Heartache to Heartache We Stand
I will start by saying this is an opinion piece, and for the broflakes – yes yes, not all men.
My therapist challenged me to write a piece on how the term “terrorist” doesn’t fit what is going on currently. It is too big of a term, that means too much to different people. What is happening right now needs to be readdressed and redefined. We cannot just keep looking to the past to term current problems.
So I’ve been marinating on this topic, and I this is what I think. . .
Simply put, we have a crisis of masculinity going on in the USA right now. Which, I know is nothing new. Anytime there is an upheaval, and economic downturn there becomes a crisis of masculinity. Men feeling that they are not fulfilling their “purpose”, which is to be the breadwinner etc. These crises are often righted when men get their footing back, and power restored through things like war. The media also echoes it by pumping out hyper masculine narratives which make men feel in control, and briefly empowered.
The film Rambo, which came out after the Vietnam war comes to mind as an example. Sly Stallone was the personification of ideal masculinity. He was a way to show men that they were seen and heard. He embodied the retribution on a government that betrayed their men, sending them home as losers, not heroes. As well as society that turned their back on them rather than supported them. With keen survival skills, and brute force Rambo took back his power, and through victory reaffirmed his masculinity.
These crisis of masculinity were easy to assuage because there was always an outlet or a valve that let off the pressure. That pressure was also made easier to relieve because men held the power. Even when groups and movements made progress previously it was still men in the driver’s seat. Second wave feminism got some things changed; but the backlash unleashed against it was so severe that it stunted its growth. It was (and let’s face it, still is) primarily old white dudes making the decision.
Fast forward to now, things are different. The crisis of masculinity has been building for a few years. Only this time, men are not the only ones in the driver seats. They are no longer the loudest voice in the room. Women, and people of colour are waging a fierce war on patriarchal control. So the pressure in that valve is seeing no release and it is exploding. People are dying, and shit is just going to get uglier.
Ever since Trump got elected there has been a deluge of seemingly unending distressing news. It makes it hard to feel like we’re making any progress at all, and when you’re knee deep in the feminist trenches it looks bleak. This makes it harder to pull back and look around. To understand that despite the casualties, we are winning.
Don’t roll your eyes at me, I know we’re a long way off. However, I feel like we have them on the defensive, and they are scrambling. I know it looks daunting, and sometimes you just want to give up the fight. I think this fatigue is normal ,and necessary. It is important to take care of yourself so you are ready to battle it out more. I know this fight is going to get a lot bloodier and vicious before it’s done. Lives will be lost on both side either literally or metaphorically.
I am sure at this point you’re thinking to yourself “Brandilee, i think you need to return to the ranch the horses are wandering”. I promise it all ties together, just stick with me.
Let us go back to the election last year. I knew that Donald Trump would be elected. There was never a doubt in my mind. You can list all the political reasons you want out the wazoo but it boils down to there being no way in hell America would elect a woman for president. Not now. Not during a crisis of masculinity. Even if she was squeaky clean and scandal free – it would not happen. Trump offered the USA a way to get their masculinity back, to reclaim the power balance the men were losing.
He was this life raft in the middle of an ocean full of snowflakes, and the PC police. A man’s man who does what, and who he wants even if they say no. He embodies a masculine ideal in his wealth, status and charisma. He promised to take care of those pesky immigrants that Americans have been blaming for their economic and social woes since they first landed on American soil. Most importantly though; like Roosevelt before him (who also came in during a crisis of masculinity) he offers up the potential for a solution to the crisis – war.
War, a time honoured way for men to be a masculine ideal. The ultimate manly pursuit – defending country, and freedom. Being a hero. War also has the potential to bolster the economy, even if for just a short period of time. So Trump dangling this juicy morsel, plus the promise to make men .. men again was just too tempting to resist. I know there was a lot of other factors involved politically, Michael Moore wrote a good explanation on his website.
But Brandilee, what about the ladies who voted for Trump? You may be asking yourself. Oh, the ladies. Internalized misogyny is alive and well for many women in the USA. Women who believe that their place is in the home, and that feminists are the ultimate big bad. Women who suffer at the hands of men who are frustrated and angry at their place in the world. It makes sense that they would want to restore this ideal that they have been led to believe is how life is supposed to be. Women in the kitchen, men bringing home the bacon.
By voting Trump in there was a declaration of war. Of the line being drawn between those wanting change, and those wanting things to remain the same. Things have escalated quickly since then. The need to hold on to what Obama gave to the country, and not wanting rights to backslide further makes everything more urgent, and fraught. Knowing that the US government is still primarily run by old racist white dudes who hate women and anyone in the LGBTQ community makes things that much worse.
So with everything that Trump is throwing at various communities it seems really disheartening. He has the louder voice, and more coverage so it seems as though we are losing ground.
I want to point out the positives though. There are conversations being had right now, that have never had national coverage. Things are changing in ways that would not have been possible previously. This is important.
Feminism is on many people’s lips. The women’s march showed that many women are willing to stand up for women. Yes, I totally agree that it was more a fixation on cis women, buzzwords and ideas. I really hope though that the conversation it started helps make people more informed, and educated about intersectional feminism – and not just white feminism. I do not believe that this opportunity could have happened before. We have more support now than we did previously.
