Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seeking the Source

(Let me say off the bat that the things in this post are nowhere near my own experience. I've been frustrated with women for various reasons throughout the years and yes some of that frustration is related to some of what I talk about in this post. But its not an exact telling of my own experiences. Just one possible (and I think seldom explored in casual environments) outcome of such experiences.

So please don't think that the "Imagine...." portions of the post are actual recalls from my own life. They aren't. But I bet they have happened to other men.)

Okay one thing I like trying to do is stop and think about my anger and where it comes from. While in a twitter conversation a few days ago I mentioned where I thought some of the anti-woman behavior that is exhibited by some men. I think it's important to go over this because frankly I think the usual explanations are not always right. In fact I think they aren't just wrong but people who tout these reasons are more concerned about being right than actually resolving anger that real causes get missed.

Tell me if these sounds familiar.

"Men are angry at women because women dare to have opinions of their own."

"Men are angry at women because they are seeing their sense of entitlement being challenged."

"Men are angry at women because they are afraid of losing their male privilege."

"Men are angry at women because the use their anger to keep women in place."

After putting some real thought I can honestly say that these reasons miss quite a bit when it comes to a man's anger toward women. Why is that?

Because all of those usual suspect reasons are based on the assumption that no woman has ever done anything that contributed to that anger. No the anger is always something that men are just taught or that it comes from women not doing what they are "supposed to do". Now I'm not saying that that never happens, I'm saying there are other ways to develop and foster that anger. I want to explore one possible way.

Imagine for a moment being a young boy.

Imagine for a moment being a young boy that when attacked by a girl not only was his pain not acknowledged but the figures of authority actually defended the girl's actions (and I don't mean that bullshit "oh it wasn't that serious"* I mean straight up "you deserved to be hit by her"**) . Oh and she gets to freely laugh about and brag about it too.

Imagine being taught that while it is a severe taboo to hit a girl, girls have free reign to hit you.*

Imagine being taught that regardless of the situation you are expected to always, ALWAYS be mindful of your response to female violence, while women are free to respond as they wish to yours.***

Now imagine that all that pain, frustration, and hurt is not just dismissed, but possibly even ignored.

Not just "oh it wasn't that bad" but immediately responding by comparing it to how women feel and are treated as if the feelings and treatment of women are the litmus test for the validity of men's experiences and feelings.

Or how about even being told that because you are male your experience did not happen. Yes somehow your gender protects you from whatever it was that happened to you.

Imagine being older and a woman commits an act of violence against you.

Imagine that that is what you have to face when you reach out for help, even from people who brand themselves as being supportive or progressive.

Image that after being treated that way you the immediate response you get when telling other how you have been treated is to minimize your experiences, if not defend those who treated you that way.

Imagine that on everyday tv that female against male violence is actually okay and even something to be portrayed as funny in order to sell products.****

I know its a lot of imagining if you haven't been in that position but please try.

When faced with treatment like that I think another source for that anger comes apparent.

You learn that as a guy when it comes to being harmed by females (physically or otherwise) it doesn't mean anything.

When you are constantly exposed to this its no surprise that some rage is going to build and look for an outlet.

Now I'm sure someone would try to come in and say, "Its not women its the system."

While that is true the problem with that does nothing to hold girls/women accountable for what they have done.

Let me ask. When's the last time, when talking about men raping women, have you seen all the responsibility placed for it on the systems that support it? There's plenty of mention of how men themselves need to be held accountable for their actions (or even inactions).

It just seems to me when its the other way around you don't see as much calling for holding women responsible for the way they treat men.

And I think that's what's happening.

When that boy is hurt there is no holding the girl responsible.

When that man is raped/abused by a woman there is little to no holding her responsible.

When they reach out for support they are denied, if not attacked.

When they reach out for support they are sometimes lucky if the tables aren't turned on them and support rallies around the violent woman instead.

They take those responses and and hard lessons and decide they will have to correct things on their own terms. And without proper support and healing "correction" takes on a horrible, possibly dangerous definition.

Learning that their own mistreatment wasn't taken seriously they learn shouldn't it be taken seriously when they do it to others. Or maybe they even decide that acting out in such ways IS the healing process.

Now let me say that I am not trying to say that this not a well fleshed out though process meant to be the explanation for all male against female hate. But I do think it happens more often that people give credit for. Yes the, "He was raised to believe women are his property." types are out there but I think there are more "With no support and understanding, he grew bitter at women." types than we believe.

If you're a guy reading this does this resonate with you? Have you had some of the "Imagine...." experiences I've described in this post or other experiences that I didn't mention? Have you had similar frustrations that may or may not have festered into anger towards women (even specific women and not just women in general)? Feel free to share.

I think there is a lot of anger among men and I think currents attempts are resolving it are more like attempts are dismissing it or co-opting it for nefarious purposes.

What do you think?

* - And this is bigger than just "her violence isn't being taken seriously" which is a very common lip servicing side step to dodge the fact that there are actually two things going. Not only is that girl's violence not being taken seriously but that boys feelings, pain, and body are not being taken seriously. But unfortunately saying it that takes the spot light off of girls/women and when it comes to examining gender it must always be examined through the lens of "how does this affect females" right?

** - Unless someone wants to take on the task of explaining how "she's just a girl its not like she can really hurt you" (which is sexist by the way I'm not saying its not) leads into "whatever she hit you for, you must have done something to deserve it".

*** - I'm talking the difference between why you don't see too many people ask a woman why did she have to be so aggressive in defending herself but if a guy is so much as pushes back the first question is, "Why didn't you just leave." Apparently being more likely to be larger and stronger then your attacker actually means that you cannot be overcome with fear and cut loose. I guess the mentality of "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog" is temporarily suspended when it comes to female against male violence.

**** - Yes you could say that male against female violence happens on tv more often than female against male violence. But bear in mind that a lot of that male against female violence is used as a way to demonstrate that said male committing the violence is a bad man. On the other hand women committing violence against men on tv is often used as away to demonstrate that said female is a strong and empowered woman (or at least right).