…assuming the mantle
I didn’t get it, and I haven’t got it for most of the time. I’m only just getting it – the faux-masculine shibboleths that I’m expected to observe, in order to be ‘one of the guys’.
Especially the degradation of women as rite of passage.
Don’t get me wrong…
I’m nobody’s knight in shining armour (I think this will be the last time I repeat this for some time), and I don’t believe in chivalry towards women – chivalry, as opposed to decency, assumes that women are frail objects to be protected like delicate porcelain in a world they’re not equipped to deal with. Women are no such thing.
I’ve got an interest in this. If pseudo- and actual misogyny are used as defining criteria for what it is to be masculine, then I consider that an imposture. I don’t want that group identity lumbered on me, and moreover, I’m willing, if imposed upon, to fight for my stake in masculine culture to the exclusion of other men.
Gentlemen, if you’re going to make an asshole out of yourself in the first instance, I’m not going to take much notice when you make squeals of indignation, when you get a little comeuppance. That is unless, I find it justifiable, useful, and entertaining, to laugh at you.
Seriously though, some men really shit me. The things that some of you expect me to take on board as normal, or healthy, or unappealing-but-otherwise-not-rebarbative.
[Trigger warning: There isn’t anything explicit beyond this point, but the subject matter is rather dark, delving into the dank, unsanitary world of misogyny, as it does].
Back in the early 1990s, I liked to particularly geeky genres – anime and horror. And I don’t mean just any old anime – the big budget stuff, with watercolour landscapes and the like. As for horror, I liked a good dose of black humour and slapstick – not the sadism that passes for a horror movie these days.
So… I was introduced by one of The Guys, to another one of The Guys, who knew a thing or two about anime – this guy was really nerdy, as in poor social skills, and never talking to women. All the same, I took the guy’s recommendation on face value.
I had no idea what I’d unleashed.
So I forked out $35 on a VHS cassette of some anime that I hadn’t seen before, that was horror, and was R-rated. Nothing on the cassette, at first glances, even suggested what sadistic crap I was going to be exposed to (and keep in mind, my revulsion, even though this stuff was heavily censored).
Basically, the Internet being what it is, people are going to have some idea of what I ran into. Rape, murder, torture, cannibalism, all sensationalised and eroticised, little of which even the cutting of swathes of footage managed to hide particularly well.
(No, I’m not advocating censorship – I’m pointing out how rotten the uncensored product, and the mind of its creators, must be).
This wasn’t a horror movie, although I was horrified – traumatised into disbelief, at first, actually. This was animated snuff for sickos.
And the sickest part, you ask?
The level of acceptance amongst some of The Guys. Hell, there was backslapping, and in-jokes, and ideations, and apologetics, and… You don’t want to know.
Suffice to say I conveniently lost contact with all of the individuals concerned by the end of the 90s, before I lost all control and went on a rage.
I didn’t get then, that the degradation of women was expected as a practice amongst the group members. Why would this be necessary?
It gets worst, it seems, the older the guys get. Or at least, the older and lonelier the guys get.
(It never occurs to them, that being like they are, being left well alone may actually be on balance, morally desirable – context like mental health care, to be taken into account).
Months ago, while the Internet, and in particular the atheist part of it, were arguing about male privilege, and neckbeards, and sexual harassment, and sexual liberalism, and the like, I was gradually, and unwittingly extricating myself, via conflict, from the company of a few sad old men. I treated it, as a one-on-one, man0-a-mano (if you’ll allow the mistranslation), arrangement, where I’d pick my differences with one of the guys, and nobody else was bound to pick a side.
As I whittled my way though acquaintances, as the remainder of the group became smaller and smaller, my understanding became deeper, and my barbs more articulate. Eventually, I was able to cut to the wrongness underpinning people’s behaviours – self-pity, the objectification of women (and girls), sexual entitlement bias, selfishness, victim-blaming in matters of sexual harassment, and so on.
Once the penny had really dropped, all of a sudden, my one-on-one style of conflict, which had unanimously been agreed to be a virtuous approach, was up-ended, and the remainder of the group simply rounded the wagons and cut me off. The group, defended as a group, and as far as I’m concerned, marked themselves as pathetic in the process.
Don’t think though, that I’d reverse the consequences – I’m much happier now.
It’s not just the sexually pathetic, though. Old rockers, old punks, and other aging edgy sorts, too often when meeting me for the first time, use the words ‘cunt’, ‘slut’, ‘scrag’, ‘bitch’, and the like, the way the occasional rapping grandpa uses a back-to-front cap. ‘What’s up, my dawgs?’
This does not impress me.
Why on Earth do I have to take just an even share of the masculine group identity with this sad bunch? Why am I expected to assumed the mantle shared by yet another tragic victim of the male menopause?
Men can be better than this.
And don’t go all old school on me, you ‘Women Know Their Rights Too Well These Days’ tragics. You know what’s also a masculine tradition? Stepping outside.
Yes, I know it’s a stupid tradition – I just find it odd that while some guys think it’s stupid as well, they’re still happy to hold onto the misogyny.
There’s a silver lining on this aerial-turd of a dark cloud. (If you think this is a mixed-metaphor, wait ‘till it starts raining).
I’ve literally spent years ruminating on this garbage, which has made me investigate, which has made me sick and depressed, which has made me ruminate, which has made me… ad nauseam.
(This actually has, ultimately, induced nausea and vomiting).
During the less sane, more-damaged periods of my life (1998-2001), while not actually making me dangerous, this culture of misogyny has driven me to scary, unpredictable, social ineptitudes, miscues, and miscommunications. I’ve since fought back from there, obviously, but it’s still been perplexing and frustrating.
The upside, if you can call it that, is that I can intuit this kind of thing now. I’ve got a feel for what makes these guys tick, and I don’t have to engage in any lengthy study to get the needed grasp. I don’t need to damage myself anymore, through the high-fidelity surveying of the sewers of the woman-hating mind.
I’m now a position to retaliate, with less risk to my own mind.
No, I’m not about to single anyone out, or psychoanalyse them. I have no business deploying professional diagnostic tools in such a capacity.
My angle is playing on the insecurities, the infantile pettiness, and the absurdities that underlie this broken, failed masculinity. If anyone will be outed, it’ll be the neckbeards outing themselves in fits of rage, if they choose to retaliate.
I enjoy being a man. I don’t enjoy having my satisfaction disrupted by men who need to feel bad about women, just to feel good about being men themselves.
This is my shtick – where there is entitlement, and self-pity in these matters, I’m going to be unsettling. I’m not responding so much to recent events in the atheosphere (although there is that), and again, I’m not singling-out or piling-on.
A need to do this has been around longer than the recent clashes in my social proximity, and it’s a need that’s at least deeply engrained within me – carved into me.
I hope to unsettle, to induce doubt in misogynists (and racists, and ablists, and racists, and homophobes, and so on), through short fiction, poetry and satire, directed at the commonplace. I want to implicitly suggest uncomfortable questions, and yes, I will enjoy watching certain types of people squirm as they doubt themselves.
I shall not assume the mantle that is expected of me.