Never leave your home unaccompanied by a male. Even if widowed, starve rather than work. Cover yourself completely; let not a stray hair show, nor an ankle, or a wrist. Walk so quietly that no male is disturbed by the sound of your sandals. Be noiselessly invisible, though you are made of matter.
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Limit daily life to a space so tiny that any person, male or female, would suffocate. (Imagine being confined to COVID 19 quarantine for the rest of your life – that’s what purdah is.)
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Set a standard few human beings could keep.
Abuse, beat, imprison, rape, or kill her if she fails to conform.
“Purdah” is derived from a Persian word. It refers to the custom of “concealing” females behind walls, or a veil/curtain, which is practiced throughout the Middle East. Next the headscarf is used by the majority of women in most Middle Eastern communities – be they Muslim, Christian, or of any other faith. Even Western women visiting these countries may be required to wear one. That is the reason for the picture to accompany the text.
Next, read the first slide very carefully – those restrictions have been historically used in EVERY patriarchal community, globally. This is NOT a statement about any particular faith – it IS a statement about patriarchal beliefs, which cross all cultures, religions and nations, and how they limit the abilities of women to function like free human beings, regardless of race, colour, religious belief, or national origin.
If you have been reading our cartoons, you know we have been discussing patriarchal behaviours throughout history and across all cultures. Prior cartoons have referred to the Middle East and the headscarf. For example:
No one wrote to us saying we were being discriminatory for these depictions.
Many of our cartoons have used, without comment, other identifiable minorities as part of the message being shared, which is that we are against oppression, prejudice, and bigotry; we are for justice, equality, and fairness.
So, we would appreciate it if you would think before you pull the trigger on us with some accusation of bias towards any particular group.
The most patriarchal cultures turn their women into representatives of their honour – labelling them defective creatures, which must be hidden away for their own protection.
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Men in these cultures consider any woman out-of-doors, unaccompanied by her male owner, to be a slut who deserves to be groped, abused, raped and/or killed.
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However, every woman in these cultures must at some time walk unaccompanied, if for no other reason than to collect firewood or water, or to bring comfort to the sick and dying, or to aid in childbirth, or to flee abuse.
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The result: Every woman in these cultures has a target on her back.
How equality and diversity create equal opportunities and well-being for children
Countries that are the most patriarchal, where men hold the power, are really bad for children.
By contrast, gender equality makes life better for our kids. It is proven that parity between the sexes makes kids happier, improving their mental and physical health, relationships, welfare, education, and well-being.
Studies using global databases reveal that in more gender-equal countries children enjoy the following benefits:
Better overall health and improved well-being
Gender parity and sharing household chores, including childcare, leads to better health and well-being for everyone as measured by positive results achieved wrt family factors such as welfare, happiness, life-satisfaction, mental health and depression, self-harm behaviors, need for medication, divorce, fertility, drug use, domestic violence, longevity, suicide, and violent deaths.
Both sexes report that they are more satisfied with life, that they have better and happier relationships with their spouse, and their children. They also report more happiness and freedom, better work/family balance with their partners, more parental leave time, and more societal encouragement to bond with their children. They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression or to be put on medication, less likely to be violent towards family members or to engage in self-harm. Parents smoke less, drink less, do drugs less often. As a result, children are subject to less violence (to themselves or another family member). They experience reduced family friction and more positive interactions, both inside and outside their homes.
Adolescent boys in more gender-equal countries have fewer psychosomatic complaints, are less anti-social, and are more likely to practice safe sex and to use contraceptives. Adolescent girls are empowered to pursue an education, rather than early marriage, with all the many benefits that confer on themselves, their family, and their children. Teens in countries with higher levels of gender equality, where social norms are likely to support both parents’ involvement in childcare, report higher levels of life satisfaction than teens in countries with lower levels of gender equality.
In summary, children in more gender-equal societies enjoy greater family/social stability, happiness, health, enhanced well-being, greater opportunities, and safety than those where gender inequality is the rule.
Improved quality of life
If a child lives in a more gender-equal country, they have a much high quality of life than those living in less gender-equal countries. Countries with gender parity have better economies, more social spending, healthier citizens, more peace, and less violence – all characteristics that create societal conditions that benefit children significantly.
Decision-making is more representative
… and is thus reflective of collective interests, including reduced poverty / enhanced food security / better social services.
More gender-equal societies have stronger and wealthier economies. As a consequence, families score higher on economic well-being due to greater opportunities/prosperity, enhanced food security, and increased spending on social services, education, healthcare, and development. Reduced rates of poverty and enhanced educational opportunities, as well as proper healthcare and nutrition, benefit children significantly.
