The type of masculinity that young boys are taught is not compatible with mental health and with ethical behavior. Full stop. We’re fortunate that so relatively few will take it to the lengths that Rodger did, but I don’t know a single man who doesn’t suffer as a direct consequence of it. I know few who have never madeothers suffer as a direct consequence of it. We need to inoculate boys against this harmful and maladaptive thinking rather than teach it to them.
One of the first people to be banned from A Million Gods was a MRA/PUA type guy who ran a letter that was bigotted. And I shut him down and banned him. He had it coming.
One of the commentators noted something interesting. See we talk about this idealised standard of what a man is and we forget that most of us aren’t that. We do what we can with what we have.
He noted that the joke of being called a Beta Male by this man was amusing since I was going into a career generally considered an “Alpha Career”. Mainly because TV Doctors are portrayed as muscular men with amazing skin. Not people who get varicose veins. It is an ideal. Miri’s Post on Elliot Rodger is spot on.
What is absent from the dialogue of MRA is how men need to change and how traditional issues and roles we have no longer fit and suit us. We are like Janus when we speak to boys. How can we teach our boys to not sexually objectify women? I wrote a piece ages ago called “The Thug in Velvet” and the “Domesticated Tiger” to describe Indian men because of how easy violence and anger and power came to them. That even the most gentle men could turn. My aunt learned that to her loss and the Thug in Velvet beat her for nearly 20 years. Because he did not look dangerous.
Maybe it applies in the USA too. The domesticated Grizzly if you will.
We need to change what it means to be a man. We are expected to be strong but don’t know how. Gone are the old markers of masculinity. We objectify women but expect boys to grow up to respect them. And it has to be the right woman. The perfect woman.
To my parents? Hera is not the perfect woman. They were explicit about it. Hera knows I am not the ideal man. What sort of man loses his hair by 28? We have bumps and lumps and scars. But that is the thing. I have realised that happiness comes from someone who likes you rather than someone who is a trophy. That isn’t to say my Hera is not beautiful. I find her gorgeous, but Indian standards are different. Skin colour is important.
We have effectively boiled down all of our masculinity and manliness into sex and violence. Macho Macho Men need much sex and much punching. Oh I grew up in such an environment. Kuwait was rougher than people think. Indian kids were targets for racist arab kids. More than once I went back nursing injuries including one day where someone tried to bottle me. A little kid. He was smaller than me and he threatened to glass me. Served me in good stead in the UK where I learnt there were shit heads too.
Sex and Violence made you a man. How many birds you fucked, when you fucked them and how many guys you could take in a fight. The truth is I am a pacifist these days, a far cry from a child hood spent scrapping.
We created these toxic constructs that make monsters out of men. These ideas and ideals that we falsely aspire to. We are no longer one dimensional men.
I can fully admit I like baking. I make pretty pretty quiches. Last time I was back home there was an amusing incident where Hera’s friends joked about my sexuality because I am a girl drink drunk. Brandy Alexander’s will knock your boots off but aren’t exactly manly.
I am comfortable with stating that I am happy with myself so I am therefore a man and don’t have to fuck around and punch other drunk men to be a man. I am one even if I am 100% sober and playing with the cat in a fuzzy dressing gown. I can like traditionally manly activities (Bear Wrestling, Shark Punching, Axe Sharpening) and still do things like know to stitch buttons, clean house and take care of a child. You aren’t less of a man because you don’t hunt bear or bare knuckle box.
And these are all idiotic stereotypes. A parody of macho. But that’s the thing. We constantly declare things to be manly or not and thus rule out anyone from being manly simply because they don’t wish to do a specific activity.
You aren’t less of a woman if you enjoy boxing or axe sharpening. But you are less of a man if your need to work on your cross stitch or like a yoghurt drink (Look, I decide what women in the UK are up to based on Youtube videos… Someone needs to tell me what is so bloody orgasmic about Herbal Essences and Danone because when I use it, I just smell nice and eat yoghurt.)
Until we realise that we as men do not have to fit into a single stereotype and realise that we are the ones enforcing that stereotype we will be harming our boys. Until we realise that the culture of masculinity idealises violence we will keep seeing people respond with violence.
Boys can cry if they want to. And boys can have problems and need help.
This post goes up before my post on Elliot Rodger because I agree with Miri’s view on the issue too.
If we men wish to move forward, we have to be the generation that breaks the trend and teaches our future to be different. Do not see this as an extinction of the true man but a change of priorities.