3 Shortcuts to Not Being a Terrible Person
In May 2014, a hashtag was rebuked: #NotAllMen. In response to the murders committed by Eliot Rodger, acts that were directly linked to a sense of entitlement and his belief women owed him something, particularly sex, any number of men dug up the "not all men do that" argument to counter women who, in light of those killings, were expressing rage, frustration, fear, and disgust at the way women in our society are treated by men. Women made their own hashtag, #YesAllWomen, to share some of their terrible stories. Men got defensive. And that's where shit fell off the rails, and it's been laying in a heap next to the tracks for the last five months.
Don't Get Defensive
The most important thing a man can understand in a world where we are open, and talk about not just violence against women, but also about the degradation and marginalization of women and -- I'm going to use that word -- misogyny, is that no one is necessarily saying anything about you. So getting defensive and saying "not all men" is stupid. There isn't a functional human alive today who believes anything as a sweeping generalization of all men. No, not all men are rapists. We know this because if they were, everyone would be getting raped all the time. So cool your goddamn jets. It's called hyperbole and exaggeration. Everyone does it. Everyone. Literally. See?
Fact is, women are subjected to a lot more shitty behavior than men are. The defensive men and MRA-type people might suggest otherwise, but it's silly, and the numbers don't back it up. On average and in general, men are more abusive and aggressive, both physically and verbally, towards women than the reverse. This recent video of a woman walking through new York as she's subjected to catcalls from men demonstrates it well.
Big deal, right? What's the problem? I dunno. Imagine if you were walking through a city and, say, 100 large men yelled at you about how they wanted you to blow them. How your lips look soft like a pussy. Imagine those guys were in groups, or they were armed, and they each outweighed you by a solid 50 pounds. Imagine knowing in the back of your head that people like you get raped by people like them once every two minutes in America, and you and everyone like you has a one in five chance of being raped in your lifetime. And you don't know if these guys are "just joking" or not. You won't know until they do something. And if they do try to do something, maybe with a weapon, what can you do? Scream with those soft, pussy-like lips of yours?
Mmm, that's right. Lick 'em.
The word of the day is empathy. You really need to try to see things from the perspective of women, rather than fighting against them to assure them you're not a degenerate scumbag. By and large, women won't think you are a degenerate scumbag until you give them a reason to. How often do you meet people and instantly assume they're monsters until they angrily tell you on Twitter that they're not?
In a world where one in five women are raped, imagine how many are sexually harassed. Can't? No worries! One in four report workplace harassment, while 65 percent have experienced harassment out on the streets. One study had nearly 90 percent of participants saying they'd been verbally harassed or followed by a stranger. In Indianapolis and the Bay Area in California, that number is 100 percent. That's not just a hell of a lot of harassment, that is literally all the harassment. The entire female population is covered, and not just in those two cities, but all kinds of places. A good city is where maybe only 60 percent of women will be followed down the street by a guy asking to see her tits. Isn't that pleasant?
So when a woman says something like "men are pigs" or they go on Twitter and share stories about how they've been abused, don't bother saying "not all men," because who does that help except you? It's like saying "not all meteors" when one crashes into the earth and wipes out all the dinosaurs. No one gives a shit that all the other meteors raise their pinkies to drink tea; it's kind of irrelevant, and misses the point entirely of what that one asshole meteor has been up to.
As I mentioned in my column on bullying, I have this preoccupation with smutty humor. I use it to feel out a crowd, so to speak, and to my detriment, that's a little inconsiderate. To the best of my knowledge, I've never made anyone uncomfortable with my unseemly jocularity and I've never made a woman feel harassed in any way, and I feel shitty just saying that. "To the best of my knowledge." That means I don't know. Maybe I have made someone feel all creepy and weird because I busted out a joke about rimjobs.
This is the crux of the harassment issue and the weird zone where men and women have uncomfortable interactions. In certain instances and with certain people, it's OK to say and do certain things, such as compliment someone's ass. The problem here is that some people are ignorant enough that they are unable to know when that is. A good rule of thumb is that it's never with a stranger. While they may just be a friend you haven't met, they'll never become a friend if their first impression of you is as a potential rapist.
I'm as awkward as anyone when it comes to determining the best time to try to up the ante in a relationship. If there's someone I find attractive, though, I know right off the bat that things like openly masturbating, drooling, or following her home and clubbing her and dragging her to my cave are not going to get me far. I refuse to believe anyone in the world is so stupid as to not get this also; they choose not to. Men who are too aggressive, too offensive, too overall creepy, are choosing to act this way, because something in their past has convinced them this is in some deranged way appropriate. If you're one of those guys, if you've ever experienced a woman telling you to back off, or looking at you with revulsion as she pushes you away, you need to really consider what pushed you into that, because it wasn't her fault you freaked her out. You need to understand that sex within six minutes of meeting someone is not normal and probably won't happen. Maybe even shouldn't. You can wait longer -- you're not in some porn version of Speed where if you don't hump 50 times in an hour you're going to explode.
