Redifing Masculinity: In Light of Men’s Studies

Posted on February 6, 2010 in Society

Marian Fernando:

Genetically, the difference between a man and a woman is only the microscopic allele Y. A woman’s genotype is marked XX whereas a man has one X allele and a Y allele, when put together making XY genotype. Yet, this tiniest difference creates incredible distinctions in physical, psychosocial, political, behavioral, and many other aspects between men and women.

These distinctions have led the world on to a stage of seeking equality between these two genders. As a result, womens’ studies is put into university curriculums all over the world in which mostly women rights and gender equality are discussed. Undeniably, the world has started giving more importance to women and their rights. Thus, the situation of women in the past and the present has a great disparity. For instance, in Shakespearean times, women were not allowed to act on stage; thus, men acted even the female roles. Conversely, now women compete shoulder to shoulder with men in the fields of theatre, films and art and win various international awards. Similarly, today, the Olympic Games, an international sports event in which women involvement was prohibited in the ancient Greece, has become an arena where many women are becoming gold, silver and bronze medalists. Indeed, women were subjected to discrimination in the past and still are in some parts of the world. Therefore, women studies is a good approach to emphasize on women unattained or partly attained equality. However, has the attention on women entirely wiped out the emphasis on the rights of men?

Fortunately, the answer is no. Even the men have their own study to rely on. The western world debates that not only women but also men are unaware about their rights; therefore, they are discriminated against and remain silent in front of that unfairness. Hence, men’s study has recently entered or intended to enter into university curriculums. For instance, the Akamai University in the United States offers a men’s study course which focuses on all facets of men’s life including their rights, psychosocial and political status. Though most people are uninformed about this emerging study, it has already become quite famous in the western part of the world. However, the question is, do we need a separate study for men as well?

Indisputably, people should be well informed about both studies. The rise of women’s study as a university course is a result of the abundant discrimination against women. Even in a less intense scale, men face discrimination as well. Moreover, there is nothing wrong in learning about human rights including men’s and women’s rights. Therefore, both men’s studies and women’s studies are necessary in college and university education. However, these curriculums should be careful not to create more discrimination within genders by over emphasizing the importance of their roles and rights. All these studies should lead into a peaceful world where equality exists. Equality is what we lack in almost all phases of our lives: in the distribution of wealth, in the distribution of natural resources or in the distribution of power. That is why the world is still in the midst of an ever-increasing chaos. Thus, men and women should have a thorough knowledge about both gender’s rights without being limited to their own gender alone. Then only, everyone will be able to respect the opposite gender’s rights as well. Also, only learning about the rights is not sufficient to create a change in current patterns of the world. That knowledge should be practically implemented in all sorts of environments counting educational, occupational, public, private and religious institutions. This implementation is possible only if a transformation of attitudes occurs in human beings. In this fashion, let’s be ready to learn more about gender rights and change our attitudes according to the new knowledge we gather about genders.

The writer is a Bangladesh based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz