Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Lighting the Dark

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  • Russell Brown,

    In other words, we need to let men out of the Masculinity Box. We need to be accepting of men having actual real emotions and accept them finding healthy ways of processing them. A man crying needs to be more socially acceptable than a man punching, and it’s not.

    If you read Rodger’s “manifesto” (and I actually don’t recommend it), he cried quite a lot, out of anger, hate, frustration and shame. He cried literally like a child and out of the whole, gory thing, so fixated on the validation of his manhood, he never seems like an adult man. It might make sense to add maturity to the list of essential attributes for men who are safe to be in the world with. Or perhaps that's a function of other attributes.

    And there we’ve kind of hit the heart of it, in that old feminist cliché: it’s about seeing women as people.

    Rodger never did and it worries me how many men there are like him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Howe,

    Thanks for the great post Emma.

    And there we’ve kind of hit the heart of it, in that old feminist cliché: it’s about seeing women as people.

    More specifically, I think it’s about teaching our kids to see all people as people first, and their gender well down the line.

    Absolutely.

    I personally believe, at a deeper level, it's about teaching our kids to take responsibility for their own emotional reactions. The best approach to lighting the way is to lead by example.

    If I am rejected by a woman and I feel rejected then that is my emotion to own.

    Our society currently states that it's the others fault I feel bad. They are to blame and deserve punishment because they made me feel this way. Revenge is justified. That's BS!

    It would be great if stepping up and being a man (human) translated to 'taking responsibility for our emotions and actions'.

    Golden Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    The snip I could stand to read spoke to me of a person who had never engaged with other people in a real way. Who speaks of themselves as a supreme, beautiful gentleman? Someone whose self-perception had never integrated anyone else’s unbiased point of view. I think it’s easier to fall into the cultural trap of assuming women are less than human, if you’re already halfway to thinking nobody else is either. That’s an error of youth and isolation. It’s not the crying, it’s the despair that the world doesn’t see him as some priceless wonder that makes him seem young to me.

    But the cultural trap is there, and many ordinary guys fall into it to a greater or lesser degree. Filling that cultural pothole will cut down on minor crashes as well as rarer ten car pile-ups.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    In other words, we need to let men out of the Masculinity Box. We need to be accepting of men having actual real emotions…

    I am going to say something that some of you don’t want to here.

    Heavy drinking, fucks with your emotional system.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2804 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison, in reply to Mike Howe,

    If I am rejected by a woman and I feel rejected then that is my emotion to own.

    True, but the problem, as Emma says, is that there's not a lot around to tell men what to do about that emotion, and what is there ranges from useless to dangerous.

    I wrote a thing a while ago that tangentially relates to this - I guess in light of recent events I could call it "I was a 25-year-old virgin but never went on a shooting spree". I can't say that I ever learned a good way to deal with rejection, though - patience is about the only thing I could recommend...

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If you read Rodger’s “manifesto” (and I actually don’t recommend it),

    Yeah, I consciously haven’t included any of his words or even mentioned his name, because
    a) I don’t want this discussion to be too difficult for, y’know, people like me, and I know it sounds ridiculous but quite literally the mere sight of his face makes me feel physically sick, and
    b) I think there’s been enough talking about him. He’d love it, everybody sitting around talking about him all the time.

    Our society currently states that it’s the others fault I feel bad. They are to blame and deserve punishment because they made me feel this way. Revenge is justified. That’s BS!

    The cultural narrative for women is that if they can’t get a boyfriend, it’s their own failing for not being pretty enough. We never invite women to blame men for not finding them attractive. The temptation for any individual to blame other people for their failures is very strong. When you’re basically handed the script?

    Rodger never did and it worries me how many men there are like him.

    I was late to realising that people thought like this – men and women, who see the entire opposite sex as one undifferentiated mass. I wonder if it’s partly a function of being Bi that I find it like trying to talk to someone from a different planet.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I was late to realising that people though like this – men and women, who see the entire opposite sex as one undifferentiated mass.

    And it's depressingly related to what I like to call emotional vampirism -- this 110 proof sense of entitlement to everything in every space they're in all the fucking time. I liked the simile to a vending machine in your post, Emma, because that's precisely how these emotional leeches view people.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I was late to realising that people thought like this – men and women, who see the entire opposite sex as one undifferentiated mass. I wonder if it’s partly a function of being Bi that I find it like trying to talk to someone from a different planet.

    I’d say it’s more a function of being intelligent.

    But not a phycologist.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2804 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yeah, the "masculinity box".I don't like it, but it's disturbingly common that I find myself falling to bits of it.

    men and women, who see the entire opposite sex as one undifferentiated mass.

    Aspergers makes it easier to see everyone as one undifferentiated mass. For me, the more (especially social) stress I'm under the harder it is for me to see people as individuals. I can see how that would make some of the PUA stuff more attractive, and I can imagine someone missing the whole idea that at some point a sexual relationship might cross over into an intimate one.

