Society has progressively recognised the importance of eradicating all forms of discrimination. This includes discrimination against men, which may not always be as visible or acknowledged as other forms of discrimination but is just as damaging. Discrimination can be a difficult topic to tackle, and it’s essential to understand that it encompasses not just overt actions but also subtle behaviours, stereotypes, and biases. But how do you know if you’re part of the problem? Here’s a guide to recognizing if you’re unknowingly discriminating against men.
Often, discrimination isn’t a conscious act but a product of unconscious bias. These are social stereotypes about certain groups of people formed outside our conscious awareness. You might have biases against men without even realizing it. For instance, if you automatically assume a man is less nurturing or empathetic, this is a form of bias. Men, like anyone else, span a wide range of personalities and emotional capabilities.
Stereotyping is a significant factor in discrimination. It involves assigning qualities to someone based on their membership in a particular group – in this case, men. Examples include statements like “all men are strong” or “men don’t cry”. Such stereotypes are not only false but also limit the scope of human behavior and pressurise men into conforming to societal expectations.
The pressure to conform to traditional gender roles is a form of discrimination against men. Men are often expected to be the primary breadwinners, emotionally tough, and less involved in household chores or child-rearing. Such expectations can cause undue stress and mental health issues and limit men’s choices.
Another form of discrimination is discrediting or dismissing a man’s experiences, especially regarding victimisation. Men can and do become victims of various forms of abuse and violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault. Society often neglects these issues due to the preconceived notion that men are always the aggressors. Dismissing these experiences is a form of discrimination.
If you treat men differently or less favorably because of their gender, that’s discrimination. For example, assuming a man isn’t suited for a certain job based on his gender, or treating men unfairly in situations like divorce or custody battles, is discriminatory. Similarly, providing fewer resources or opportunities to men due to gender stereotypes also falls into this category.
How to stop discriminating against men
The first step to stop discriminating against men is to recognise and acknowledge that you might harbor biases and stereotypes. Understand that gender does not determine a person’s characteristics, capabilities, or experiences.
Educate yourself about the diverse experiences of men and the issues they face due to gender discrimination. Listen to their stories, read articles, and research about the topic. This will broaden your perspective and help you see men as individuals rather than a homogenous group.
Challenge yourself to change. Question your beliefs and assumptions about men. Make conscious decisions to treat everyone equally, irrespective of their gender. Support policies and practices that promote gender equality.
It’s crucial to remember that discrimination, including against men, is a societal issue, not just a personal one. We must collectively strive to eradicate discrimination to create a more equitable and compassionate society. Your efforts towards recognizing and eliminating your biases can contribute significantly to this change.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.