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Men, wake up: The gender matrix has you

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I have something to tell you. I don’t think you’re going to like it. But I’m going to tell you anyway because it’s the truth. I want you to take the red pill.

As men we’re told we have all the power, that it’s our needs that are met and our voices that get heard. Compared to women, we are a privileged class, we have no right to complain.

It all seems so obvious — simple common sense for any right-minded, decent person. But what if the world is not flat? What if there is another reality to men’s lives that we’ve been taught not to see?

I can already feel you bristle at the heresy, but please stay with me — I didn’t say it would be easy, but I promise you it will be worth it.

Grim-but-hidden

The knee-jerk assumption is that men in our society have it easy in comparison to women, but how do we know that’s true? How do we define that privilege? Because if you take a long, steady look at the facts, men’s lives suddenly don’t look so comfortable after all.

If you’re reading this, you already know men kill themselves three to four times as often as women, but tell most people that fact and they will look at you in disbelief. Yet, if the genders were reversed, there wouldn’t be anyone in the country who hadn’t heard about it.

This grim-but-hidden detail is only one of many in which men quietly find themselves the disadvantaged gender. Here are a few others, but remember, all I’m offering you is the truth.

  • Between 80% and 90% of those who sleep rough are men.
  • Men are 70% more likely to get cancers that affect both men and women.
  • The vast majority of victims of street violence are men.
  • Women have a right to a year’s maternity leave, paternity leave is two weeks.
  • If a couple splits up, family courts effectively treat fathers as the less-important parent.
  • On average in the UK, men’s life expectancy is 77, women’s is 81.
  • Despite this, women can currently claim the state pension five years earlier than men.
  • More men than women abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • The dirtiest, most-dangerous jobs are done by men.
  • Boys do less well than girls at every level of education.
  • Military law requires only men to fight on the front line.
  • Of nearly 350 British soldiers killed in Afghanistan, only one has been a woman.

Wait, calm down, hear me out. I already know what you’re going to say. But what about all the bad things women have to put up with? What about the pay gap? What about domestic violence and rape?

But you’re missing my point. This isn’t, as some would have you believe, a zero-sum game. Just because I’m saying bad things happen to men, it doesn’t mean I’m saying bad things don’t happen to women.

Dirt floor

What I’m trying to tell you is that if we are going to be concerned about women crashing into the glass ceiling, we must have equal concern for the men buried beneath the dirt floor. As it stands, we don’t even notice they are there.

And it’s by no means certain the total burden carried by women is any heavier than the weight shouldered by men. Take another look at that list. Every item on it goes to the core of a man’s existence. Would you swap 13% extra pay – the Office of National Statistics figure — for four years of your life?

And if you’re about to say women have faced centuries of oppression and now it’s just time for men to take their turn, I really think you should have a little sit down and a re-think.

How many years of this new sexism would even the scales? Should boys and men who have never been oppressors, be subject to abuses of power in favour of girls and women who were never oppressed?

Maybe it’s crass to weigh injustice against injustice like so much meat at a butcher’s shop. But one thing is true: women are allowed to be angry about the injustices they face and men are not.

There are columnists in every newspaper, a whole hour every week day on Radio 4, ranks of feminist lobby groups demanding to be heard and a special minister at the heart of government – the Minister for Women – who makes sure that they are.

On the other hand, men who complain are either emasculated for whingeing – told to take it ‘like a man’ — or shamed as bullies – shouted down as sexist pigs trying to oppose female empowerment.

But men do have real concerns that demand to be addressed. They face injustices they have a right to be angry about. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to tell the machine we are coming to tear it apart.

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