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The other side of toxicity

The other side of toxicity

Why I Am The Way I Am

“Work on improving your low self-esteem, you stupid freak.”

~ “Weird Al” Yankovic

Once upon a time, there was a huge fire. It spread over a large part of the country, and many people fled in terror. Many were made homeless; many were killed. The military sent in a helicopter to help fight the fire. Somebody – who was it? The pilot? Some bureaucrat sitting behind a cosy desk? Decided that the helicopter needed to shed light on the problem; so the helicopter carried with it a landing light, designed to make its goal more visible. The light brought its own heat with it, though. Enough that it started a new fire, near the little fires. And the new fire grew bigger than all the others, and it threatened more people.
It was started by well-meaning people who only wanted to shed light on an existing problem.

This autobiographical article is about you. I’ll be talking about me, but if you’re reading it, I want you thinking about *you*. I want you to think about how many parallels it has to your own life – because if you’re like I used to be, you’ve probably never thought about it before. You can come away from it and say you feel sorry for me – but you’ll be missing the point. You can come away from it saying I’m a whiny baby – but you’ll be a massive jerk, and missing the point (or making the point for me). (When did it become fashionable to virtue-signal a lack of empathy, by the way? Can anyone trace the exact moment?)

I want this article to make you stop and think about the things you say and do, and how they impact not only those around you, but yourself.

It starts, as so many stories do, when I was a child. I was brought up on stories (shocking, I know); stories full of monsters; goblins and giants and chimera

robots and mutants and aliens

werewolves and vampires and Frankenstein;

lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! (Actually, I wasn’t allowed to think of the last three as monsters. Which I agree with to this day.)

One stood out as by far the worst of all of them. A creature of horrible stench, terrible to look upon; irredeemably evil, full of hatred and violence; all things negative come from it, and it destroys all before it. Hate-filled, and lazy and useless; and yet it managed to enslave half the human race to its own demented lusts.

Pretty sure this is how I pictured it

I listened. I believed. I internalised.

At some point – and this was entirely unconscious – I realised I was slowly, inevitably, changing into one of these… these Things.

I think that’s when I decided I’d rather die than be this evil creature. Than be… a man.

I don’t think there is any one single thing in my life that explains more about me, or explains it more strongly.

Growing up, I kept getting the same message over and over; from both my parents, my teachers, the media, from my friends. It was very consistent and constant: men are worthless scumbags. When my dad was around, he was agreeing with it. When he wasn’t, he was proving it.

Slogans like “When God created man, she was only joking.” “God made man first, but you always make the draft before the masterpiece.” (I remember coming up with that one on my own, but I’m not the only one who’s ever said it.) “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” “I don’t think women should strive to be equal with men, but I also don’t think they should be inferior.” were what fed me throughout my childhood. It was later that it became popular to say that being attracted to women is misogyny. (“Nobody says that!” Yes, they do. Don’t be disingenuous; they don’t use those words, but people say that all the time. ‘This comic contains pictures of attractive women! Misogyny!’ ‘These women are dress slutty! Misogyny! Let’s go to a slut walk to say women can dress how they want!’ ‘A man wanted to date a woman! Stalker! Harasser!’ ‘We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with men being attracted to women’. Radical notion: you can be attracted to women without hating them.)

I believed it and internalised it the whole time, even when I noticed the unfairness of it all; it wasn’t until years later, in my twenties, that I figured out what must’ve happened. I was holding a razor blade in one hand, watching the blood from my other wrist swirl blackly down the drain, and I thought: “how can I have so much hatred of men, yes all men, and not hate myself?” *

When my eyes opened to it, I began to notice prejudice everywhere – prejudice against men, against white people (not as much in Australia as you get in the US, I think, but it’s still there), against humans, against Americans, etc… Usually, it was people seen as ‘us’. (The prejudice against Christians was so obvious, so in-my-face, I’d already been noticing it for years.)

1Why does an article about male anatomy have a woman as the picture?

Why does an article about male anatomy have a woman as the picture?

When I drew the connection between internalising constant hatred against everything I am (note: I was born in the USA, even if I live in Australia), and the then-fresh scars on my wrists, I decided not to accept people attacking my whole people group anymore. That doesn’t mean I’ll pipe up and start censoring everyone around me every time it happens – which is far more than you think, than you’ve ever even noticed – but it does mean I won’t listen to it and believe it anymore. It means I’m no longer willing to put up with being shamed me and guilted for things I had no hand in.

Obviously, one of the other first things to do when I got this epiphany was to strive to not it make me a misogynist. Today, I think of how much I like the women I work with every day, and I like to think I’ve succeeded (though some will tell me if I don’t spend my life self-flagellating and grovelling at their feet to make up for the horrible crime of being born male, that makes me a horrible, evil, rotten misogynist. Screw that.)

I am white. I am male. I am Christian. I am human. I am average height, maybe a little taller. I am right-handed. My hair is dark. I was born in the USA. I never married and I don’t date, but if I did, it would be with a woman. I have no major physical disabilities.

I am tired of being told, over and over again that any one of those things makes me a terrible person because some people who have those characteristics have done terrible things. That’s bigotry.

I don’t know what your home lives were like, most of you, but most of you grew up in the West. You were subjected to hateful messages about ‘the privileged’ all your life; from media, from the government.

Violence against men? Australia’s okay with it.

Probably from your teachers, too; even family and friends. Humans are bigots, and they will always find a way to express bigotry. It’s something we must all overcome, but:

Changing the focus of bigotry does not end bigotry. You don’t end sexism by hating an entire sex. You don’t end racism by hating an entire race. You don’t end religious intolerance by hating an entire religion.
Despite the constant messaging and internalised self-loathing, I was about six years old when I figured that out (which means this garbage was in full swing in the 70s).

I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. (I hope I don’t have to say this, but, I don’t want it to keep happening to me, either.)

And yet today, we live in a world that believes in ‘The Patriarchy’ – a vague global conspiracy theory designed to vilify males even further (if such a thing is possible). You see, we’re all prawns of the patriarchy; they’re run behind-the-scenes by the Zionist Cabbal, who are owned by the Military-Industrial Complex. The Military-Industrial Complex runs the newspapers; and Japanese for newspaper is ‘Shinbon’ – it’s all connected, see? The Shinbon is connected to Nippon. Nippon is connected to Thai-bon. The Thai-bon’s connected to the hip-bone. The hip-bone’s connected to the back bone, the back bone’s to the neck bone, the neck bone’s connected to head bone. The head bone, man, the HEAD BONE! Don’t you get it? This goes right to the TOP!!!
At least, I think that’s how Patriarchy theory goes.

To further the demonisation, people have become incapable of using the word ‘masculinity’ without putting the word ‘toxic’ in front of it; people have started using the word ‘man’ as a prefix to indicate something is a bad thing now (manspreading, mansplaining, manterrupting, etc…), and to get us all believing that every jerk move anybody does ever is something men do to women exclusively, as if all men treat all women like garbage constantly. We’ve ended up with a bunch of people spreading hatred of men everywhere at all times, but never once saying ‘I hate men’, so they can have implausible deniability later. The self-loathing is strong and causes… trouble.

Growing up with misandry

While all this was going on, throughout my young years, while I was growing up with the message that I was the worst Hitler on earth because I don’t fit anybody’s idea of a Minority™, I have… a sis-Ter.
She is the kind of person who’s charming and lovely – as long as she wants something from you. If you don’t know her. If you do? If you disappoint her? She goes from zero to screeching rage without changing gear. She has zero empathy; she has no visible conscience or thought for others. She has no sense of guilt or shame, and uses people as her own personal playthings. I’m supposed to be forgiving, but if I ever treat her nice, if I ever do anything for her (and nothing I do is ever good enough, nothing ever), she uses it as proof that she deserves all good things and it only makes her more entitled. She’d yell at me and call me names.

S’ym holds The Enchantress captive. Illyana tells him: “She is not to be physically harmed. Beyond that, use your imagination.”

I had to walk on eggshells around her at all times, not that that works. The damage to my self-esteem was… I can’t even say how bad it was. Her constant criticism and shaming made me feel utterly worthless. This happened for roughly the first twenty years of my life (you think after all that I had the gumption to move out?)

My parents know what she is, and still treat her as their favourite. She is the oldest, the golden child. The girl.

She doesn’t treat them much differently.

People tell me that it’s okay that she treated me like that because, as a male, ‘you’re bigger and stronger!’

First, she was my older sister. For most of my childhood, no I wasn’t. And they never say what I’ supposed to do with that strength? Fight back? Hit a girl? You’ve got to be kidding.

Sit there and take it? That’s your message? If you’re stronger you have to take everything people throw at you? Yeah. Real equality there.

Cute as this is, it was me my parents treated like a monster

A note on tense: I’m using the past tense here because I no longer live with her, not because she has in any way changed.

My parents turned a blind eye. My Mum still acts like she never even noticed, and doesn’t understand why my sister is somebody I don’t want to spend time with. She shuts me down any time I try to talk about it; even when she brings it up. (She’s even been known to say it was my nephew who was driving me away, as if she’s never even met me. Shortly after her own mother died, my mother started talking about her will and how my sister and I will interact afterwards. She was shocked when I told her that, once my parents were dead, I would do my level best to never see my sister again. That was a radical, new idea to her; why on Earth would I want to never see again somebody who constantly treats me like garbage? Who I’ve never hidden my feelings about? What could possibly be happening here?) At least my dad doesn’t shut me up and shut me down.

I can only assume my parents found this completely acceptable – because I cannot remember a single instance of them telling her to stop, not once. Instead, they insisted that girls have needs (apparently boys don’t) and boys can’t hit girls, so I had absolutely no recourse to stop this treatment.
Meanwhile, I have an entire society telling me that it never happened. Telling me that things like this only happen if males do them to females; never the other way around. Telling me that things like this only matter if males do them to females; never the other way around. Telling me I must be attacking and hurting and abusing all women around me, simply because I am male.

The way she treated me was wrong; it’s wrong if a boy does it to a girl, it’s wrong if a girl does it to a boy. Never excuse it. Never justify it. Never enable it.

Maybe none of you had a sister like mine – though I’m not the only male on this site who’s been abused by a woman – but all of you have been getting that message. All of you have been internalising it. Most of you have probably been spreading it, probably without realising it.

The sad part is, half of people who hear this stuff will roll their eyes and say ‘yeah, right, that never happens’; ‘silly men, equality is for women!’. The other half will smugly sit back and say ‘I never do that, I’m immune to criticism’. And none of you, not one, will stop doing it.

My sister lives with my parents, so I still have to take it from her occasionally. I won’t take it from anyone else anymore.

(Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there aren’t people who enable that kind of treatment when it happens to girls/women. I’m sure it does, and it totally sucks when it does. I am saying, society as a whole cares when it happens to girls. Society as a whole turns a blind eye to it when it happens to boys.)

How many of you have been in similar situations? How many of you have grown up with the idea that males are inherently toxic, that everything boys do is wrong and evil while everything girls do is good and right? Little boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy-dog tails; girls are sugar and spice and everything nice (remember what my sister was like when I was hearing this!)

How many of you have taught your own sons the same thing?

Since when is respect a one-way street?

Look at what Julie Birchell teachers her kids.

She drives her son away from herself, then wonders why he goes to conservative websites (*gasp* The horror! He pays attention to people outside The Narrative!) Blames anyone but herself. “I love my sons.” No, lady, you do not. “I wonder whether I’ve done enough to combat the messages they hear from everyone but me.” ‘everyone but you’?!? Everyone sends them the same ‘men are scum’ message you send them. Everyone.

Then, this happens.

She spent her sons’ lives telling them they’re automatically rapists because they’re male, and for some reason, one of them committed suicide. Hunh. I wonder how that happened?

Wil Wheaton sums it up nicely.

See how he’s absorbed this idea that being born a certain way automatically makes everything okay for him: ” as a white, heterosexual, cisgender man in America, I live life on the lowest difficulty setting – with the Celebrity cheat enabled.”

These are the words of somebody who’s been made to minimise his own lived experience; somebody who’s been told again and again that nothing counts when it happens to him.

And yet, somehow, he suffers from chronic and severe depression. Maybe because none of those things do make life easy somehow? Not even the “Celebrity cheat”? (Have you ever heard anything about the lives of child stars? He was lucky to get off as easy as he did!)

Blessés Par L’Ignorance

The United Nations Women organisation tweeted this

So, why do you need me to tell you all this? If this bigotry is as common as I think it is, why don’t you see it?

On my copy of the Wonder Woman blu-ray (the recent movie, not the TV series), there’s a special feature called The Trinity. Here are a few quotes I pulled from it, including the time key for those playing along at home. (I don’t think PAL speed-up is a thing on blu-ray, but if it is, the key may be a little off.)

“Diana has to come from a working paradise. She has to come from a society that has achieved greatness, that has set aside antipathy, and hatred, and prejudice and bigotry.”

~ Greg Rucka (02:08)

“She was raised in the most perfect world possible.”

~ Phil Jiminez (01:06)

“Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

~ Hippolyta (03:38)

“With Wonder Woman, it’s about equality… and as a result of that, understanding that you need to treat everybody equally.”

~ Cliff Chiang (06:16… wait, isn’t that Marvel?)

They are describing Themyscira – an entire society founded on the principles of excluding half the human population, simply because of what’s between their legs. And it’s a society “that has set aside antipathy, and hatred, and prejudice and bigotry.”

This is how absolutely blind people are to prejudice and hate when it doesn’t fit their worldview to condemn it. Seriously, how could anybody say that? Their entire society is founded in prejudice! It’s what they do! And yet you say it has none? If we don’t see misandry, the reason is clearly not because it doesn’t exist.

I actually admire Wonder Woman because she was raised in a hateful, bigoted society, and put that aside so quickly.

And a society without males “the most perfect world possible”? Phil, for a dude who likes dudes, you really don’t like dudes, do you, dude? (And it isn’t lost on me that the ‘subtle’ message behind all this is ‘males ruin everything; the only way a society can be decent or good is by getting rid of them all.)
Cliff Chiang’s comments make me curious – I genuinely don’t know – if Diana is ‘all about equality’, has she ever once condemned her own society for their prejudice? It is, yet again, the founding principle of their culture. (Hawkgirl called her out on it, kind of, in an episode of the JLU cartoon – but has Diana herself ever said anything?)

I could say much the same things about Wakanda, based on race not sex.

How many comics have you read where there’s an all-male or all-white nation and that’s a good thing? Is there one you’re supposed to root for? I can’t think of any. Maybe you can. (How recent are they?)

There are a lot of people out there (and in here) trying to drag down everyone they consider ‘privileged’. They throw that word around based on superficial characteristics like race or sex or sexuality or even religion (guys, it’s not 1954, it’s 1984; Christians no longer have power); they ignore and minimise people’s actual lived experience to do it. They don’t acknowledge the difference between ‘somebody else is deprived’ and ‘I’m privileged’. Those are two widely different things, with a vast spectrum of life experience between them. They use ‘privileged’ to mean ‘we can treat these people like garbage, and that’s okay. That’s their privilege.’

The thing is, the people who do it will also be the first to assure you nobody ever does it. Society at large either doesn’t notice or turns a blind eye to prejudice and bigotry when they happen to the wrong side. You see it again and again. You just don’t care.

Real conversation I once had online: them: “In my country, cats are killed all the time because they’re seen as feminine and dogs are masculine, therefore men are killing them.” Me: “Do you see the discrimination there? You’re saying men are violent, cat-killing jerks.” Them: “No, I’m male and I like cats, and (other poster) is female and she likes dogs.”

Different thread, different time, different forum: Me: “I read an article about gay adoption; it was against the concept, but still glossed over one female couple who artificially inseminated; one of them gave birth to a boy, then they moved to Queensland, away from the bio- father (a gay friend of theirs), because they didn’t want any males in their lives. That was their stated reason. Can you imagine being a boy raised by people who want ‘no males in our lives’? What would that do to them.” Her: “They’d still have teachers, relatives, etc…”

I once had a colleague come back to work from a gender studies class. She walked up to my desk and started going on and on about the glass ceiling and how women can never get ahead, and how hard it is to get a ranking job as a woman… After about five minutes of her ranting at me, I got tired of it and said to her: “You outrank me.” She walked away.

I could not believe a woman who was higher ranked than me (male) thought I was an appropriate person to vent to about how she can never get ahead of me. When she knows she’s already ahead of me. But apparently she didn’t notice. She had been told so often that she had to be behind that she couldn’t see when she was ahead.

I once had a boss – the 2IC of my workplace – give a speech on behalf of the White Ribbon Hood organisation. He talked about an ex-friend of his, who he’d thought of as one of ‘the good ones’ had been accused of domestic violence by an ex-girlfriend. The way he was talking, it hadn’t even got to trial yet; the man was guilty by simple accusation. (We all know ex-es, of either gender, are completely reliable sources of information, right?) He kept saying – several times – “I’m ashamed of men.” Not abusive men. Not men who don’t respect women. Men. All of us.

