Faggots, Losers and Wimps: A Treatise on Gender, Society and “Real Men”

andro“Androgyny refers to a specific way of joining the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ aspects of a single human being.” – June Singer

Faggots, losers and wimps. Those are often bullying words and they are used with alarming regularity and reflect an issue that needs to be dealt with. These words (and words like them) represent a much deeper problem, which is the expectations derived from our male dominated, patriarchal society and the pressures that are put upon males at an early age to fit into a particular mold. That pressure, and the accompanying shame that society puts upon males who are not considered to be “manly,” often serves to breed more bullying males. Add religion into the mix, and the problem becomes greatly exacerbated.

Gender…

Boys will be boys, right? Well, biologically speaking, yes. But what exactly is “gender?” The World Dictionary defines it as:

The state of being male, female, or neuter

There are other definitions, but they refer to grammatical classifications with respect to masculine and feminine words, so they are irrelevant. Let’s examine this for a minute. Notice that the word “state” was used. Among other irrelevant definitions, the dictionary defines state as:

“The condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances or attributes. A particular condition of mind or feeling.”

Thus, any given individual whose genetic makeup is female would be in the feminine state, regardless of biological attributes. Likewise, any individual whose genetic makeup is male would be in the masculine state, regardless of biological attributes. As well, any individual whose genetic makeup is both male and female would exhibit attributes of both states, regardless of biological attributes. By “biological attributes,” I am referring to the penis and the vagina.

In a nutshell, one is not necessarily male just by virtue of owning a penis, nor female by virtue of owning a vagina. Sex is biological. Gender is a social construct. Consequently, gender identification has more to do with the state of mind of the individual than what’s between the legs. This state of mind is directly related to the orientation we are born with. Some of us are born completely heterosexual. Some completely homosexual. Most fall somewhere in between. Both Dr. Alfred Kinsey and Fritz Klein have provided years and research and studies that back this up.

Sandra Bem has done some groundbreaking work on the roles of Gender.  By identifying the values and flaws of psychoanalytic, cognitive development and social learning theories, her Gender Schema Theory consolidated modern theories of “sex typing” by identifying the values and inherent flaws within the perception of gender. Bem has worked ardently on the importance of dispelling gender stereotypes in order to prevent self-fulfilling prophecies that inevitably come with mandated gender identification.  Bem rejected Freudian beliefs of “anatomy is destiny.” She proposed that an individual’s gender identification emerged from his or her cognitive development.

Mandating Gender…

Gendering a child starts even before the child is born. Expectant parents often prepare a nursery for their child in anticipation of bringing home their bundle of joy. If the baby is going to be born with a penis, they paint the room blue and fill it with pictures, borders and mobiles depicting male-centric things. If the baby is going to be born with a vagina, they paint the room pink and fill it with pictures, borders and mobiles depicting female-centric things. If they’re not sure, they paint the room yellow or green and don’t add anything until the child is born.

The problems begin when the male toddler starts exhibiting an attraction for things that do not “fit” his “gender.” When this happens, and it does happen, many parents, particularly religious ones, worry that their male child may be homosexual. I’ve spoken to many parents while I was in the ministry who became very concerned when their child showed an interest in Barbie dolls, mommy’s makeup and sister’s clothing. These parents seek spiritual guidance, i.e., “What does God say to do.” The advice that is often given ranges from forcing the child to participate in an all-male activity (sports, etc.) or giving the “confused” child some positive reinforcement when their play involves “gender correct” toys, and negative reinforcement when they do not. If that fails, then a “manly” role model may be introduced. Perhaps a youth Pastor,  “big brother” or some other replacement for the “obvious failure of the boy’s father to provide sufficient masculinity.

I am not pulling this out of thin air. As a Pastor, I have given this advice to “concerned” parents, and that advice came from my training as a Christian Nouthetic counselor. Of course, this has detrimental consequences on the male child as they mature. The church, as most of you are aware, has very definite ideas about the roles of males, their place in the order of all things (which includes being masters of women), their privilege as God’s favorite creations, what they should and should not be doing with their penises and what will happen to them if they should stray from the sexual straight and narrow.

In religious societies there are certain expectations and misnomers surrounding the roles of men and women. This is not news. It is largely due to the impact that religions (particularly the Abrahamic religions) have had and continues to have on our society’s perception of what “should be.” Boys are viewed a certain way, and girls are viewed a certain way. The differences go way beyond biology, and these perceptions are drilled into us from a very young age. A good example of how the church views these roles is the mission statement and affirmations by the The Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Here’s their position:

CBMW

The Southern Baptist’s position on the roles of men and women:

“The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

As well, the Southern Baptist Convention states on human sexuality:

“We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”

In spite of all those sermons about how to love the sinner but hate the sin, and that “all are welcome in the house of the Lord,” the church does not want LGBT individuals, or at least not for very long. I can tell you from an insiders point of view, homosexuals in the church are almost never viewed in a positive light. I cannot imagine, for the life of me, why anyone from the LGBT community would even want to attend church, let alone be a member. It boggles my mind. I think of Jews joining the Nazi Party or black people signing up for the Ku Klux Klan. For the church, the goal from the get-go is reparative therapy – to “cure the gay” or “pray the gay away.” If their efforts fail, you can bet the homosexual will be kicked out or made uncomfortable enough to leave on their own. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. That’s not tolerance or acceptance. It’s dishonest and shameful. This brings me to the word…

Faggot…

I hate that word. I get angry when I hear it. I’ve banned people from my social networks and from commenting on this blog for using it in any way other than reference. It is a vile word that is in existence for one reason only, and that is to insult, degrade and emasculate. Period. I won’t bore you with the etymology or definitions that are connotative to cigarettes, as this is neither the time nor the place for semantics. Suffice to say, when someone is called a faggot, it is not a compliment. The bigotry toward the LGBT community comes from one, single, solitary source. Religion. Period. End of story. No, an eight-year-old who is teasing another boy and calling him a faggot doesn’t have the moxie to understand what a homosexual is, or even the reasons behind why he is teasing the boy. But his parents do. His Pastor does. His Uncles do. His older brothers do. The grocer does. His neighbor does. Ad nauseum. Bigotry is learned.