    I wonder if it’s partly a function of being Bi that I find it like trying to talk to someone from a different planet.

    I suspect that just shifts your qualifiers, you still have "attractive people" and "other", but because that doesn't lock tightly with the gender-fixation everyone has it doesn't cross you up the same way as it does many others. One alternative is that once someone has climbed out of the homopobia box and accepted that s/he's bi, it becomes easier to see that other boxes are not as mandatory.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I dunno, Steven. There are a lot of perfectly intelligent people who make Every Single Relationship Thing about "men are like this, women are like that". All men. All women. All boys. All girls. We must "other" that gender, or chaos will ensue! It starts at fucking postnatal coffee groups and it never ends. (I'm totally not bitter about it at all, you understand.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Xeno,

    In other words, we need to let men out of the Masculinity Box. We need to be accepting of men having actual real emotions and accept them finding healthy ways of processing them. A man crying needs to be more socially acceptable than a man punching, and it’s not.

    I feel more positive now about crying on the intercity bus in 2005, thanks.

    Since Oct 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    His attitude to women was certainly a contributing factor, but America's crazy gun access, laws and culture also played a major part. Good summary by Michael Moore on it.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Josh Addison,

    wrote a thing a while ago that tangentially relates to this

    Which was an interesting read. I think there's something to it, although I got to the same place by being somehow attractive to a woman (not via any great deliberate strategy, either). I'd possibly modify your "hook up, later form relationship" by emphasising the "flirt with anyone you find attractive, work on getting them to flirt back" (which, for any readers unsure, means persuading them to want to flirt back). At heart it's a combination of skill and numbers, but a supportive social environment is important - and that means the people around you have to tell you when you get it wrong.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Moz,

    that means the people around you have to tell you when you get it wrong

    There's the ticket. They need to tell you, and you need to listen. There are ways to tell people they're getting the social rules wrong, and bullying is an unhelpfully popular way of doing this. But if you've armoured yourself in an ironclad ego, even the kindest, most constructive criticism bounces off.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    His attitude to women was certainly a contributing factor,

    Not to derail, but, just this once could the conversation be, you know, ABOUT US? Women are clamouring to tell you that this is stuff we deal with daily, constantly, through our whole lives. And it's really hard to do that when we're a "contributing factor".

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Not All Elliot Rodgers.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Danielle,

    All men. All women. All boys. All girls. We must “other” that gender, or chaos will ensue!

    Gulp. I am guilty of that myself at times, in using terms like 'boy look'. I can see it coming back in unhelpful ways at times, when my son latches on to this idea of teenage boys being a bit helpless as an excuse for perpetually losing things and being messy.
    Question: are gendered terms more helpful when they are positive, like girl power?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 665 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I think perhaps I would find them less awful if they weren't so SUFFOCATING. I run out of tactful/funny ways to say "I think that's a quality shared by lots of children, not just boys or girls", because who wants to be the party pooper while everyone commiserates humourously about their child's supposedly inherent gendered qualities? And it's not like I'm a model gender-neutral parent anyway. It's really hard.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Moz,

    persuading them to want to flirt back

    Or... maybe not doing that.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    are gendered terms more helpful when they are positive, like girl power?

    It's in-group/out-group thinking, which is a powerful motivator, but it's like sociological sugar - we need a little bit, but tend to take more than is good for us given the slightest opportunity. It always amazes me how resistent gender is to any attempts at breaking down stereotypes, and how invested people are in not challenging that. If I had a dollar for everyone who told me, about my kids in the 2010s, that girls are like this and boys are like that, I'd be a rich person.

    I think this is why it's harder for some people to see this as overtly political as, say, Anders Breivik. The personal being political is an old feminist slogan, but it's as relevant as ever.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Moz,

    Oops, thanks for that.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Fair call, but I think you're getting the wrong end of the stick. But let's be realistic about this: would he have murdered all those people if guns weren't so easily available ? I doubt it.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 633 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Fair call, but I think you’re getting the wrong end of the stick. But let’s be realistic about this: would he have murdered all those people if guns weren’t so easily available ? I doubt it.

    No. Not the conversation we're having, okay? I'm not saying it's not a valid discussion, but it's not the one we're having here. Please respect that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • Nat D, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Yeah, because, you know, the 3 people in his apartment killed with machetes and stabbed are totes different, bro.

    Let me put his another way. We talk about gun control every time a shooting happens in the 'States. We never, ever talk about the misogyny that underpins the deaths of thousands of women. The misogyny that makes the single biggest danger to women, men. Not heart attacks or guns or cancer. Men.

    So, hows about this one time when we ARE talking about it, you stop derailing it. OK?

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

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