“When men ask me how I know so much about men, they get a simple answer: everything I know about men, I learned from me.”
-Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright.
In a post #metoo world with contemporary feminism being woke and calling out the atrocities and injustice faced by women, the world, as portrayed by the media, shines in the glory of girl power. Red carpet fashion to woke speeches, women’s issues steals the show in most of contemporary television. Yesteryear antagonists like the snow queen and Maleficent resurfaced as misunderstood heroes, portrayed as victims to manipulation by men in power. The entire modern discourse, however, conveniently ignores men and their subjective experiences. At the most, men and their experiences are dismissed as tantrums of toxic masculinity. The modern world witnesses a toxic trend which hypocritically refuses to admit the undercurrents of strong disgust towards the male sex- from #futureisfemale to #menaretrash.
According to Janice Fiamengo, an English professor at the University of Ottawa, “a number of men” who’ve lost their jobs due to wrongful workplace sexual harassment accusations, says that men today don’t only feel persecuted on a social level, but have also lost confidence in a court system that inherently believes women are victims and men are perpetrators. The judicial system concerning divorce and rights over children are less favorable to men, across the globe. As much as an alimony is justified, the extent to which it is imposed is detrimental to men and they find it difficult to resurface from being broke.
Similarly movements such as “believe women” that exhorts the perceived necessity of accepting women’s allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault at face value, poses problems, especially in a climate where metoo accusation is sensationalized by media, often resulting in brutal character assassinations and mental torture to the accused party regardless of whether the accusation is true or not. It is difficult to presume that all these seemingly scattered events that are often built on the gray area between right and wrong point towards an implicit resentment and hatred towards men.
This sentiment is not merely restricted to pop culture and mass media, but also infiltrates through academia and research as well. A quick glance through the gender based distribution in various courses in higher education sector indicates clear demarcations in terms of sex and the choice of course. Generally more men are found in STEM courses and lesser men are found in the humanities stream.(Peterson, 2019) As much as this trend looks conservative it might be explained by neurobiological or psychosocial differences. Nevertheless the impact is evident in the general research trends. Gender based research, especially those based on abuse and violence often focuses and assumes men to be perpetrators, consistent with the available statistics. But the loophole lies in the fact that all these statistics often measure direct, measurable forms of aggression. But our understanding regarding female aggression is skewed and incomplete. A large body of research supports that female aggression could often be indirect in nature. This is difficult to measure and considering the fact that men feel emotional disturbances less intensely relative to women and that they tend to not open up makes the issue more complicated. As a result of this we rarely find research that discusses the abusive nature of women and its consequences on men. The general trend is to label the sufferings of men as consequences of toxic masculinity, which is true, but not the complete truth.
This modern propaganda takes a huge toll on the mental health of men. Sufferings of men go under reported, not only because of toxic masculinity, but also because of the diverse nature of their experiences which is seldom captured in academic or administrative lexicon. A classical example of this is the mental health diagnosis. Kessler (2000) argues that the majority of diagnostic criteria in DSM fits for women. This is reflected in the fact that men usually are diagnosed more with substance use disorders or psychosis and often have a lower prevalence for mood and dissociative disorders as compared to women. A possible explanation for this underlies the escapist motive for substance use. Combined with this, the fact that men underutilize health care facilities (Addis & Mahalik, 2003) complicates and perpetuate the problem. All of this points to the fact how different the experiences of ordinary men can be and how less we understand it. Yet rarely do we find any section of academia seriously taking up studies on men.
But when we look closer this modern movement driven by the media, fuelled by propaganda is most affecting women itself. The entire woke culture, though it helped expose men with criminal behavior has got its share of hidden problems. In most cases, the media was selectively vocal about the cases. Media celebrated and followed up metoo cases of celebrities. The interest was rather stale if the abuse was directed towards an ordinary woman or a helpless little child. Besides there are criticisms that fear that the entire metoo movement was a trap repeated as women were heard once again when the conversation was around their bodies and sex. All of this shows us how complicated things are and as men and women we mustn’t allow any force to separate us farther with doubt, hate and pent up resentment. Instead we must have love and forgiveness between men and women.
In a radically manipulative environment to ensure this, it is important that we open our eyes and critically weigh out things as they unfold so that we could spot the fox in the sheep’s clothing before it is too late.