Challenges for Men

May 24th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

What are the main challenges for men in modern and postmodern societies? In this post I’d like to outline what I believe to be important issues for men, at this point in time.

I believe that it’s crucial for us men to start defining our own issues and to find our own voice. Currently, the only political movement that discusses men’s issues is feminism, and that is very unsatisfactory in my opinion. Feminism is primarily a women’s liberation movement, and as such it does not authentically focus on men’s issues.

On a personal and political level alike, it is high time to put the spotlight on the challenges facing men, and it is our own responsibility as men to make that happen – we cannot expect anybody else to do it for us.

So let’s have a look at some important issues that need our attention:

  • The male gender role. As men, we are generally only valued when we perform. There’s nothing that society despises more than a man who doesn’t provide for his family, or a homeless man. The male gender role is also very constricted when it comes to everyday life. Men have a stricter dresscode than women, and men are also expected to adhere to a more narrow range of behaviors than women (for example: being more stiff, not touching other men, etc).
  • Fatherhood. The traditional father was a provider, and family courts still treat fathers in that way. How can we upgrade the role of the father to mean more than providing? I’m thinking that the father can be an important male role model, as well as give the children a sense of direction in life. And if we dare to think really big (sarcasm), then we may go as far as starting to care about the father’s emotional life. Just like we care about a mother’s right to be close to her children, we can start caring about a father’s right to be involved in his children’s lives, even after a divorce.
  • Male friendships. Men have smaller social networks and fewer friends than women. In my opinion an important reason for this is that men are culturally and biologically programmed to compete against each other in the workplace (and we are programmed to spend most of our time at work). If we can start valuing our lives outside of work, as well as let go of some of the competition at work, then it will probably be easier for men to start bonding.
  • Male political issues. As men we desperately need to find a language to describe our own experience. A major reason that feminism could emerge so early, is that women were able to find a language to articulate their own experience. Even though it may go against what’s expected of us, it’s important that we dare admit that the male gender role has real issues, and that we’re not happy with the status quo.
  • Emotional literacy. How can this be developed in men? Biologically speaking we may have a somewhat harder time to become emotionally literate, and culturally speaking we are certainly not encouraged to pursue emotional development. Nevertheless, we will never be masters of our own lives unless we become emotionally literate and able to hold our own in a relationship with a woman (or a man, if that’s our preference).
  • Romantic relationships. Many men still feel that they have to prove themselves to women, and that they should somehow feel lucky if a woman wants them. In my opinion, such a stance can only lead to bitterness and resentment in a man, since you are basically putting a low value on yourself and handing over all power to the woman. As men, we need to let go of the cultural programming that tells us that women are more pure and therefore better than us.

Any other issues that I’m forgetting about?

Tags: ,

6 Responses to “Challenges for Men”

  1. Joe Grier Says:

    These points are extremely on point and there should be curriculums set up at universities to develop dialogue and discover additional loop holes in the definition of men – because it has surely changed in the last century – drastically. I think what Pelle leaves out is the most important thing that troubles men – and that is how to understand and communicate affectively with women. It is simply one of the most fundamental reasons we have some of the other issues that these points address, because our balance in the way we communicate and partner with women – GLOBALLY – has not been settled. Our competitive nature causes us to continue to publish bibles that have masculine overtones and images that support the point that men are the head of the household. We continue to push the notion that women are the weaker vessel – despite the reality that she conceives the child we create someting I’m sure we – as men- could not muster. Global cultures have continued to think that women dominance is the answer to what – to a type of compliance from women that feed our egos and starvation to be at the top of the food chain? How ignorant of us. Until we truly established a partnership with our women – work to understand them – pay them equal wages – give them as many orgasms as they need from us – cook for them when they get home – make better choices when chosing the ones that will become the mothers of our children – stop putting our hands on them like they are cattle – move to listen more to them and cease our effort to dominate them – create ways to encourage and love them unconditionally – most of the items if not all will cease to exist…………..I promise.

  2. Danny Says:

    While partnership is the ideal way Joe I have to ask:
    We continue to push the notion that women are the weaker vessel – despite the reality that she conceives the child we create someting I’m sure we – as men- could not muster.

    What makes you so sure of this? This is putting women on a pedastal based on a biological impossibility. Men are unable to bear children but instead of leaving it at that there those with this same mentality you display here that will go on and assume that men cannot handle childbirth therefore that somehow makes women better. Now I’m not trying to say that women are weak if anything thing childbearing shows a woman’s strength but to take that and leap to using men’s inability to bear children as “proof” of weakness is just that, a leap.

    While it appears your heart is in the right place Joe this sounds like the belief (that I’ve heard a few times before) that helping women is the only way to fix the world. Its an important part but its not the only part.

  3. Jim Says:

    “Emotional literacy. How can this be developed in men? Biologically speaking we may have a somewhat harder time to become emotionally literate,”

    Literally literacy is part of the answer. There is an extensive, millenia-old literature on men’s emotional life – the Iliad, the Oddessy, the Epic of Gilgamesh. parts of the Bible, centuries and centuries of Chinese poetry – to what extent is that tught in schools, and to what extent has it been marginalized in favor of other literatures?

    I seriously doubt that men are somehow biologically slower in coming to terms with our emotional natures. We’ll never know; in any case the sample is always spoiled by enculturation by the time you run the test.

  4. Jim Says:

    “and that is how to understand and communicate affectively with women.”

    No…just no. Women are not the center of the world. Go buy a whore and come back to the discussion when your mind is clear.

    Men’s biggest issue is how to communicate on ALL levels and in ALL levels with other men, and thus themsleves. Women come next if at all. But before that someone has to demonstrate some purpose in making the effort.

  5. Jim Says:

    “give them as many orgasms as they need from us ”

    Do you advocate that they have some similar obligation to give men however many orgasms we need? I dare you to find ten that would even know what you were talking about if you asked that one.

    “move to listen more to them and cease our effort to dominate them”

    When they stop dominating the home and our children, we may have something to talk about. In fact how much of men’s misogyny is learned in early life when boys are totally dominated by the women above them, in the almost complete absence of men?

  6. Reginald Cole Says:

    As men we must seek GOD to wisdom to help us be better in every area of our life.


Google