Monday, June 11, 2018

Toxic Men and Their Guise of Empathy

Is there something in the water that is making men such jerks lately? No. It’s not the water. It is the way things are, have been, and seems to be forever stuck in. The phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ has been being bandied about, and it’s a good thing that it is, but there are levels here to explore. It’s not just the sexually harassing, machismo bro culture of over there that needs to be stripped bare but the more passive, yet still as pervasive, toxicity that is in the ‘arty’ guy, the ‘empathic’ guy, the ‘woke’ (gag word) guy.

Who, what, do I mean? No one in particular, well actually an accumulation of particulars that are a big globby mass, but what I’m thinking about regarding men, and frankly angered by, is due a lot of my female friends and the horrible things they are having to endure by partners, ex-partners, soon to be ex-partners, and generally the men in their lives be it family, work, or sphere of friends.

I am in the art world, they are in the art world, and many of the males involved in these conflicts are in it too, or at least adjacent to it, and they are generally liberal, open minded, conscientious, all that crap. To be a member of these types of communities there is a sense of standard of politics when it comes to civil liberties, racism, things like that, but wow is it far from what it should be for sexism and power and control structures between hetero-normative male/female relationships.

So many men who are in these communities are seen as ‘sweet,’ getting ‘it,’ and ‘allies’ (as they like to say these days), but in fact there is so much hypocrisy in what they preach/align themselves with and how they actually live/treat women.

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you gaslight your partner and use the rhetoric of oppression to make yourself the victim yet having ultimate control of not only the communication channels and emotional tone but also physical space and objects?

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you require a certain type of interaction, mostly based on ‘fun,’ ‘supporting you’ and ‘making things easy’ while you push away any requirement of deep conversation and dialogue on topics that might not pertain to you directly or may be difficult subjects?

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you don’t recognize that being –blank-blank-blank- puts you in a position of power and privilege and that while no, you don't have to apologize for that, you should understand that as a fact and to be aware of how it may be different for those that are not?

These are all very basic examples. And to any women reading this, I think we have all experienced this by a male. We of course experience it in the world at large but we also experience it in the clusters of safe spaces, networks and peers we thought was ‘on our side.’ When this happens it is infuriating and also scary.  Who can we trust? Are we a part of allowing these things to keep occurring? How do we get out of this?

The masked empathy man is sinister because they use the language and the community of peers to perform a type of masculinity that feels evolved, safer. Then it happens—when they get slighted, offended, hurt, or rejectedthen you are facing a stranger but one who has intimate access to your safe zones and your mental/emotional landscape.

The sense of fear towards this type of man is one that has been relayed to me by many female friends of late and that makes my heartbreak. But I get it. I too, and probably every women reading this, has had an experience(s) in which they have to go into triage mode of escape, protect, and get reinforcements of support against the aggrieved male.

What is also infuriating is that the ‘community’ in which you are supposed to feel a part of and safe within many times lets you down. Male on male indiscretion/calling out is a socialized no-no and it really messes it up for the rest of us. That’s why many times women have to reach out and stick with other women on an island of self-preservation when the aggrieved male lashes out.

Other Men: Help us, do something about it. Believe us, and again, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

We all need to support each other. We all need to feel like we do have life rafts in the drama, craze of life. We all need to feel safe, valued, and cared for.

This isn’t an, ‘I hate men,’ post. Yes, I’m really angry because I just can’t stand how often and how much this is happening to those I care for, but it’s also about taking responsibility. Having those hard conversations with others and ourselves about how things truly are and how we can change them.

I’m sick of it and I want all those men with empathy masks out there to know that it’s not enough to just act the act. We will see through it, it will crack. Hopefully one day all that anger, toxicity and everything else that makes you so violent towards women can be appeased, lessened and hopefully you can find a form of peace. Until then, we are pissed, we are ready for you and even if it’s only women supporting other women at the moment, it will change. We will make it change.