sexism, female genital cutting, rape, child marriage, the glass ceiling, pornofication, sexualisation, etc etc etc – and we don’t devote a huge amount of time to talking about men as victims and not just as perpetrators.

This is a problem for two reasons. First, we are reiterating the argument of women being victims and therefore not allowing ourselves to break free from that view. Secondly, as seekers of justice, fairness and most of all equality, we should not be dismissing the injustices that afflict other people simply because they are of a different gender. I personally do not like it when feminists only talk about rape of women, when rape of men is prolific and equally devastating. Something I myself wasn’t aware of until reading this fantastic article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men

So, if, as feminists, we are trying to create a world more just and equal, shouldn’t we be addressing all the challenges facing humanity, those affecting both men and women?

Perhaps yes. But when feminists have such a huge amount on their plates, can we really take on the problems of men too? Unfortunately statistics still show that women are more affected by violence than men, that globally there are 10 million child brides every year, that in the UK a women still earns £5600/yr less than a man. Perhaps if the man suing LSE mentioned some truly serious, endemic, global violations, then he might just have convinced me. But instead he mentioned “increased subjection to hypergamy (gold-digging)” and unfortunately, as women, we have bigger fish to fry.

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