Being male, I know the pressure of having to “score.” I’ve been ridiculed for being a virgin. For many men, sex is a success indicator and failure is a sign of incapacity.
This pressure was quite a factor in last year’s shooting in California. The “Virgin Killer,” Elliot Rodger revealed in a video how he was so frustrated that he was still a virgin.
It would be easy to dismiss Rodger’s actions as being born of his mental illness. However, mental illnesses don’t just turn people into killers. Behind his delusions is the harsh reality of gender issues in many societies.
After the shooting, social media was abuzz with #YesAllWomen taking center stage. However, there were also people who sympathized with Rodger, blaming girls for not responding to Rodger’s advances. His being “the ultimate gentleman” had to be reciprocated, it seemed.
I’ve heard countless men complain about the “friend-zone” despite being “nice guys.” Apparently, a woman is obligated to respond to and reward a man’s advances. It seems one should be nice if there’s a reward at the end and not because it simply makes the world a better place to live in.
What’s problematic with this notion of being nice is that it works on the assumption that it is done for rewards. Chivalry is not about using one’s strength to help and protect others as it is about getting the princess.
In macho man culture, taking action is a sign of proactive dominance. Men are hunters while the women are the game. It’s a sick survival-of-the-fittest scenario. Men are expected to use whatever tools they have at their disposal – looks, charm, alcohol, drugs, and even brute force.
Self-proclaimed “knights” claim to protect women from these kinds of men as if they were damsels in distress. This gives off the idea that women are weak and need saving. Men, on the other hand, save them and are rewarded. This reveals the underlying misogyny of what most people believe is chivalry. Women are objectified into passive trophies in the exploits of men.
“Well, at least I’m not a rapist,” some would say. Sure, but one doesn’t have to be a rapist to be a part of the rape culture. When it comes to rape, many blame women for being too provocative or risqué.
The underlying logic behind this is that women are valued objects that have to be defended from those who want to claim them as prizes or rewards.
Rape culture is deeply embedded in many societies and puts women at an ever-present risk. So long as it exists, men will be pressured to get rid of their virginity by all means while women pay the price for it.
To quote the Greek philosopher Thucydides, “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Feminism for men and women
I’ve witnessed some of my female friends get sexually harassed and with this I realized what feminism wants. It is not female supremacy. Whichever wave it might be, feminism to me, is ultimately humanism where women are uplifted to and respected as humans in terms of their womanhood.
Some feminists might display hostility towards men but I think it’s because of the frustration of what women have to put up with for most of human history. From being treated as property, to being denied suffrage, to slut-shaming, sexism in the workplace, horrid maternal health care conditions and being ruled by men.
Hostile radical feminists are a small minority as large as they appear in their loudness. I don’t think this should discredit the numerous feminists who are doing their best to get people to treat women as human beings rather than objects.
If men really are knights, then we ought to join feminists in their fight. I’m not saying women are princesses that need to be saved. Rather, women are our fellow knights and we will need each others’ help in slaying the evils of misogyny, sexism, and rape culture.
Imagine if we broke down the suffocating barriers with how the sexes treat each other. We would be free to define our sexuality on our terms and we can approach the problems we face as a society of both men and women openly.
Consider this my open challenge to all men, #YesAllMen, including myself.
Gerard Lim or “Rucha” is a 5th year Communication major at the Ateneo de Manila University with minors in Philosophy and Literature in English. He is a Buddhist who is deeply interested in seeing into the nuances and philosophical roots of all things while finding wonder and humor along the way.
This article was first published by Rappler.com, a Manila-based social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change.