Dr. Helen

How Do You Deal with Family Members Who Are Sexist?

I often get letters from men telling me about various family members who belittle, degrade or are just plain hostile towards men. This is usually mothers and sometimes sisters — but either way, it is disheartening to say the least. In today’s misandric culture, the women in the family feel free to make jabs, comments or argue with their male relatives without regard or sympathy for their feelings.

I often tell men to stand their ground or actively avoid the person involved and let them know why. Why be around people who don’t want you to be happy and who have so little empathy for your feelings as a man that they are willing to sacrifice their relationship with you to score cheap political shots?

Another common problem is that the other men in the family will not stand up for each other, either out of fear that the women will turn on them or fear of conflict in general. This is a major mistake as their acquiescence fuels the sexist’s feeling of power or at least gives them the heads up that their bigotry and rotten behavior is okay. It is not.

Many men across this country are living in pain and denial about how this sexism affects their health, happiness and well being. Many commit suicide as a result of feeling unloved, misunderstood and just plain sick and tired of dealing with being a man in a society that equates their maleness with such negativity. Others turn to drinking and drugs to relieve the stress.

I wonder how many men could be helped in this country if we had a positive view of masculinity and men, especially at home where one is supposed to feel loved and supported.