Disclaimer: This post might be a trigger for some. This post will not win me any popularity contests. This is by NO means a disagreement with the movement, nor is the aim to victim-blame. This is one woman asking whether there should be more to this conversation.
So, #MenAreTrash has been featuring a lot lately and the amount of conversation, debate, anger and enlightenment it has sparked has been impressive. Like many, my instant response was offense. I can not stand man-bashing as a form of female upliftment, so the hashtag pissed me right the fuck off on sight. Interestingly, I first saw it on a male friend’s Facebook feed and his response made me rethink mine.
* screen grab posted with permission
So as the posts and discussions have gone by, I’ve been absorbing them and taking them on board. Yesterday my mom contacted me after seeing a post by Caffeine and Fairydust on Facebook. She was livid that an intelligent woman could be involved in such an offensive campaign. Like many, my mom had only read the tag. She hadn’t read the point and I spent some time explaining it to her as best I understand. My mom is no longer angry, but I can’t say as the movement has her support, either. And that little nugget brings me to the point.
I believe a vital component of this debate is missing. I am concerned by the fact we are ignoring the role WOMEN play in men being trash. No, I’m not talking about being out alone or having too many drinks or wearing provocative clothing. I do not believe in victim blaming or shaming and I do not believe any one person has any right over another.
Here is what I DO mean. The first person who ever told me boys will be boys, was a woman. The first person who ever said a boy was being mean to me because he liked me, was a woman. The first person who ever told me I’d go to hell for responding to my own needs, but excused a man for doing the same, was a woman. The people who taught me that I could only gain validation through men, were women. The only people I have ever personally met who made excuses for abusive partners (their own or others), were women. The editors and writers selling and approving the shit in women’s magazines about how to please your man, how to catch his eye, how to make him stay, how to recover your relationship from boys being boys, they’re fucking women.
Society is slowly changing and men are playing more active roles in parenting and I will not discount that. BUT for generations, we as women have raised the next generation. And look at what WE have told our children. Male and female alike. As mothers and sister, grandmothers and aunts, we have dismissed our boys’ disrespect and poor behaviour as boys being boys, while shushing our girls and, at best, teaching them to avoid notice and not get above their station. Boys don’t like that sort of thing, you know, girls getting above their station.
Now we have come to this. And yes, it is time, but my question is, are you, as a woman, as a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, daughter doing YOUR part? Not just posting a hashtag, but really looking at the message YOU convey to the men in your life. Have you tossed the women’s mag that preys on your need for male attention and rather focused on something that might really bring you joy? Have you listened to the underlying message in the throw-away comments you make to young children? Have you stopped making bitchy comments about other women being bitches/whores/sluts, because you don’t like them/envy them/are pissed they got more attention than you/wish you could pull off their look?
Yeah, #MenAreTrash, but when I’m in deep water, I trust men to bail me out. Not because they’re stronger than women, but because in my personal experience, they’ve been fighting #MenAreTrash a lot harder than women. When my foster brother made inappropriate advances toward me when I was 14 and he was 19, my stepmother was excited for me. When my cousin was date raped, the first people she told were men, because women would blame her. When my ex became abusive, my female friends told me I was being silly, he was just stressed, his brother told me to bail.
#Menaretrash and society perpetuates it and society is patriarchal. I do not deny this or argue it. I fully agree. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF THE X CHROMOSOME, STOP ENABLING IT.