Women's rights perceived as threat or opportunity?
Stefano Ciccone, author of Maschi in crisi? Oltre la frustrazione e il rancore is a white, straight man. In his own words, he represents the demographic around which our social reality traditionally revolves, but this centrality is being challenged by a global wave of change towards the empowerment of women.
The social commentary of the author in the first part of the event exposed a reality: men, and the very concept of the masculine identity, feel threatened by this change. The “male narrative”, traditionally focused on dominance, is shifting towards a sense of oppression and anger, in a collectively subconscious conception of the gaining of rights and independence by women being connected by some to an equal and opposite loss of dignity by men. Under these conditions, masculinity is frustrated by change, and becomes a reactionary force manifested in different levels and kinds of violence, from domestic abuse to the social trend towards toxic masculinity.
The result is a constant pressure on men to demonstrate to be worthy of their manliness in a context that punishes nonconformity (emotions, vulnerability, and everything “not masculine” is associated with female or queer perspectives, through explicitly degrading semantics).
Connecting the dots, the thesis brought on by Ciccone is the following: masculinity has been built as a golden cage that gives men certain privileges, while leaving them completely devoid of the opportunity of building an identity outside of it. The women's rights movement opened a breach in this cage by challenging traditional roles and dynamics, creating what could be perceived as an underlying threat, but is instead a tremendous opportunity for masculinity, allowing men to explore dimensions and experiences that were socially forbidden to previous generations.
The author, who also talks about these topics in schools and other educational environments, offers a perspective on change as being beneficial and desirable for both women and men.