Tue, Feb 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

INTERVIEW: Group explores inequality from a man’s angle

GENDER ISSUES:Men also suffer from the gender divide, but are less likely to talk due to prevailing ideas about masculinity, the head of the Taiwan Men’s Association said

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

So far, it has tackled a wide range of issues from a male perspective, from mental health, domestic violence and fatherhood to more sensitive subjects, including rape.

Men have a higher suicide rate than women, Shiau said, adding that the association is concerned about men’s emotional isolation as a result of common myths about masculinity.

“Today men are no longer the beneficiaries of the patriarchy, as most people might imagine,” he said. “They enjoy fewer financial advantages than they used to and do not necessarily perform better than women in schools and other areas, but they are still expected to do better and at the same time shoulder the ‘original sin’ of being men.”

This widely shared frustration is often exacerbated by a reluctance to seek emotional support, due to perceived pressure to appear manly, he said.

“Men tend to not share their emotional experiences, because they were neither trained nor expected to do so,” he said.

The result could be social isolation, as manifested in “otaku culture” and attempts to assert masculinity by using violence, he said.

“Men are also less likely to report it to the police if they have been physically abused, because it is too embarrassing and the police might not believe them,” he said, adding that at least 20 to 30 percent of domestic violence victims are male.

Like many men’s rights groups in the West, the association is concerned about false accusations of sexual harassment and rape, but has been careful when dealing with the subject.

“It is true that in most cases it is women who are harassed or raped by men and they cannot immediately expose them because of the power imbalance. However, there are also cases where it is more complicated,” he said.

The association hopes to bring attention to unjustified assumptions that men are abusers and contribute to a more sophisticated understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment and rape, as well as gray areas, by explaining men’s experience, he said.

Ultimately, it hopes to create a world where masculinity can be expressed in a myriad of complex ways, he said.

“I am worried that the public’s conception of gender could remain restricted to a small number of people captured on camera,” he said. “Things in the media tend to be shallow, convenient and dumbed down for viewers to immediately understand.”

With regard to an incident last month in which a father allegedly beat up his son, who had forgotten to ask for hot sauce for his father’s meatballs, Shiau said: “People called for the judge to hand him a heavier punishment, as if everything could be solved by a death sentence.”

Shiao said he believes there is a better approach than countering violence with the toughest penalties.

“I hope people can look into the underlying social context and think about what made the man like that,” he said. “That is something our association would like to stimulate discussion about and that it ultimately wants to change.”

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