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Hey, question for you. Did you know that men and women are different? No, I swear. It’s true. Thousands of terrible relationship books, insipid rom-coms and hackneyed comedians have made a lot of money reminding us of that fact. Women are constantly wondering what men are thinking, and men are constantly wondering what women want. And while it’s a cute topic and plot device that has been around since the start of the written word, there’s also a dark side which at times seems to be only seconds away from boiling over. Recently, that boiling point was hit.
Last weekend, America was treated to yet another mass shooting. A man named Elliot Rodger went on a rampage where he fatally stabbed three men, shot two women, shot a man and eventually turned the gun on himself. With this, many of the same issues have been raised. What should be done about gun control? What could have been done to prevent it? Was there a history of mental illness? How long will this be in the news before Congress decides to continue to do nothing about it? However, there was a new topic that was brought up. Shortly before making final drive into Asshole-ville, Rodger posted a kind of a manifesto on Youtube. In it, he claimed that the reason he felt he had to do this was because he wasn’t getting laid. He was 22 and felt that because he had never touched a boob, society had to pay during his “Day of Retribution”. He claimed that although he was the “perfect guy” and a “supreme gentleman”, women still went for the “obnoxious brutes”. Soon, more information was released that Rodger was a frequent visitor to websites for pickup artists and Men’s Rights Activism.
Yeah, this guy seems reasonable.
Once these details were made clear, something interesting happened. A new hashtag appeared on twitter called #YesAllWomen. With it, women felt that they had a voice and a platform to explain the difficulties society and situations have placed on them. Some were simple annoyances at how society perceives them; others were confessions of true pain, fear and horror. This sparked a fast-moving debate on the issue of misogyny in our culture. Many people had Facebook posts, tweets, and blogs with their own stories to tell. And since I just started this blog, I figured this would be a great place to voice an opinion from someone who has a deep understanding on what it means to be oppressed in our society: A straight, white man.
As a straight, white man (SWM for short, I’m going to be saying it a lot) I have to say that life can be incredibly difficult. I work nine hours a day, plus two hours of commute. If I’m working on a theater piece, those nine hours quickly go into double digits. Money is always tight and paying bills on time sometimes feels like doing a dog paddle in a tsunami. I can feel my body rotting away like a January pumpkin, but with no time for a gym, the best I can hope is to patch it up to make it to the next day. And dating is an absolute minefield. Having two people who share the same feelings for each other seems like a story that has only been told in song and legend. I cherish the relationships with each of my lady friends, but it can be frustrating when you’re frequently the shoulder to cry on and rarely the crotch to hump. To even complain about this, though, you sound like a whiny putz and it just makes you less attractive to any woman who has ever even considered that you might have sexing parts. There are millions of SWMs who I’m sure feel this same way, and it can make life a straight-up pain in the ass sometimes.
To my fellow SWMs, I can only say this: we’re playing Life on the Easy setting.
In our world, Nazis carry Nerf bats and challenge us to tickle fights.
I understand you’re frustrated. You see beautiful women dating dogshit men and complain about being a nice guy who can’t get laid. And it’s true; she’s probably making a shitty life choice at the moment. You hear a woman expressing her anger against rape apologists and quickly defend that they don’t speak for all men. That’s also true. As someone who has never raped anyone, it can feel like you’re being scolded for doing something that would never even cross your mind. But here’s the problem: Nobody is talking about that right now. Your complaint has no merit in this discussion. It’s like complaining to a Ugandan child about a shitty Cobb salad you had for lunch. This isn’t about you. Just eat your fucking salad.
As a SWM, I’m never going to truly understand what it means to be a woman. I can sympathize with the struggle, but I’m never really going to know what it’s like to be victimized in the grand scale of society. If I’m in a bad mood, people figure I probably have something on my mind. If a woman is in a bad mood, she’s either a bitch or on her period. Nobody judges my character because of how I’m dressed, unless I forgot to change out of my Klan robes. If a woman wears a short skirt or a tube top, she’s a slut who literally has a sign hanging from her vagina saying “All The Cocks Please”. If I’m walking down the street at night and woman passes me, I think, “Look. There’s a woman. I wonder if she’ll smile at me.” If a woman walks down the street at night and passes a man, she may think, “Look. There’s a man. I wonder if he’ll drag me away to kill or rape me.” To jarringly bring this into reality for a moment, a few days ago a very beloved member of our DC Theater Community named Frank Britton was mugged and beaten by four men while leaving an opening night cast party in Silver Spring. In the attack he had his cheekbone shattered and his property stolen. He is currently in the hospital undergoing treatment, partially funded by the outpouring of support from the DC Theater Community. And while I’m not trying to lessen what he is currently going through or trivialize his situation in any way, just try to imagine what else could have been destroyed or taken if he had been a she. (By the way, if you’d like to help chip in for Frank’s medical bills, please follow this link: http://www.gofundme.com/9kdxjo)
I know that there are SWMs who read this and want to say that they know all of this. They don’t judge women by how they look and truly are progressive in how they think. They just want people to know that not all men are like this. I understand that mindset because I catch myself doing it from time to time. But we can’t lose focus on what the topic is. We have to realize that this isn’t about us and how we’re being judged. This is about women voicing their pain, frustration and anger. We need to shut up for a few minutes and just eat our salads.
This can set a dangerous precedent, though. Many times as a SWM I’ve been in a discussion about misogyny, abortion, gay marriage, reparations, immigration or any number of social issues that focus on the rights of a certain group. And in these discussions I’ve been told to either shut up or that my opinion on the topic doesn’t matter. This is where I take pause. These issues do not just concern women, gays, lesbians, blacks, Mexicans, Jews, etc. These are social issues that affect us all and it is always your right to have an opinion on the topic at hand. As long as both sides fight fair and stay away from personal attacks, I truly believe that any issue should be up for debate. But just make sure that the opinion that you’re expressing helps move the discussion forward. Think of it like you’re listening to someone telling a story about something they saw at Starbucks. If you break into that story with an explanation of how Starbucks is evil and you only visit local coffee shops, you’re not helping. You’re just muddying the story and derailing it into something that nobody was talking about. So in this case, just for five minutes: shut the fuck up.
No matter what you have or don’t have between your knees, there is no reason to be treated like less of a person. You shouldn’t have to work twice as hard to make half as much. You shouldn’t be afraid to be alone at night. You shouldn’t blame yourself if you’re attacked or groped. You owe us nothing and shouldn’t feel like a slut if you want to show a little cleavage or thigh. I can’t promise that if I see it my mind won’t go into the reptilian part of my brain, but I do promise that I’ll keep that in my own shitty head.
And to all those who aren’t playing the game on Easy, I apologize for us SWMs. When we get defensive, it’s simply because we’re frustrated. We’re frustrated because we are often painted as the villain. We are seen as having all of the power, even though individually most of us feel essentially powerless. Most of us are good, easy going people who would like nothing more than to see everyone treated equally. And when we see people focusing on the Neanderthals making a bad name for our entire gender, it’s incredibly disheartening. But that’s our own problem. Please don’t be afraid to speak out. If you have nothing else, you have your thoughts and your hearts. Don’t be afraid to express either. And hopefully us SWMs will be right there with you, trying to be supportive and not so defensive.
But if we ever start to go off topic, feel free to tell us to just eat our fucking salads.