Gender inequality is a significant predictor of state instability and fragility, according to a quantitative analysis of 171 countries. By contrast, higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. It also results in a reduced likelihood of state-perpetrated political violence—fewer killings, forced disappearances, torture, and political imprisonments. As a result, children are less likely to be injured or die in a war or due to internal political violence.
Empowering women politically and economically, so that they have a voice in the decision-making process, makes community policies more reflective of all members’ interests. Gender equality is positively correlated with policies that lead to the rule of law and improved judicial systems. It is associated with greater stability, as well as increased investment in education and health, the support of public institutions, higher levels of trust in government, more public goods such as clean drinking water, and enhanced child care (e.g., school lunches and family leave time). These are all social characteristics that positively impact the health, welfare, and well-being of a community’s children.
When women have greater control over family resources, more income, and financial independence, they can increase household spending on children’s nutrition, health, and education. This change in spending patterns means more resources reach children, benefitting them materially.
Gains in women’s education and health have also been shown to result in better outcomes for children. It should be noted that increased educational opportunities account for about 50% of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years.
Furthermore, the longer girls stay in school, the lower the child marriage rate becomes. This leads to better results for a country’s girls as well as improved family planning, better maternal health (good in itself for any child), and better care for a family’s children:
Each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by5-10%.
Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are 2x as likely to survivebeyond age 5 compared to those whose mothers have no education.
Improvements in women’s education explained 50% of the reduction in child deaths between 1990 and 2009.
A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5.
The number of families in poverty also decreases, as educated women wait longer to get married and have fewer children.
Better family structure
Family planning improves quality of life. Gender equality has led to reproductive control, providing the ability to space the birth of each child, which benefits the whole family. Both parents can hold-off on having children until they are mentally and financially able to cope with caring for a family. Mothers are healthier, less exhausted, and better enabled to care for their children. Fathers experience a better relationship with their spouse, and more freedom and empowerment for themselves.
Children tend to be wanted and can be better cared for as there are more resources available to raise them. As well their parents are better prepared for their arrival and have enhanced time and energy to devote to their care.. When women are not empowered to make decisions about when to have a child, the quality of that child’s life declines significantly, while their risk of mortality climbs steeply. Children born less than two years apart are twice as likely to die in the first year of life as children born further apart. Being unable to spread out pregnancies also interferes with breastfeeding, which has a crucial role in child nutrition.
Elimination of toxic stereotypes
Feminism makes it possible for children to be liberated from the traditional stereotypes which hurt both sexes.
Freedom from pressure to fit stereotypes means that a child is free to grow up to be who they are, not who the patriarchy dictates. They are empowered to show a wider range of emotions, and other characteristics, and to choose a career which better expresses their inner self since jobs are no longer sex-typed. Being liberated to express oneself and to pursue activities that bring self-fulfillment is one of the key benefits which gender equality confers on our children.
Better relationships within their family
Men have enjoyed better and more enriched relationships with their children because feminism has led to improved family leave for workers of both sexes, combined with growing recognition of how harmful patriarchal stereotypes have been to us all, and leading to social acceptance of males playing a greater part in parenting and a more important role in their children’s lives.
In countries with high gender parity, where men share in housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier. Their children do better in school (lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement, less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD) and are less likely to need psychiatric care/medication. Men also get to experience the joy of increased bonding with their children. Today, in Western societies, fathers spend triple the amount of time with their kids than they did in 1965. Without feminism, this hugely rewarding aspect of being a father would not exist.
Assault is destructive of childhood. Surveys show a clear correlation between the level of gender equality and the frequency of violence in a family – when the level of gender equality in the childhood home is high, the level of physical violence is low. This applies to violence against children as well as to violence between partners. And the finding is dramatic: Gender equality in the home reduces the risk of violence against children by almost two-thirds.
Sexual assault is as damaging to boys as to girls, and too often occurs within the family. Gender equality has given survivors of such violence a voice, leading not only to therapy to reduce trauma, but to a reduction in the incidence of such assaults on children.
Gender equality is in the interest of children since it gets them something they want – happier, safer, and healthier lives, combined with a deeper and more meaningful relationship with other family members. Such a connection with another human being is recognized to be one of the key goods for achieving happiness in life.
In summary, the Patriarchy injures families and children by imposing toxic stereotypes and behaviours on them. By contrast, in countries with gender parity, families make healthier reproductive choices, which improve their lives. They are then able to better care for the children they do choose to have. Having equal pay with men, women can provide better healthcare, better food, and better opportunities for their kids. But, if a mother does choose to stay at home with the children, the effects of gender equality (like equal pay and education) provide a safety net in case she needs to work. Studies also show that infant mortality rates decrease as a woman’s education level increases.
