Yes, we are biological failures but we’ll try to be less manly…we promise!

How much contempt for men does Sweden tolerate? That is the question I ask myself and that rings in my head after reading the article in today’s SVT public opinion section. Note that I am writing about contempt for men – not man-hating.

Hate is a word that is abused daily. A feeling of hatred stems mostly in the experience of having been the victim of an injustice, a desire for vengeance and vindication. Contempt, however, is nothing more than a disparagement of a person or group of people. Disregard is a symptom of a deeper problem: a patronizing view of a group of people as inferior in comparison with other groups.

The article can be, along with others, summarized as follows:

  • Destructive masculinity norms are a major social problem.
  • Men today are growing up with a number of privileges in the form of power and economic advantage. But men get even with destructive behaviors that limit their possibilities.
  • Masculinity norms make men constantly prove their manhood and encourage aggressive and violent behavior that affects the people around them as well as themselves. We want men to be able to choose for themselves how they want to be and live.
  • Men as a group have to take more responsibility for violence and sexual violence.
  • Many men still refuse to see their collective responsibility for masculinity norms and their consequences. Sometimes they are perpetrators, but they are always spectators and fellow human beings.
  • We can always make a difference. We need to start talking about violence and sexual abuse as male problems and work to teach all men actively to break with the destructive masculinity norms.

These arguments are starting to seriously irritate me. What masculinity norms are they talking about? I meet through my work a large number of young people. About half of them are male. I have never encountered one who says it would be normal to engage in violence and sexual abuse.

On the contrary, such behavior is condemned vigorously and perhaps hardest by men. The same applies to all of my male acquaintances. Never have I heard anyone defend violence and abuse against women and children.

Violence is definitely not some normal standard of behavior. It is abhorred.

Now, one would certainly guess that the article being discussed was written by some extreme radical feminists – but it was signed by a number of elected MPs who believe that half the population will bear responsibility for what a few individuals do and this presumption of guilt is only based on a biological fact that one can not control: namely the sex you happen to be born into.

Therefore, I have some questions I would like to ask the authors:

  • How can it be deemed acceptable and even desirable that representatives of our highest legislative and decision-making bodies depict a group of people as extra blameworthy only because of an inborn trait, i.e. biological sex. Would it would be considered ok to do the same if it was about other properties such as color, ethnic or socio-economic background?
  • How should young boys and men who do not recognize themselves in the image painted of them, address the fact that society regards them as collectively responsible for crimes they never committed? What signals are we sending to a rising generation of boys and young men in one of the world’s most equal countries?
  • How should I, as a woman, feel included in a movement that claims to fight for equal rights and duties for both sexes, yet all my male friends, relatives and colleagues are portrayed as the only gender that must change in order to fit into the female norm? How should I, as a woman ever feel equal with men if only my sex matters for whose rights are worth the most?

As if this were not enough, we can now read how the Swedish Prime Minister once again is involved in the campaign #HeForShe. In one of the world’s most equal countries, Sweden’s chief political boss believes that men must take much greater responsibility for gender equality. On the government website we read:

In the few areas in society is there such a great development as in gender equality. That people, irrespective of gender, increasingly are able to work, learn and make their voice heard, has been a crucial part of the Swedish success story, for our growing economy and personal freedom. Now, the success story continue, says Stefan Löfven.

The theme “What responsibility do men have for promoting equality between women and men” was discussed by the leading representatives from the United Nations, industry, trade unions, civil society and the responsible ministers.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister Löfven. How about we to start working for equality for real? In our own home? Do you think, like any of us, that gender should not play any role in the opportunities we have as individuals?

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