The head of my workplace was there, nodding along in approval. (I made a point to watch what she was doing during the speech.)

A little while before, I was having lunch with a couple of friends. Friend 1 told a story about how he’d nearly been run down by somebody obviously playing Pokémon Go while driving. I suggested, since the game works via GPS, maybe they should make it cut out at car speeds? Friend 2 was incensed. I was blaming all Pokémon players for the actions of a few. What about people who played on a bus? What about those who played while passengers in a car?

About a week after the White Hood speech, I mentioned it in front of Friend 2. I told him how horrible I found that speech, because it blamed all men for the actions of a few.

He told me that was perfectly fair, not a problem. We should make all men feel ashamed for the actions of a few.

The same individual. The one who didn’t want ‘discrimination’ against people who choose to play a particular game.

I find this kind of even-handed fairness to be the universal norm.

One of the women at my work saw a poster like this and said ‘what about violence about men? She’s not even conservative.

Imagine being male, having been treated like dirt your whole life – being subjected to emotional violence from a girl/woman, then seeing a poster like this in your workplace.

I don’t have to.

A lot of people have looked into this.

It looks like a troll, a satire, a Poe’s law, but as far as anybody can tell… it isn’t. She’s deadly serious about all of that.

She begins the post by describing herself as “someone who believes strongly in True Equality” and goes on to suggest publicly dragging all males – including children – naked through the streets to be castrated publicly. I’m showing this to you to understand how deluded some people are when they say they believe in equality.

I’m showing you this post (the original was taken down, apparently) not to demonise an ideology – I’m not saying they all think this way (and I’m not saying they don’t). I’m deliberately using an extreme example so that even the most indoctrinated, self-loathing, bigoted among us will recognise this obliviousness for what it is.

Maybe not Greg Rucka.

Please understand: there’s an issue of telling vs showing here. You can’t just tell me you believe in equality, because I’ve seen what the people who ‘believe in equality’ fight for (and they never quite say who, exactly, they want ‘equality’ is with). As far as I’m concerned, until you show me your truly equal beliefs (that’s really truly, not Krista truly), your ‘I believe in equality’ is worth no more to me than her ‘I believe in equality’. Because I’ve seen to many people spread hate and bigotry while saying that’s all they want. Equality is a good cause, a noble cause; stop dragging its name through the mud.

Which do you turn a blind eye to? Which do you think is funny? Men beating up women or women beating up men? The correct answer is: neither. They both suck. The more realistic answer is: the first one.

It isn’t always obvious:

Note that they say they acknowledge that men experience violence; the same organisation says it cares about men (which, to me, is the same as the KKK saying they care about black people – or like an oncologist saying they care about cancer; either a lie, or true, but not in the way they want you to think). Some of the questions they ask, in a different context, could be gender-neutral; but almost all are about women.

He Hit Me But I Deserved It

This is a classic line abuse victims use to defend their attackers, and to excuse the abuse. In modern society, it has been translated to ‘we can treat white people like garbage, but you, personally, deserve it if you’re white because a hundred years ago white people enslaved black people once’; or ‘we can treat men like garbage, but you, personally, deserve it if you’re a man because men have been known to treat women badly’. We call this justice. We expect people to take punishment for a crime we aren’t even being accused of, and we call it justice. ‘You treat me like garbage my whole life (because of my race, sex, religion, etc…) and I deserve it (because of my race, sex, religion, etc…)’.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a hundred years before I was born. I wish it’d been sooner; but either way, I refuse to accept any responsibility for slavery. If I could control what my sister does, I wouldn’t have scars on my wrists. I can’t control somebody who I grew up with if my life depends on it; and yet, I’m expected to take responsibility for the actions of people who died a hundred years before I was born? This is justice?

You don’t deserve this. You didn’t enslave anybody. You aren’t (I hope) a rapist or an abuser. If you’re a victim (and some of you are), why do you accept being treated like a perpetrator?

‘But you’ve caused hundreds of years of oppression’; how old do you think I am? I didn’t do those things. If you want to accuse me of something, accuse me. If you have a specific charge against me, bring it to me, and we can talk. If not, don’t expect me to pay for the actions of somebody else just because they look like me. That’s racism. That’s sexism.

That’s a toxic philosophy.

I do not treat people like garbage because of their race, their gender, their religion, their sexuality. I respect people until they give me a reason not to.

Equality?

People say they’re just working for equality; which would be fair and good – only, they don’t know what equality even means. This has become clear to me after some conversations I’ve had (in real life):
I’ve said to a woman that I was sick of people body-shaming and food-shaming me. She told me she didn’t know that happened to men.

Another day, a different woman: I mentioned that I keep remembering things I’ve done in the past that embarrass me, and getting embarrassed all over again. She told me she didn’t know men went through that.

I can understand somebody believing the first one; I mean, are we not all taught from an early age that men live life ‘on the lowest difficulty setting’? That everyone kowtows to us, that nobody is ever harsh or mean to us? (If you believe that, by the way, it’s time to wake up to the real world).

The second? Just how perfect do people think our lives are? Do they think we never go through anything bad? If people think men have this wonderful life, immune to all harm, to anything negative – well, I want equality with that too!

But that’s not what it’s like to be male – and no, you male reading this, you’re not some kind of exception. This stuff happens to all of us. And yet, we get victim-blamed by people calling it ‘toxic masculinity’ – very gendered language, from people who hate gendered language.

Many of you have money problems. Many of you have low self-esteem; some of you have even had to deal with abusive home lives. I’ve seen this in talking with you. These problems are things many people face. If you’re male and you face them, you aren’t an outlier: a lot of men are going through the same things (and women, too, but you already acknowledge that.)

Something similar applies to whiteness. Who here remembers the “It’s okay to be white” controversy? Some people stuck up posters that said that – “It’s okay to be white” – and nothing more. They stuck them up around “progressive” places, like American universities.

There was hell to pay. People lost their minds. One university called the police and the FBI. “Hate-filled flyers”. Saying ‘It’s okay to be white’ and nothing more is “hate-filled’ now? Won’t you tell me, is that healthy, babe? Tolerant? Something that will end racism? They didn’t say ‘it’s good to be white’; they didn’t say ‘white is better than… (insert anything); just ‘it’s okay’. Just ‘don’t feel bad for your race’.

Apparently, not grovelling in self-loathing and self-hatred is hate speech now. What other explanation is there? What other reason could there be to call that hate speech? Yes, I’ve heard the excuses – ‘oh, this is vaguely connected to white supremacists’, ‘ saying that it’s okay to be white is the same as saying it’s not okay to be anything else #blacklivesmatter’. I don’t care about your excuses. How could any reasonable person look at that phrase and see anything negative in it? No, the only way – the only way – it could be seen as anything other than a neutral statement of support for a segment of the population that’s increasingly being demeaned and hated, is if people think it’s not okay to be white. Which was the whole point of it in the first place. What reason could you have to object to it, if you don’t believe that?

I think somebody challenged this cartoonist to be as offensive, hateful, and psychotic as she could be. If so, well done!

If you think defending yourself against a massive generalisation against your whole sex (or race or religion) is a problem, then you are part of the problem.

Misandry in pop culture

Do you ever wonder why white males are the default heroes in pop culture? I’ve come up with a new theory based on my observations: we’re vanilla.

White males are the heroes because they don’t alienate most of their readers by constantly telling them how much they suck for not being a different race and sex. (Also, because they make up the majority of creators and readers, but that’s another issue.) They’d (rightly) get cancelled if they did.

Comics about white males are never about being white or about being male; comics about black people and women are often (but not always) about being black or being female; and to the writers, it isn’t enough to celebrate those things – they have to hate everyone else.

Nor do the white male heroes affirm either whiteness or masculinity. I’ve never read a comic that talks about what it’s like to be a Christian in today’s society. I’ve never read one that talks about the main character’s whiteness (not in a positive way). I’ve never read one that talks about maleness – except from a hateful, mocking point-of-view. (Princeless springs to mind.) On the contrary, you’ll get many a story starring a white hero saying how it sucks to be black; and many a story about a man saying how much it sucks to be a woman – and fighting against things like domestic abusers and slumlords, which never, ever affect males or whites. Never. That’s just sense.

(The counter-argument is: the people who ignore my issues usually look like me, so they’re automatically supporting me. So nobody ignored my issues. Yeah, no.)

