Hey ladies. I’ve got to talk to the men for a second. Join us all back at the end of the article.
Okay guys, are they gone? Fantastic. I’ve got to have a heart-to-heart with my fellow bros right quick. Won’t take a minute.
First of all, let me say that there are few things that I hate more than “white knights.” You know, the guys that go around pretending to care about women’s rights because they think that’ll get them laid. I value sincerity, and if you care about women’s rights, that’s awesome. If you care about women’s rights and you want to get laid, that’s even more awesome. But if you just want to get laid, be honest about it. At least the douchebags in the pick-up artist community admit that they’re borderline sociopathic sex fiends.
I say all of this as a preface to explain my position a little to all the men I’m about to offend, and all of the women’s rights I’m about to care about. I’m going to start by saying that, yes, being a man has challenges. Then I’m going to tell you about some things I’ve been hearing about y’all, and how disappointed I am.
Frequent Man Cave contributor Luke McKinney has published a number of articles about sexism, claiming that being white and male was life’s easiest difficulty setting and that straight white men like to complain a lot. Is he right? Is he wrong? I don’t want to answer that, because he’s a way better writer than I am and it’s never a good idea to fight somebody with the weapon of their choice (PROTIP: always be the one to pick the weapon, and always pick novelty rubber chickens).
What I will say is that both Mr. McKinney and the frothing man-children he trolled are right; that is to say, both have valid points. McKinney is right when he says that women and minorities have it rough, and also when he says that straight, white, American men are some of the most fortunate men on the planet. The troglodytes are right when they say that being white and male isn’t a guarantee for victory: if you know any white American males in prison, you’ll know that it isn’t always a “Get Out of Jail Free” card (just most of the time). And they’re right too when they say that men have problems. It’s just that those problems are different from everyone else’s, and if they’re framed improperly they look like assets.
Think about this. When men say they have problems, those pesky women’s rights advocates I mentioned earlier like to come back with numbers like 1,443: the number of dollars less a woman’s starting salary will be than men in the same field. Or 1.9 million, the number of women involved in sexual assault every year. It’s kind of hard to make the case that your life is hard when people can throw that sort of data at you.
But here’s where it gets interesting. This lengthy post on Reddit goes into great detail about what some of those problems are, and please—PLEASE—don’t do what I did when I first saw the headline (scoff, etc). The poster’s point is that our culture of masculinity is such that it is impossible for men to ask for help, even as we live in a society that expects masculinity of us and yet does not allow any expression of it. Yes, it’s a rant, but it is valid—there are problems for men in America.
Let me be clear: if you are a dude, and you are unhappy, talk to someone. There are people that love you. Do not let some Hollywood myth about tough guys keep you from getting the help you need. But recognize that if you can go about doing this wrong. If you say that you’re having trouble coping, your friends will try to help you, and if they don’t, you need to find new friends. But if you try to talk to people and say, “American culture is so focused on entertaining and elevating me that it’s giving me an unhealthy set of personal expectations,” people aren’t going to have much sympathy. It’s #humblebragging, it’s #firstworldproblems, and not a lot of people are going to have much patience for it.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way guys, we need to have a little talk.
I know that most of you are good people. Well, mostly. Is Steve reading this? That guy’s a jerk. But everybody else, I’m sure you would never—in a million years—consider yourself a rapist. Or even think about ever raping anyone. It’s abhorrent and reprehensible, you know that, and you know you’d never do it. Good for you.
But do me a favor, dudes: Read this article. Well, read as far as you can, anyway. If you’re a decent human being, it might be tough. Here’s the gist if you couldn’t stomach it (or don’t want to click links because you don’t want voodoo viruses possessing your computer, whichever): A college student and her boyfriend are a little drunk. They start to make out, clothes come off, he wants to have sex, she doesn’t, they have sex anyway.
There was no violence. No drugs. No hyper-dramatic moment that comic books and video games are so fond of using these days instead of character development. This is the sort of thing I can see men, good men, doing, just because they don’t understand what’s happening.
What’s happening is that she said no.
If a woman says “stop,” then YOU STOP. I don’t care if you’ve greased yourself in butter and are about to slip-n-slide straight into her hoo-hah, you say “Yes ma’am,” you pack your things, and you go home (I’m imagine you’re at her place, but I guess that’s pretty unlikely, since you set up a whole slip-n-slide. Wait, is your apartment big enough for that? Can I come over?). If you’re the talkin’ type, maybe explain to her how you feel—justifiably angry, perhaps, a little hurt, very frustrated—but still stop.
Here’s what I’m trying to get at guys, and here’s why I switched gears to sexual assault in an article ostensibly about men’s rights. That “macho culture” that the Redditor talked about? That’s part of the problem. The same “macho culture” that’s making it hard for you to get the help you need is the same culture that’s making it hard or impossible for women to report sexual assault.
It’s the same culture that’s making it okay to use rape as a casual threat, or even make the statement that someone is “too ugly” to be raped. I don’t want to make any assumptions about your intelligence or education, but if you still think that rape is about sex, stop reading this, and meet some actual women. Your Real Doll will be there when you get back.
Let me explain it to you this way. It is entirely possible you were not raised by my mother, and so never learned a crucial lesson. When I was very young, and she was (bless her heart) explaining sex to me, she made what I still think is an incredibly bold statement for a religious daughter of an Appalachian mill worker: Sex is awesome (she dressed it up a little, but that was the takeaway). And she was right: sex is awesome, and it’s the most fun short of a 100-acre paintball field that two people can have. But sex is about two people. When it’s just about you, it’s not sex anymore, it’s masturbation, and the best case scenario is that no one sees you do it. If you’ve enlisted unwilling help, whether by force, or because she’s drunk, or for whatever reason, you have crossed a line. You have not had sex. You have raped someone.
Before I get the women back, let me conclude by saying something else very important: men get raped too. Remember those numbers a while back? Let me throw another one at you: 834,700, the ballpark number of men sexually assaulted every year. And that macho culture’s a pretty big boogeyman here, too; you think women catch flak for “not doing more” to stop her attacker? Imagine being a macho dude and reporting that a women raped you. Yeah, I’m having trouble imagining it too. TV Tropes has a page here, if you’re interested…but what don’t they have a page about?
Men have problems. The problems are different from women’s problems. Maybe not as severe. But it’s the culture’s fault. A culture that demands men be macho, demands men be powerful, demands me be sexually dominant, is unsustainable. It’s created nothing but victims so far.
All right, bring the ladies back.
Hey girls, thanks for being so patient. Be nice to your guys today, okay? If they talk, listen. And if they get handsy, punch them in the larynx.
For more information about rape and sexual assault, please check out RAINN.org.
Ross once Jell-O wrestled a roller derby babe for science, and pared down your home bar to the five essential mixers for a good time. Efficiency, baby! It’s what’s for dinner. (And for dessert: Jell-O.)