Where Do Men Fit in the Debate of Gender, Equal Rights, and Sustainable Development?

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Ecofeminism | 0 comments

Article by Grace Swainston

Photo by john crozier on Unsplash



94% of people think that it is important for women to have the same rights as men [1]and 49% of American men argue that gender equality has not gone far enough[2]. So why is there still such hatred when it comes to men being involved in the gender equality debate?


The 20th and 21st centuries have been filled with milestones towards the advancement of women’s rights. In the patriarchal age, we saw the prioritisation of men through obvious things such as the gender pay gap and women’s entrapment in the home, society has always seemed to be designed for men. However, just because women were faced with prejudice does not mean men should be. In some radical feminist groups, the patriarchy is caused by men and so men should be punished. This can be seen with the common phrase many women use; “I hate men”. What this implies is that all men are horrible when we have seen on many occasions that men can help female advancement such as the early example of John Stuart Mill backing the Married Women’s Property Act 1870 which allowed married women to have their own money and inherit property. The “I hate men” is often explained and justified by the mistreatment of women[3] throughout history and many women feel hatred even if not directly affected. However, it seems obvious to say that if the statement was reversed and it was men saying, “I hate women”, there would be extreme outrage. While it is arguably human nature to sympathise with women’s struggles, it is unrealistic to strive for equality when one gender so openly hates the other.


What many women fail to realise is that men can also aid women out of oppression and if all genders work together, we can avoid a society that has an obvious inclination to one gender’s interests and advancement. Many men feel that through the advancement of women’s rights, men are now at a disadvantage [4]and equality is no longer the goal. While there are a plethora of resources [5] to help men better understand how they can aid women’s inequality, it seems that one of the first things is making men accept the wrongdoing of the past, which many men feel is unfair [6]and arguably rightly so. This is also commonly paired with the misconception [7]that the aim of feminism is to replace the patriarchy with matriarchy however this is not the case. Feminism is about equality of all genders. Miki Kashtan argues that patriarchy is not about men and that “the underlying principle of patriarchy” … “is separation and control”. [8] This can be seen in most societies where there is a group that is always more dominant.


The discussion of gender and sustainable development is very gynocentric and can be seen in pledges such as the United Nations 2015 sustainable development goals about women and girls, which aimed to ‘[reconsider] how to position women in modern society’ [9]and was a unique opportunity to bring together the different understandings of western and non-western women. While this has led to the advancement of opportunity for women all around the globe, it seems to leave men in a kind of no man’s land about where they fit in. It is unclear how men can get involved to both help women but also help themselves.


When you add men’s constant blame, the misconception of feminism and the lack of a bulletproof plan to ensure equality, it is hard for men and women to work together. Everyone needs education on feminism and the history of it, women need to learn and understand that not all men are to blame for patriarchy and governments need to make a conscious effort to ensure men and women can work together to ensure that an equal society can be achieved. Until all three are done a truly equal society cannot exist.




[1] Horowitz, J. and Fetterolf, J. (2020). Worldwide Optimism About Future of Gender Equality, Even as Many See Advantages for Men. [online] Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/04/30/worldwide-optimism-about-future-of-gender-equality-even-as-many-see-advantages-for-men/.

[2] Horowitz, J. and Igielnik, R. (2020). A Century After Women Gained the Right To Vote, Majority of Americans See Work To Do on Gender Equality. [online] Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/07/07/a-century-after-women-gained-the-right-to-vote-majority-of-americans-see-work-to-do-on-gender-equality/.

[3] Strayed, C. and Almon, S. (2018). How Do I Deal With My Anger Towards Men? The New York Times. [online] 13 Mar. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/style/how-do-i-deal-with-my-anger-toward-men.html

[4] Connley, C. (2020). Nearly 30% of men say progress toward gender equality has come at their expense, according to new report. [online] CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/13/nearly-30percent-of-men-say-gains-toward-gender-equality-has-come-at-their-expense.html

[5] UNFPA MENENGAGE. (2020). 7 Ways Men Can be Better Allies for Gender Equality. [online] Available at: https://menengage.unfpa.org/en/news/7-ways-men-can-be-better-allies-gender-equality

Peake, S. (2020). 10 things men can do to support gender equality. [online] Shape Talent. Available at: https://shapetalent.com/10-things-men-can-do-to-support-gender-equality/

[6] Schubert, T., Aguilar, C., Kim, K.H. and Gómez, A. (2021). Stop Blaming me for What Others Did to you: New Alternative Masculinity’s Communicative Acts Against Blaming Discourses. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.673900/full

[7] www.linkedin.com. (n.d.). The Falsehoods of Feminism. [online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/falsehoods-feminism-qflip?trk=organization-update-content_share-article

[8] www.psychologytoday.com. (n.d.). Why Patriarchy Is Not About Men | Psychology Today United Kingdom. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/acquired-spontaneity/201708/why-patriarchy-is-not-about-men 

[9] Benhabib 2002; Yuval 2001. https://www.unhcr.org/uk/what-we-do/how-we-work/safeguarding-individuals/women


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