I’M AFRAID I’M GOING TO HAVE TO CANCEL MEN
I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to cancel men so we can have a frank and spirited conversation about how to behave like good people. Until we have that honest talk, no more football or fart jokes or double bacon cheeseburgers. No more high-fives or fist bumps or boob banter. I’m cancelling video games and comic books and beer pong.
If you’re in the locker room, do what you’re supposed to do in the locker room. Change into your short shorts.
I’m pulling this car over.
I don’t want to do this. But it’s time we have a talk. Man to men. It’s become clear that we men cannot emotionally handle the fact that we are flawed, imperfect and selfish human beings who don’t like it when shit changes. It’s natural to panic when shit changes. But we’re beyond Xanax right now.
So do me a favor: Spare me the boy noise about biology. Your arguments are not convincing. While we’re on the topic of ground rules: “Man cards” are not personalities. “Man caves” are tombs. You are not oppressed by women.
There is no such thing as alpha dogs or beta-males. What nonsense. Pure argle-bargle. It’s a simpler binary: there are people who want to be better, and people too afraid to give it a whirl. There is no ambition or originality in becoming that which you fear.
Have you been rejected? I am sorry, your highness, but we do not always get that which we want. Perhaps, at work, there is a rival for authority who is not a man. Well, warrior, accept the challenge! Has a beloved cultural artifact from your youth been vandalized to appeal to someone who is not you? What a lovely life it is, indeed, if such a thing is the greatest crime committed against you. Are we done? Good.
Yes, of course, men have done many excellent things. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. Please don’t bore me. Also: don’t whine or complain. I can’t abide a sniveler.
So what qualifies me to cancel men? What are my bone fides? Ask your mom.
Seriously. Ask her if she’s ever been dismissed by a man. Sit her down and look in her eyes and ask her if a man has ever sneered at her. I bet, if you really want to know, and I mean really want to know, she’ll tell you, casually, about the things men do that men do not see. Because we don’t have to see what we don’t want to see. It’s the most sublime gift we have given ourselves. The ability to enjoy power and ignore the wreckage.
But, you know, you shouldn’t have to have a mother, or a daughter, or a sister to know that when somebody asks for “help” you don’t respond with “well, actually…” You help them because that’s the decent thing to do.
I’m a man, just like you. A member of the dominant power caste of our civilization. This is a fact that is evident. You think it was a government of women who carved the faces of four men into the side of a mountain?
Allow me to quote the great Western philosopher, Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility. Yes. You have power. Yes. Yes you do. Maybe not as much as you want, but you got it. Yes. Shut-up. Being human is tough. We struggle. This is our lot. But men struggle just a little less than people who were not lucky enough to win the gender lottery. Stop screaming. This is important.
We have to be better.
Here’s a refresher on being a good person: do unto other’s as you would have them do unto you. I paid attention in bible study! This is so basic, dudes. You learned this in kindergarten. Get it together. It’s embarrassing that I even have to mansplain this.
I’m going to assume SOME of you have positive father figures in your life, but just in case you don’t, let’s go over some other good person fundamentals. First, one needs to be honest with oneself. Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Second, one needs to be able to take responsibility for their words and actions. Own your shit, bros.
There are people in your life who are asking you to listen. Because, pal, I can assure you that, in your life, you have been heard.
Listen to them. Believe them. It is implausible that the stories you’d hear are the result of a complicated gender conspiracy. What’s more likely is that you don’t realize your advantages and it hurts your widdle ego to be told that. Use your imagination and walk a mile in someone’s uncomfortable high heels. It’s not that hard to do, to crawl out of one’s own butt.
Here’s something else that may be uncomfortable: there are men, especially in the dark safe spaces of the internet, who dispute that “rape culture” exists and I agree with them. What many call “rape culture” I just call “culture.” So that’s something you can chew on while you’re in time out.
And, once you’ve had a good think, go write the following on the chalkboard 100 times: “women are not supporting characters in the movie of my life, or toys in my sandbox, or cuts of meat for my grill.”
Good job, so far. Shhhh. Now look to your left, and look to your right. One of you has probably made a woman feel afraid. I just can’t let you go through your relatively charmed life thinking you’re a good person if you’re cool with that.
Take a knee: I’m not censoring you. I’m not the thought police. You’re probably angry right now. Good. You’re angry because you can’t control the truth that we’ve had a nice, long run but the time has come to admit we can’t do it all ourselves, for ourselves, and not be, frankly, runaway hysterical assholes.
Let me explain some things to you, now, very simply because some of you are so brittle that simple is the only way I can hope to get you to comprehend some things: I’m not above this criticism. I am a man. I have made sexist jokes. I have made more money because of my gender, and science told me that. I have bragged about sexual conquest, especially when those conquests were insecure invention. I have luxuriated in my privilege.
All I can do is open my heart. Listen. Make amends. Evolve. Check in and confirm and confront my biases as best I can. I am trying. So can you. Man up. Then I’ll think about allowing you to thwack each other with towels again.