When we think about gender equality, we normally associate it to women’s rights and empowerment. However, males are suffering gender inequality too and need proper attention. Man discrimination issues could be found starting from their family context, where their role as fathers is often under-rated or where they could suffer from physical and/or psychological violence from their partner.
The general gender perspective is related to the figure of the man as the one who works out of the house, such as office and field activities, corporative and administration; while the woman is identified as the homemaker, care taker, housekeeper, and the main responsible of household duties.
Society accepts and encourages men to work and provide financial support for the family, and women to stay at home and take care of their husband and children. But what about the contrary?
Even though we don’t have global data of the situation around the world, some national statistics taken into consideration show a positive trend in the quantity of men who decide to stay at home while their female partner works or economically supports the family.
For example, in USA, the rate of stay-at-home dads increased from 4% in 1989 to 7% in 2016, showing the significant improvement in the scenario.
A similar situation has been reported by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which showed an increase of 0.6 per cent in 5 years.
Despite that, men can’t always declare freely their choice, due to social stigmas, which pictures them as lazy, dependent, incompetent and inferior to their partners.
But, observing the example of Nordic countries, we can say that a society that has general acceptance towards the concept of dad at home is possible. As per the OECD report, men in Finland are more engaged and active at home activities than women.
What happens when men want to work but they also want to spend quality time with their families?
Paternity leave is a new concept but it’s becoming a concrete reality. More and more companies are now offering a paternity leave to fathers. Best example comes from Virgin (up to 12 months’ leave full pay) and Netflix (unlimited leave policy for all parents), while Sweden is believed to be the first country, which introduced gender-neutral parental leave, in 1974. Even though corporates don’t generally consider paternity leave a necessity yet, ILO reported several positive effects on children development.
Duration of father-specific leave and average payment for an individual on national average earnings (2014).
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TOWARDS MALES
In the family context, one of the most under-rated phenomenon that discriminate males is domestic violence due to the misconception related to the woman as the main victim. A survey conducted by Statista in 2016 shows that only 29% of the EU population consider domestic violence against men common in their country, while the 16% of the respondents considered it not common at all.
Actually 1 in 3 victims of domestic violence is male, although men are more than three times as likely as women not to tell anyone about partner abuse. Victims could be more likely to be found among youngsters, divorced people or man affected by disabilities or long-term illness.
The reason why they don’t leave an abusive relationship are quite similar to the one we could have from women victims perspective: concerns about the effects on their children or their marriage, love, the belief she will change, embarrassment. Moreover, differently from women they are more afraid to not be able to see their children again, usually entrusted to the mother, or to not to be able to pay for child and/or wife support, in case of divorce.
Written by: Ilaria Pelucchi, Grazia Kay Cristino, Shrikant Uttam Gunjal and Syed Usama Iqbal