Consequently, men who exhibit what are considered by the ignorant to be effeminate qualities are vilified, bullied, harassed and are often the butt of jokes. This also holds true for those males who are drawn to professions that have been or are perceived by the ignorant as “women’s jobs,” such as careers that concentrate on nurturing, or any other characteristics that are taught to be “feminine” traits.  A good example is the countless times I’ve heard religious people say that the hair styling profession is “filled with homos.” When I was growing up, women went to the salon, men went to the barber. Both cut hair, but to me, the salon looked way more comfortable.

Although bullying of this sort definitely does exist for women, in certain areas it is not so much of a problem. Allow me to explain. I have personally witnessed, a multitude of times, over my entire cognitive life, parents of little girls who exhibit male tendencies at a young age being brushed off as “just tomboys” who will eventually “grow out of it.” Many of these parents exhibit little or no concern when they see their little daughter playing with a toy car, a plastic sword or whatever male-centric plaything that might be handy. Apparently it’s cute that the little girl is trying to be like her brothers. However, when they observe their little boys playing with dolls, trying on their mother’s or sister’s clothing or toying around with makeup, it’s a whole different animal.

This continues into adulthood. Take fashion, for example. It is not only common, but socially acceptable to see a woman wearing “mens” clothing or accessories, even in church. However, when a man wears something that is considered “feminine,” or carries a hand bag, or puts a little “too much” emphasis on they way he express himself both physically and verbally, there are whispers, judgments and stares of conviction. Especially during school-age years. I was watching television and a Progressive Insurance commercial came on the screen. The scene involved a man carrying a purse. He looked horribly embarrassed and felt the need to explain to Flo that it was a “European Shoulder Bag.

Al_RootsI carry a purse. I call it a purse because it’s a purse. I don’t call it a Murse, either. Why do I carry this? Well, I have a wallet, cellphone, business card holder, cigarettes, lighter, checkbook, laser pointer, headphones and keys. Why should I walk around looking like I’ve got rocks stuffed in my pockets, and end up horribly uncomfortable after five minutes of sitting on all that, when I can just open my purse and grab what I need, not worrying about my wallet falling out of my pocket, losing my phone, etc.? Not to mention that credit cards and other items with magnetic strips get damaged from sitting on them for long periods of time, as well as pictures, etc. What about a briefcase? I don’t need to haul around a piece of luggage to hold a few things. What about a knapsack? I’m not camping.

The truth of it is that our sexuality is nobody’s business. The reality of it is that the bigoted religious fundamentalists believe that any given individual’s sexuality is not only everybody’s business, but is information that should be disseminated and broadcast with or without the permission of said individual for the purpose of exposing and vilifying the evil, immoral…

On A Personal Note…

Thirty seven years ago, I was 12 years old. I lived in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. I went to the public schools, but many students spent half the school day at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic church for Catechism Classes, and were bussed there and back from the public school in public school buses. The rest of the kids in the neighborhood attended Holy Trinity High School.

I was short, a little overweight, played piano, acted in school plays, and took nonstop ribbing from the bullies. I got picked on, chastised, and beat up on a regular basis. Like many children who did not fit into the “man” mold at school, I still walk through life with a plethora of not-so-fond memories of my adolescence. I can’t tell you how many pairs of glasses my parents had to purchase because the bullies broke mine. I lost count of the number of notebooks, pens, textbooks and other supplies that went out the school bus window or were thrown into puddles or tossed down sewer grates.

I’ve had homework destroyed, clothes ruined, and my ego trampled with intense regularity. I was stalked, threatened and berated constantly. There were plenty of times I wished either I or those who were making it their life’s goal to make me miserable would just disappear, for good. If you didn’t understand that, I will spell it out for you. I wished them dead, or myself dead. Either one would have been fine with me. I considered myself heterosexual (mostly), but because my appearance and demeanor was not “manly,” and I gravitated toward the arts, I was branded a “faggot,” and summarily treated as such by those cruel, horrible and mean little urchins that I went to school with.

I can tell you from personal experience that, at twelve years old, I was convinced childhood was going to last forever, that growing up was light years away, and there was no end in sight to the relentless bullying. It consumed every waking moment, and some of the sleeping ones, too. I remember clearly, even after all these years, dreading the arrival of the bus, being outside during recess and, particularly, Phys Ed. I recall walking down the hallways hoping no one would notice me before I got to my next class and that the teacher was already in the room, because a small room full of bullies without a teacher means you are a punching bag and whatever homework you had with you was toast.

As early as the first grade, I’d come home and tell my parents what happened. They’d visit teachers and principal to complain that something should be done. They were told that the administrators had spoken to the bullies, but found no evidence of behavior not “normal” for an adolescent. Boys will be boys, after all. Their advice was that I should “avoid the bullies,” which was already goal of mine on a daily basis. One teacher told my parents they should teach me how to fight. The fact is that trying “avoid the bullies” is horrible advice. It’s like trying to avoid a freight train while walking on the tracks. Point is, you don’t need to be a homosexual to understand what it is like to be bullied as one. This is one of the reasons I am such a strong advocate for the LGBT community.

Losers…

I’m going to get off the religious aspect of this treatise in this segment, as it is not really relevant enough. This has to do with commerce, consumerism and how our society is being molded by the constant transmission of the advertising that is geared toward males which perpetuates an impossible stereotype and degrades most men and just about all women. I loathe the word “Losers” because of its connotations to the possession of material things and personal wealth as it pertains to the value of a human being. Do you know what the very first thing one man will almost always ask another man after an introduction is made? It’s “So, what do you do?”  Men are defined by our occupation, and there are either stigmas or accolades that other men will bestow upon their brethren with reference to what the other guy “does.” Woe unto you if you happen to be “less of a man” due to a lower paying job (or no job) or had never been able to attend college. There will be imminent rueage if you utter the words, “stay at home dad.”

Examples would be how a wealthy and privileged man might view a waiter, a stock clerk at Wal-Mart or the guy who valets his car. As well, the academic might view the man who has a GED or lacks any college education. There is often a sense of superiority, a hubris of sorts that silently says, “I’m better than you because I have more stuff/am better educated.” It is not uncommon at all for this behavior to be exhibited by the wealthy and highly educated men in our society. I’ve experienced it personally and I know that many of you have.

Disclaimer:

No, not all wealthy/educated men are like this. In fact, I proudly count among my friends those men who have a considerable amount of personal wealth and advanced graduate degrees who are very decent guys. Several of them are also unashamed to call themselves Feminists and are very supportive of anti-bullying campaigns, anti-harassment policies and aggressively support the LGBT community. These men are rare, and they are very dear to me. They are jewels – regardless of the level of friendship we share. 

The fact is that many guys are real big on status and the accompanying symbols. Sometimes, the rivalry between these men get toxic. If you doubt this, consider the heated debates men get into over Chevy vs. Ford, or Harley Davidson vs. Japanese motorcycles, etc. I’ve seen guys come to blows over this. But that is a digression from a deeper problem within this issue. Very often status coincides with sexism. This is not rocket science. All you have to do is turn on the television. There are two kinds of men in TV ads.

Looks…

OK, before I get into the meat of this, I need to clarify a few things. This segment has nothing to do with sex appeal, the desire to look your best or what physical image we desire to project. Nor does it have anything to do with what turns us on sexually as an individual with respect to our sexual orientations, our points of view on pornography or whether or not we are in a committed relationship or polyamorous.

I have no problem with anyone’s sexual fantasies, who people choose as partners or how they build their bodies. Likewise, I have no problem at all with adult entertainers, prostitution or pornography, as long as those involved are doing it voluntarily, willingly and without any coercion. I know several individuals who work in the sex field, and they are completely content with their profession and enjoy it immensely.

I acknowledge, though, that there is a serious problem within this industry that revolves around human trafficking, sexual slavery and the exploitation of very young girls. This is a travesty, and if you want to get involved in eliminating this, here are a few resources:

Back On Point…

The commercials geared toward women usually depict an emasculated, clueless male in drab clothing and a beige personality. Commercials geared toward men depict a certain type of guy, with a certain look, swagger and air of superiority. These ads focus on status and masculinity, which is generally important to men, especially those who have an inferiority complex or who are in denial of their own sexuality. Yeah, you know that sex sells. It’s no secret that much of the advertising aimed at men is geared toward the conquest of women.

Here’s a few of them:

Ad4

tomford

Typical depiction of “real men” that are projected via advertising:

Men5

If you look like this, that’s great. You’re incredibly sexy and more power to you. I have nothing against men who work out, nothing against wanting a healthy body or to develop this type of physique. I know how difficult it is to maintain this, and the work that goes into it. Kudos, props and Kewpie dolls all around. However, my problem lies with the insistence from advertisers and a lot of buff guys who look down on those who do not look like this, and infer that they are not “real men.”

Thus, how is this any different from this:

Barbie_1959_and_2009_Bathing_Suits

We are told by these advertisements that we must be “manly men.”  The advertisers attempt to compel us to believe that we are somehow less than a “real man” if we do not behave in a certain way or consume certain products or look a certain way. Consequently, if we don’t behave in a certain way, consume these products or build our bodies, then more woes shall be heaped upon us because not only are we “losers,” but we’ll never get laid.

Ergo:

  • If you are going bald, you are a loser and will never get laid.
  • If you drive a practical car, you are a loser and will never get laid.
  • If you don’t have a six-pack, you’re a loser and will never get laid.
  • If you don’t get a smooth shave, you are a loser and will never get laid.
  • If you don’t drink the right beer, you are a loser and will never get laid.
  • If you aren’t wearing the right fashion, you are a loser and will never get laid.

You see the pattern here? Real men get laid, and judging from the television screen, women are throwing themselves at these guys. You see the problem here? I mean the aside from the one that is horrifically insulting to women? Do you understand that the average guy is put under enormous amount of pressure to be what our patriarchal society has deemed a “real man?” And the men that fall for this crap are exacerbating the situation by teasing, taunting and insulting the rest of us, behaving badly and generally douchy. No, there is no room in a “man’s world” for faggots or losers. Nor is there any room for

Wimps…

Another cringe. According to my ever-handy dictionary, Wimp means:

“A weak, ineffectual, timid person. To wimp out. To be or act like a wimp. To show timidity or cowardice; chicken out.”

Wimpy3This time, I will give you some etymology. The word “Wimp” likely originated in 1920. The dictionary states that it is perhaps clipped from the word “whimper,” and might have been influenced by “J. Wellington Wimpy,” a comparatively non-aggressive character in “Popeye” comics. In the vernacular, it is almost always tagged on the type of man who is either small in stature or physically challenged by being either too heavy or too thin. As well, the wimp has a  non-aggressive in nature, is usually sensitive in demeanor and possibly socially awkward. The resistance to fighting or running away from a physical challenge is also an earmark of being wimpy.

Either way, “wimp” is a pejorative, and it is generally used by a specific type of guy. Somewhere along the line the type of person who fits this category has also been vilified. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding a fight. Pacifism isn’t a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with being non-aggressive. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive to the needs of others. There’s nothing wrong with being shy. But, to many guys, a wimp is not a “real man.”

Instead of giving you several more paragraphs about the type of guy who believes he is better than those who are not strong, physically diminutive and non-aggressive and the pressures that are put on males to be this way, I will offer you this ad that so many of us remember from our youth that was on the back side of almost every comic book we’ve ever read:

Atlas

Final Thoughts…
Human sexuality is a very complicated discipline, and of which I am not an expert. I have my thoughts, opinions and ideals regarding the matter, sprinkled with the science and philosophies that I have learned from those who are more qualified than I, and through research through the Internet. There is one thing that I am sure of, though. One male is not better than another male by virtue of their sexual orientations, physical appearance or their demeanor.

However, an individual man or any organization or institution that chastises other men who are not heterosexual, monogamous, or are not a bodybuilder or have a warrior mentality are promoting a stereotype that is disingenuous, dangerous, bigoted, discriminatory and unfair to those who are either born with a non-heterosexual orientation, do not have an interest in sculpting their bodies or have no interest in aggressive altercations.

DiversityWe are the sum of our individuality. One man is not better than the other who happens to identify as a female and presents herself as such. Or better than the male who is gay, bisexual or transgendered. Or the male who shuns the idea of war or avoids physical confrontations. Or another male who works at Wal-Mart, or Family Dollar, or McDonald’s (or anywhere else that pays a low wage or happens to be unemployed), or the male who cuts hair, or is a nurse, or an interior decorator, or a child-care provider, or has little or no hair, or is over or under weight. In short, the men they refer to as faggots, losers and wimps.

What makes you a better person is understanding that we are all part of the human race, and we all have value and that we all have a contribution to make toward the betterment of our society.

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  39 comments for “Faggots, Losers and Wimps: A Treatise on Gender, Society and “Real Men”

  1. Onamission5
    July 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    As a mom to three sons, at least one of whom does not fit the rigid standards for so-called manliness and was tortured as a child for it and still bears the scars, I appreciate this post immensely.

