Inside: trigger warning for talk of sexual assault and violence; Kavanaugh hearing; It’s too long. I’m trying to pare it down a bit.; Wait. How is it 300 words longer now?
I’ve been working intermittently on a blog entry titled “In Defense of Men” for a while.
It is a little #notallmen, to be honest, but #notallnotallmen. (I’m going to generalize, but it’s for the sake of efficient writing. Hopefully, that’s obvious so we can have a good-faith discussion or argument.)
Every time I’m on the verge of making a cogent, even-handed comment about manhood, I read the news and am shocked/not-shocked at how men are garbage. I mean, damn, y’all. Come on.
How do we have a discussion about a group and acknowledge the humanity of individuals? That’s what I’m trying to do here and I fail miserably with every revision.
I think many men are struggling for a sense of purpose and meaningful connection in a world of shallow, quasi-social interactions and relationships. Too often we’re lonely, isolated, lacking community, and, frankly, we lack coping skills. The online world exacerbates our problems by serving as a crucible for radicalizing alienation.
It’s soul crushing to not have the fundamental building blocks of human experience and actualization, and then be told that that makes you weak — less of a man. Less valid as a person.
None of this is the sole domain of men, of course, but statistics on suicide bear this out, in my “and who are you and why should we care what you think” opinion.
And yet, men have a firm hold on power and positions of leadership. Running the world (into the ground) and living like ancient Roman emperors. I mean, I don’t. 99% of us don’t, give or take. Not a lot of men, proportionally speaking, but it’s a man’s world. For now, at least.
The problem is that, regardless of social position, masculine pain is directed squarely at women in the worst ways possible, from mundane to evil.
When we’re entitled, we’re a threat. When we’re in pain, we’re deadly.
Despite the fact that I called myself and other men garbage above, I really don’t want to demonize men, masculinity, and male sexuality. I am manfolk, after all.
Still, we do have to address the fact that the dark side of masculinity and male sexuality is akin to an iceberg’s undercarriage — the proverbial 90% beneath the surface that you don’t see that is in tenuous equilibrium with the 10% that you do see.
Until it’s not.
It’s fair to say that men are, statistically speaking, trouble. Every day. Read the news. Everywhere in the world, including countries that consider themselves to be more civilized, women are being abused, violated, and slaughtered.
It’s gut wrenching. I could relate some headlines to you about girls and women being gang raped and lynched or set on fire, women being sexually assaulted, women being killed by family members for being “disobedient”, acid attacks, cannibalism, disfiguring, disembowelment, shootings, stabbings, beatings, rape and murder by strangers and friends and acquaintances and family members, murder suicides, family annihilations, mass shootings, ad nauseum.
Everyday there’s something more senseless, heartbreaking and infuriating than the day before, but no one talks about the ills in the world in terms of which gender is responsible for the lion’s share of all of this hellish madness. Men are the greatest common denominator in all this f—ery.
To be honest, I don’t think we have the tools to address the issue. Cearly, men aren’t going to declare a “War on Men,” and a “War on Toxic Masculinity” might result in irony poisoning.
The Kavanaugh hearings were an illustrative proving ground, an unphotogenic snapshot of our sexual mores. TLDR: It’s her fault. It’s always been her fault, starting with Eve.
SUPREME COURT HEARINGS AND HARSH REALITIES
This is a complicated situation. In this case, a woman comes forward after a few decades to level a very serious allegation of sexual assault or possibly attempted rape against two men, one who is about to be appointed to one of the highest offices in the land.
It looks like there’s no direct proof. No video, no eye witnesses, no police report or documentation, no tangible evidence or record. That’s exactly what makes these situations so tricky to navigate. If she had filed a police report, there’s a very good chance that, at the time, she would have been excoriated as many victims of sexual assault are, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a “valued member of society”, but there would have been a paper trail or record.
I believe her. I believe that Kavanaugh was a hard drinking, hard partying entitled young man who was, apparently, a belligerent and aggressive type of drunk. It is not a leap of faith of any kind that the fratty atmosphere involved aggressive pursuit of women and sex by hook or by crook, and a very bleary, cynical view of consent.
“No means yes, and yes means anal.”
It is admittedly, by its very nature, circumstantial. So what do we do with this? How do we navigate very serious, credible accusations that we can’t definitively prove? Is it a matter of reputation then?
I can tell you how these situations should not be handled. The way we, as a nation, handled it? Not the way.
We could have had some class and compassion.
