OFF THE BOARD: Proud to be a man again

Off the Board/Opinion by

Early forms of feminism were founded upon the notion of female equality; that women should be able to take firm control of their personal and professional lives, be equally represented in the workplace, receive the same professional courtesy and salary as men and obtain the respect they merit in the home. However, a byproduct of this movement was the scores of rabid, domineering anti-male standard bearers, who-some to this very day-view all men in our society as unyielding antagonists whose aim is to stifle the progress of intelligent and capable women in the workplace, reducing them to no more than home-bound baby-making units.

This is unfair. Justifiably, many men take offence to this particular worldview and those who adhere to it. To automatically assume that the male portion of society is hell-bent on keeping women under its thumb is more than merely ludicrous. It is insulting.

It is for this reason that I propose masculinism; not as an oppositional school of thought to juxtapose feminism, but rather to reinforce the notion that men can also be baselessly ill-thought of. Men are oft misperceived as insensitive brutes, irrationally and inexplicably obsessed with mind-numbing action films and Harley Davidson motorcycles. These men are not sensitive, kind-hearted, considerate and polite towards women or charitable with their time or emotions. They do not pay attention to housework, cooking, gardening, or give two hoots about art, culture and the finer points of life. This fallacious vision of men will not stand any longer.

Foremost, masculinism stresses that men are just as able-bodied and savvy as the next broad when it comes to housework and tidiness. Just because we’re men does not mean we’re strangers to things like dish soap, vacuum cleaners and loads of laundry. The mere fact that many of us know how to spell “vacuum” properly should already count as a point in our favour. In the past decade, men have shown themselves increasingly disposed to ardent and assiduous house cleaning, at least as much as women, if not more. In fact, men have been so fascinated with the finer points of cleaning that some particularly devoted male robotics designers have looked into creating a remote-controlled vacuuming prototype. How’s that for a practical replacement for our Hot Wheels?

Men are just as resourceful and enlightened when it comes to other forms of cleaning. In many households, it was men who first proposed the combination of several separate loads of laundry into one in order to maximize cost and energy efficiency. Because, really, why not heap socks, undergarments and baseball caps with your whites? They all end up equally clean in the end anyway.

Male interest and skill with cooking have also recently leaped far beyond ordering takeout and throwing it on a plate. Aside from developing their own recipes, countless stories have emerged involving men who have devoted time and energy to replicating McDonald’s special Big Mac sauce, and this with a staggering rate of success. Some men have even gone above and beyond the call of duty, experimenting with exotic cuisine from around the globe, such as fettuccini alfredo and General Tao’s chicken.

All too often are men deemed unable to appreciate fine art and foreign film. This is a fine double-standard for women to hold, as every time I’ve offered to take a date to see a popular, well-lauded bit of Asian cinema, like Ringu or Oldboy, she immediately proposes that we see the latest Sarah-Jessica Parker fluff piece inistead. Who’s unworldly now, I ask?

Masculinism, at least thus far, should come as a rather revelatory principle for both men and women in our society. It holds that not only women can be negatively stereotyped, and that men should not be ashamed to show their true colours around the home. Perhaps it’s not men who are useless and oafish; perhaps it’s women who fail to see how much we have changed, how far we have come since the faraway days when we expected dinner after hard day’s work.