    Once, when I lived in another state and was heavily pregnant with my youngest, two of my kids and I were at a playground. At the same playground was a toddler to preschool aged play group from a local church. The first thing I noticed was that there were no dads present. The second thing was that all the girls had toy strollers with baby dolls in them, were dressed in pastel dresses with frills, and all the boys in dark colored play clothes. The girls were discouraged from getting messy or dirty any time they tried to do something other than swing or go down the slide– apparently those were the only girl acceptable physical activities. That bugged me well enough to want to say something, but I was significantly outnumbered and had my own children with me, so was not up for a confrontation on gender dynamics.

    Then I witnessed something awful I’d never seen before. One of the toddler boys started to play with his preschool aged sister’s toy stroller. He picked up the baby doll and cuddled it, put it back in the stroller, and began to push the stroller around, making cooing noises. I thought it was adorable, caught his eye and smiled at him. He looked hesitant, then smiled back. Suddenly, one of the church moms (maybe his, I don’t know) leaped up, ran over, grabbed him, shook him and spanked him repeatedly right on the playground, yelling all the while that that was a girl toy and he was BAD! BAD! He was so little. Still in diapers. And he got publicly beaten for being a nurturing person, just because he was a boy, by someone who was supposed to care for and protect him, no less. He was too.. shocked? ashamed? embarrassed? numb? to even cry about it. The state in which I lived had no laws about spanking, and there was nothing I could do to help or save that poor child. All I felt I could do at the time was gather up myself and horrified offspring, mutter something loudly to them about that lady’s parenting philosophy being disgusting and how their mommy would never ever do something like that to them, and rush the hell out of there.

    I knew cognitively and experientially that people like that existed, but I had no idea they resorted to such abusive measures to keep their sons from becoming nurturing, caring people.

    • A 'Nym Too
      July 13, 2012 at 5:50 am

      It’s heartbreaking. Knowing that there are men who have actually murdered 2/3 year olds for being “f*gg*ts” makes me physically ill.

      I babysat a little kid once, he was two, and was very angry and aggressive.

      Then, a couple of years later, I found out that his dad wouldn’t let him use an umbrella or wear a cycling helmet because “It’ll turn him into a poof “. Suddenly it all made sense.

      Patriarchy hurts men and boys too.

  2. rork
    July 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    “nothing against wanting a healthy body” – I saw more than one I wanted in there.

    Seriously though, thanks for this. I can’t believe the slurs others, and even myself, flung about in my teens, and how often I was called a fag after that. From observing high school kids today, I do believe I see that our young men are more able to be openly gay, or even just slightly artsy, more easily than when I was that age. I think that is great, and I say so in front of others as often as possible.
    A pet peeve: Folks will ask about or tell about, a son’s athletic news. The one I hate more is about women though. I have a daughter, 16. For 16 years nearly every woman visitor we have comments first on one thing: her appearance. Could you please try something else once in a while.

  3. Martha
    July 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    This is the most heart-breaking account of modifying a boys “feminine” behavior I’ve ever seen: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/what-are-little-boys-made-of-main.

  4. Martha
    July 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Al, I was so appalled by the story Onamission that I forgot my original purpose in commenting, which was to say that I’m sorry you– and who knows how many other men and boys– had to go through that. I can only hope that the studies showing that young adults tend to be much less homophobic than their older counterparts mean that this kind of bullying– and the social pressure to conform to a narrow definition of manliness– will also become less intense and less common. I certainly hope so.

  5. Bill Door
    July 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Great article, but I tend to think of this in a different way. Consider your disclaimer:.

    As well, this in no way addresses privilege, but speaks to the harassment and suffering of certain demographics of males by another demographic of males.

    First, it would be a miracle if the attitudes and that lead to such bullying were so neatly confined to one half of the population. It certainly is true, though, that a man is more likely to hear this kind of crap from other men.

    Furthermore, this is certainly an issue of privilege, specifically the privilege of certain men relative to others. There are harsh realities behind simplistic statements like ‘you don’t earn enough money, so you’ll never get laid.’ It is entirely conceivable that being poor might decrease your chances of getting laid. The bully/advertiser could be exaggerating – and simultaneously helping to sustain – an indisputable fact. The mistake would be to get bitter about it, and end up arguing like a MRA that all women are shallow, etc. One must realise that women are also victims of stereotypes about men: their freedom to choose you has been reduced by social expectations and by the extremely class-based society we live in. They could pay social or economic penalties for dating a ‘loser’ or a ‘wimp.’
    Men should realise this, I think – though we shouldn’t blow it out of proportion either. It takes courage and independence to deal with this kind of taunting and the often sad realities from which they arise, but that is what is required until we can change the culture for the better. In a coercive society, deciding to be who you are is a political act. Thankfully, there are usually sympathetic women and men around who can make this choice less of a lonely one.

  6. smrnda
    July 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Your story about being bullied makes me think it’s the traditionalists who really hate boys and men. They really think being a thug is just ‘normal’ masculinity. As a feminist, I don’t think that. I realize that males are taught that being aggressive makes them manly, so there’s a lot of pressure going on there. It’s funny how willing people are to intervene in behaviors they consider ‘unmasculine’ in boys no matter how trivial or harmless, but if it comes to knocking around some boys who don’t follow the same mold, it’s accepted. I read some of the Biblical Manhood Womanhood tripe I found online. If you think about allegedly Christian virtues like the ‘fruits of the spirit’ you’d think that they’d be against the type of masculine behaviors that they consider normal. I mean, if a kid actually tries to do what they say is right, he’s failing as a man. How does that make sense? Why is the kid who takes the gospel of (allegedly) gentleness and such seriously a warning sign?

    Great post, one of the best I’ve ever read on freethought blogs. I found the Danvers statement pretty interesting – the way they pair a vision of male dominance with adjectives like “loving, humble leading” and “intelligently willingly submitting” for women. I might as well talk about a moist desert and a non-violent war. You don’t just erase male domination by throwing some fluffy adjectives on top of it. For there #1 – there’s no confusion about the roles of men and women to me, I just know that their formulas are bullshit.

    When they talk about in increase in family violence, do they have any statistics on this? I’d say that there’s probably been a huge decrease because of better awareness and our understanding that women and kids aren’t property you can kick around when they don’t do what you want them to. I read Alice Miller’s books which really show how acceptable child abuse used to be and how acceptable it was if done in the name of discipline, or religion.