If we want our children to be better-off, then we need to dismantle the patriarchal system which has been, and continues to be, so damaging to families, to parents, and to children.
Parity between the sexes gives children a much better world – greater happiness, better education, and their health, relationships, safety, welfare, opportunities, and overall well-being are materially improved.
In a world with gender equality, children are set up for success and happiness!
We owe it to our kids to give them that better world.
Everyone benefits from gender equality … it is up to everyone to make it happen.
For this post, we referenced studies by: • Kilden genderresearch.no • World Health Organization • Journal of Marriage & Family • Journal of Happiness Studies • Globalpartnerships.org • Humanrightscareers.com • Canadianwomen.org • European Research Council • UN Women • OECD • Global Partnership for Education • Australian and UK government
The world men inhabit is rather bleak. It is a world full of doubt and confusion, where vulnerability must be hidden, not shared; where competition, not co-operation, is the order of the day; where men sacrifice the possibility of knowing their own children and sharing in their upbringing, for the sake of a job they may have chosen by chance, which may not suit them and which in many cases dominates their lives to the exclusion of much else.
– Anna Ford
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The things I particularly like about men are their differentness, their simplicity, their cleverness, their ability to amuse and re-tell life better than it is, their sense of fun, their intelligence, their dependence on women, their boyishness – even childishness – their ability to devote themselves single-mindedly to their interests, their charm, their insecurity, their character and, above all, when they reveal it, their gentleness and vulnerability.
– Anna Ford
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Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim.
– Betty Friedan
Countries which are the most patriarchal, where men hold the power, are really bad for men’s health, sanity, and lifespan. Indeed, the more a man identifies with traditional notions of masculinity, the more vulnerable he is to reduced life satisfaction, greater unhappiness, depression, and stress, ill health, and injury or early death due to “man-made” diseases associated with a mind-set which applauds males for high-risk behaviours which maim and kill. Male suicide is a major problem in patriarchal societies because in these cultures, for males who suffer from mental health issues, sadly, it’s easier to get a gun or a rope than therapy.
The patriarchy has been a bad deal for both sexes.
By contrast, gender equality makes life better for both sexes. It is a proven fact that parity between the sexes makes men happier, improving their mental and physical health, relationships, welfare, and well-being.
Studies using global dbases reveal that in more gender-equal countries men experience the following benefits:
Improved quality of life
Regardless of sex, if you live in one of the more gender equal countries, your chances of having high quality of life are about 2x as much as for those living in a less gender equal country.
Better overall health and improved well-being
Health and well-being for both sexes improves with gender equality when measured by factors such as welfare, depression, divorce, fertility, longevity, suicide, and violent deaths.
For men, the results are particularly positive! They lead much longer and healthier lives (mental and physical health) as measured by lower mortality rates, higher well-being, half the risk of being depressed, higher likelihood of having protected sex, significantly lower suicide rates, and a 40% reduced risk of a violent death. Men sleep better as well as having a lower likelihood of suffering from a divorce or domestic violence.
Globally, on average, men are less healthy than women and die younger. But this is particularly so in countries with the lowest levels of gender equality. Some of this gap is attributable to biology, but a significant part can be ascribed to cultural, man-made diseases that arise from patriarchal pressures which drive males to behave according to stereotypical ideals of masculinity: Men are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, do drugs, have a poor diet, suffer from negative stress, and engage in high-risk behaviors (e.g., at work, on roads, in their leisure activities, etc.) which kill and maim. Stereotypical masculine expectations about not showing weakness mean they are also more likely to be violent towards each other and fail to seek medical attention when injured or sick.
In summary, the Patriarchy injures and kills men by imposing toxic stereotypes on them. To support men’s health, sanity and longevity, we need to eliminate these patriarchal social norms for male behaviour.
Less likely to die in a war or by a violent death
As gender equality increases, the likelihood of a man being a victim of violent death decreases significantly. In the most gender equal countries this likelihood is almost half that of the least gender equal countries.
Higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. It also results in a reduced likelihood of state-perpetrated political violence—fewer killings, forced disappearances, torture, and political imprisonments.
Inequality in family law and a lack of female empowerment as measured by policies that disadvantage women regarding (a) marriage rights (including age and consent of marriage, divorce and custody), (b) the criminalization of marital rape and domestic abuse, and (c) property and inheritance rights / practices are significant predictors of state instability and fragility, according to a quantitative analysis of 171 countries.
Elimination of toxic masculinities
Feminism makes it possible for me to be liberated from the traditional masculinities which hurt both men and women. Freedom from pressure to fit stereotypes means that a man is free to be who he is, not who the patriarchy dictates. He is empowered to show a wider range of emotions, to show his gentle side, to bond with his family, and to choose a career which expresses himself, since jobs are no longer sex-typed.