I’ll read comics about minorities or women, but about a dozen alarms will be going off in my head when I do, and I’ll be watching very, very carefully. At the first sign of hate, I’ll drop that book like a hot potato.

And the creators don’t even see it.

There is a Deep Space 9 episode called The Forsaken, where Sisko tells a story about how he once beat up a male ambassador for hitting on a young female ensign. In that same episode, Odo comes to Sisko to complain about an old female ambassador (Lwaxana Troi) hitting on him – and Sisko suggests he give in to her demands. Were they commenting on the hypocritical attitudes towards males in society, or just plain committing them? I honestly can’t even tell.

I’ve reviewed the comic Ladycastle here before; a comic where almost every male in an entire village is slaughtered – and the only downside is that word ‘almost’. Sorry, ladies, one survived. The hatred on display is sickening. And invisible to most.

I don’t know of any comic book whose entire premise is having an all-male team, and they’re the good guys.

When was the last team that had in their charter, their mission statement that it’s all-male? I mean, I know there have been all-male (and all-white) teams – Young Justice got to issue 3 before the one where the girls show up. (‘The Issue Before the One Where the Girls Show Up!‘ was the actual title, by the way.) The Fantastic Four was all white for a long time; and the Avengers have been, too, many times. (And I can think of at least two separate occasions where the Avengers were called out on it in their own series.) I’m not going to say that’s not a problem, either, but I will say – they never deliberately set out to exclude anybody. There’s nowhere in either team’s charter, either inside or outside the book, that says ‘no black people’, (they wouldn’t be heroes if they did) and both teams have had members of various races.

I do know about A-Force and Birds Of Prey.

I don’t know an entire imprint that set out to be all-white; I do know about Milestone comics.
When was the last time such a team existed? A team of heroes whose premise was ‘men-only’ or ‘whites-only’? Has it ever existed in the Big Two?

What is the behaviour I’m describing here?

I hear a lot of angry people yelling at me for being white and male, and telling me I’ve never had any problems because of it.

Such people have been filled with anger and guilt, and a need to be good (and to be seen as good). We all want that; we all want to be the hero; but if that’s making you lash out, if it’s making you attack others, you need to rethink.

I’ve realised in dealing with such people that nothing I do will ever be good enough. I can never ‘make up’ for things that happened before I was born. So how can I engage? I will always be the enemy, always worthless (and in all ways worth less), always be guilty.

They want to push you and push you until you blow up, then act the wounded innocent. (I call this “Mrs. Deagling”, after the character in Gremlins.) You can’t pack that much hatred and loathing into somebody and expect it to never turn outwards.

I will no longer live in a constant state of guilt and self-loathing as a human (Avatar: smurfy cats; X-Men, environmentalism) and a male and a white and a Christian and dark-haired, right-handed, able-bodied, etc…, and you shouldn’t either. You are not at fault for the sins of your ancestors. You didn’t do those things.

But they have it worse

If I go to a doctor because I’ve hit a vein in my wrist, I don’t expect the doctor to tell me ‘well, somebody came in here last week whose whole arm had been ripped off by a combine harvester, so you don’t need any treatment’. Said doctor would get a very bad Google review from me, I’m telling you.

In my book, if you’re hurting, you need sympathy. I don’t reserve my sympathy for only the worst hit by anything; and I certainly don’t boast about doing that in front of the whole world. (When did that become a thing? When did people decide that was okay?

(Example: this is a thread about a local township’s economy going downhill after bushfires drove away tourists in the busiest tourist season.  It contains the following comment: “Every business in an affected area is struggling at the moment. Bit selfish for some of them to cry poor when there are people whose lives have been devastated.” As if the possibility of losing their business wouldn’t be devastating. This… person… decided to go and tell the world they have no sympathy for somebody, because somebody else has it worse. Frankly, using somebody’s suffering to justify your lack of compassion disgusts me.)

If somebody’s going through a bad time, give them the sympathy they deserve. It’s not a zero-sum game. Empathy, sympathy, disadvantage, prejudice, discrimination. If one person has it bad, that doesn’t mean everyone else has it good, and vice versa.

The poor widdle author took this piece down later because for some reason people harassed him about it.

It only counts when it affects women. Here’s another example of using ‘toxic masculinity’ to victim-blame. People called the author out on these, at least.

Men should (not) enjoy getting raped by women from MensRights

Solution?

The solution is simple: stop doing it. If you want to end racism, stop judging people by their race. If you want to end sexism, stop condemning people because of their sex.

No, it doesn’t matter which race, which sex. Which sexuality. Which religion. Stop it.

I’m not saying you have to agree with anybody. It’s possible for mature, tolerant people to disagree with what somebody believes or what somebody does without hating the person; and still treat that person with respect. At least, it used to be.

Don’t hate whole swathes of people. Especially if those people include you. That’s not healthy.

You can stop looking so smug, too. You, reader, are not exempt from having done this. Think! Think back on your life, and stop and think about your next steps; don’t just say to yourself ‘I didn’t do any of this’, because – again, see how blind people are to it – chances are you have. I have. He has. She has. It has. You have.

Conclusion

If you want to end those things, start with yourself. Stop practicing them.

This bit is about me: If you want to hate me for my race, my religion, my sex, I can’t stop you. But you’re going to have to do it yourself – I won’t help you anymore.

* Full disclosure: I don’t actually know precisely when that revelation occurred to me, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually at the same time my wrists were open and bleeding. Order of events changed for dramatic effect.

38 Comments

  1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    Sounds like you’ve been through some stuff, brother. I’m sorry to hear it.

    You were raised in an abusive household, and that does damage no matter what you look like. Have you considered therapy? It’s worked wonders for my little brother, over the last few years. A barber can only help so much!

    Anyway, as a big fan of myself, I’m also a big fan of straight, white, Christian men…but I feel like you’re displacing your personal trauma onto “society.”

    When people talk about “privilege,” they’re not saying that shitty things can’t happen to you. That’s just nonsense.

    They’re saying that there’s a whole raft of other shitty things that you and I don’t have to worry about, through no fault or credit of our own.

    Like, do you think that having an abusive older sibling enabled by your parents, causing ongoing mental health issues, would be any easier to deal with, if you were an Aboriginal? Or a woman?

    I’m glad there’s a whole bunch of shit I don’t have to worry about. I find “dismantling the patriarchy/white supremacy” to be unhelpful terminology (although your parents dismissing your sister’s abuse because you were a boy is a symptom of the patriarchy/toxic conceptions of masculinity/whatever)…but the underlying goal is to build a world where everyone gets to only have to worry about their own problems, without a bunch of outside crap making their lives even worse.

    Anyway, I’m rambling at this point, but I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough go of things. You should definitely talk to someone about how you’re feeling, and to help you create a toolset to build your resiliency.

    1. Der

      Random thoughts because these topics need someone with better grasp of them and someone with better english than me:

      – That does sound like a very abusive household. My parents were abusive but in a totally different way so I can’t relate to some of the things that happened to you but man, that upbringing sounds rough

      – I’m with Carlos, going to therapy did wonders for me. I have(I don’t remember the terms exactly) tendencies to anxiety, low self steem, depression and obsesive compulsive behaviours, and the therapist helped me a lot with all of this. If you can, look for a therapist specialized in gender perspective/studies. Why? I’m a stay at home dad, full time. You wouldn’t believe the trash I had in my head regarding that(“The men should be earning money!” “That’s no real work, work gets paid!” “Only your wife can rest, you are not working!” etc etc) And she helped me see that I was worth something no matter my profession

      -I’m also a cisgender male. I might not be white, but in Mexico I’m the “right” shade of brown. I’m taller than most(at least here, I’m at least 10 centimeters taller than the average) and I would be lying if I said that I got no advantages from that. I didn’t get bullyied as hard as other people(like people mocking my cousing because he has “oriental eyes” or schoolmates called “midgets” because they were short) Some of those benefits are very subtle, but they exist. They don’t automatically grant you superpowers, but they exist. For example, I was always picked first when playing basketball, despite being the worst basketball player in recorded history.

      -As a dude in a country with very few white skinned people(and even fewer black people) I can confirm that being white(or if you go for the triple bonus of white skinned, blue eyed and blonde) gives you superpowers. People with flock to you, will want to be friends with you, teachers and other parents will be nicer to you and lots of other perks.

      -As Carlos said, there is toxic masculinity enabled everywhere. When my grandmother or other mothers say(at least here) “oh, husbands cheat, that’s in their nature” or “If he hit you is because you deserved it, you should be a meek housewife all the time” or “boys don’t cry” or “You are a man, no one should see your emotions”(those last two are from my family btw) that is toxic masculinity too(IMO at least) toxicity doesn’t just come from one gender.