  7. kagekiri
    July 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Ugh, yeah, the masculine standards are rather annoying.

    One bit I always felt particularly defensive about was facial hair. I’m pretty dang hairless. I couldn’t grow a full beard if you gave me decades to do it; I’d have a scrawny mustache and goatee, and nothing else. People ask me if I shave my arms and legs when I never have, and I probably have less hair on my chest than most boys and maybe even most girls. So yeah, having friends commend each other on the manliness of each other’s beards or general hairiness has always been a bit painful, because I feel like the obvious unsaid corollary is people without facial hair or chest hair just aren’t manly.

    It makes me a lot less likely to brag about my bass voice or say bass is more manly than tenor, so I guess it’s taught me to be a bit more tolerant.

    To be fair to some Christians, I didn’t really take too much crap for being gentle or non-aggressive at my home church. It made the mothers in the church like me a lot, at least. But that might be more certain parts of Asian culture rather than Christian culture, where a well-behaved, awkward mama’s boy is more valued/appreciated rather than discouraged.

    In middle school, though, being reserved and passive and a bit effeminate got me bullied, also to a point of wanting to kill someone or myself. They actually finally stopped when I broke down and cried in class, so I hate them a little less for that, because it seems they did think they were somehow being friendly by teasing me (or maybe they just didn’t want to get in trouble much? maybe I’m giving them too much credit).

    • Steve
      July 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      I’d love to be less hairy. My lower arms and my legs have way too much hair for my taste. But if I start shaving them it would just get worse

  8. shockna
    July 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I imagine if MRAs actually cared about issues facing men, their articles would look a bit more like THIS…

    But then, it seems they tend to be the enforcers of those very harmful stereotypes, and claim to be arguing for “rights”, only so they have a cover to denigrate women.

    I’m only 22, so the bullying aspect, I think, is better (Though I did go to a high school that made the NYT a few years ago for its LGBT friendliness, so I may lack perspective) than it was in previous decades, but the “real men” nonsense, especially on the economic spectrum, still pervades.

    If any of my future children are male, I’m going to make sure they grow up in an environment as devoid of such expectations as humanly possible.

  9. Long time FTB Lurker
    July 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Apart from Hank’s fund drive, I’ve never felt compelled to comment on some of the great posts on this network but this one deserves a heartfelt thank you! It’s great to have such a concise article about men’s issues with patriarchy — without falling into any horrible MRA trappings — ready to pass around, it will definitely go into my permanent bookmarks! Just one small nitpick: most polyamorous relationships are quite committed 😉

  10. July 13, 2012 at 4:37 am

    As the good folks say over and over, patriarchy hurts men too.

    I honestly have a certain amount of trepidation about the possibility of someday having sons, because, while I’m pretty sure that I have enough personal experience with the crap women get to be able to teach any daughters how to protect themselves, everything I know about what’s done to men and how one can survive it and come out a decent person on the other side is necessarily secondhand at best. I know it’s doable, but stories like those above about physical bullying, property destruction, and the like are pretty horrifying to me. I was mercilessly harassed by my peers all the way through middle school, but because I was a girl (and a girl willing to hit people who bothered me, at that), mostly nobody laid a finger on me or my stuff. It was all words, combined with a persistent refusal to leave me the fuck alone, and that was bad enough.

    I was reading Jennifer Hancock’s recent book (The Bully Vaccine) about how people being bullied or at risk of being bullied can work to protect themselves, and it sounded pretty reasonable to me. But the extreme level of physical abuse and indifference from authorities that Al describes seem to me like they might well defeat even her excellent strategies. We have to change the culture too, and acknowledging the toxicity of patriarchal constructs of masculinity is an important start.

    • 24fps
      July 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Bit of a derail: I’ve skimmed The Bully Vaccine, and as a former bullied child and a parent who has dealt with severe bullying of my child, I am of the opinion that it’s a nice idea that might work for mild bullying, but it’s no solution for more serious situations. We did most of the things she suggests (like, no duh!!!) to no avail.

      My daughter, after three years of bullying, was surrounded by 5 older, bigger girls on a class trip to a recreation area in the pool. They repeatedly “dunked” her, holding her under the water for several seconds each time, while she struggled to get away. They finally let her go. If she hadn’t been a strong swimmer who knew how to ration breath and managed not to panic (somehow, I can’t imagine how she did it, the kid is my hero), she could have been badly injured.

      The day to day stuff chips away at your soul, but when you’ve got a serious problem and the authority figures refuse to do their bit, The Bully Vaccine’s tactics are useless.

      • July 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

        Hancock actually does talk in a later section about what to do if the kid isn’t able to get things to stop on hir own, and specifically about how to recruit authority figures to your side. The short version is that there are three key steps. First, you have to document exactly what happened and when so that you can prove your case and establish that it’s not just a handful of isolated incidents. Next, you have to talk about things in the right way — don’t say “bullying” or “picking on” or “teasing” (which can be too easily dismissed as “kids being kids”), say, “harassment” (or “sexual harassment”), “assault”, “battery”, “theft”, “destruction of property”, “attempted murder” (in your daughter’s case), and the like, which link the incident to stuff that we all understand is wrong and illegal even if it were being done to an adult. And third, if this doesn’t get the school officials to intervene effectively, then one has to be prepared to escalate to lawyers and law enforcement as needed until the behavior is halted.

        Obviously, this can be pretty hard, and obviously in the long run the ideal solution is just to change the culture on this, so that the responsibility isn’t all on the victims and school officials don’t think they can get away with standing idly by while kids are abused right in front of them. But Hancock has still presented the best self-help recipe that I’ve seen anywhere. It sure would’ve made a difference in my young life if I or some of the adults responsible for protecting me had read her book. And until the culture is changed, we need all the self-help recipes we can get.

  11. Brad
    July 13, 2012 at 9:16 am
    • RW Ahrens
      July 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      LOL!! I love this one! While my wife and I both cook, and are both quite good at the particular things we do (each has a couple of favorite/speciality dishes we do really well), our situation has sensitized me to this issue – I do know a couple of couples where the guy really is the cook, one lady could truly burn water if given the chance…

      • Brad
        July 14, 2012 at 4:48 am

        I was shocked to see a C&H that wouldn’t offend everybody here.

  12. lrah
    July 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Great post – gender policing really has to die. Yesterday, if possible. It’s great to read an article that discusses these issues without blaming it on women/feminism.

