Hiya! Come take a seat, I wanna learn you something right quick. Ladies how yall doing. Good? Great. Take five. Sit back and watch. Fellas how yall feel? Good. I got something special for yall. You listening? Good. We gotta do better. By we I mean men; all men...now wait wait, don't go running out in a huff yet. Aint nobody trying to effeminize you nor am I accusing you of anything...yet (we'll see how implicated you are when I get done). I'm just talking 'bout what I'm talking 'bout. Anyway, all men have a duty to resist and combat toxic masculinity much in the same way all white people have a duty to resist and combat white supremacy and all straight people have a duty to resist and fight homophobia. It doesn’t matter if you think, “I’m a good man!” or not. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or what your race/ethnicity is. With the overflow of sexual assault cases in Hollywood and the prevalence of no good regular degular dudes, it's past time to speak out. Don't like folks generalizing all men? Mad at me already? Good! Use that anger and frustration and make a change. How you ask? So glad you did! Here's some help; five simple steps you can do right now to stop being trash and make the people around you not trash too.
Step 1: Listen to women and queer people
You still here? Good! Most people would’ve read that first paragraph and would start cussing at me. Since you’re still here, let’s start with the first and probably the most important rule: listen to the people who have lived through men’s rampages. Women and queer people (and the intersections of the two like queer women, transwomen, etc.) often times get hurt the most when men are out here acting dumb. I know what you're thinking. "Well, none of the women I know have been hurt by men! This isn't true!" Not quite. A lot of the time women and queer people are quiet about the abuse they've suffered because they think it's normal or that they did something wrong to deserve it (we'll talk about internalized homophobia and misogyny some other post). They had a whole hashtag movement about it, did you see it? While yes, not EVERY man is out here brutalizing women, and you and me may very well be "good men", but when you try to latch on to that reality you ignore the men who HAVE and DO brutalize women. Same thing for queer folx. Not everyone is a monster like Wendell Melton, but when you spend more time patting yourself on the back for not being him than figuring out what made him act that way, you contribute to the culture that made him possible. We can’t be blind to the reality that women and queer people live at the hands of the men in their lives, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel. We have to listen and learn from those stories, which brings me to step 2.
Step 2: Read and watch more than Umar Johnson and ESPN
Did you know about the guy who killed a woman because she denied his proposal? Or the man in TN who attacked a woman who rejected him? Or the MS man who stabbed a transwoman 119 times? Probably not, because these stories get swept under the rug or get joked about in most of the circles we frequent. We don't even recognize how prevalent these stories are until we actually start looking them up. Just do a Google search for “woman killed by man…” and see what comes up. It’s insane how many stories you'll find. But you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t pay attention to more than just when Future’s next mixtape is dropping or when the next Bama game is. Just like how the people tell you to “stay woke” about the atrocities happening surrounding race and politics, you have to do the same for the atrocities caused intracommunally whether that be in your race, ethnic group, region, or just with men overall. We have to expose ourselves to more than just Mediatakeout and Sportscenter to be aware of what's going on around us. Only be being informed of what's happening and what people feel about it will we be able to truly make a change.
Step 3: Call your friends on their BS
But being aware of the issues that happen in your community means nothing if you’re not willing to call the people in your community out for what they do. You can know the facts and statistics, but if you’re not DOING anything with them they’re useless. What good does it do for you to know about date rape statistics if you watch your “friend” take a girl that’s way too drunk home? What good are you if you let your “friends” bully queer people? You can’t call yourself a “good man” if you sit back and let the people around you be “bad men” and not say anything. Isn't that what we want white people to do? Just like racism has to be dismantled by the people in power, so does sexism and homophobia. Now, I recognize that this is a hard one. Sometimes I even struggle with this, but the discomfort is necessary. It’s hard to tell your friends they’re full of shit (I’ve had to do it before) but if they are really your friends you should be able to talk to them.
Step 4: TEACH people when you call them out
This may help you talk to them. No one is saying that you need to bumrush your boys and start hitting them with bell hooks (though depending on your friend group that may be effective); you can approach them in ways that can work. The key thing here is TEACHING, not CANCELLING folks. That call out culture is a whole other beast entirely and could end up worse than you started. Like for me, when I have had to tell people I’m close to they’re full of shit I bring it up in a joking way that let’s them know that I’m actually forreal. I’ve also presented alternate viewpoints for folks who believe women lie about rape (“What would they get out of lying? Hardly any of these folks win in court”), compared struggles (“What if somebody shot you just because you were a dude in a club?”) and the like. I will admit that they don’t always work the first, second, or even the tenth time. But every little bit helps, every conversation does its work, and every part leads to a better whole.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4.
Do it again and again. Like I said earlier, this isn’t an easy task nor will it work the first time, so you have to keep working at it. You also can’t expect YOU to know it all after listening to a few people and reading a few articles. YOU have to keep learning new stuff and unlearning the problematic stuff in order to help other folks. One of the things I have learned from this blog is that each person teaches others, and for the people you are around you may be the only teacher they listen to. You have to be up on your own information to do any good. We as men have to work on ourselves and our circles, because if not I guarantee you being called "trash" is going to be the least of your worries.
Alright any other questions, comments, or concerns? Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe and if there is nothing else, Class Dismissed!