      -There is a saying in spanish: “ni tanto que queme al santo ni tanto que no lo alumbre” The translation according to google is “not so much that it burns the saint nor so much that it does not illuminate him” (it burns the saint refers to lit candles to saint figures, very common practice here). To you, today it appears that they are burning the saint, but there are people fighting for this stuff for decades, the difference is that today anyone can reach everyone easily due to social media and all that.

      -Random anecdote time! A couple of years ago, the wife and I decided to go to a very, VERY fancy restaurant for our 10 year anniversary. We planned and all, but at the last time we got cold feet and didn’t go. The stated reason was that it was too expensive(but we could have afforded it) but talking to my wife she said, for the first time in ten plus years of knowing each other, that she felt she would be discriminated against. She is very short, and she is descended from indigenous/aboriginal/whateverthenametoday and has a lot of features that mark her as indigenous. There is a LOT of discrimination against indigenous people here, but the worst part is that most of it is internalized and people sometimes discriminate against themselves because they see the messages that they are “not good enough”. So, part of the use of those messages against violence/discrimination/etc are(IMO again) not only aimed at “us” also they are aimed at “them” to get them to reflect that no, just because you look that way you don’t deserve to be hurt

      -That was a lot of rambling, sorry about that

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        I definitely should get some sort of therapy, but my macho bullshit won’t let me, haha,

        As far as privilege goes, there’s a great Jerrod Carmichael bit where he opined about how exhausting it is to be black. It’s something that I just don’t have to deal with – and it’s not “my fault” that I don’t have to deal with it on top of my own problems…but we should be working toward a world where *everyone* can just focus on their own shit, without having to worry about external factors.

        1. Der

          Therapy was great to me, no doubt about it, but it appears that depends if you get the right therapist. There are lots of thing that you can sort on your own, but it will probably take a loooooong time and lots of lots of introspection to get there.

          I was a very angry(and jealous too!) dude and my wife is a saint for putting up with me, but I got a hold on my anger issues by myself. Only it took years and years an years, lots of trial and error and even more introspection. But yeah, macho bullshit sucks hard(that’s why it took me so long to go to therapy, btw)

          1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            Sure, I (usually) have my barber, haha – plus, I can offload all my emotional work onto my female friends! Ain’t that what they’re there for?

      2. Le Messor

        Der, don’t worry about the rambling. (And look at what you’re replying to!)

        “need someone… with better english than me:”
        Your English is better than my Spanish.

        Thank you for the sympathy – but that’s not why I posted this.
        Everything I talked about is very much of the past.
        I posted because there are people who spread and cause these issues, and they need to be examined. People need to think about what they’re doing and saying and how it affects themselves and the people around them.

        things like:
        “When people talk about “privilege,”… They’re saying that there’s a whole raft of other shitty things that you and I don’t have to worry about, through no fault or credit of our own.”

        What that described isn’t me being privileged. It’s someone else being deprived. If they want to say ‘that person is deprived’, not only would it be more accurate, it would make me far more likely to listen. Instead, they’re dismissing everything I put in this article. They’re saying ‘if bad things happen to you, they don’t count’. (And yes, some of them are implying bad things don’t happen to me.)

        Or things like this:
        “that is toxic masculinity too… toxicity doesn’t just come from one gender”
        Then why do people who fight against gendered language call it “toxic masculinity“, thereby blaming just one gender? Thereby adding to the piles of guilt people like me (and, I suspect, you) feel just for being male?

        1. Der

          Well, I used “toxic masculinity” because it’s the term in your post. In here we just call it “Machismo” or you can call it “macho culture” if you will. IMHO, You can be masculine without toxicity, you can be femenine without toxicity, but “machismo”? Oh boy, nope, that’s just toxic.

          All the “take it like a man”, “boy’s don’t cry”, “she was asking for it”, etc etc, have their macho version(meaning, you can change a part to include the word “macho” and it’s probably a popular saying around here)

          “toxic masculinity” implies that only men can be toxic, sure, maybe the word “macho/machism/macho culture” could apply better, because you can be machista(or have that “macho mentality”) without being men.

          1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            Of course, the way rich white boys from the Northeast US are conditioned to behave is just as bad, but no one would ever describe that as “Macho Culture,” haha – I get on much better with “Macho” types!

            The reason “Toxic Masculinity” works as a term is because it applies to every variation of unhealthy societal expectations placed on men and boys – I’m sure Mexico City and Oaxaca have wildly different definitions of what a “Real Man” looks like…and I’m also sure both are deeply unhealthy for everyone involved.

        2. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

          Like Der says, the reason it’s called “Toxic Masculinity” is because it’s rooted in a shitty conception of what it means to “be a man” – and that can be propagated by everyone, regardless of gender, race, faith, or sexuality.

          It’s not an attack on men. It’s an attack on unhealthy, and often contradictory, expectations placed on men by societal nonsense.

          Also, when one group of people isn’t deprived and every other group is, it’s a hell of a lot easier to describe the non-deprived group as privileged.

          It sounds like a lot of your issues with this stuff boil down to a deeply abusive upbringing that damaged your sense of self-worth and resiliency long before “Woke culture” (barf, they are both bloody annoying and actively detrimental to the fight for equality) became in vogue.

          Your sister is a bad person who abused you. Your parents enabled her. All of that is real, and it would have happened regardless of you race, creed, gender, or sexuality.

          Imagine how much worse it would suck if all of that happened to you, and you also had to deal with the day-to-day struggles of being a woman or a person of color in this fucked up world.

          1. Privilege does not mean you have more, or you have money, or you live in luxury.

            It comes from the Latin, “privi-” meaning “private” and “-lege” meaning “law”. “Private law.” Double standards. Different treatment. The same rules don’t apply.

            “Check your privilege” means look and see if you’re operating under the same rules as the people you’re talking to.

            For example, when you walk to your car at night, do you look for someone to walk with you? Do you stop to arrange your keys between your knuckles, or get out a can of pepper spray or a whistle before you go out? Do you know to scan for movement in the shadows?

            If you’re a man, you’ve probably never given those things a thought. You’ve probably never seriously worried about the likelihood of being attacked in a parking structure.

            Most women do. The fact that you don’t is privilege. Different rules. Women get attacked in parking lots a lot more often than men do, and they have to know how to get to their car defensively and on high alert.

            When you go into a store, does the clerk follow you around to make sure you don’t steal? When you get pulled over by the police, do you run a mental checklist of things you have to do and not do to make sure you don’t give the officer a reason to harass you or accuse you of something? Do you keep your hands visible on the steering wheel until he steps up to your window? Do you tell him you’re getting out your wallet before you move? Did your parents have to teach you how to talk to the police so that it doesn’t go badly?

            That’s privilege. Most while people never worry about those things for a second. They know they can even yell at the cop about the ticket without fear of getting shot.

            When you go to a job interview, do you have to explain to the interviewer how to pronounce your name, and then answer questions about “what you are” and “where you come from, no, I mean, where’s your family from, originally” even though your ancestors were there before the interviewer’s? Do you worry that how you answer that question could determine whether you get hired?

            Again, privilege. Private law. Different rules.

            That is what Wil Wheaton means by “Playing life on easy mode.”

          2. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            Thanks, Jim. Very succinct.

            Speaking for myself – as a personable, reasonably bright, decent-looking white guy, I legitimately don’t have to try very hard to get by.

  2. Not for the first time, other people’s family stories make me appreciate mine.

    I will have to disagree about “fish needs a bicycle.” It was a response to the assumption common enough in my teens that a woman’s worth is measured by whether she can catch a man — the point being that a woman doesn’t need a man to be functional or worth something. I never felt (and still don’t) that it denigrates men (and yes, men can be judged for not having a woman, but it is way more acceptable).

    And yes, I do think men live lives on a lower difficulty setting. That definitely doesn’t mean we’d have it easy — in my life, I haven’t — but women, as a whole, get it worse in many ways. That doesn’t make male suffering irrelevant: we need more shelters for abused men, for instance.

    A surprising amount of toxic-masculinity messaging comes from people who oppose feminism as “man-hating.” They see no conflict between that and telling women that all men are predators who will rape them if they show skin, or will lose all interest in them if they put out before marriage.