Kavanaugh could have said some variation of this: “I was a sloppy mess. I don’t remember doing it, but I’ve long since pulled my s— together, and I’m ready to do that good work. For the culture.”
But he was coached, I think, to fight. Someone decided that being belligerent and emotional would show strength and righteous indignation, so he had what could be considered the world’s worst and most successful job interview.
Then this jackfruit, Kevin Jackson, comes along and shows us everything wrong with this hot-take culture and despicable attitude toward women. Damn, dude. Who hurt you??
Jackson, who was fired as a Fox contributor, called Blasey Ford a skank, said she should keep her legs closed, and that she looked rode hard and put up wet. I’m not sure what kind of country-ass aphorism that is, but I get where he’s going with it. Real classy.
Seeing this spectacle, this circus, play out nationally is — it’s not right. It’s just not right. Even if you have questions about the account…
If I could apologize on behalf of men (and some women), I would, but our culture is largely, decidedly unapologetic. And here’s a huge part of the problem: I’d be a hypocrite because I would have to apologize for my own trash behavior first.
You know how sometimes you’re sitting around or you’re out and about minding your own business, and your brain betrays you by spontaneously replaying a mortifying moment from your life when you embarrassed yourself, failed miserably, failed someone else, or treated someone else badly?
I’ve got those. I’ve stepped on the line and slightly across the line a few times and, in that sense, I’m garbage, too. I’m sorry about that.
I have a long, storied career of being awkward. Mix that in with undeveloped communication skills, immaturity, and a culture of objectification and there have been some inappropriate, boundary crossing, signal misreading, personal space intruding, tone deaf, and inexplicably insensitive moments.
I’d like to think that I’m a better man in my adult and adulting-adult years and that I get better as I continue to learn and grow. I’d like to think that the equilibrium is maintained by a more stable and balanced structure, to refer back to the iceberg metaphor, than by the depths of the murky substructure.
WHY ARE WE LIKE THIS?
How do we change this culture? How is it that vile attitudes towards women seem to be more prevalent than ever, even as we’re increasingly aware that we need to do and be better. There are women who buy into it, as well. I guess if you feel like it’s working for you, rock the status quo.
Men need to speak up. That’s obvious. There are a lot of ways to speak up and we have to be smart about it.
Speaking up can escalate a dangerous situation into a lethal situation. That’s something I think about a lot. It seems like people are losing their minds, and I want to be the kind of person who will do the right thing when required, but doing the right thing in the wrong way can have collateral damage.
Maybe speak up to avoid those situations to begin with long before they manifest. Teach boys how to cope with life, ups and down, rejection, hurt, and success, too.
There aren’t easy answers. We can say, don’t be like that, but the men who need to hear and internalize that message aren’t the ones who will hear and internalize that message.
The misogynihilism™ that is driving so much of male counter-culture online and now overflowing into the mainstream is dangerous.
I can relate to the frustration, repression, and even aggression that comes from feeling unwanted or disenfranchised. To some extent, at least, but there need to be healthy outlets for all of that very real inner turmoil. There’s a fine line between having a space to vent and self-radicalization.
There’s a better way, guys.
What helps me to cope is to realize that no one owes me anything. My failures are mine. No one’s coming to save me; that’s my job. That’s not a solution of any kind, but it’s a kind of freedom to take control of your own wheel (to make constructive changes).
Life sucks sometimes, but you’ve got this. Churning in resentment and self-doubt in a digital pit with other hurt people will only make things worse and won’t solve a single problem. A lot of those hurt people don’t want you to be happy and healthy; they want you to hurt with them.
THE BIG CHILL
Alright, I’m done. No matter how hard I try, I can’t write this blog entry the way I want but it’s got enough feathers so I can kick it out of the nest that is my brain. Be free.
I was thinking that men being held accountable and being accused of past misdeeds, to use a euphemism, will probably have a chilling effect on social interactions between men and women. Maybe. But so what.
Like, “Oh no. I, a man, now feel self-conscious about my speech and behavior with and around women. Why is this happening to me?”
I know. It’s tragic. Try not to cry for us.
Or maybe not. It seems like folks are still out there throwing themselves at one another with reckless abandon willy nilly and hoping someone sticks.
Meanwhile, if you check out ig:@byefelipe or straightwhiteboystexting, you’ll get a taste of modern romance to bring a smile to your face. Just kidding. You’ll see a lot of immature guys with wounded egos turn into childish monsters after feeling rejected.
What a world. What a world. Let’s not do that.
Let’s be good to each other, and help each other to be good to each other, he said optimistically.