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Is It Harder to Be a Man Than a Woman in 2024?

by Libby Pierzak-Pee


In 2024, it is harder to be a man than a woman...or at least that’s what Gen Z men would like you to believe.


It is an insecure man’s world, and we are simply living in it. According to a recent study published by King’s College London’s Policy Institute and Global Institute for Women’s Leadership in partnership with Ipsos, 1 in 4 UK males aged 16 to 29 believe it is harder to be a man than a woman in today’s society.



Key findings from the study indicate that Gen Z boys and men (those born between 1997 and 2012), are no more supportive of gender equality than men of the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946-1964). Evidence also shows that Gen Z is more divided than any other generation on gender-related issues:

 

The study found that a fifth of men aged 16 to 29 who have heard of Andrew  Tate say they have a favourable view of him.


3 in 10 Gen Z men think that in 20 years it will be more difficult to be a man than a woman, while young women believe the opposite (48%).


68% of young women think it is harder to be a woman than a man in today’s society, compared to 35% of young men.


37% of Gen Z men think the phrase “toxic masculinity” is unhelpful, whereas 47% of Gen Z women find the term to be helpful.


With feminism generally, 16% of Gen Z men believe it has done more harm than good. For baby boomers, the figure was 13%.


All generation groups besides Gen Z men were found to have become more progressive on issues regarding race and immigration.


Unfortunately, these stats are not surprising when we consider that this is the same generation who remain confused and increasingly unaware of the boundaries surrounding sexual consent.


A study conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), found that 72% of 18-24 year olds (both genders) don’t understand that you can say no, after initially saying yes when arranging to meet someone. Shockingly half of young people also said it’s not rape if a victim doesn’t fight back, only 46% recognised that if a man has been drinking or taking drugs he is still responsible if he rapes someone, and a further 58% didn’t believe rape could be committed in a relationship or a marriage.


These fractious divisions amongst Gen Z are exacerbated by the fact that they are the first generation to derive most of their information from social media. Unlike older generations who often shared their formative experiences together, young men and women now inhabit separate spaces online and can remain digitally separate from one another due to individual algorithms.


This is reflected in why young men believe it is now harder to be a woman than a man in today’s society. Whilst young women have become increasingly vocal and willing to educate themselves about progressive issues on social media, many young men have fallen down a social media wormhole deep-rooted in patriarchal ideologies, toxic masculinity, gender inequality, and misogynistic, sexist content.


Analysis by Financial Times’ John Burn-Murdoch supports this, as he found that young women in the developed world have rapidly become more liberal and progressive compared to their male counterparts who are veering more towards conservative and right-wing rhetorics.


Supposedly, the feminist movement is somewhat to blame for this. Women reinforce the patriarchy by supporting a culture that socialises men to deny their feelings, so when men are hurting, they are faced with a society that constantly tells them, “Please do not tell us how you feel."


Radical feminists labelling "all men" as oppressors and all women as victims excludes boys and men from feminist conversations that they should be included in. Labelling men as oppressors allows women to develop a hatred of boys and men built on nothing more than a generalisation. This hatred then becomes a way for women not to take men, men’s issues and masculinity under the patriarchy seriously. Therefore we collectively perpetuate a culture where boys and men feel like they don’t have a voice.


Whilst feminism may continue to ignore boys and men, capitalist patriarchal men do not. Political figures like Donald Trump have redefined traditional conservatism as a distinctly ‘masculine ideology,' encouraging young men to reclaim their masculinity and direct their frustrations towards liberals, feminists and ‘woke snowflakes.'


Outside of politics, these same ideals are perpetuated by right-leaning public figures such as Andrew Tate, Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, Piers Morgan and Lawrence Fox. The type of masculinity currently being espoused by these figures is deep rooted in patriarchy. It reinforces harmful ideas among boys and young men. They preach about men being an oppressed minority. They frame themselves as victims of unruly feminists and liberals who are simply “pushing boundaries," speaking up on behalf of “demoralised young men” and are being punished by society for “telling the truth."


They tell young men that the only “acceptable” emotion for them to express is anger and that they should develop an innate willingness to dominate and control because only then, can they truly be considered masculine.


Anger is the only emotion the patriarchy values in men, and it is continuously applauded and rewarded by society. “Real men get mad," they say. “It is a healthy expression of masculinity."


Unlike sadness, eruptions of rage in young boys and men are deemed normal.  Very few boys and men are taught to express with words how they feel when they feel it. Instead of talking, anger is encouraged by the patriarchy because it often leads to more instrumental action. This anger can later be channelled as a resource for boys to use later on as they grow into men.


Much of the social media content surfacing as a result of Tate is created by self-hating emotionally shut-down men. The former kickboxer and self-confessed “success coach” has made a living schooling young boys and men on how to charm, coerce and harass women into sleeping with them. He offers an outward answer for young men’s “failure” with women.


Despite facing human trafficking allegations, admitting that he used women to scam money from men, and videos surfacing online of him beating a woman amongst many other vile actions, there is a concerning amount of young boys and men who are utterly devoted to Tate, worshipping the ground he walks on.


Tate preaches that young men should take control of their lives. In one video he can be heard shouting: “You’re not supposed to be happy. You’re supposed to be monumentally influential and capable."


Andrew Tate stresses the importance of immediacy, of getting results and making things happen. His violent and misogynistic content being drip-fed to his predominantly young audience, is masked by his portrayal of a successful lavish lifestyle, fully intended to appear aspirational. Unlike the slow process of political and systemic change, Tate offers Gen Z men a faster alternative.


Thanks to algorithms, young boys and men are being inundated with content that supports male violence, male domination, teaches boys that unchecked violence is acceptable, with the raping, killing and sexual exploitation of women and girls presented as a seductive reward. Because if you can get a Bugatti and become a millionaire, who cares if you punch where you can’t see the bruises?


Men like Tate are spewing hatred towards women every day, and it is continually brushed off. Violence against women and girls and institutionalised misogyny has become so normalised because acts of male violence are always excused. It starts with “boys will be boys," it later morphs into “it was just a joke," “it’s not that deep," “he couldn’t help himself," and “she was asking for it." Whilst many laugh this off, the rise in Andrew Tate’s popularity among Gen Z men needs to be addressed and taken seriously.


Many young boys and men feel it is harder to be a man today because they have been brainwashed into believing that any attack on patriarchy represents a threat to their manhood. Not realising that despite creating and continuously benefitting from their own creation, men are also suffering under the patriarchy. Under patriarchy boys and men are not allowed to develop a personal identity. Their identity is always attached to and determined by what they do and what they have.


The content Gen Z boys and men are consuming encourages them to enter into a patriarchal manhood contest where their self-worth is determined by their willingness to express their “right” to dominate and control through violence. Violence is not biologically inherited; it is embedded in a set of societal expectations about the nature of power in a 'dominator' culture.


If women are improving their rights, it is not at the expense of men’s rights. What is perceived as an attack on rights, is simply a dismantling of privilege. As long as Gen Z continues to remain divided and young men are brainwashed into equating domination and the abuse of women with privilege, we cannot begin to dismantle a system that we continually remain in denial of and that we collectively perpetuate.


Edited by Emily Duff

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