I was gently nudged, after posting the following on my Facebook profile, to share it further. As someone with a platform, small though it may be, I do need to be responsible to a degree. I need to use that platform for more than just selling books or furthering my own career, small though it may be. Take it for what it’s worth, and feel free to share if you think it might be heard. I don’t want anything. I’m not selling anything. I’m not looking for followers or likes or comments. This is just something that needs to be said TO MEN by MEN. Of course, it is me, so be forewarned that the language may get… spicy…
So here’s my contribution to the #MeToo movement. Let me preface this by assuring you, these words are not for the millions upon millions of women who, whether they’re saying it or not, have been abused and mistreated by men. Ladies, I see you. I hear you. I believe that I understand you, while I know that I can’t possibly understand. You will have no comment from me other than that you have my support, respect, and allegiance. Please, go about your business, continue your battle. I neither want nor deserve your attention in this.
What I do want to do right now, is speak to the men of the Earth. Fellas, Let me bend your ears, man to man. Right now – in the news, on social media – the ladies have the floor. Let them speak. Let them rage. Let them do whatever the hell they need to do. If you have an argument against that, you’re part of the problem and need to keep your monkey mouth shut, and know that we are not worthy of their forgiveness. Not yet. Try to keep an open mind, read the following, take these things to heart.
First off, let’s not mince words. We are ALL guilty. Like every other man in our culture, I AM GUILTY on some level. I’ve ogled, and I’ve leered… I’ve whined about the friend zone, and had temper tantrums over unrequited crushes. I’ve watched porn, and replayed that pool scene from Fast Times in my head a thousand times. I’ve had bouts of jealous rage, and said terrible things to my wife out of bruised ego, and I’ve probably mansplained more times than I’d care to admit. That’s not so bad, right? There’s nothing illegal about that. I’m not doing anything wrong, per se. I haven’t hurt anybody. I haven’t forced myself on anyone, or catcalled some random woman on the street, I don’t beat my wife, or threaten my female coworkers. But that doesn’t excuse being an inactive, or low-impact part of the system. I’ve still let those ignorant and discriminatory thoughts determine my actions. I’ve added to the problem by ignoring the problem. When I think of how I’ve been trained and programmed to look at women, to disregard their autonomy in favor of my own wants and needs, I can’t help but feel ashamed. We should all feel ashamed.
I’ve heard some of you, arguing for yourselves – boys will be boys; men are superior by design; God intended it that way; blah blah blah.
That’s just making up excuses to maintain a sense of power. Men giving themselves the right to subjugate another person, no different than slavery, or indentured servitude.
Some of you like to argue that these urges are natural. That it’s part of our evolutionary heritage. That, without it, we would have died off millions of years ago for lack of breeding. Ergo, “every man feels this way”, and yes, I did previously admit to having “primal urges” towards attractive female humans. That’s not the issue here. You’re allowed to think a woman is attractive. You may even get a boner. You’re just not allowed to shove that thing in a woman’s face, or up against her leg on the subway. You can certainly compliment a woman on her choice of footwear, or admire her shirt. What you can’t do is stare at her despite her obvious discomfort. You can’t demand that she smile at you, or insist that she take your awkward compliments as a binding contract, or a mating ritual. And, no, she doesn’t have to talk to you. Not even if you’re just being polite.
Hear me out.
Just like every other argument and every other issue in the world right now, from Black Lives Matter, to unbridled fury over kneeling football players, to oil wars, health care, immigration, and that Cheeto-faced idiot all over the news… all of this BULLSHIT has been built into our machinery, not by genetics, or animal instinct, and certainly not by some fictitious magic sculptor from an ancient fairy tale. It was put there by our fathers and our grandfathers, and by thousands of years of rapey, self-aggrandizing, exploitative bastards (most of them rich, white and megalomaniacal) before them. We’ve been brainwashed by TV and movies and music and newspapers owned by those same rich, white, planet-devouring scumbags. Thus has it been for thousands of years. It’s not an excuse. It’s a fucking curse. And one we should be civilized and intelligent and reasonable enough to put a stop to. Especially when it comes to how we treat other people, ESPECIALLY when it comes to how we view, value and interact with women. If not, then WE are the problem. You and me, pal. Even the very best of us, has these ridiculous thoughts planted in our heads and reinforced daily, hourly, moment after moment.
