The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Junior takes the digital SAT.
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Graphic by Carys Braun 25
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December 15, 2023

Feminists Should Support Masculinity

There’s a common misconception out there that women have not had any luck in the fight for equality. Yet contrary to popular belief, our side is actually winning the current battle surrounding the definition of masculinity and how and when it’s acceptable for men to express it. But ladies, before you channel your inner Amazon woman and aim a spear right at the heart of virility, I urge you to look at those strewn across the battlefield and reflect on the price of war. I’m here to tell you that delivering the final blow to manhood will never be worth it, but first, let me give you a quick recap of the battle so far.

This ongoing decline in masculinity first began with the evolutionary changes the human race experienced 20,000 years ago when muscle mass proved less necessary for success. But despite the fact that man lost physical bulk and added intellectual brawn, the standards for manhood remained the same. One study recently reported that “G.I. Joe’s Sgt. Savage has gotten three times more muscular and Barbie’s Ken now has a chest circumference attainable by only one in 50 men.” And unfortunately for most guys out there who cannot reach this unattainable level of physical prowess, not every Peter Parker can turn into Spiderman.

Much of this problem doesn’t even have to do with the physical “failings” of men. As minorities and women have found themselves stepping out from under the heel of the white male, men find themselves much less necessary for the running of the world. They no longer make all of the decisions, achieve all of the greatness and dominate all of history, and that can be very disorienting for a demographic that once ruled the world single-handedly.

Clearly, men are facing some sort of masculinity crisis, but here’s where other feminists get it wrong when they say it’s better for us when the guys are on the defensive.

Point blank, guys really do keep us on our freshly pedicured toes. And while I’d like to consider myself a strong and independent woman, I know that much of being female means being the antithesis of the male. Helping to revive masculinity in a new way remains crucial for the ever-evolving definition of feminism and what it means to really be a woman. We should want men to be the best they can be. Because as much as we’d like to believe we can do it all, in terms of balancing out the world (and oh yeah, reproducing), we simply can’t. It takes two.

The consequences of not supporting this revival in manhood speak for themselves. Psychologists agree that misplaced aggression and suppressed masculinity results in more violent partners and deadbeat dads. Today, males commit 83 percent of violent crime in the U.S. all thanks to these “rough and tough” attitudes, yet nothing has been done about it. Now, society’s continual preference for these traditionally masculine men, characterized by their muscle and aggression, leave us with the worst possible mates. These traits may have served our race well in the primordial cave, but certainly not in the 21st century suburban home.

I must be honest and admit that I didn’t always share the view that women should have any interest in changing the notion of masculinity (disclaimer: I am a feminist). But my feelings of anger and frustration subside when I think about the men in my life–my dad, my stepfather, my brother, my guy friends–and what they mean to me. Do I want them to have no success or happiness in life just because they weren’t historically marginalized? Do I want them to suffer through a crisis of how to be a man and how to feel fulfilled? No, I don’t. And this is precisely why the crisis of manhood needs to be fixed. For the boys in all of our lives, who don’t treat women poorly and who don’t deserve to struggle.

If women do not call a truce, it remains likely that we could cause serious damage to masculinity, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that it won’t come without costs. A victory in this battle, pyrrhic in its nature, would prove disastrous for both men and women. So instead of punishing them all of the time, let’s work together to rewrite the meaning of manhood for the benefit of both of our genders. Throwing this battle does not necessarily mean we forfeit the entire war.

I’m waving my white flag, and you should too.

– Katie Payne

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