    Just a short note about tomboyishness, though: It is still very much expected that girls *do* grow out of it eventually and start conforming to society’s expectations of femininity, at least to a certain degree. Sure, trousers and stuff are par for the course, but present in a way that is obviously masculine (actual men’s clothes, no makeup, “masculine” short hair, ties), especially once you’re a certain age, and you’re very likely to have the gender police on your case, too. Not in *all* social contexts, but in many.

    That said, it’s still nowhere near what a man would face for wearing makeup, skirts or heels or preferring “feminine” pursuits.

    • ischemgeek
      July 14, 2012 at 8:59 am

      ^ this.

      You can be tomboyish, in the hot tomboy-next-door sense. Not in the “I actually look or act in an androgynous manner” sense. You have to ‘clean up’ as a girly girl every now and again and do boyish things while still looking and acting mostly girly.

      • Onamission5
        July 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

        This was my experience, too, as well as my daughter’s. Starting at about age 9-10, her friends and classmates started trying to “fix” her because she wasn’t dainty and delicate enough. They would play dressup on her and inform her that it was their project to “turn her into a girl.” She doesn’t wear dresses, didn’t used to style her hair, and her girlfriends couldn’t have that any more. So now, most of her friends are boys, or are other sporty type girls who also don’t give two shits about being dainty. At least she has them.

        • ischemgeek
          July 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm

          I’m inundated with relatives who promise-threaten that they’ll turn me into a “real girl”. So, what am I, a fake girl?

          I got so fed up with all the be a girl, do your hair, wear makeup, put on a dress, be pretty BS that I shaved my head and rocked the Sinead O’Conner/GI Jane look for a year or so as a teen. I’d do it still if I weren’t trying to break into an industry job. I’ll probably go for it again once I have secure employment and have made sure I won’t lose my work over it.

  13. RW Ahrens
    July 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Al, thanks for this. I think I know some folks who will be directed to this post who will appreciate it.

    It truly is a great look at the issues from a different perspective.

  14. Mikey
    July 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I grew up with crap like this too. It’s why I became a feminist.

    Destroy the idea that femininity is inherently weak -> Women become more socially equal -> Men stop getting hassled for enjoying feminine things.

    It amazes me that MRA’s don’t understand how this works and how feminism helps everyone.

  15. smrnda
    July 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I get bothered by the idea that it’s up to kids to find ways to avoid getting bullied; I mean, I get offended when people talk about what women can do to avoid getting raped. It puts the responsibility on the wrong person.

    I used to work with kids who are between birth and six. It was MY JOB to make sure that kids weren’t getting hit,hurt, or treated badly by other kids. Exactly why do people who work with older kids get to abdicate that responsibility? It seems like it’s only ‘your job’ to not get bullied between the ages of about 6 and 18. If an adult ‘bullied’ another adult in public the way that bullies act in schools, they could be looking at jail time.

    The people who need to take responsibility for bullying are the adults, and the first step is that instead of bullshit about how to ‘avoid being bullied’ or deal with it, they should put the blame where it goes and make bullying a serous offense that gets treated seriously. Kids start doing it when they realize that the adults aren’t going to stop to intervene like they did when they were little. And the interventions need to be effective – ‘punish’ the bullies with a slap on the wrist and they’ll retaliate worse.

    Another issue is that we need to stop raising kids to be bullies, but that’s again a problem with adults and the broader culture, and the people most responsible will probably not be very cooperative.

  16. ischemgeek
    July 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

    This reminds me a bit of myself (as a childhood tomboy) and one of the foster brothers I used to have (a little boy who loved Barbies and dancing and wanted to be a “fashion designer or a ballerina” when he grew up – his words).

    From experience as a tomboyish girl, parents will tend to tolerate your tomboyishness until puberty (though they will still force girly things on you from time to time, especially if you’re ‘too’ tomboyish like I was – my mother forced me to have hair down to my waist and to wear dresses about once a week, just to drive home that I was a girl), and then they will try to clamp down on it, by insisting you wear dresses to school, or telling you that [your sport of choice] will make you muscled like a man and then no boy will want out, and stuff like that. If they’re bigoted on the sexuality/gender identification front, they’ll likely start saying stuff like “you don’t want people to think you’re a [insert slur here], do you?” and calling you by the opposite gender to that they’ve assigned to you as an insult. To this day, because I don’t fit my mother’s definition of acceptable femininity, I’m referred to as one of the guys by her, my sister, and their friends, and on the rare occasions I dress up, my mother and sister tell me that they’ll make a “real girl” of me yet.

    Oddly, my mother was more tolerant of my foster brother than of me, and the reverse was true of my father. Dad would encourage me and defend me against Mom when she was threatening to haul me out of whatever activity she deemed unacceptably boyish, while mom would encourage my foster brother and defend against Dad. Both of us were forced to submit to hairdos and clothing we didn’t want, though – I was forced into long hair, while he was forced into a buzz cut when he wanted long hair. I was forced into dresses, he was forced into pants and shirts with boyish colors when he wanted to wear pinks and pastels. My foster brother had it worse at school than I did, though, and that’s saying something – my schooling was pretty much equivalent to yours. For me it was easier to rebel on the hair front when I worked up the nerve to do it: shaving a head takes a lot less time than growing out a full length of hair.

    My parents have both told me stories that make me think some of what they did was out of a desire to protect us from some of what they faced in school – mom was made by her mother to have short hair and was teased for it a lot, while Dad was apparently quite gender-noncomforming as a little boy (there are more photos of him wearing dresses and playing with dolls as a little boy than there are of him doing stereotypically-boyish things) and his father beat him for it, when the other kids at school weren’t beating him for it. But rather than protecting us from the bullying, they were contributing to it.

    The thing that really pissed me off was that, in school, because I wasn’t a girly-girl, it was immediately assumed that any bullying or injury I got was my fault for trying to be too boyish. Kid beat the crap out of me on the school yard? What did I do to start it? Kid slammed my head in the locker? I get kept in for recess for being a tattle tale. Kids ambush me in the hallway? Maybe I shouldn’t dress so much like a boy so they won’t have as much reason to be pissed off at me. Kid slams the ball crate lid on me? I get punished as much as the kid who did it to me – and he only got punished because the teacher was right there when it happend so when I complained, the teacher was backed into a corner. So if I went to the teachers, I’d be punished for going through appropriate channels. If I fought back, though, I’d be punished for fighting. But since the punishment for fighting was less than the punishment for being a tattle-tale and fighting would make sure the bullies got some punishement, too (where if I didn’t fight, they usually got off scot-free), I’d fight anyway, and then they’d call my parents and my parents would give me the “good girls don’t get in fights” lecture again. Well, I’d love to not get in fights, Mom and Dad. Unfortunately, the bullies have other ideas. I’d be physically assaulted with shoves, pinches or slaps, and verbally and sexually harrassed on a daily basis, and fights happened once a month or so with me. When I was in third grade, a teacher took a disliking to me (not because of the tomboyishness, because I was an impudent little brat in the classroom if I was bored because I had undiagnosed ADHD), and she’d instigate a lot of the bullying, too.

