Feminism

#MeToo

 

 

 

First of all I would like to start with a disclaimer; at no point in this article do I seek to detract from the experiences of the women who have experienced such behavior by men. I disagree with such behavior wholeheartedly and try to stay as active as possible to call out any actions that I am privy to. What I am trying to do is make objective points and understand the problems and where they arise because as we all know, nothing in life is black and white…apart from Laurel and Hardy films.

 

Let’s start at the beginning. It was me. I did it.

Throughout my life, I have inadvertently been that guy. Even though since, as young as I can remember, I have called out my friends for cat calling, stopped people I know from pressuring our female friends into sex and various other unacceptable behaviors. Indeed, I am no saint though, far from it.

With the advent of the MeToo hashtag, it has got me thinking about how consistent this behavior is. Though it is not surprising that many of my friends have used the tag, I am sure that each and every woman I know or have known has experienced these feelings and actions of intimidation and assault that it intends to raise awareness for. Many will not want to engage with this online campaign for various reasons, but it does not mean their voices and opinions are any less important, their experiences are there, whether you trend it on twitter or not.

 

It crossed my mind to voice my own experiences on social media. As a man, I feel I have the right to use this hashtag as I have experienced sexual abuse and intimidation. What stopped me however is not wanting to do the classic privileged patriarchal action of taking something of importance from someone else and changing it’s point.

Now I am aware that this is not actually the case. I’m sure most people would be behind anyone that stands up and says, “Hey, I have been sexually abused too.” It would defeat the point of equality if we couldn’t, but I am voicing my own very real insecurity about my masculinity; that however is sort of a different conversation. What I want to talk about is why and how we as men fall into this role.

 

I did it. We did it. I may be a cynic by saying this, but I believe that one would be hard pressed to find a man that has gone through his life without inadvertently or indeed deliberately sexually abusing another person. I say this from my own personal experience and have no statistics or factual evidence to back this up, but I feel I have a good grounding for my thoughts.

Here is where it gets tricky and I would like to refer back to my disclaimer, I am not trying to undermine anyone’s experiences at the hands of predatory men.

I do not think that every interaction a young boy or man has with a woman is conscious or thought about. That is not to say that ignorance is acceptable, but at a young age, how do you know that the way you are interacting is actually unacceptable and you are in fact pressuring a girl or young woman into an intimacy she is perhaps not ready for?

 

I was brought up open minded, liberal and more often than not, naked. I saw my parents have sex around the age of two (they may or may not know that), I had my first sexual feelings at the age of three and at five I stumbled across a pornographic video that was playing on a television. I sat there and watched, not understanding why the man was ‘weeing’ into the woman’s mouth or why his mustache was so big.

I have had various different interactions with girls around my own age that were exploitative from about the age of six, and in my memory, it was all ‘consensual’, if you can have such a thing at a young age.

Herein lies the first problem, even though I knew that I should respect women and that rape was wrong, I did not fully know up until my mid twenties that there was a whole world of subtleties outside of obvious sexual abuse, in fact I am still learning about it today – a year and a bit shy of my thirtieth birthday.

The thought that I may have at some point in my early youth, pressured a girl into kissing me or exposed myself, either out of normality on my part or a proud “look at this weird thing I have that you don’t”, fills me with a zealous guilt. In my defense, I did not know any better at the time but that does not take away from the experience of the person on the other end.

The other side of this is that a girl in school once kicked me in the testicles because I wouldn’t kiss her…what reaction does this give you dear reader? Should she look back on her actions in the same way I am now?

 

As I got older, my confidence with women decreased rapidly and I didn’t really have any interactions until my late teens, eighteen to be precise -I wasn’t as interested in sex as my peers, but maybe I was just lying to myself and hid it behind a love for skateboarding and A&E, but that could have been the morphine and plaster casts.

Throughout the loss of my proverbial cherry and my long term relationship with my girlfriend at the time, I can remember pressuring her, not forcibly or violently but verbally into having sex when we both weren’t feeling the same way. I was not aware that by asking her again after she had said she wasn’t in the mood was the wrong thing to do. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand no, there were plenty of times where no was said and respected, but if I was feeling exceptionally virile my brain would bypass that respect and understanding; even then it didn’t always amount to anything other than a quiet frustration on my part and a wank in the bathroom. But to this day I feel shame for the times I pressured her into something she wasn’t 100% up for, or made her feel bad for not ‘putting out’, as they say in American high school films.