We are building a foundation amongst women who previously sneered at feminism and the need for it. So we need to work hard to ensure that they are not just stuck at the white feminist entry level position. Us intersectional white feminists need to make it a point to continue their education, not shame, and shut down conversation. We need to continue to allow black women to fight, without burdening themselves with educating white folk.
By feminism being something that is talked about, more women are finding their strength to speak up, and speak out. For example; the heyday of men in the entertainment industry being able to do what they want is coming to an end. Slowly, more and more men are being outed and people are speaking out against them. Whereas before when men ruled absolutely, women did not dare speak up. They were vulnerable and they knew it. If they wanted a career they had to give in to these men, and be used by them. They stayed quiet because they knew they would not be supported if they spoke up.
Another thing I am loving right now is black women giving two middle fingers up, and speaking out… and finally being listened to. They are creating art, and conversation about what they go through as black women and the representation they want to see. They have a platform, and they are using it, and people are listening.
The conversation about race and history has also been started. Statues are being taken down, and men are kneeling. There is anger in the streets and it is raw and real. The time for polite protest is gone. The demand is for the truth of history to be recognized and reconciled. To see an end to the genocide of black people at the hands of deeply entrenched systemic racism. No more will the be politely protest in a way that makes the white people comfortable over the justice denied to the murdered black men and women by the police.
The one group I am admittedly worried about is the LGBTQ community, especially transgendered folk. The US govt is doing all they can to create segregation in America for gay people. It’s disgusting and problematic. We are already losing too many trans lives to suicide, murder or disease. We really need to do our best to rally around them and bolster them through this time.
With all of this happening the power balance is shifting. Men no longer are allowed to rule absolutely. Women, black people, minorities, and LGBTQ folk want their say. Unlike before where they the men could keep these groups silent due to their power, they can’t anymore.
We are too big for them, too loud, and too angry. We will no longer allow this to continue on. We won’t be cowed like we were before because we did not have the support needed. So the men are panicking.
There is some debate about who coined the phrase “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”. That’s what men feel like right now, that this unseating of power has led them to be oppressed. They are now being held accountable for their actions and they do not like it.
This has given rise to the incels, the meninists, the MRA, and MGTOW. Groups who bitch whine and moan about how women have done them wrong. They have zero interest in changing anything, they just want to blame women for their woes. The men in these groups are angry at women and what they represent.
So we have an unseating of power, oppressed groups armed and ready for a fight, and a masculinity crisis. All of this is rubbing up against one another causing heat. The war many have salivated over has not yet arrived, so there has to be an outlet.
Men who are raised with traditional gender roles are brought up to oppress their emotions and amplify their aggression. Due to this many do not know how to express their feelings without violence. Which brings me to the challenge by therapist to write something about redefining terrorism.
I do not think “ultimate male temper tantrum” is appropriate, and I am not quite sure what it WOULD be better labelled as. The truth is though that these rage kills by men are happening too frequently. I do not think that gun control is going to help. It is only going to infuriate the men, and make them lash out more.
I think the only way we’re going to combat this problem is to fight the toxic masculinity that creates it. I know that the words “toxic masculinity” send dudes into an epic meltdown but I am not saying that masculinity in itself is toxic. What makes it toxic, is as I mentioned earlier the insistence of suppression of emotions and amplified aggression.
THAT is what we need to fix. Until we do, this is not going to get better. These men are going to continue murdering in mass numbers, or even in small numbers of people they know personally – like a girlfriend or a wife.
I truly believe there needs to be a meninist movement. One that is based on actually WANTING things to be better for men. Not just wanting to blame everything on everyone else and refusing to take any responsibility for their own actions.
There needs to be centers for men to help them undo the damage done through gender roles. There needs to be domestic, or sexual violence shelters for men to go to. There needs to be homeless shelters for men. Veterans need to be healed, not used up and thrown away. There needs to be an erasure of “men do this” and “women do that”. The disdain towards anything seen as feminine has to be corrected.
It’s a tall order, but if the feminists could do it – then men can too. I think feminists should be allies, and offer support but I sure as fuck do not think we should be doing the work. We have our own fires to put out. Our own course to navigate. We need to stop stifling conversation because it makes us uncomfortable, and afraid. We need to combat the harmful narratives these people are spewing. Silencing them will just give them more power.
I think shit is going to get a fuckton worse before it gets better. Trump has opened a pandora’s box of male entitlement, racism and overall hatred for anything that does not fit his (and those who support him) narrative. So I think we need to gear up, and push forward. When you’re feeling disheartened look to the positive, and celebrate the little victories.
We need to not be divided like the suffrage, and second wave feminism movement was in terms of being more focused on white issues than black. We need to support and understand that the success of black women is just as imperative (if not more so) than that of white women. We need to protect Trans women, and show them that they are loved and supported. That is the only way we’re going to get through these broflake tantrums.
I will end this with two quotes from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman”
“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.”
“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”
We white ladies betrayed her vision the first time, we can’t this time.