Have fun debating this one, disinfonauts! Asha James (a woman) writes at a Voice for Men:
We cast others into the roles of agent and patient. Agents do things, patients have things done to them. People prefer to deliver pain to agents, even those agents who act in the benefit to others, than patients. Agents, good or bad, are seen as both capable of enduring more pain than patients and elicit less sympathy when they do so.
This dichotomy divides people into those who can expect to draw upon the resources of society to be protected and provided for, and those who can’t.
This dynamic can also be titled ‘hyperagency’. Hyperagency is the perception that a group of people has more agency than they actually do. Being cast in the role of hyperagent has significant drawbacks for groups so cast and throughout history we can see groups of marginalized people cast into this role as scapegoats. They are seen as having disproportionate influence on society, thus responsible for all of its ills, thus punishment or confinement of the hyperagent group is justified.
Hyperagents suffer from hyposympathy relative to hypoagents. Hypoagents are greatly enfranchised over hyperagents in their ability to expect and demand that others protect them when they are victimized and provide for them when they require it. Hypoagents weild power through the creation and exploitation of hypersympathy. Hypersympathy is an artificially inflated sympathy based on reducing other’s perception of one’s agency.
Hyperagents, on the other hand, are considered the appropriate dispensers of violence on the behalf of hypoagents. Hyperagents are also expected to buffer hypoagents from directly experiencing violence or depredation.
Men, in every society on earth, are cast into the role of hyperagent. They are expected to assume positions of overt power in the family and in the political, legal and financial spheres. This is an expectation of their gender role and one they have to fulfill least they be seen as ‘not a man’ and thus worthless to their families and society.
Needing to be emphasized is men’s lack of agency regarding assumption of the position of hyperagent.
Men are forced to assume the role of hyperagent in various ways. Some men have it thrust upon them as a condition of being male; for example in communities that have a cultural practice of appointing men as heads of households (even though there is evidence indicating that men have less actual control over their households relative to the true head of the home, the woman who has taken him as husband.) Men are also expected to acquire hyperagency through participation in systems that expect sacrifice of emotional and physical health as a cost of participation.
Forcing men into hyperagency as a condition of their gender role enables a vast reserve of vulnerable men—made vulnerable by society’s relative indifference to their suffering and deaths–for society to sacrifice when and where it requires such sacrifice.
Without the perception of male hyperagency, cultivated through cultural rules about ‘heads of households’ and the ‘stronger sex’, there would not be this battery of human bodies to throw into the woodchipper.
Read more here.