  3. Le Messor

    Jim, this is exactly why I wrote this article.
    As soon as somebody who is similar to you asks for the same respect, the same sensitivity, the same compassion you constantly demand on behalf of other people, you get enraged. You demand control over others’ language when you consider it offensive to somebody *else*.
    Where does your anger come from?
    Why can you not offer compassion to people, simply because they share traits with *you*?
    Who taught you to hate yourself?

    Please, read this article, apply it to you, and don’t do what I did.

    1. I think you’re reading a lot into my comments that are not there.

      As soon as somebody who is similar to you asks for the same respect, the same sensitivity, the same compassion you constantly demand on behalf of other people, you get enraged.

      I’m not at all enraged. I am frustrated that you are so insistent on deliberately missing the point.

      You demand control over others’ language when you consider it offensive to somebody *else*.

      I’m not demanding control over anything, most especially not language. My comments here are explaining what the people you’re talking about mean by the terms they use, which you are misinterpreting, arguing against things they did not say.

      Where does your anger come from?
      I have no anger. Not one thing I’ve ever said to you has been motivated by anger.

      Why can you not offer compassion to people, simply because they share traits with *you*?
      I can offer compassion to people, but that does not extend to letting them lie to themselves about themselves and other people. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, you are trying to enforce a hierarchy, demanding to retain your position at the top while pretending to be a victim of nonexistent oppression.

      Who taught you to hate yourself?
      Actually, it was after I stopped hating myself that I started seeing the humanity in people who aren’t like me, and became able to advocate on their behalf, even if they don’t share my skin color, cultural views, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

      Please, read this article, apply it to you, and don’t do what I did.
      I read your article. I’m in no danger of doing what you did. But it also breaks my heart that you did what you did because you so internalized falsehoods about yourself and your society that it led you to that extreme place. That is my reason for pushing you so hard to adopt a different worldview.

      You need to stop seeing yourself and your race as aggrieved and under attack. (Race is a lie, by the way; it was invented by slavers to divide the poor against each other and justify oppression, there is no such thing as a White race or White culture, it’s a myth, and it’s a harmful one.)

      We all need to start seeing ourselves as human, and start doing what Jesus said, treating the oppressed the way we want to be treated. Feed the hungry, comfort the sick, stand against injustice, speak for the silent, visit (and if possible, free) the imprisoned, and overturn the powerful who abuse their power.

      I’m sorry you see my frustration as hatred. It’s not. If I hated you, I would not waste time on you. I’m debating these things because I think it’s a worthwhile effort and you are worth the time and energy. You have so much good you could do if you stopped defending things you don’t need to defend in order to hold up the worldview that is actually directly opposed to the things you actually believe.

      You’ve been sold lies by the people who were supposed to tell you the truth, and you’d be happier and a better Christian if you did what Paul, Luke, and the Apostles said; “search the scriptures” to see if what you’ve been taught is true; “test the spirits” to see if they are from God; be discerning, “as wise as serpents and gentle as doves” and see if you’re propping up the wrong people.

      Above all, stop looking at the world through the lens of fear. Conservatives and white supremacists are driven by fear; fear that they will lose their status and power, fear that the people they oppressed will want revenge, fear that they aren’t as special and important as they’ve been told. The one thing the Bible hammers on over and over is the dangers of fear. Fear is the opposite of love. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a strong mind.” “The Lord is with me; of whom should I be afraid?” And yet, the Evangelical church preaches fear constantly. “We have to fight against Socialism and Islam and LGBTQ people and heavy metal music and [whatever] because if we don’t, terrible things will happen!” And they preach that because, as Paul told Timothy, they “have a form of Godliness but deny its power.” They don’t actually believe God is in control, so they have to “seize it by force.”.

      “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against these there is no law.” Please check your own assertions against this list and see if you are viewing your own beliefs, and the things and people you’re arguing against, with these things in mind.

      You might find that the version of Christianity you’re defending, and the ideas about race and identity that you’re fighting for, are not at all what Jesus intended you to, that for the past 100 years or so, a False Gospel and a False Christ has been peddled by entrenched church leaders, and you’ve absorbed some of it.

      Take a hard look at Revelation 2:1-7, the message to Ephesus. Fear not, and let your light shine before men. Your light, not your fear.

      1. The thing is, I think you internalized exactly the wrong message about men and masculinity; they were not telling you that as a Man you are a monster. They were telling you that as a Man you have the capacity to be a hero or a monster, and you should choose wisely, and that way too many of your kind do not do so.

        Think of the scene in “The Iron Giant” where Hogarth shows the Giant his comic books. He shows “Atomo, the Metal Monster from Space,” sent to destroy, and also “Superman, strange visitor from another world,” who helps people with less power than himself.

        The Giant could have looked at himself and seen that he had a lot more in common with Atomo than Superman, internalized the message that he is a monster sent to destroy, and become that, and hated himself for it. Instead, and in complete defiance of not only what he was and looked like, but also what every human he had ever encountered thought of him (except Hogarth), he looked at Superman and CHOSE to become that.

        The messages you received about all the terrible things that men do and that they can be were meant as a warning and a calling to be better.

        Please, for your own sake, rethink the messages you internalized, recast them as the warnings they were meant to be, not as condemnation and judgment. Hear the voice of Jonathan Kent or Hogarth Hughes or Jesus of Nazareth saying “this is what other men have done, but I know you can do better. You can be the opposite of this. don’t follow these guys. Don’t defend or excuse them. You are not them. Be Superman.”

        THAT is what I’m talking about when I tell you to reject toxic masculinity.

  4. Le Messor

    When I call for respect, equality, and tolerance for men, white people, Christians and everything else, and I really want to reinforce this: I am *not* calling to take it away from anyone else. I want tolerance for women, black people, non-Christians, and everyone else. I sprinkled acknowledgements of their problems of others throughout my article. I get from the subtext of your comments that you don’t understand that about me. (Why else is it so hard for you to accept that white males need love too?)

    These last two comments from you do not come across as angry at all. So whatever you were doing when you posted them, keep it up – because so many of your comments do come across as angry, even if it’s over a disagreement about formatting. And I don’t get the same tone from anyone else.

    “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against these there is no law.” Please check your own assertions against this list
    Not gonna lie, I’ve got a problem in that area. It’s why I’m taking so long to reply to your posts; I’ve been reading them within a couple of hours, I think, of you posting them, but giving myself a night to think of a better answer.
    Do try to understand, though, that I’m not posting these things to hurt you, or to hurt anyone. I’m posting them because I see you saying things that are hurtful to a lot of people – yourself included – and not accepting responsibility for it. (All those things you said about me in these last two posts were things I was thinking about you. Substituting ‘liberal’ for ‘conservative’, of course.)

    This article says where I got my anti-liberal bias from; it wasn’t from listening to conservative input. It was from listening to liberals.
    I’ve had little to no conservative input, and most of that has been recent. And it wasn’t conservatives that made me want to read conservatives. It was liberals.
    The churches you describe are very different to the ones I’ve been to – the one I’m going to now would probably be more on your side on mine. (But they avoid this kind of thing enough that I don’t know.)

    “You demand control over others’ language when you consider it offensive to somebody *else*.
    I’m not demanding control over anything, most especially not language. My comments here”

    I never said that came from *this* thread. This isn’t the first time we’ve interacted.

  5. Le Messor

    “I am frustrated that you are so insistent on deliberately missing the point…
    My comments here are explaining what the people you’re talking about mean by the terms they use, which you are misinterpreting,”

    In the words of that great philosopher, Homer:
    “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.”
    My issue with the term ‘privilege’ has nothing to do with the etymology of the word (though I’ve got an interest in etymology – enough to know the difference between the Latin origin of a word and its actual English meaning). It has to do with the people who insist on calling me ‘privileged’ are:
    1) ignoring the things that have actually happened in my life to reduce me to nothing more than a race, a sex, a religion – something those same people would find abhorrent if it was done to a different race, sex, or religion
    2) using it to say they don’t care about me, because I’m privileged and some abstract notion of another person has had real problems. When I tell people I have problems, they say ‘you’re white, you’re male, have you ever been through X, Y, and Z?’ (btw, I’ve been through at least one of those, but I’m not willing to talk to you about it. Not if this is how you react to me having issues.)
    3) using it to excuse intolerant language that, again, they’d never accept against a different sex, religion, or race

    The reason I hate ‘toxic masculinity’ is because, unlike Fraser, I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone use the term masculinity without also using the term toxic; unless maybe it was to defend against somebody else doing exactly that.