The patriarchal role of breadwinner, which enforces male power in the family, has been shown to be associated with increased hypertension and heart attacks in men, as well as increased levels of smoking and chronic back pain. The sole breadwinner model has not been good for men’s health. Women entering the workforce and becoming financially independent has taken the pressure off of men to be the only wage earner in a family, with a consequent improvement in their health.
In more gender-equal societies, adolescent boys have fewer psychosomatic complaints, are less anti-social, and are more likely to use contraceptives.
Sexual assault is as damaging to a man as to a woman. Gender equality has given male survivors of violence a voice, leading not only to therapy to reduce trauma but to a reduction in the incidence of such assaults.
This all leads the men of more gender-equal societies to greater happiness, improved physical health and welfare, and better mental health.
Better relationships and improved sex life
The most patriarchal societies impose significant restrictions on sex, sexuality, and friendly relations between the sexes. Both are ignorant of basic sexual knowledge, have no idea how to pleasure each other, and are severely limited in their ability to engage in sexual activity.
Gender parity and sharing household chores, including childcare, leads to men getting more sex (“choreplay”) and to their experiencing greater sexual satisfaction, better and more stable relationships with women, increased marital happiness, lower rates of divorce, and reduced family friction. They smoke less, drink less, do drugs less often. They are less likely to go to the ER, but more likely to go to a doctor for routine screenings. They are less likely to see a therapist or be diagnosed with depression, and less likely to be on medications.
Their wives are happier and healthier – less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be put on medication, more likely to go to the gym, and report higher levels of marital satisfaction. And a happier wife means a happier husband!
Gender equality has meant that women are freer to pursue sexual activities, while access to birth control has meant that sex is more accessible to men. Anil Dash, an entrepreneur and writer in New York City, says, “At a functional level, the widespread, inexpensive availability of birth control is a huge benefit to straight and straightish guys for an obvious reason: Sex is fun! But that’s not the only benefit. Beyond the selfish benefits for men, there’s the basic human compassion of wanting people I love to have agency over the essential aspects of their health and their lives.”
Both sexes have benefitted from the ability to control the spacing of each child. Although women bear the burdens of pregnancy and childbirth, both parties usually bear the costs of raising children. Because reproduction affects all aspects of life, reproductive rights are one of the critical areas where gender equality has benefited men. To quote Dash again: “I’ve been able to make smarter, more thoughtful decisions about how to time my career, my being a parent and my other obligations because of the flexibility and freedom afforded to me by having easy access to birth control. It let me hold off on becoming a dad until I had gotten closer to being a man worthy of being one … I see as a husband, a father, and a friend to other husbands and fathers who have been in the same situation, that we’ve been able to better serve our families and our communities because our wives and partners have had authority over what happens with their bodies. Freeing women to have control frees us men who have built our lives with them.”
Liberating and empowering women is in the interest of men since it gets them the things they want – a better relationship with their spouse, more freedom and empowerment for themselves, and higher levels of happiness and health.
Better relationships with their children
Men have better and more enriched relationships with their children because feminism has led to improved family leave for workers of both sexes, combined with social acceptance of males playing a greater part in parenting and a more important role in their children’s lives.
Surveys show a clear correlation between the level of gender equality and the frequency of violence in a family – when the level of gender equality in the childhood home is high, the level of physical violence is low. This applies to violence against children as well as to violence between partners. And the finding is dramatic: Gender equality in the home reduces the risk of violence against children by almost two-thirds.
In countries with high gender parity, where men share in housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier. Their children do better in school (lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement, less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD) and are less likely to need psychiatric care / medication. Men also get to experience the joy of increased bonding with their children. Today, in Western societies, fathers spend triple the amount of time with their kids than they did in 1965. Without feminism, this hugely rewarding aspect of being a man would not exist.
Gender equality is in the interest of men since it gets them something they want – happier and healthier children, combined with a deeper and more meaningful relationship with them. Such a connection with another human being is recognized to be one of the key goods for achieving happiness in life.
More gender equal societies have stronger and wealthier economies. As a result, males score higher on economic well-being due to greater opportunities/prosperity and increased spending on social services, education, healthcare, and development.
Just because it is called “feminism” doesn’t mean it hasn’t been good for males. Parity between the sexes makes men happier, improving their health, relationships, welfare, and well-being.
What’s not to like, guys?
True men’s rights activists should familiarize themselves with all the ways that gender equality benefits them, and if they really want to improve men’s lives, they should be joining hands with their sisters to dismantle the destructive and outdated patriarchal ideals which contribute to creating a toxic definition of masculinity.
Everyone benefits from gender equality … it is up to everyone to make it happen.