From the opposite side of the coin there were plenty of occasions where we had sex and I did not want to but felt I was obliged as that’s ‘what men want all the time’, so it would be have been untoward for me to say no. Whether or not that was an insecurity at the time or became one, I simply did not know I had the power to say no.

 

Possibly the point I am trying to make is that as men we are probably not as innocent as we think we are.

Even though we spend most of our lives being kind to strangers, being courteous to our partners and treating our daughters with love and respect, there is still that element wherein we lack a great degree of knowledge of the subtle things we may do that can cause women to feel degraded.

In a way it is not our fault; I remember feeling terrible about myself due to films, advertising and my lack of sexual experience. We are bombarded with information relating to what it means to ‘be a man’ on an hourly basis, unless we’re in the woods chopping down trees with our manly arms and murdering animals for sport. And it cannot be ignored that we live in a society that promotes sex from every imaginable angle. Even with the privilege of being male, white and liberal I still need to read and listen every day in order to break away from being a patriarchal oppressor, whether I mean to or not.

The fact that these conversations or memes or whatever the hell else you call this new technofaddy age pop up in increasing numbers means that it makes people think about it more. I did not know what I know now about women’s rights when I was a teenager, or even in my early teens because it was rarely spoken about; therefore I rarely thought about it. In my head I never struck, I never abused and I never assaulted a woman, so I thought I was a good guy.

To clarify I do not think that every act of misogyny is accidental or unintended, but there is an element where we need to look past the obvious forces of negativity in men and try and tackle the root cause, stemming the problem in the youth before it affects teenagers going through the hell that is hormones.

 

I want to apologise to every girl and every woman that I may have ever intimidated, pressured or made to feel bad about themselves without my knowing, understanding or intent. It does not excuse anything I may have done, but I hope my actions of the present and the future may help make up for it.

 

As men it is our constant and eternal duty to be aware of our actions, our privileges and our peers, we need to educate each other and ourselves and not be afraid to stand up and take responsibility for our feelings and actions, as well as listening to and appreciating those who have been affected by our actions. Only through connectivity can we break down the barriers and create a world in which equality is not spoken about because we have surpassed it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Elizabeth Beckmann

 

 

 

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Neomasculinaty

 

 

Whilst researching a certain individual that I’d rather not name, mostly due to the nature of the idiom, all press is good press; I came across a phrase I had not heard before – Neomasculinaty.

Said individual has coined the term, purporting it to a set of ideas that base men as the victims in this recent rise of fourth wave Feminism. He states on his website that the idea is to “aid men living in Westernized nations that lack qualities such as classical virtue, masculinity in males, femininity in females, and objectivity.” Now as a young male in my late twenties, I can see how many men that don’t have a clear understanding of what feminism means lap up this idea in their droves, and much of it has to do with media portrayal of sexuality.

 

I am not a scientist or an incredibly intellectual person, but I know that there is something genetically different about being a man, mostly from my own experiences. The majority of the positive role models in my life have been women but their input can only change my mentality, not the make up of my gender.

This is the basis for many excuses by the patriarchy, the Neomasculines if you will. The ‘we are bred this way and therefore we shall act accordingly’, school of thought.

Though I do not deny that there are certain attributes that men have over women, the same applies to the opposite sex. We are different. Where this becomes sticky, is the idea that we are programmed the same way, as we were thousands of years ago.

Through evolution many of us have neglected the burdens of our hunter gatherer instincts to spend more time trying to locate the nearest wifi hotspot or negotiate six lane motorways. Maybe if you can track an animal without shoes on through rough terrain then kill it with a spear, cook it on a fire you made by hand and then skin it for a coat are you allowed to grab a woman and objectify her in any way you please. Then again, the likelihood of women being treated better in ancient times is probably higher than now, due to the fact that families and tribes were smaller and all depended on each others varying skills. So that argument is boorish and invalid.

Our genetic make up and needs have changed to suit our environment and so should our expectations of society. Even today there are still tribes that hold a matriarch as head; though few in number, the idea of equality is not an impossibility.

 

I cannot deny that there is a crisis of masculinity. I have felt it and it troubled me through my late teens and into my early twenties. Occasionally something will still bother me and pose troublesome questions, but because I have the privilege of my family unit, I know that it is not the fault of women. Sure there are some feminists that deserve to be thrown into the pit of Sarlacc, but along with them I’d throw just about any hardline nut there is; from vegans and home ED parents to politicians and pop stars. Extremism gives every group a bad name including feminism; it’s a waste of tar to throw on a good ideology that has been hijacked by the shit covered few.

