I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years among the men I know. It might have something to do with my location (urban areas, one of which is San Francisco). It might have to do with the places where I spend the majority of my time (gay bars and college campuses). It might have to do with the kinds of friends I have. But I don’t think it’s just that.

Men are starting to notice that it sucks to be a guy. I mean, there have always been little things that made man-life less fun. Maybe a twinge here or there when things didn’t seem quite right. But you know, life sucked, and it was that way for everyone. There was no need to be gender specific.

Now, though, there are all these women getting jobs and having sex and running for political office. We ladies aren’t just hanging out in the kitchen, practicing our cooking and our nurturing skills. We’re not just little love bunnies full of feelings. We’re strong. We’ve taken on some of the “masculine” characteristics and jobs of the past. We’ve grown. We’ve adapted. We’ve cast off some of the pall of society’s idiotic expectations of women.

But what about men? Men have a gender role, too – a set of traits and behaviors that they are supposed to follow because they happen to be born with a penis. That gender role is equally as arbitrary as the one that women have been stuck with for millennia. Sure, when we’re all playing along like we’re supposed to, it’s easier to be a man. Having all the power and getting to make all the decisions and not having to deal with sharing your feelings sounds like fun. Certainly more than cooking and cleaning and devoting your life to other people.

But, we don’t all play along like we’re supposed to. Your particular gender role could have nothing whatsoever to do with how you feel or what you want to do with yourself.

I am a woman, and while I like having close relationships and probably want kids some day and am not a violent person, I sure as hell also want to be heard as a rational being and given power when I deserve it, and I have no interest in baking or needlework.

I’ve talked to more and more guys lately who have started to notice that their inner lives don’t fit with the role they were assigned. It could be that they are frustrated at their lack of emotional connection with their friends and lovers. It could be that they don’t want the sole responsibility of bread-winning for their current or future households. It could be that they are tired of always hiding their emotions. Maybe they are not athletic and would rather simply study or hang out with friends. Maybe they got beat up when they were small because they were never interested in violence or competition.

There are infinite ways that being a guy sucks, just like there are infinite ways that being a girl sucks. What comforts me is that guys actually are starting to notice that these things have to do with their gender role. They’re not just a natural part of growing up.

To me, the most important aim of the feminist movement is to rid people of the guilt and pain and social ostracism that go along with strict gender roles. Nobody ever fits into his or her gender role perfectly – ever. And the result of that is a lot of repressed, unhappy people, which makes for a repressed, unhappy society. I believe that if we could free ourselves from gender roles, we could also be free of many of the other oppressions of our daily lives.

So yeah, guys, it sucks to be you. Now let’s do something about it.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.



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