The only time we typically seem to be in agreement that “Men Are Trash” is when something physically violent or hurtful has been done to someone by a man. For instance, a man rapes someone, man beats up a woman, or a man is deceitful to his family, then we are all in agreement that men are trash…well, most of us anyway. But is this really the measure we should be standing ourselves up against? Is this really what we, as men, should be aiming for? To not rape, assault, deceive, or pillage?
I remember Munroe Bergdorf getting slaughtered by the media for saying all white people were racist. She explained her statement very clearly, however all the focus was purely on the phrase “all white people are racist”. Rather than listening to the explanation and arguing it logically, even the most accomplished white journalists found themselves reacting only to that phrase and not her clarification. “Are you saying I am racist?”, “Have I ever said anything racist?” they all screamed. But what Bergdorf basically meant, as she repeatedly explicated, was that white people benefit from racism and thus are racist. I totally get her argument. If you benefit from criminal activity, are you not a criminal? If you benefit from a system designed to benefit, prioritise and protect your race before anyone of any other race, are you not a racist?
This is exactly what happens with the statement “Men are Trash”. We focus so much on the semantics that we get defensive by pointing out how non-violent we are towards women. Where a white person would say to a black person “I did not call you the N-word hence I am not racist”, a man would say to a woman “I did not beat you up hence I am not trash”.
To use Ms Bergdorf’s argument as a starting point, if, as a man, you benefit from patriarchy, are you not trash? In my humble opinion, you are…I am. When women say “Men are Trash”, so many of us are quick to reel out our non-violent attributes à la “I don’t beat up my wife”, “I take care of my family”, “I respect my girlfriend”, etc…but what we should rather ask ourselves is “do I benefit from patriarchy?” “Do I benefit from certain privileges in my home, workplace, and/or daily life purely because I am a man?” “Do I call out patriarchy when I encounter it?” “Am I a genuine ally to women in their struggle to put an end to patriarchy?”
It is not enough to not physically abuse women. We must go beyond that, way beyond that. We must be visibly part of the fight to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. I mention the term “visibly”, because sometimes we as men do fight patriarchy but only behind closed doors. I remember someone tweeting that her husband used to treat her as an equal in everything until his boys were around. Then, she’d have to be a traditional wife and him the traditional alpha male. TRASH!
Come on gents; let’s dismantle patriarchy in ourselves and in our sons (and daughters) from the day they are born. Let’s help each other, let’s open up, share, and talk about it in our spaces. If we see patriarchy rear its ugly head, let’s call it out. And yes, I know some men (and women) will call you weak for it but you need to remember that that thought process too is a result of patriarchy. When women think emotionally expressive men, or men who aren’t alpha, macho, or violent, are weak, they do so because they are conditioned to think that way by patriarchy. We’ll discuss the effects patriarchy has on women’s thought processes another day. Until then, let’s kick patriarchy out of your spaces by any means necessary. Otherwise, we really are just trash.
Just scribbling my trashy thoughts.