"Dating must be so easy if you're a guy. You're better than like 60% of the competition if you like, take a shower and ask a woman one single question about herself". @jennyyaustinn
I recently was discussing this tweet with a few female friends of mine and they all emphatically agreed, offering up an assortment of anecdotes in support. In reality, I didn't need to ask them - I knew it to be a desperate truth. One so deeply embedded in culture it's no surprise everyone plays along. The punchline being that men do not have respect for the women they court, that our privilege supersedes basic decency.
It's easy to turn people (in this case, men) into punchlines. But what do we lose in the process?
When I was in college I was required to study a lot of philosophy and cultural theory from the 60's onward, and as anybody with a modicum of empathy will understand, first-wave feminisms ideals spoke to me on a deep level and I began to operate in the world as a feminist. This wasn't new to me. Growing up I was always closer to the women in my life - indeed to this day the people closest to me are overwhelmingly women. The formal education and reading simply gave me a new lens with which to view my place in the world, and indeed the place of my fellow males. The further I dug, the more I found myself using the language of 2nd and 3rd wave feminism - finding flaws and subtly, and then vehemently, denigrating the men I saw, and eventually the man inside me.
This kind of blunt criticism and disgust invariably leads to self-criticism, leaving less and less room for personal responsibility. And that's what this all comes down to: personal responsibility. It led to a period of deep depression and futility - you can only say "Men suck" so much before you internalize it, and begin to fulfill the prophecy you're denouncing. It took years to turn the ship around and find a way into my own masculinity that allows me to inhabit the world in a way that is true to my own journey, loves and interests.
None of us can ameliorate the past, but - please excuse the platitude - we are the change we want to see in the world. The culture and life of this world is based on how we, in the present, talk about it, how we influence it, the things we accept and perpetuate in language, actions and tweets. While I can not argue with the realities women in our society face, I seek to find a way to influence the other side. Because growth is not about plucking out what is wrong, but filling with what is right until there is simply no more room for the negative.
This isn't about telling men they need to shower and ask questions - it's about men practicing respect and mindfulness, about treating each other with decency and love.
I'll be here practicing.