    But as bad as I had it, it was worse for my foster brother. At least with me, even if I wasn’t a “good” girl (whatever the heck that means), I was still a girl and culturally, beating a girl senseless in that area is seen as very low, so they’d usually try to avoid visible bruises, broken bones, and knocking me out. My foster brother had no such cultural protection. Think about that for a bit. I have no qualms about agreeing that gender-nonconforming boys have it harder on the bullying front than gender-nonconforming girls.

  17. Steve
    July 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Oh boy, do I remember getting punished for others bullying me. Especially when I fought back. I usually avoided fights because I was generally weaker, but whenever I snapped and fought back against attacks, that was often the time when a teacher magically arrived. Of course they didn’t see what lead up to it and that I didn’t start it, I was the one who ended up being punished. Which is all the more absurd, since they damn well knew that the bullying was systematic over many years. So when I told them what happened, they should have believed me. Or simply not assume that I’d start fighting for no reason.

    • July 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      The reason I was always given for why I got punished when I fought back against the people who harassed me was that it didn’t matter what people said, or what they threw at me, or how long it had been going on, or how minor what I did to fight back was — two wrongs don’t make a right, and hitting people is always wrong, full stop. So I was wrong, always, if I defended myself in any way. It was a lousy explanation, but at least they tried to give me an explanation for that part of things. The thing that was never explained at all, though, was why the harassers always got off scot free, even though the authorities handing out the punishments did indeed seem to believe that they’d been harassing me.

      I got in huge trouble one time for hitting one of my more persistent harassers with a rolled up poster when he bothered me about some dumb thing or other. I’m not sure how the hell you can possibly hurt somebody with a rolled up poster, except possibly by giving them a papercut, but that didn’t matter. I was supposed to apologize to *him*, and when I wouldn’t apologize verbally on the spot (because he deserved it, and I’m still not sorry to this day that I hit him — I just wish I’d used a baseball bat) I was told to write a note of apology while I was sitting there in class. When I wouldn’t do that either, I was supposed to sit inside during recess until I did it. So finally I took the bathroom pass, left it in the bathroom, and walked home. And then I was in trouble for that too, and my mother, while somewhat sympathetic, still ended up talking me into writing the note instead of standing up for my right not to.

      It took me years to stop internalizing the narrative that they always fed me about how I was emotionally defective and bad at controlling my temper and should be ashamed of fighting back. The thing that really changed my perspective on this was when I learned that one of my classmates, who had been bullied just as much as I but hadn’t fought back, had eventually tried to commit suicide. That was the point when I realized that fighting back, no matter how ineffective it was against the bullies, and no matter how much trouble it got me in, had actually been a sign of emotional health at some level. Regardless of how hard everyone had worked to convince me otherwise, I still had an intuition at some level that I didn’t deserve how I was being treated and that I had the right and the ability to take actions in my own defense. Remembering how my classmate responded to her tormentors, it was clear to me that she hadn’t been able to maintain that same level of emotional shielding (not to mention that she was stuck in that environment through high school, whereas I had escaped after middle school), which meant that they very nearly succeeded in killing her.

      I imagine the response from authorities is different for boys who fight back, but I don’t know if it’s better or worse.

      • smrnda
        July 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm

        Defending yourself from aggression and violence is only ‘wrong’ when your a kid getting messed with in school. If a guy shoved me on the street and I hit him in the head with a rock, the cops would probably see my side of the story.

        Perhaps the ‘self defense is as bad as unprovoked aggression’ is something schools are teaching deliberately to train kids to accept the status quo and not fight when they’re oppressed and in the right about it. I doubt most school officials are that sophisticated, but I really think that’s the message it sends.

        • July 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm

          I think the problem that adults tend to have in taking harassment of kids by other kids seriously is that when they imagine a kid treating them the way the bullies are treating the victims, they think it’s silly and can laugh it off. What they *should* be imagining is a fellow adult, of equal or greater physical strength and social position, treating them the same way the harassment victims are being treated (but with adult-level insults and torments), because from the child-victims’ perspective, that’s essentially what’s happening.

          There’s just a fundamental empathy fail here, and I’d like to say that those of us who were bullied as kids ought to have some immunity to it, but I’m not sure that’s the case. I’ve caught myself treating kids’ frustrations lightly a time or two myself (in non-bullying situations), despite the fact that I was a kid with those same kinds of frustrations once upon a time. So I have a suspicion that it’s an easy kind of failure to fall into, regardless of one’s own personal history, and therefore is something that we all need to be vigilant about.

          So I don’t think it needs to be a deliberate brainwashing strategy at all. I think we can fuck this one up pretty easily without even trying.

  18. F
    July 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Wow, that was pretty damn good.

    Here’s my “purse” quip, which illustrates two or more things:

    I was walking home two weeks ago, and some car passing me on the road honks. I turn to look because I get this occasionally from family and various folks who live where I work. Dude leans out the window and yells, “Nice purse!” Took me a second to even process what he said, as it is a bit unexpected.

    So, what we have here is someone who not only thinks that men shouldn’t carry a purse, but feels compelled to shout his feelings sarcastically at people from a moving vehicle. He also demonstrated something I’ve noticed before from this type of person: Astonishing Powers of Observation™. I’ll explain: I had a backpack, slung by one strap diagonally across my torso.

    These people are usually highly-trained idiots in more than one capacity.

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  20. msm16
    July 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Great post and i understand fully. I was teased and picked on in public school to the degree my parents had to move me to private school. I am lucky enough that my parents had the means to do this; I suspect I wouldn’t have survived two more years of public middle school.

    Another factor that I think both you and the other commenters are dancing around is the fact that often sexism is a result of men trying to be ‘manly.’ I play hockey and i see it in locker rooms all the time. It seems as if the other males try to out do each other in their sexism, I can only imagine that they take some measure of this environment with them outside of the locker room.

