Sexism is an issue many women are raised to be aware of from the time we can remember. After all, only 100 years ago women had just barely been given the right to vote. And while we’ve made an incredible amount of progress since then, there are still many forms of sexism that plague our society every day, like school dress codes that treat young girls’ bodies like they’re inherently sexual, teaching kids to call someone a “little girl” as an insult, and telling women to take catcalling and other forms of harassment as a compliment.
But thankfully, these days, we’re quick to point out sexism against women when we see it, often finding support when we do. Now is, without a doubt, a better time than any other to be a woman. But even with our heightened awareness of sexism, we tend to think of it as an issue experienced exclusively by women — an idea that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Contrary to popular belief, men consistently face sexism in our society in ways that go overlooked. While it’s not popular to talk about, it’s an important issue that needs far more coverage. Here are a few ways men face sexism today:
The Judicial System Treats Men Differently Than Women
It’s commonplace to speak out about the ways women are negatively affected by certain systems or laws. But our conversation normally stops there, instead of taking the time to point out that when it comes to our criminal justice system and to custody battles, men normally get the short end of the stick.
Men regularly receive 63% longer prison sentences than women do.
Men regularly receive 63% longer prison sentences than women do — and even if convicted, a woman is twice as likely to dodge imprisonment as he is. At the end of a child custody battle, a father will be granted an average of only 35% of custody time, even if he wishes to and is logistically able to have significantly more time with his child.
Men Are Objectified Too
It’s a well-known and oft-decried fact that women are regarded as sexual objects by some men. It’s wonderful that we now regularly call out this behavior instead of letting it slide. However, women aren’t the only ones who face objectification in some respect. Men are given a role as the “wallet” in most romantic interactions — this is why most women, even many who consider themselves feminists, will expect men to pay for the first date. But regarding men as the money bags is just as damaging as seeing a woman as an object of pleasure.
Men are given a role as the “wallet” in most romantic interactions.
Moreover, men are consistently seen as expendable beings whose sole purpose is to work exceedingly strenuous jobs (mining and trash collecting, anyone?) and provide an income. And even darker, every single war in history has been fought with the philosophy that young men’s lives are disposable.
We Promote Toxic Masculinity While Opposing It
While toxic masculinity has become an object of heavy criticism (and rightfully so), our culture does little to actually solve it. In fact, we only promote it with our callous treatment of men’s mental health. Though men are often condemned for not showing emotion, the fact that the Will Smith crying meme was trending after he and his wife Jada addressed her cheating on him shows that we don’t respect men’s emotions, but rather mock them.
Women are brought up to feel more comfortable talking about their feelings because society validates them. If Jada had been the one who’d been cheated on, the entire world would’ve been crying alongside her. But men aren’t afforded the same privilege when it comes to opening up about emotions and mental health, despite their higher chances of dying by suicide, falling into substance abuse, and suffering from depression. Our careless treatment of men’s emotions only further embeds their toxic masculinity.
While sexism against women is an extremely serious, awful issue that I’m glad is regularly addressed today, we have to start recognizing that sexism isn’t a one-sided issue. Men face sexism every single day, just in ways entirely different from women — but they’re just as important to deal with.