I’ve had a few awkward but kinda awesome conversations in my own church where I’ve had to explain that, not to put too fine a point on it, our leaders are lying and I never wanted to force our parish priest to gay-marry me or anyone else.
The one thing I have tried to do, over and over again, is make the point that I won't, can't be forced to marry anyone. That was, aside from the hateful bigotry, the thing that annoyed me, because it's an out and out lie.
I've told everyone I could that under the current legislation, I can't be compelled to marry anyone, and the legislation won't change that. The piece of paper I get handed by a couple says that I am authorised, but not required, to marry someone. And nothing about that has/will changed. And that why would anyone want to force someone to do that, anyway?
As Keir noted, part of the problem for men discussing gender is that it will almost always be a discussion framed by women, and by women who have the benefit of a particular academic background, and will use a particular related vocabulary. (I don’t really know what “performative” means.)
First of all: Performative.
More seriously, here’s the thing. I was trying to have a conversation about masculinity. I explicitly said that there seems to be very little point having that conversation when it’s centred around women, and what they have taken away from men. And I was jumped all over for mentioning privilege. Which, incidentally, I never mentioned here except to resile from my comments on Twitter, or to respond to other people. And given how many expletives I generally populate my posts with, I don’t think I could be described as having an academic persuasion. I understand ideas because I read about them, because it’s important to me to do so, but I don’t generally expect other people to do so.
I have written over and over again about how important I think it is for men to have a place in feminist spaces. Because there’s very little point us having the discussion by ourselves. I’ve been an advocate of men and women talking about gender together. I’ve done that over and over again here. But after this discussion? I don’t really feel like Public Address is a safe space for me to be involved in it. After the way I’ve been spoken to, the tone argumenting, the general dismissing of my argument and experiences, I am stepping back in here incredibly warily. With an actual physical sensation of fear.
For what it’s worth, I’m also not sure that being yelled at by mean feminists is worse than the 2 rape threats I’ve had this week, after writing about men on a blog that gets, on average, less than 300 hits a week.(Though that particular post did get to a much wider audience.)
I do think there are feminist constructs that are useful. Privilege is one of them. Because it helps us to understand intersectionality, and as far as I am concerned, there’s little point having feminism without that. It also helps people to understand how feminism actually applies to them. I write about my own experiences being a woman, because it helps me to recognise how, in the grand scheme of things, my problems aren’t all that big. Which is why I also do a bunch of stuff to do with women in the Pacific.
Which is not to say that any of these concepts, or, in fact the science, is perfect. It all informs how we understand ourselves, our brains, and the world. I don’t understand why people seem to think that everything has to be explained by one theory, or one experiment, or one belief structure.
PS “Male brain” alert: I am really good at reading maps.
She also yells at her GPS, but I'm not entirely positive that's a gender thing.
Many people on the spectrum suffer in school environments, but of course nearly all of them don’t kill anyone. Can you understand that I have a more direct interest in wondering what the hell happened to this kid than shouting at him about his privilege?
I wonder what made those other boys so. “Because: Evil” seems a really rubbish answer to me.
And I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that, in large part, because as you pointed out yesterday, they so often kill themselves. I am really uncomfortable with all the speculation (not especially here) on Adam Lanza’s mental state, motive, personality, etc. We don’t know. We won’t know unless someone releases his medical records. I don’t think it’s evilness. I think it is a combination of any number of factors – and not just “the decline of men”, as that article I linked to up there suggest. Mental health, abuse, the gun lobby, God, Fox News.
The kind of man I thought of reading that article isn’t your boys, from what I know of them. (And there’s a measure of my own privilege in that reading, I’ll grant you.) It’s the boys I grew up with. The stripey shirts, who were led to believe that the world owes them a debt simply by virtue of their maleness, and who are really pissed that people have come along and taken what’s rightfully theirs. The kind of man who can hate a woman because she won’t sleep with him, for example.
They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn’t make all of them powerful. And the question arises – if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?
And having privilege doesn't necessarily mean having power. Which is a huge part of the problem. "Everything is supposed to work for me, but I feel powerless. So what am I meant to do? If the world is set up for (white, cis, hetero, able men like me, and I still feel "emasculated", then what alternative do I have but violence?"
And really, I don’t think it’s your place to sort these problem men out. I really do think it’s up to us men to sort our shit out and put an end to male violence against women, children and each other, and it’s up to us white men to put an end to the myth of white male supremacy. And I don’t think we lose anything by doing so – I really think we gain. But if you have any ideas for what I, personally, or men, collectively could be doing better, do share, because I have a daughter and I know what future I want for her.
