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.