By Krystal Lambert
The recent juxtaposition of a Gillette commercial urging men to practice basic human decency as an alternative to toxic masculinity, and the escape and rescue of 13-year-old Jayme Closs may have flown under the radar for most of us. (This story is chilling and brutal so here is a strong trigger warning, should you choose to click the link or google it up.) I can’t be the first to notice this cognitive dissonance, of how “good men” respond to being called out, versus how many “bad men” commit completely evil atrocities against women and girls every single day. The numbers don’t really seem to add up. With all these “good men” raging in righteous indignation, who is left to shoulder the blame for the majority of the world’s violence, war, rape and murder? Surely these good men so offended by the audacity of a commercial asking them to be better, surely these men will be the first on the case. So, who is it fellas? Who’s raping everybody??
Hannah Gadsby, a comedian and advocate for women, recently gave a poignant speech about this very issue at the Women In Entertainment conference:
“My issue is that when good men talk about bad men they always ignore the line in the sand. The line in the sand that is inevitably drawn whenever a good man talks about bad men. I am a good man – here is the line – and there are all the bad men. The good men will not talk about this line, but we really need to talk about this line. We need to talk about how men will draw a different line for every different occasion — a line for the locker room; a line for when their wives, mothers, daughters and sisters are watching; another line for when they’re drunk and fratting; another line for nondisclosure; a line for friends and a line for foes. You know why we need to talk about this line between good men and bad men? Because it’s only good men who get to draw that line. And guess what? All men believe they are good. We need to talk about this because guess what happens when only good men get to draw that line? This world, a world full of good men who do very bad things and still believe in their heart of hearts that they are good men, because they have not crossed the line. Because they move the line for their own good. Women should be in control of that line, no question.”
My question for the “good men” reading this article is, are you secure enough in your manhood to listen? To take a seat and actually learn something from the women you claim to be so protective of? We can’t even exist within 15 feet of a door without a strange man rushing to open it for us, all in the name of chivalry, so why is it so hard to find any man willing to actually listen to women’s issues without interrupting us with their hot take on our experiences? I told myself I would be nice about this article. I would be calm, even tempered, pragmatic, and helpful. I would swallow the righteous female rage that smolders inside me, I would not give way to passion. So as you read these words, and even if they destroy you, please know that I could have done far worse. I’m holding my tongue in hopes the good men will not be too offended to hear me.
Fuck it, lets just start with Mansplaining. The person most annoyed and offended by mansplaining is quite possibly the man being accused of it. The textbook definition of Mansplaining is pretty simple: It is a man automatically assuming a woman knows less about an issue than he does, despite her years of research and expertise. I’ve seen men without so much as a college degree mansplain basic science to women with PhDs. I’ve personally had men 10 years younger than me with five seconds of bartending experience mansplain to me how to make a Bloody Mary without me fucking asking him. There is not a woman on the planet who has not experienced a man who assumes he knows more than her, and she better not worry her pretty little head about it. Sound familiar? Men are you feeling that naughty little itch right now as you read this article?? Do me a favor and show me where I asked you, and when that’s done, shove it up your arse. Mind you, I’m being nice.
Stop assuming you know more than women about any and everything. Even if you truly believe you know more, err on the side of sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up, because you’ve had your turn for 6 billion years.
Next on the docket is Not All Men. I cannot express how frustrating and asinine this argument is. You really wanna tell us that despite centuries of oppression, rape, owning us like property, more rape, treating us like nothing but sex objects, again with the rape, abducting us, selling us into sex trafficking (implied rape), keeping us in sex dungeons for 20 years while you rape and impregnate us, serial killing us (usually rape involved here), drugging us at Frat parties because rape, drugging us at bars because rape, molesting us as children, creating an entire porn industry focused on underage girls (statutory rape, even if its just in your fantasies), actual pornogs of rape, actual videos made by underage teenage boys gang raping 11 year old girls, can I stop now? (I just need to vom real quick.) Obviously it is not each and every individual man, it is men as a collective whole, benefitting from and participating in the patriarchy.
I will also note here that the whole “men get raped too” thing is a weird flex because the majority of men who get raped are raped by other men? Like you’re just proving the point? Since when do you even care about men getting raped anyway, Brandon? Ohhh since these whiny women got all up in arms about feminism, you’ve decided to become a rape advocate for men? Idk, seems a little fishy to me. Kinda like the guys who call women “sexist” for being feminist but they’ve never once accused one of their buddies of being sexist. I’d bet the first time the word “sexist” came out of their mouth was in reference to feminism. If I’m wrong, prove it, and tell me about a time you called out your sketch ass friends for their rapey or sexist ways.
Our current world is still a very unsafe place for women. I don’t need to give you the statistics, because you are grown ass men with access to google, with books on women’s issues at your finger tips should you actually choose to educate yourselves. You don’t need to come in the comments playing devil’s advocate and asking vague questions intended to gaslight women into thinking they don’t know what they’re talking about. We’ve done our research, have you? Statistically, men are the number one threat to women everywhere, all the time, 24/7/365. If you are “sick of being generalized” you may want to look at yourself and your peers and ask yourself who is doing all the raping and murdering and abducting and serial killing. You misunderstand Feminism if you think it is generalizing men. Men have generalized themselves with centuries of war and rape and pillaging and patriarchy, and then conveniently blamed Feminism for calling it out. So, yeah. Not all men are rapists but a whole fucking lot of you are and the system that allows you to get away with it is called Patriarchy, which you can choose to support or dismantle. Still sick of being generalized? Join us in destroying Patriarchy. It’s not doing you any favors.
We sound bitter and angry because we are. We long for a world where we can roam freely without fear and aspire to whatever dreams we hold in our hearts. We have every right to speak, to rule, to roam. Our rage, is our only power right now. So don’t shush us, don’t condescend, don’t mansplain. Listen to our anger, our anguish, our pain. You may never be able to truly empathize, but you can listen and by doing that alone you make yourself a true ally. We don’t need help opening doors, using our brains, or paying our bills. We need you to listen. We need you to believe us.
Anger is not always constructive or productive, no matter how cathartic it may feel. However, it can be quite powerful when people come together in anger. Anger can even be channeled as a force for good. Cyntoia Brown was recently granted clemency from serving a life sentence for murder, because of the public outcry at the injustice of her charges. Her story got shared enough the celebrities jumped on board, advocating for her release. A young woman was given her life back, a life that was stolen by men who raped and abused her, and forced her into prostitution. She had spent 15 years in jail already, paying for a crime she should never have been charged with in the first place — and it is worth noting that had she been white, she likely would not have served any time. A collective sigh of relief was heard round the world when she was granted clemency. Every woman I know cried tears of joy. I’m crying them now, again, as I write this. This is proof that when people come together and get angry enough about injustice, things can change. Men and women both came together for Cyntoia, and we moved a mountain. Women do need your help, not so much with the small stuff, but with the more heavy lifting. We need help destroying the patriarchal system that has oppressed and enslaved women since the beginning of time. If you made it this far, fellas, thank you for reading. You’re on the right track.