Fair warning, this is going to be a political post. I generally keep that shit off the Show and the Show blog, but I’m riled up today. Pop Culture errata will resume next week.
I’ve been watching the #YesAllWomen movement percolate online and after reading Harris O’Malley’s Monday installment of Doctor Nerdlove, I thought I might add to the conversation. Keep in mind this is only the beginning of an idea, not its ultimate form.
Specifically, I want to offer something to those of us who identify male and maybe have the traditional equipment in that regard to say when confronted with the declaration that “Not All Men” behave like the recent Santa Barbara murderer or the guy who went on a similar rampage down similar streets in the UCSB area almost 15 years ago to the day.
You see, one response to “Not All Men” is pretty obvious: Too Many Men are fuckwits.
The usual application of “Not All Men” is to shut down a woman’s complaint of, well, just about anything at this point. The dude on the bus who mouth-breathed at her for twelve blocks? Not All Men are like that. The assmunch who called her a “fucking cunt” because she didn’t respond positively to his catcalls? Not All Men do that, either. Oh, what if he doubles down and threatens to rape that whore because “you’ll fucking love it, you bitch?” Oh yeah, Not All Men do that either, but you know what’s funny about all those examples and stories we here, and often ignore, repeatedly of late?
They not all one man, either.
There isn’t a lone sexual predator out there with his aggressions micro and macro causing fear, trauma and destroying lives for reasons that resemble cartoonish supervilliany. No, the fact is there’s a tidal force full of men who behave this way and if you’re Not One of Them, congratulations. Here’s the only recognition you’re ever going to get for being not a fuckwit:
But y’know how that perfect attendance record that was so important to you in first grade meant nothing because you didn’t win the essay contest in Grade 2? Here’s the essay round, boys. When you hear a fellow male-type human attempt to shut down a woman’s story by mentioning “Not All Men” are like this, well, its now incumbent upon you — and me and anyone else who identifies male — to quickly respond with this, “No, but Too Many Men are like this.”
Because it’s the damned truth.
And if you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine. You’re free to believe whatever you want to about me, women, and the universe, but you’re not free from the consequences of expressing your beliefs. You also prove the point that Too Many Men do, in fact, think this way. You’re aiding a worldview that is harmful, even if it never brings you close to violence. You’re caught in the same trap the rest of us are. You just believe you’re part of the metal that snaps the rat’s neck.
Sorry, lads, we’re all rats here.
But I don’t have to tell you that. You know all the chest-puffing alpha bullshit ain’t shit. You know it doesn’t make anything better and only puts you further way from the very thing you claim to want. And you know it can lead some men to spread the pain around in the worst possible manner. You know it has to stop and it starts with you.
It also starts with me.
Our job is to tip the scale. We have to make these stories less common place, not by shutting them down with the cry that Not All Men do this, but to create a world in which there are no longer Too Many Men behaving as though anything is due to them and feeling perfectly justified in foot-stomping, name calling, sexual violence or murder when they don’t get what they want. If you think it all sounds too prejudicial or an urban myth, change the narrative not just with your example, but enlightening the other male-types around that this isn’t how a man behaves. If you really want a woman to believe that you are not one of those men, you have to demonstrate it by a.) believing the stories of harassment, terror and rape you might hear and b.) not allowing anyone around you to sideline the conversation by declaring “Not All Men are like this.”
That is the challenge. Let’s get to it.