    To borrow your The Iron Giant example, I’ve been given at least ten Atomos for every Superman. A lot of people are *only* giving me Atomo. (Some of them can be pushed to provide a Superman, but only if pressed about their one-sidedness.)
    Over and over again. Since I was a child. I’m told over and over again that I’m Atomo. And that’s damaging to a young boy.
    And the people who do it keep ignoring it and excusing it and doubling down on it.
    When confronted, they just say ‘that’s not what we’re saying at all. By the way, here’s another Atomo story’.
    If you need a good example of what I’m talking about, re-read this conversation thread.

    (I’ve only seen The Iron Giant once, when it first came out – but wasn’t he not even an alien the whole time?)

    The Giant could have looked at himself and seen that he had a lot more in common with Atomo than Superman, internalized the message that he is a monster sent o destroy, and become that. Instead he looked at Superman and CHOSE to become that.
    And I like to think that’s what I’ve done. I know I can never match Superman – or Jesus, for that matter – that’s why I needed Him to come down and provide forgiveness; but I at least try to be better.
    In the end, did people then stop telling The Giant that he was Atomo? (Again, it’s been a long time. I don’t remember the ending.)

  6. Let me try it another way. When you see a comment about some terrible thing that men do, your first instinct is to get defensive.

    If you don’t do the things they are talking about, then they aren’t talking about you. By making it about you, you’re allying yourself with the terrible men and endorsing their actions.

    Here’s what you’re missing: those women, people of color, LGBTQ folks are asking you to ally yourself with them and join in fighting the things they are talking about.

    How did women get the vote? Marches? Protesting? Partly. But when you get down to it, they got the right to vote by convincing men who had that right to use it on behalf of women. Women could not get it without men as allies.

    How did the Civil Rights Act pass? White people were convinced to vote against racist white people and do the right thing.

    No marginalized minority group can ever improve its conditions without the support and effort of the people who already have those things.

    When the majority of sexual assaults (against both men and women) are committed by men, and when men continue to dominate in positions of power, women depend on male allies to help fight that. Saying “not all men” and railing against being smeared by the accusation (when you’re not) serves only to excuse the predators.

    Take the cartoon you found offensive. You missed the point. When you hear about a terrible thing men have done, trying to exempt yourself is not helpful or useful to the people being hurt. Of course it’s not all men. The majority of men will never assault anyone. The problem is they also will not confront or condemn the ones who do. That is what you’re being asked to do.

    Some of the words you use here indicate that you’re still not hearing it. You say you get offended when someone says you’re privileged. They are not saying that. They are saying that you HAVE privilege. They are saying that you have the ability to speak in ways and places that they can’t, and they are begging you to do so on their behalf. It’s not an accusation, it’s a plea.

    1. Corrina Lawson

      Just FYI: women getting the vote in the United States came down to one male vote in Tennessee. The vote was cast in favor because the legislator was convinced by his mother to allow women equal rights in the votes over who would run local, state, and federal elections.

      I’m sure he was not the only one convinced by heartfelt love of family that went in both directions.

    1. NOBODY HIT YOU.

      They hit somebody who looks like you and you’re taking it personally.

      The problem is, you are saying EXACTLY the same things that MRAs, MGTOWs, and incels say on their message boards, and it ends up with people like Elliott Rodger.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Isla_Vista_killings

      It’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

      You are CHOOSING to identify with and defend the men who do shitty things, solely because you’re both men.

      I am yelling at you because I am trying to warn you. You are on a bad road that leads to a bad place, and I don’t want to see you go there.

      It’s very similar to the manipulation and self-deception that leads Christians to become QAnon crackpots, one little step at a time.

  7. Look, you said you’re tall, right?

    Okay. Studies show that tall people are considered more successful, smarter, and more trustworthy than short people.

    That means that if there were an issue that seriously affected short people, you speaking about it would carry more weight, be given more validity, and would be taken more seriously than if a short person said it.

    So if there were, say, a common trend of tall people assaulting short people and getting away with it, you have a choice in how to respond:

    You can say “Not all tall people” and defend yourself against accusations, which does NOTHING to stop the problem or help the victims, but it does let you feel aggrieved.

    Or you can say “that’s terrible and we have to stop it” and make efforts to advocate on behalf of short people, because you speaking on the subject would mean a lot more and result in more positive action.

    That’s what privilege is. That’s why women, people of color and LGBTQ+ people are yelling. Not to condemn you, to ask for your help.

  8. Le Messor

    You are hitting me. Right now.
    I shouldn’t need to say this, but I’m speaking metaphorically.
    You are minimising my lived experience. No, you’re straight up ignoring and dismissing it. You’re reducing me to nothing more than a sex and a race, right on an article about my lived experience and the dangers of reducing people to a sex and a race.

    Here’s a thought: I could – and do – say BOTH ‘that’s terrible, and it needs to stop,’ AND ‘it’s not all of us’.
    And yet again, because you’re deliberately ignoring the point: I wouldn’t have a problem if you EVER spoke about decent white males. You don’t. You never – that’s you, Jim, I’m going to quit using the ‘people’ euphemism – talk about any kind of masculinity except toxic. I never see you say ‘men are decent, hard-workers, and providers; but some of them hit their wives, some of them rape.’ No, I see you say ‘toxic masculinity’; I see you consistently blame ‘men’ for all the problems in the world – and when you’re confronted with it, you double down. Call Me Carlos The Dwarf and Der both had the decency to say that what my sister did to me was abuse. You did not. Because of people like you, I didn’t even think to call it that until I was in my *forties*. That’s my privilege, Jim.

    “Studies show that tall people are considered more successful, smarter, and more trustworthy than short people.
    That means that if there were an issue that seriously affected short people, you speaking about it would carry more weight, be given more validity, and would be taken more seriously than if a short person said it.”

    Nothing I’m saying to you is carrying any weight with you, any validity, or being taken seriously. Do you think I’m any more persuasive in real life? (hint: I’m not.) Or have you found yet another way to reduce me to nothing more than a physical characteristic?

    “So if there were, say, a common trend of tall people assaulting short people and getting away with it, you have a choice in how to respond:”

    If short people were constantly saying ‘tall people are to blame for everything wrong with the world’, I certainly would want to defend myself as a tall person.

    If I could show you a statistic that said black people made up 12.6 percent of the population (https://statisticalatlas.com/United-States/Race-and-Ethnicity) and were committing 53 percent of the murders (https://newnationnews.org/race/fbi-violent-crime-statistics-2020-by-race-2624824) (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/table-43) would you go around telling black people that this: “When you get pulled over by the police, do you run a mental checklist of things you have to do and not do to make sure you don’t give the officer a reason to harass you or accuse you of something?” is justified? Would you start talking about toxic blackness all the time, and never talk about positive blackness? Do you tell black people they – all of them – have to do better. Or would you consider that racist?
    Me, I’d consider it racist. I’d rather talk about Jimi Hendrix than some mugger. I’d rather talk about Whoopie Goldberg than OJ Simpson. I’d rather talk about Cliff Huxtable than Bill Cosby. I’d rather talk about Ororo Munroe than Black Manta.

    You notice how hard it is for me to come up with specific black criminals? That’s because that’s not what I think about.

    In the same way, I consider it sexist to only talk about the negative side of masculinity, over and over and over and over and then try to tell people ‘I don’t hate men, really. Oh, and here’s another toxic man story, just while we’re on the subject.’

    1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

      I mean…Black people *do* go through a list of things to avoid police assaulting them, when they get pulled over!

      Like, “How to avoid being murdered by the police during a traffic stop” is something black parents specifically sit their kids down to teach them.

      Even so, it didn’t work for Philando Castile.

      Meanwhile, “How so I avoid being murdered” never crosses my mind when I interact with the police…because I’m white.

      That’s privilege.

      I’m secure enough in myself that I can acknowledge my own privilege without feeling attacked, or less than, or that it invalidates my own struggles and accomplishments.

    2. The part you missed: I have pointed out again and again, the kind of masculinity that I label as toxic is a recent invention, dating only since 1945. Three generations of men have been lied to about who they are and what they should be, and it is toxic and harmful, not only to women and other groups, but also to men. Men like you. Everything you have ever said on this topic has been filtered through decades of lies about what it means to be a man and what masculinity is, not to mention all the cultural baggage rooted in white supremacy and a highly politicized version of Christianity.

      It’s a weird form of self-loathing narcissism that you are so determined to prop up the system that has caused you so much personal misery.

      I am dismissing all your arguments because it is all self-justification, defensiveness and excuse-making. Yes, I’m dismissing all of that, for one simple reason: it is not doing you a damn bit of good, nor anyone else.

