Why I Am The Way I Am
“Work on improving your low self-esteem, you stupid freak.”
~ “Weird Al” Yankovic
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.