We need to break these hollow daydreams. Women are not prizes to be won. They’re not beholden to us and our swinging caveman warclub dicks, they’re not breathlessly waiting for us to show up with a glass slipper and take them away to a three-bedroom bungalow where they can feed our man-children and teach our daughters to cook and clean. They’re not pre-programmed emotional response units designed to make you feel better. They’re not whores, they’re not Madonnas, they’re not “our mothers, our sisters, our daughters”… they’re not OUR anything. They’re people, exactly the same as you and me, just with slightly different configurations of skin in a couple of different places.
Yes. They look pleasing to us.
Yes. They smell nice, and maybe they make us feel funny down there, and they are soft and comforting and feel right all wrapped up in our strong manly arms. They were made to be with us, like two pieces of a puzzle.
They are independent sentient beings with personalities, talents, amazing human intelligence, and every right to exist on their own terms as you have.
Stop and think about what it must do to the female psyche, to be objectified, dismissed, bullied and tortured every single day of their lives. Imagine dealing with that from birth to the grave. Every. Single. Day. And then imagine how much fortitude it takes for them to achieve the things they have, despite us standing in their way and beating them down at every turn.
We’ve come a long way in the last hundred and fifty years, but obviously not far enough.
Women have proven, time and time and time again, to be equal, and often superior to men in most pursuits. That deserves respect, not an undressing with your eyes, and certainly not being bullied or forced into corners, or shamed into keeping quiet after being violated against their will.
WE, as the perpetrating group – whether you date-raped a passed-out chick in your college dorm room; whacked off to some barely legal teen gagging to tears on a giant meat-stick; or called that woman who merged too slow a “stupid bitch”, we all need to understand something today:
Harvey Weinstein is not some monster hiding in the shadows, he’s not a deranged maniac, or something different from us that we can label and separate and ignore. He’s not the exception to the rule. He’s not the missing link. He’s you, and he’s me. Harvey Weinstein is not a stupid man. He didn’t get to the top of his industry and give us some of our most resonating cultural touchstones by being some kind of cro-magnon barbarian. The same can be said of Trump, and Ted Bundy, and any other man who does what they’ve done. They know better. YOU know better.
Any man in our society, over the age of, what? Five? knows better. We all know not to force other people to do things against their will. These men just choose to ignore that. They choose to disrespect strangers. They choose to be bullies, and ravagers, and rapists. That’s evil and criminal and unforgivable. And it’s the same when any man does it. When any person does it. The President of the United States included. The problem is, WE ALL, as men, need to BE better, do better, and hold these evil and criminal people accountable and declare loud and clear, that this behaviour, this concept of superiority and this hierarchy of rights is wrong, and evil, and unacceptable. The rest of us need to speak out and support these women, not by swearing to protect them, or threatening violence against the violent. We need to listen, and we need to believe. We need to treat them like they matter – not because it looks good on us – but because it is supposed to be true.
We’re supposed to be evolving here, people.
