October 20, 2014
We had a bad leak in the apartment about a week ago, followed by days of cool, humid weather that meant the walls and ceiling didn’t dry out well at all. Heading into the bathroom this afternoon, I looked in the mirror to see this little guy right above the doorframe behind me.
[Image is of a tiny brown mushroom growing out of a crack in the paint of a white wall.]
Me: It’s so cute.
Emily #2: I could think of some different adjectives….
October 14, 2014
It was for this statement that I felt I had to unfollow a Facebook friend recently. It wasn’t the only thing that made the absolutely screwball, back-asswards social justice discourse on Facebook unbearable during the week in question, but it was kind of a breaking point with regards to my ability to not say anything about it.
And according to some people, if I were really enlightened about sexism and oppression, or had the right belief system about those things, I’d know I was supposed to take it someway other than at face value, but I’ve never been any good at tests like that, where I fail some ideological standard by taking people seriously for what they say.
And according to certain formats of discourse about feminism and privilege and stuff, it isn’t supposed to bother me. But it does, and this is only part of the reason why.
See, when you say this, I think about the men who have also been betrayed and hurt by our culture, who already get told that they fail as people, or fail as men, or can never be real men. Not the self-described entitled “Nice Guys,” or cat-callers, or murderers. But the truly gentle men. The shy men. The feminine men. The trans men. The men who would never knowingly or avoidably hurt another person or creature. I think about the disabled men and autistic men, men who have suffered rape and domestic violence, men who work to undermine the exact same forms of discrimination and violence that you do, in any way they can, every day that they’re alive.
These men are already told that they suck by the very same system that tells women and people of every other gender how much we suck.
I think about the men who when they were boys were some of the very few people who treated me like a person. They aren’t perfect people, but like some days I made it home from school not hating myself, and some nights I didn’t cry myself to sleep because no one said a nice thing to me that day. The chubby kid who wore the same clothes to school most days whose locker was above mine in 6th grade? The other kids didn’t treat him better than me for being male. The girls in the gym locker room weren’t more careful than he was not to step on my feet or kick me in the head.
I think about the men I work with on a daily basis—the actors, directors, choreographers, assistant stage managers, and technicians. Whose work I depend on to make a living, and who depend on mine, because they’ve made it their life’s work to fill the world with beauty and tell better stories.
I think of every man hamstrung and violated and disregarded by this culture’s stupid, cruel expectations of manhood. Those men are already getting told that they suck a thousand times a day. I think about the men deciding what kind of men they really want to be, and how they could be good ones, in a society that doesn’t show them a lot of good options. I didn’t think “No, you’re right, there aren’t any,” was the lesson we were going for.
I think about the boys I know who are going to grow up to be disabled men of color, and what kind of chances are we going to give them to do that, who are already so vulnerable from almost every other possible angle? What kind of people are we telling them they could grow up to be? When we tell them “Men suck?”
I think about the men whose writing or music or art has healed and sustained me.
And when you declare that “Men suck,” you are talking about all of those men, too.
I think about the girls who may grow up to be men, and what they’re hearing in this, and the boys who may or may not grow up to be men. What are we telling them about what their choices are? You can be a man, or you can be a person who doesn’t suck, but not both.
The culture of masculinity that all of these men are coming from has already declared them worthless and wrong. Are we accepting refugees from that entire way of thinking, or are we just perpetuating it under a different name?
What are you telling a child about whether or not he can grow up to be a person you can love and approve of?
I thought the point was that we don’t do that to people.
I thought we were supposed to be the ones who didn’t attack and devalue people for involuntary factors intrinsic to their personhood. I thought we were the community that didn’t leave people with no feasible way to be an acceptable human being.
If I was wrong, if that’s not the case, somebody let me know. Because I can’t be a part of it.