      You want to feel better about yourself as a human, a man, and a Christian? Start helping. Stop repeating the “Men’s Rights” doggerel and show the world that it’s not all men by ACTUALLY BEING ONE OF THE MEN WHO ISN’T LIKE THAT instead of just saying you aren’t.

      “ Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18

      Actions and truth. Whining about how your feelings are hurt when other men are justifiably criticized is neither. Repeating bullshit statistics about black crime is neither. (White people go to court with lawyers and plea-bargain down to manslaughter, while black defendants get the book thrown at them.)

      Continue your pity-party and descend into Men Going Their Own Way / Incel madness.

      Or do what your faith calls you to do. Call men to account, stand for the oppressed (and no, white men are not oppressed, and what you call Christian persecution, I call long-overdue criticism of abuses of power), help the helpless, seek justice. Do the things that make other people’s lives better, and the things that grow the Fruit of the Spirit in your own life.

  9. Le Messor

    it is not doing you a damn bit of good, nor anyone else.

    On that we agree. As long as you’re ignoring what I’m saying, and adding your own spin to my half of the conversation, this is getting nowhere.

  10. Look, you’re upset because conversations of masculinity always talk about toxic masculinity.

    We read a whole lot of news stories about polluted water in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere. Stories about water pollution in the ocean, rivers, lakes, wells… but never any stories about clean water, safe drinking water. Because clean water IS NOT A PROBLEM.

    Have you ever in your life read a news story that says “HUNDREDS ARRIVE SAFELY AFTER PLANE HAS UNEVENTFUL FLIGHT AND SAFE LANDING”?

    Ever read about a kid who was unharmed when a dog did not bite him?

    We hear and talk about toxic masculinity because IT IS NOT NORMAL and IT IS A PROBLEM, but it’s bad parts hurt people — both men and women — too damn frequently. So yes, we talk about it because we want it to STOP.

    But as long as people like you spend more time defending and excusing it in the name of fairness, the toxic parts will continue unabated.

    And it will continue to create the very situations and structures that hurt you, that cause the problems that afflict you.

    Your screed here does nothing but provide cover for the shitty men you insist are nothing like you. They claim to be as innocent as you do, and depend on your defense of them.

  11. John King

    While I am white, male, dark haired, heterosexual, righthanded and of a Christian upbringing, my parentage and home background were very different. Maybe it’s because of these my life has been so different I have never hated myself or self-harmed in such a manner and never felt any inclination to do so. Consequently, I accept I do not (and can not) truly understand what you went through.

    I get the impression you no longer feel the hate and anger towards yourself BUT you seem to have done it by shifting the hate and anger towards other people, Some may deserve it but many do not. If I am mistaken, then I’m sorry.

    The feminist movement has always been for equal treatment for the female sex and still is – although what is “equal” and how important “sex” is compared to “gender” are areas which need to be discussed and negotiated (NOT argued as seems to be happening on Twitter now ).
    The problem is that it is an open movement that anyone can join and has attracted misandrists. Extremists shout with the loudest voices making the misandrists seem a more significant part of the feminist movement than they really are and they offend not only men but also many true feminists. Sadly, some men have come to equate feminists with misandry and oppose feminists for being feminists and so oppose women calling for equal treatment.

    You mention A-force – you know that only lasted 15 issues over 2 series.
    You mention Birds of Prey – that started off in 1996 as a field operative/controller duo and only became a team on 2003.
    The first male team member joined in 2010, the second in 2013 (quick aside – both had bird-of-prey themed superhero names)

    Writers default to white males because the majority of readers (and creators) are white males. Teams become dominated by white males by default and require an effort to do anything else.
    Superhero comics should not be just for white males, they should be open to everyone = so creators should make an effort to include characters who are not white males.
    Creating series focussed on women or ethnicities other than whites allow spaces where readers can focus on other characters – they are not going to happen by accident, they will only happen if the creators make an effort for them to happen and there is nothing wrong with these series existing.
    If you don’t want to read them don’t buy them, no-one should dictate what should not be published based on their own dislikes (except for especially extreme cases). Not every comic has to be for you (or for me or for anyone at the Junkshop) – if enough people want to read it then it is good that it exists, if not it will soon cease publication.
    There are still many comics focussed on white males and probably always will be so you will have no problem finding something else to read.

    overall, I believe you are seeing hate when none exists – and even where it does you should turn the other cheek – not hate yourself nor the other person.

    1. Le Messor

      Sadly, some men have come to equate feminists with misandry and oppose feminists for being feminists
      Apart from that one meme – which, frankly, just wouldn’t work without the word ‘feminist’ – I wrote the article to carefully avoid blaming any one group. ESPECIALLY feminism.

      It’s why I kept using general terms like ‘people’ and ‘society’, (which may have led my readers to think that I was saying ‘everybody all over is doing it all the time’. Ironically, isn’t that exactly what I’m arguing *against*?)

      Also, I can’t thank you enough for putting the word ‘some’ in front of the word ‘men’ there.

      “Some may deserve it but many do not.”
      Yes. That’s also what I’m saying here. (About both sides of this.)

      “Writers default to white males because the majority of readers (and creators) are white males.”
      I admitted as much in the article – but I also proposed a secondary, less visible interpretation.

      Superhero comics should not be just for white males, they should be open to everyone = so creators should make an effort to include characters who are not white males.

      Agreed.

      “Creating series focussed on women or ethnicities… there is nothing wrong with these series existing. If you don’t want to read them don’t buy them

      I’m sorry if I was unclear. That was not the point I was trying to make – I have no problem with series like that existing, and I’m not even saying I don’t want to read them. (I haven’t read Birds Of Prey, but it sounds interesting to me.)

      I did say in the article:
      “I’ll read comics about minorities or women
      (with a caveat, I’ll admit.)

      My point was, the attitude behind comics about white males are rarely, if ever these days, written to deliberately exclude nonwhite females.

      Not every comic has to be for you… There are still many comics focussed on white males and probably always will be so you will have no problem finding something else to read.

      I don’t think a comic has to be about a white male to be ‘for me’. I’m sorry if I’ve given the impression that I do – and I can see how you got to it. You can see my review of, say, Cookie And The Kid – which I love – but has no white males in it. Same with my favorite TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed it on this site.

      * where I’m using the word ‘comic’, you can also read into it movie, song, prose book, game, whatever.

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        Honestly…this all really boils down to fragility.

        People who like themselves and are mentally resilient don’t feel personally attacked or invalidated when someone points out that they have been gifted systemic advantages, to know credit of their own.

        Instead of engaging with your problems head-on, and doing the work to address them in a constructive way, you’re looking for an enemy to blame them on.

        Talk to your therapist, and work on strategies to build your resiliency and self-worth.

        1. Le Messor

          “Honestly…this all really boils down to fragility.

          Well, I *was* raised in what you yourself called an abusive home life!
          If you want to call me ‘fragile’ after that, I’ll accept the label. 🙂

          John, above, asked why I couldn’t just turn the other cheek. The answer to both these is:
          This isn’t about me. This is about watching a whole generation of little boys being raised with the same negative messaging I got. It’s about seeing people filled with guilt and self-loathing, and demanding everyone else feel the same. It’s about the implication that if we men aren’t hating ourselves, then we must be hating women – when I’m saying: hate neither!
          Look at this thread. Look at how many times I’ve said ‘I want it even-handed’. ‘I don’t want anybody to be hated’.
          Look at how much acceptance those controversial statements have received.

          And ask yourself: ‘is Le Messor the only fragile person here?’

          1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            The issue is that your own mental health issues (which aren’t your fault!) don’t allow you the perspective to understand someone being secure and resilient enough to acknowledge the unfair advantages that we receive solely by being born white, or male, or Christian, because you perceive any and all statements to that effect as an attack on your self-worth.

            I can say confidently that my life is a hell of a lot easier as a straight, cis, white man who grew up middle-class in a first world country than it would be if I changed any of those details.

            On the one hand, I’m grateful for that. I got really lucky.

            On the other hand, I didn’t earn any of the benefits I have received, on my own merits. The fact that I can unironically say “I love visiting Alabama” is a function of my privilege.

            So, because I’m secure in myself, I’m not threatened when people point out that I was born with an unfair advantage. I know it’s not something I can control, so it’s a waste of time to angst over it.

            What I can do, though, is to help fight for everyone else to receive the same treatment I do, until we’re all on equal ground.

            Again, I really hope you’re seeing someone to help you sort through this stuff, rather than just delving into the cesspools of enabling self-pity that fill the internet.

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