I don't know. Truly, I don't. I wish I did.
I will say that I don't think it's just up to men. It's my job, because it affects me and my friends. But no, they're not listening to me. I will say, I think it starts at childhood. (And I am really reluctant to tell anyone how to parent.) For a very basic example, we teach girls - and boys - that a boy teasing her, physically and/or emotionally means he likes her. So, when they grow up and have internalised that idea, what are they meant to do when a girl doesn't respond to teasing they way they want? Hollywood tells women that being 'pursued' is romantic. But in real life, if it's unwanted, it's stalking, and it is petrifying. We teach boys not to have feelings, and then are surprised when they can't articulate them.
This is where I get all wanky and feminist and talk about how the patriarchy hurts everyone. If we buy into the belief that men are angry because they're missing out on things they used to have (and as an aside, things they've been missing out on, in the case of women's suffrage, for nearly 100 years in the US - so who is teaching them this?), then we ignore the fact that men can and should be better than that.
To bring it back to shootings, yes, the idea of masculinity is really important. And Wampole is right that we need to have an understanding of that. But I don't think that we serve anyone well when we talk about what men have "lost" to others. Shouldn't we talk about what they have to gain?
(And I don't read that piece as though she's describing your boys. I'm sorry if I implied that it did.)
And I have been the victim of violence at the hands if the kind of men she's describing. Can we agree to politely disagree, please?
someone has to engage these men and bring them along because some of (a lot of them) have fucking bushmaster semi automatics.
OK, and I ask this sincerely, because I really do want to do something about this, and I genuienly don't know what, but why does it have to be me? Why isn't it you guys.
Because the guys carrying weapons, aren't very likely to listen to me.
OK, I was going to sit on this overnight, but since I can’t sleep, here goes.
Sorta. The words you’ve quoted, inside quote marks, do not appear anywhere in the column you’re quoting.
Um. They really do. The full paragraph:
For women, things are looking up. We can vote, we can make more choices about our bodies than in decades past, we’ve made significant progress regarding fair pay, and more women are involved in American politics than ever before. The same can be said for minorities. However, because resources are limited, gains for women and minorities necessarily equal losses for white males. Even if this feels intuitively fair to many, including those white males who are happy to share resources for the greater benefit of the nation as a whole, it must feel absolutely distressing for those who are uncomfortable with change and who have a difficult time adjusting to the inevitable reordering of society.
And therein lies my problem, and why I (possibly too glibly, but it’s Twitter), invoked Privilege.
There absolutely needs to be a conversation about masculinity and what it means. But if that’s centres around the things that the scary feminists and the civil rights movement took away, it’s not going to get anywhere. And it’s dangerous. Because I agree with Danielle that it pretty heavily implies that women getting the right to vote, control over their bodies, and a fair share of the economic pie means young men get to rage.
I’m not lacking in empathy, though yes, I struggle to find it for someone who killed 20 children. (And I don’t know if Adam Lanza felt this way, or if he had massive mental health issues, or anything, and I dount we ever will. My response to the article wasn’t about him, it was about the idea of “commodities of whiteness and maleness”.)
But I don’t understand that in anyone. I don’t understand what makes people violent. I understand it on a theoretical level, and while I may talk a really good game about punching people in the face, I am well aware that I never actually, could, and I struggle with people advocating it on my behalf.
But I also don’t understand how you can invoke race in a column about gun crime and not mention that young black men are overwhelmingly more likely to die in a gun crime.
Perhaps if we didn’t teach men that they have to be strong, and macho, and not cry, and a combination of Benedict Cumberpatch, Bruce Willis and Anderson Cooper, they’d have an easier time of it. That’s a conversation that is absolutely needed, and in this country as well. That’s what the Chemaly piece does. By not talking about men being “asked to yield what they believed was securely theirs.”
Maybe I over-reacted to that piece. Possibly, it’s because when I read about men’s place in the world being usurped, I think about that Fox News Suzanne Venker piece. Possibly, it’s because when I had the temerity to write about masculinity this week, I was told, within about 4 hours, that I deserve to be raped. Possibly, it’s because I just don’t care that men are having to give up their toys to women and minorities, because it’s about fucking time. It’s not up to us to mop the brow of dudes who can’t handle the fact that women are equal to them, and so are men and women of colour. Because doesn’t that put us right back where we started? Apologising for any gains we might have won, and make it impossible to ask for more. Yes, we need to understand that people are going to struggle with the feeling that they don’t fit and that they’ve lost something, but when you centre it on what men have lost to women and minorities, you ignore the very many men who don’t react violently to that. And you make it an easy excuse. And you also make it really hard to wrest any more power away from them.