The man box is a term used to describe how men in patriarchal societies are socialized. Men are supposed to be strong, dominating, in control and emotionless. This is in contrast to what women are which is weak, submissive, overly emotional and so on. In fact, when in doubt about what a man should do, it is understood that it is the opposite of what a woman would do. Boys and men grow up believing that women are of lesser value, beneath them. Women’s only value, if any, is in the fact that they have vaginas which men can use to get a little taste of heaven. That and the fact that they produce children. That’s the full extent of women’s value in a patriarchal society. Sex objects and reproduction. Women exist to be of service to men.
Men are better than that. The worst thing a man can do is be feminine in any way. This is why patriarchal cultures are so homophobic because a man is letting himself be used the way only women should be which is degrading. Being a woman is degrading. If girls and women like something or do something, any real man would not be caught dead or alive doing it. The worst thing you can do or be is anything approximating femininity. Which begs the question, if the worst thing a man can be is feminine or a woman, how then can men love women? How is it possible to love this person that is beneath you? This person you would never want to be like, the one you would hate to be compared to. How? How is it possible?
You can’t like someone like that, much less love them. Love can’t function in circumstances like that. It just can’t.
One woman shared a video in which she talks about the grief that comes with realizing that men, even the ones who apparently care about like your partner or father or brother, are more committed to protecting their privilege than destroying the system that’s harming you.
Hopelessness, rage, and grief
She points out how anti-female bias and misogyny show up in all heterosexual relationships. They will show up like clockwork because that is the way we’ve all been socialized. You see it in things like housework, childcare, the almost universal assumption that men are the heads of the household. They are in charge.
She talks about the grief of realizing that men just will not do the work of unpacking how patriarchal norms and misogyny are showing up in the relationships and harming it. They just refuse to interrogate how the current systemic order harms women. When they’re told, they either refuse to believe it or don’t take it as seriously as the women in their lives would hope. This grief that comes with realizing that this person who claims to love you completely refuses to make the changes needed to make life better for you. They would much rather continue to benefit from this system that’s slowly killing you while still claiming to love you, to care about you. The grief of knowing that your grandfather, your father, your partner, your sons, your male friends, all of them support this system that’s killing you.
Fight with me
Another woman who got divorced, talks about the grief of realizing that she would have to fight for her humanity alone. The realization that her husband and sons would listen to her but not fight with her, not fight for her. Women everywhere have been in her position, talking to the men in their lives about the impact of patriarchy in their lives only to be met with the realization that it doesn’t bother them. It doesn’t enrage them that there’s a system harming you daily. They’re not bothered by it at all. They don’t care, at least not enough to do anything about it, even something as small as just changing their own behaviour.
Once again, is it love if you are not livid, enraged, stark raving mad at the idea that the person you allegedly love has to live in a society that demeans and devalues them at every turn? Where’s the love if someone is completely okay with propping up a system that’s killing you? There’s no love there. Maybe there’s sexual attraction and some watered-down form of companionship, but there’s no love. There’s no genuine affection. Not when you, in word or deed support the system that is a boot stomping on women’s faces day and night from the beginning of time. To me, there’s no love there.
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