  21. smhll
    July 16, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The thing that really changed my perspective on this was when I learned that one of my classmates, who had been bullied just as much as I but hadn’t fought back, had eventually tried to commit suicide. That was the point when I realized that fighting back, no matter how ineffective it was against the bullies, and no matter how much trouble it got me in, had actually been a sign of emotional health at some level. Regardless of how hard everyone had worked to convince me otherwise, I still had an intuition at some level that I didn’t deserve how I was being treated and that I had the right and the ability to take actions in my own defense.

    I think you make an awesome point here! You really nailed it. I would love to see this point quoted more when Tone Trolls want upset marginalized people to express themselves in a nicer way. Sometimes there’s a lot of protest bottled up inside of someone who has swallowed a lot of shit in their day.

    • July 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Yeah, and protest is the *right* way to feel when someone treats you like shit. The question of the most effective way to express that protest is a different and important one, but feeling angry when people harass you is the first step in stopping the harassment — you have to recognize that you have a reason and a right to fight back before you can begin to choose your self-defense strategy. People who are too beaten down to even feel angry at their tormentors are on their way towards being destroyed by them.

      The most damaging thing the school counselors tried to teach me was to “just ignore it” when I was harassed. In other words, I was wrong to be angry when people harassed me. The strategies they pushed on me were all about how to make my anger go away, rather than about how to harness my anger more effectively against my tormentors, because the anger itself was seen as the problem. Since it was impossible for me to not get angry eventually no matter how hard I tried to clamp down on it, all that happened was that my “reward schedule” for feeding the trolls got more unpredictable, which actually reinforced their behavior (thanks to Jen Hancock for pointing out that this is classic operant conditioning), and in addition I felt ashamed and broken because I “couldn’t control myself”.

      Ultimately, I do think there’s some truth to the notion that you don’t want the harassers to *see* that they’re getting to you, if at all possible, because it just encourages them. But sometimes letting them know they’ve hurt you is a price worth paying if expressing those emotions also allows you to also motivate potential allies to take action, or to raise the consciousness of others who are being hurt in the same way. Being able to carefully control your emotional expression in order to use it as effectively as possible is an incredibly valuable skill, and so it’s often worth taking a moment to consider the likely results before you hit back at harassers, particularly in online interactions where you’ve got time to edit. But when a supposed ally’s first response to your anger is a blanket statement that showing emotion necessarily “harms your cause” or “feeds the trolls”, and ze doesn’t give any indication that ze’s made a serious effort to appreciate the validity of the emotions and their relevance to the audience being addressed, that person has raised serious questions about hir ally status.

      • Steve
        July 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

        Just ignoring it never worked for me. They’d just keep going to see how far they could take it. Sometimes the harassment and bullying stopped or slowed down for a while, only to pick up again later. But there was never a particular reason for that.

        • July 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm

          Yeah, Steve, that’s the operant conditioning principle at work. One way Hancock explained it is that when bullies pick on someone they’ve established a history of harassing, it’s like they’re putting money into a soda machine — they quite reasonably expect the same consistent response that past encounters have led them to expect (a soda, or perhaps the victim running off in tears). If that response isn’t immediately forthcoming, they don’t just shrug and walk away, just as most of us wouldn’t shrug and walk away from a soda machine that took our money and didn’t spit out a soda. Instead they do the equivalent of shaking, kicking, and cursing at the machine — they escalate the intensity of their input in hopes of getting that desired output.

          And it takes them several encounters to give up completely, even if their victim manages to avoid responding during one particular incident of harassment, just as a person who’s had a soda machine eat their money one time might use the machine a few more times to see if it’s been fixed or the money-eating was just a one-off glitch, before concluding that it’s just not going to work ever again. If they *do* get a response at one of those subsequent attempts, yay, the machine is fixed, so they go right back to harassing their victim, and if the victim fails to respond on another occasion, well, hey, the machine breaks sometimes, but it’ll get fixed eventually, we’ve just got to be a little more persistent…

          And that’s why the “just ignore it” strategy is a pile of shit. The victims aren’t warned about how this process works and aren’t prepared for the fact that once they stop responding the harassment will still probably escalate for a while before it goes away, so when the harassment escalates, they conclude that ignoring it doesn’t work, and they just break and go back to their previous response pattern. Handling harassment effectively is extremely difficult, especially when the harassment is long established, and it’s incredibly dismissive and careless for adults to tell kids to “just ignore it” and stop there, and then expect that kids are actually going to be able to resolve it on their own with that useless tidbit of advice.

  22. plutosdad
    July 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Not being an assertive, alpha-type male sucks growing up. I hated my entire childhood. I had serious questions about my sexuality, not because I was gay or attracted to men at all, but because I wasn’t tough enough to be one of the guys. So for awhile I assumed I must be gay or bi. Having a dad in Force Recon who yelled at me when I was little for not being strong enough or manly enough achieved just the opposite of what he intended.

    In my case Catholic school was a far worse hell-hole than public school was. Those kids were just downright mean, far more mean than the public school kids.

    I recently read a study (and googling for it I found there were many) showing that men who are less assertive and aggressive make less money than men who are.

    What is equally sad, is the MRAs who see this and say “see? men are discriminated against too!” instead of realizing the discrimination men and women face, in some cases like these, stem from the same bad place in our psyches and societies.

  23. smrnda
    July 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I think Anna that you hit it right – adults see what’s going on and they picture some 12 year old kid messing with them and figure they’d just laugh it off. The problem is that they aren’t another 12 year old kid. I’ve been punched in the fact by a 3 year old – a non-even for me as long as they don’t hit my glasses, but another 3 year old would have gotten hurt.

    I kind of wonder what happens after kids are no longer small – all my experience with kids is at very young ages where there is still a lot of explicit empathy teaching going on. I don’t have a clear picture of what happens as they get older and my own memories of being that age are hazy and dim.

    Part of it might just be socialization – I get the idea that kids are taught that aggression is bad by some adults, but other adults teach them that it’s good, and a lot of hostilities I think area learned. It’s also connected to bigger ideas that shape young people’s thinking. A 3 year old kid might hit someone because the kid is just in his way, but a 13 year old is going to hit someone because he’s a ‘faggot’ or ‘loser’ or something like that – an idea that once it gets in his head is going to make him aggressive without there needing to be any provocation.

  24. August 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Please have a look at this video detailing the way Love146 teaches a “biblical view of sexuality” in their trafficking rehabilitation work.

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