The answer is not that we should treat them like our sister, or our daughter, or our dear old Mommy. They are not OUR anything. They’re people like us. Ask yourself what you’d think of somebody doing that thing, or saying that word, or disregarding that person if it was a five year-old. What if Harvey Weinstein was pushing his bulk against a five-year-old, looking for a massage? What if he did that to the Pope, or the Dalai Lama, or your favorite, cherished grandfather. What would you think of somebody treating YOU that way? How much trauma would it cause YOU if people were grabbing YOUR ass, commenting on YOUR tits, offering to pay YOU to suck their dicks? Suggesting that your wife never needs to know. Implying that you can get that promotion, and a tiny little raise, even if it’s only a quarter of what that other guy got, and all you have to do is let the boss climb on up inside of you. How great would it be if you could live that day, over and over, every day of your life, like the very worst version of Groundhog Day? How bad would it ruin your life, if you woke up after a party, hung over and sick, to find a video of yourself all over the internet, passed out cold, with some football player buried up to his balls in YOUR ass? But it’s YOUR fault for not saying no clearly enough, despite being unconscious, unaware, and totally helpless. Oh, and now everyone you know will judge you for the rest of your life, and call you a worthless whore behind your back. It’s okay though. Boys will be boys. HE had a good time. How much would you be overreacting if big ol’ Harvey Weinstein pushed you down into his leather couch and told you he was going to give YOU a massage? Would you just close your eyes and let him finish? Would you be able to just get over it and go back to work?
We need this reckoning. We need to be held accountable for allowing our fellow men to treat people this way, or for being one of those men yourself. This revolution is a long-time coming, and we deserve everything we get. Women are better than us. They are stronger than us. They’ve been putting up with this shit, and still living their lives for all of recorded history. We’ve chained them, murdered them, beat them, burned them at the stake, refused them rights, dignity and their rightful place in every way possible. We’re still marginalizing them, refusing them the rights that we insist upon for ourselves, and we’re still using the old fairy tales to try and get away with it. Not even John Wayne was that tough. Every man outside of Mohammed Ali would have given up by now. But women? Women are still here, and they’re still fighting. You want to talk about your wife, your mom, your daughter? Talk about how they live this nightmare every day, whether you think you’re protecting them or not. Every other man they meet treats them like idiots, toys, or slaves. Your mom is “that stupid bitch”; your wife is that woman gritting her teeth while the boss ogles her ass and dangles promotions on a stick; your daughter is the girl all the boys are hoping will be gagging on their meat-sticks. And there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.
Women terrify us because they ARE God. Women create life. They feed and enrich and protect children. They try to teach us right from wrong. They are the very reason we exist. Everything those silly old books tell us a God has done for us. Meanwhile, the male contribution to life, historically, and on a purely scientific scale, is minimal at best. That’s why patriarchal religions and conservative politicians and random collections of entitled douchebag men’s groups are so terrified of women having freedom and choice. That’s why this entrenched patriarchy has kept them crushed under foot for millennia. Women created us. Women nurtured us. And we have turned around and betrayed that for thousands of years, turning them into Madonnas and whores, just like the good book tells us to. Marginalizing and trivializing them like the people we put in charge continue to do. Objectifying and minimizing them, the way movies and television and best-selling novels show us to do.
Now, what happens when the women have finally taken all that they can bear? What happens when they finally make a fist, and strike back, and scream in our faces with thousands of years of rage behind it? Why in the hell would they choose to put up with our bullshit if they had a choice?
Women have the potential to change everything. They deserve our support. We’ve caused them enough misery. Even if you and I didn’t personally stick that knife in, we need to stop twisting it, and let them start to heal. We need to stop treating them like things, stop acting like they’re fragile fairy princesses, or manic pixie dream girls. We have to stop looking at them by their relation to us, and accept them as the fully-formed and equal beings that they are.
This is true with everything. Gender, Race, Class… every way that we qualify each other needs to be tossed out the window and we need to re-calibrate our minds and our hearts to be accepting, not excluding. This world is going through a lot of pain right now. What remains to be seen is if these are growing pains, as we twist and stretch and burst into our maturity, finally escaping the hormonal craziness and childish selfishness of the last two millenia; or if they are our collective death throes, as we swirl down the drain into inevitable chaos, and burn ourselves out of existence. The choice is ours, and it starts with you, man. In the immortal words of Aretha Franklin, “You’d better think about the consequences of your actions.”
So, either grow up and act your fucking age, or go back to your circle jerk to extinction.
Here endeth the rant. Now go out and be a real HUMAN.