I have said before how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that other people are like us. If we have some shared interests then surely we must think the same about other things as well. I find myself in that position far too often where I assume that someone who are openly kinky must be liberal like myself. When I find out that isn’t the case it always stuns me, and it shouldn’t
One of the things that has come to the forefront for me of so many articles online is misogyny. I believed that most men were like me. It turns out that a significant portion of men are not. Now I know there will be lots of people who will tell me that it was obvious all along and that I have either been ignoring the voices of women in the world or that I have been so condition by my white male privilege that I have been willfully blind. And you know what, they might be right.
This was prompted by a well shared article addressing this very topic. Molly read it and shared it with me (not without some trepidation I might add) so that we could discuss it. I read it, and read it again and then we had several chats about it. Now it turns out that we have common opinions on this piece, it is flawed in some ways. But I have to be honest, it shook me. It will take a good long while to digest what it says about men, and what it says about me as a man. And I can see that some of what I feel is wrong with the article can be looked at as the understandable outrage of people who have suffered too long the type of behaviors they describe.
Regardless of how my internal processing of what has been said turns out, they wrote a powerful piece that when I hold it up in the light of behavior of men around the world. Men who are now not afraid to say that this behavior towards women is “Just the way men are” and other equally vile things, I have to stop and consider that maybe they are exactly right.
This doesn’t just apply to misogyny, but to race as well. I now have to re-evaluate many things about my life and wonder that it might just be possible that men are indeed the problem. This empowerment to feel free to express these horrible thoughts as the norm might mean that a statistically significant portion of the gender I identify with might just be exposing a truth that I have missed. And that I now have to believe that many/some/most/all men are something that I can’t and wouldn’t want to identify with.
That we are the problem.
4 thoughts on “All Things, Re-considered”
Bravo, Michael. Thank you for saying that. I have talked to several men who have said the same thing.
I think the sense of entitlement that pretty much all men feel in one way or another is due to both religious and societal ingrained teachings and goes back thousands of years. Most people have believed this is just the way things are and have either accepted it or tried to accept it, depending on with side of the fence you are on.
I know some men, when they actually think about it, agree that it’s not fair, but many don’t think about it and just assume it’s their right. And some women just accept it as their lot in life and defend the men who think and act in selfish, misogynist ways.
The fact is that now we have more information and education right at our fingertips and there is no longer the need to believe or behavior in this manner.
While we do need more and better sex education at every age and level, it really is right there for those who are inclined to learn. And that is the problem. Too many are either stuck in their own little comfort zone box or they enjoy the privilege that comes with ignorance. Learning will likely remove both and they have a hard time dealing with anything new or different.
But with so many women now coming out and disclosing not only that they have been harassed, assaulted and/or raped and just how bad it was, this is an issue that just can’t be ignored anymore. These beliefs and behaviors need to challenged and changed, because in the end, it just hurts all of us.
I see it not in terms of race or sex or any other defining characteristic, but in terms of power. Those who are born into a powerful position (power here being relative, but in this example middle class white men certainly qualify) very rarely question that power. Why would they? It’s not in their interests to as the situation works well for them. They’re probably not even fully aware of it, as it has just ‘always been that way’. The power structure they exist in is like water to a fish.
Being ‘gifted’ unearned power like this, they have never really experienced what it’s like to be powerless, and thus lack the empathy to see how much harm the casual misuse of their power causes others. Of course, education can help here… as can encouraging people from a young age to question ALL power including their own. But can you really see stuff like that making it into a school curriculum?
I think there are parallels between the way men treat women, white people treat non-white people, and the way many humans treat non-human species. They have less power than us, so we as a species casually assume they are there for our use. Sure, not many of us would set up a factory farm, but we’re happy enough to exist in and benefit from a society where the systematic abuse and killing of animals is acceptable on factory farms (I’m not a vegan/vegetarian, although I have respect for those are are).
Persuading those who have lived with unearned power all of their lives to give some of it up is going to be a challenge, especially when they have been societally conditioned to believe that not only is their right to do so, but that the exercising of that power is something which is expected of them.
I’d certainly class myself as someone who was unaware for a long time of quite how much power I had just from the luck of being white, male, and Western European, and yes, I did feel that I it was just sort of right to behave as it I did because that’s the way it has always been. A few life experiences have educated me otherwise, although I’m sure that I still hold many unchallenged beliefs that I haven’t noticed yet.
The thing which has made me most aware of this whole power thing is being involved in a d/s relationship. My girl has given me a tremendous amount of power over her, but I have (quite rightly) had to earn it. That makes it incredibly precious to me, and gives me an enormous sense of responsibility. This leads to the question – what about the unearned power I’ve had over others before this point? Have I always used that as responsibly? The answer there, sadly, is no… however I certainly endeavour to be a lot more careful now.
Wow… beautifully said. You and Michael need to teach classes in this.. not just to other men and boys, but to women and girls as well. Everyone needs to learn the dynamics of things like this, about what makes us all tick.
I am never surprised when men says these things. The ones that shock me to the bones are the women saying the same things about that is just how men are, we have to put up with it, it’s not so bad, (“she was asking for it, look at her clothes”) and other ways of minimizing and trivializing. As women, I feel they should look out better for their own interests. But they continue to defend men who act like assholes.