See what happens with no happy ending, Jenny?
Boundaries are what is going to get you well ensconced in this happy place called "normal." You're going to be a normal person if you learn to act like one. Much ado has been made in the last 20 years of not being like everyone else, being your own person, a unique individual, and all of that is bullshit. What they mean is feel free to wear funny sweaters or vinyl pants, but don't act like a goddamn psychopath. You can look weird, or be a white person with dreadlocks, or eat vegan, or wear clothes made from dog fur, but we expect you and everyone else to follow the unwritten rules of society that adhere to certain universal truths.
You don't kill people, you don't take things that don't belong to you, and you don't violate another person, because fuck you. Every one of us with any sense knows those things are right, independent of the laws of man, because none of us would ever in good sense argue that we want to be murdered, robbed, or raped ourselves. So with that as a starting point, you need to scale down to more refined behaviors. Don't spit in people's homes, don't smack women on the ass, don't piss on the seat. The rules of normal society are things everyone can figure out all on their own, but they choose not to. So at least you know where you're at in the world when you find yourself dealing with some kind of maniac. That person is eschewing the rules because they want to, not because they don't get it. They get it, alright. They're just being a dick.
This sounds dumb, but it's really the basic thing that needs to happen in a world in which we have this divide, a noticeable one that has existed for years, but which we're only now starting to really openly acknowledge. If you're not a man who thinks women owe them something, if you don't feel a woman is tits and holes for you to use, if you think women are people who deserve as much respect as you do, as everyone does? Then help. Otherwise, we have three groups of people in the world: women who, whether the defensive guys like it or not, are very clearly and statistically marginalized and abused by some men, the good guys, of which I like to think I'm one, who have never physically harmed another person for any reason and wouldn't want to engage in that behavior, and the rest of the guys, who think that maybe a drunk girl in a miniskirt who gives them a boner because she looks hot deserves to get fucked, whether she wants it or not.
There was a time in America when black citizens had separate bathrooms and separate doors. They had separate schools. Before that, they were property. And for all the racism that exists still in America, and around the world, changes have been made. We can grow and learn and do better. We can do the same with the issue of violence against women, with rape, with harassment. Just because it was the way some people used to do things, just because grandpa grew up in an age when patting the secretary on her ass was a compliment, doesn't mean it must always be so.
My ass is so swollen that I need to sit on a hemorrhoid pillow.
The idea of being "a man" is a very kitschy, pop culture thing these days. You need to be Nick Offerman, or the Dos Equis guy. You need to have a sturdy beard and eat bacon and drink Scotch. You need to be a sexual Tyrannosaur. You need a muscle car and a fine suit. And you can still have all that, if it's the weird ideal you want to portray to the outside world, without marginalizing an entire half of our species.
The easiest way you, as a refined gentleman, can assist women in this endeavor is to speak out the same way they are. They tell women that if they're attacked, they should yell "fire," because more people will respond to that than they would if they hear a cry of "rape." That's fucking repulsive. All of us need to learn to start caring for others, just on a basic level. We live in fear that every stranger is a potential freak or deviant (and of course you know why you feel that way), so we don't connect any more with people. You don't say hello to strangers, you don't chat up people in line at the movies, you don't interact. You isolate, we all do. We listen to MP3s, we text, we hide away. But we can't. If we want a better world, we can't. We have to see the shit that's going on and say something if we don't like it. And not just online, but out in the world.
Let's stop pretending and just kiss.
If you see a man raising his hand, not just to a woman, but to a child, to anyone who isn't in a position to equally and reasonably engage in an altercation, say something. Do something. Be the voice of reason, common sense, and human decency. If you hear guys going way over the line with the things they say, let them know. There's a world of difference between you and your friends seeing a hot girl and saying "holy shit" while you stare in awe for a moment, and screaming at her about how you want to choke her on your dick. The second one makes you the dick who probably could benefit from a light choking.
You need to help, because if all of these stories from women can teach us nothing else, it's that these kinds of men don't want to learn that they're wrong, and women saying no or telling them to stop doesn't work. You need to work with them to let the shitstains of the world know that this is ridiculous and we don't need to tolerate it as a society any more. And once that happens, then we can all have hot tub parties and basement raves in a harmonious, non-sexually-terrifying and comfortable way. Don't act like you don't want that.
For more from Felix, check out 6 Types of Gender Inequality That We Need to Just Accept and 4 Ways We Don't Realize We Suck at Coping With Adversity.