Alright, some issues need to be cleared up, both for the genuinely confused and the frothing comment sections across all publications. Let me give you the multiple reasons why “Men have it bad too, why do women have to get all this attention!?” is a shitty derailment of what’s important:
1. Women’s issues don’t require tackling men’s at the same time to be valid.
Look, there’s very few people who are going to say things aren’t messed up for guys as well. Men’s issues are important and few people talk about them. But it doesn’t make sense to demand initiatives that focus on women’s topics to also include men. That’s an issue for another time or for someone else to tackle, maybe, like, all the men who constantly bring up that men have issues?
2. The industry listens and caters to the gendered interests of men.
It is not up for debate that women have the short end of the stick in the videogame industry; it’s widely acknowledged that most games are marketed to men, made mostly by men, and reported on mostly by men. Everything is constructed with men’s interests in mind, and women suffer way more gendered harassment and discrimination, intentional or not, than men. There is a dire need to stop this, which is why there is a huge focus on women. If men were to mobilize about their issues, game companies are extremely more likely to respond, while women’s movements are often met with scorn and skepticism.
We all know that games are treated like fantasy, an escape. The thing is, it’s largely men’s fantasies and escapes being catered to. Everyone else has to give up their fantasies and comfort zones to accommodate for men’s. There are plethora of men characters for guys to relate to and project themselves on. Yes, the muscled guys can get tiring, but they are a power fantasy, not used as sex appeal. Women, on the other hand, pretty much only have the option of projecting themselves on a sexualized woman. Being sexy is cool, but it shouldn’t be the only option. Men are at a comfortable advantage here, while women have to deal with so much on top of trying to legitimize their arguments of sexism.
3. This is not reverse sexism; misandry doesn’t exist.
Here’s a hot button issue a lot of dudes are falling to: “All of this stuff is ignoring men, it’s misandry!” I can tell you that anyone who uses misandry in this way has no idea how the social justice movement uses the word misogyny. Let me break this down:
Yes, you can find definitions that say misandry and misogyny are basically hatred for men and women. That’s the dictionary version that no one uses, rather, misogyny is specifically the systemic discrimination against women. So, yes, I can make a misandrous statement like “All men deserve to die, because, yeah” but that’s a surface level this conversation is way past.
To be frank, there is no systemic force that discriminates against men. What we all notice is that culture values a certain TYPE of man, and that’s where men’s issues come in. However, there isn’t discrimination against men for being men.
4. All of the discrimination perceived against men is actually misogyny.
Misogyny is the root of all of all discrimination pertaining to gender and sexuality. Why are men depicted as muscle-bound hulks? And those who don’t fit into the perfect model bullied? Because men who act at all like women are looked down on! It’s because the qualities of weak, sensitive, needy, emotional, etc, are all attributed to women, and men do their best to not be called one. Women have been adapting over the decades and can have qualities traditionally associated with men while not feeling dissonance with their gender. Men are at a snail’s pace with this. It’s the same reason why homosexuality is discriminated against, or anyone of any queer identity or sexuality.
There are also comments like “Why do men have to do all the saving?” These are all plays off of misogynistic wish fulfillment and power fantasies of men. Men do all the saving because it’s assumed women can’t save themselves. If we address the misogyny at work, and women are depicted saving themselves and being heroes, notice that all those negative “misandrist” tropes disappear.
5. MOST MEN DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT MEN’S ISSUES ARE.
Looking at all of the guys mobilizing to bring light to men’s discrimination, you can see the lack of research and thoroughness. Everything is vaguely centered around being he-man superheroes. It is far more likely that people in the social justice community, which is mostly social minorities, actually know what needs to be worked on. Everything going on with the retaliation against Tropes vs Women and other social initiatives is just that: a knee-jerk reaction. There is not one person in geek social justice activism that will deny the need for men allies in the cause to help explore how men fit in.
This whole “What about the men?” backlash has no legs to stand on. It’s all hurt pride and lack of awareness on the actual issues.