 

We as men or boys are constantly bombarded with a million different ideals to stick to, many of which contradict each other. And though this kind of advertising has been pulsating towards women for a lot longer, it does not null the point that young men are being affected in incredibly negative ways via visual and aural stimulus at this current moment in time.

The rise of these extreme new ideas such as Neomasculinaty show that many men are feeling confused, dejected and very angry at the media attention to women’s rights. Men need and deserve rights just as women do, a basic tenant of feminism and equality, but to make it seem like men are being trodden down and abused in the same way is utter nonsense.

Rape and domestic abuse happens to people of all sexes and religions, yet the fact is clear that women have and still do suffer more than men in those crimes the world over. The simple statistic of two women murdered each week comparable to thirty men a year should be enough to highlight the difference.

 

Rather than pay credence to this publicity seeking neolith, we should spend more of our time learning and educating each other about what it means to be who we are. Women are allowed to be strong and independent and men are allowed to talk about their emotions and have down days. These are both massive generalizations towards the opposite sex, but the most commonly talked about attributes that are not allowed to cross to the opposite playing field.

The problem is, within each sex, there are hundreds of other sub categories that add to the complexity of the individual situation. Not every man wants or needs to be more in touch with his feminine side, and some women like the roles that they play within a historical patriarchal ideal. That does not mean people are being oppressed because they don’t sit in this new world of strength and individualism, they are happy in the life that they lead. The danger that emits to segregation and misunderstanding of ideas is assuming that everyone wants your own freedoms. We should all be in agreement that we need gender equality and we need it now, but within that equality each person should not feel afraid of being him or herself, providing no harm, mentally or physically is committed to another person.

 

Those men that follow this imbecile around believing his hate filled rhetoric are merely confused little boys that were neglected of an important education in the prime of their lives.

Because of the negligence by parents and the state education system, we create these vacuums of confusion, and when people are confused many turn their attentions towards fear and hatred, purely because it’s easier than treading the complex path of understanding. You can apply this idea to the current refugee crisis for an anchor if need be.

To use violent intimidation tactics in order to shut this kind of thought down exacerbates the situation, giving in to the ideas of these men that any thought of themselves and their own well being is met with hostility; something I found growing up as a white heterosexual male. Unfounded, but it was once in my psyche and the reasons were valid, it was how I chose to deal with them that made the difference.

I once believed that human beings are inherently evil. We all have the capacity to be malevolent dictators deep down, but through many years of constant conversation and self questioning, I realize now that education is the key to changing the most hard line of extremists into respectful citizens, and we must all play the tutors.

 

 

Mother

I was never meant to be. I gate crashed your youth with my selfish needs, reshaping a life with such talented prospects; for better or worse you were stuck with me.

Your lack of adulthood provided an unparalleled path of discovery and inspiration that has taken me on a journey far from the edges of normality and for that chaos I am truly grateful.

I was given a rare benefit of seeing a world through my own eyes and taught to question and fight every inch in search of a greater truth; this was only afforded through boundless personal sacrifice and immense love.

You are a true punk, an anarchist and the archetype for my very existence.

Solid Gold.

Traveling eyes hit the left lane cruiser.

An amplitude of booze injected into archaic cylinders fire up with a chortle and a howl as the luscious hunk of junk steers to avoid oncoming wit.

The ground shivers and quakes as demons awake to find they are dancing the same tune laid bare before them in a plethora of undergarments and hamfisted ideologies. Neither are saved.

The tracks positioned heavily are those of metaphors, but only when we realize we are all whores can we begin to see that the choices of others are made on a singular, certainly divine level.

Unbeknownst to us we will never find freedom.

Best intentions are left wrecked by the side of the road as the rhythmic compulsions of culpability pry deeper into the skin. There are always two sides but the victor rarely bares the mark of Cain.

A semen-encrusted member is worth its weight in gold in the courts of the vicious and decrepit; stood guard over the monuments of misogyny like feeble leering lepers appointed by none other than the Patriarch. Oh how we laughed.

Only when each swinging dick looks in the mirror and sees a missing half will the ruins of an ancient civilization finally crumble into dust.