The trapped body of men

IMG_0932pIt is common to relate male chauvinism with the issues women face in different aspects of their lives, but it is less frequent to open the discussion about how the culture of male chauvinism affects also men in sometimes subtle but pernicious ways.  Lets talk about men bodies, yes physical ones, so hidden by the culture that not enough lines have been written about how they are also manipulated by it.

First I am going to refer to vigorexia, also called muscle dysmorphia in medical literature. For those who ignore about the term it is the equivalence of anorexia but regarding muscle appearance; in vigorexia men see themselves as not masculine and muscular enough, as a result they exercise in excess or take supplements or drugs in order to compensate the distorted self image inhabiting their minds. As a result their health is affected by over exercising and the intake of harmful substances like steroids.

Then I  am going to talk about a more subtle manipulation of men by culture that affect their bodies, lets discuss dress code and personal care. It is a subject that could be considered trivial, men dress codes are basically compound by use shirt, use pants and use shoes; have you ever realized that men are less allowed than women to show their skin in the workplace? Women could use skirts and the length of them can be established, but men don’t have the option to use shorts, it is out of discussion, it is simply not proper outfit, period. Showing the chest? What do you mean? Nobody wants to know what is under your shirt, please bottom it up. Stretch apparel? Are you gay? If you allow your shirt to reveal your tits when it is cold nobody is going to think that you are sexy (as some could think if you were a woman) we are going to mock you for your bad taste in clothing. No sleeves? Do you think you work at a beach bar? This is not a basketball team either. And regarding personal care, please do it, but please nobody should notice what you have done; shave but please do not dedicate too much time to it, cut your hair but do not use to many products, we will think you are gay again.

Finally I want to discuss the most obscure assumption that male chauvinism has about men: They are disposable. How can this be? Men have the power of society, how can them be discarded? Lets talk about the war machine. Men are conquerors, they go to the battle, they fight for the country while women remain at home taking care of children; if many men are killed there is no problem, few men can still continue populating the country, women are a more scarce resource and their lives are connected with humankind survival; men only have to give their semen and new men will be born, who cares if they die in large numbers.

You could think that the last one is outdated, women also integrate the army, but in lower numbers; men also take care of children, but in lower numbers too; custody is still mainly assigned to women when parents split, a mother is hardly questioned about her abilities to take care of a child, a man is immediately sought with distrust if not with a suspicious look, like being a man were intrinsically dangerous for the children he could have in charge.

Terminating male chauvinism has also everything to do with men freedom, allowing them to regain their bodies, not being treated again as machines of distorted masculinity, not hidden, not disposable. Redefine men as able for fatherhood, not as mere genetic transmitters but as human beings taking care of others, as women do.

 

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