Not All Men? Well, actually…
Alicen Grey

As a male, I’m very aware that most violence and destruction in this world are perpetrated by men. Oftentimes I am ashamed and embarrassed of my gender. You can see it not only in the human species, but also this fascinating radiolab episode on baboons:

In this fascinating story, male baboons are extremely aggressive toward their own kind and fight to kill each other. Something happens that kills off the male population in great numbers, and what happens is something incredible: all of the tribes of baboons which are basically female and babies, live in peaceful harmony among one another. You should definitely have a listen.

Anyway, that said, it makes me sad for all of the women in my life who have to face this uncertainty of male aggression on a regular basis. Hell, even me—as a short guy with a very calm temperament, who was raised by my mother and preferred the arts over sports—even I get afraid of some men. Afraid to speak my mind lest they lash out at me and “kick my ass.” I can say that I’m not afraid of getting my ass kicked for speaking my mind to any woman. And that’s not to say because I think I’m “stronger” or more capable, because I’m sure there are a lot of women out there who could kick my ass. But my point is, that happens never. Women don’t possess that level of aggression, that desire to beat someone up for saying something they don’t like. I mean, sure, it happens, but rarely. If I hear about a fight that happens, or read about a violent crime in a newspaper, say no more, I’m almost certain it’s a dude behind it. And most of the time I’d be right. It’s shameful.

I remember when I was a kid at summer camp, ALL of the boys would go to play football during extracurricular activity, and ALL of the girls would go do arts and crafts or music or book club. I was an exception. I hated football—and I’m not meaning to incite a discussion about the sport itself here, good for anyone who loves it and I can appreciate that—but most of all I disliked it because for me at the time it represented aggression. Guys tackling each other for a ball and yelling at each other between plays. When I was forced to play it, I begrudgingly went along, but I was always on the sidelines wondering what the hell… Anyway I remember when I had the choice between activities, I would always choose the side of arts or studies. I remember boys calling me a “faggot” and a “pussy” and a “girl”—as if any of those things are a bad thing—but I ignored them. Some of them even threatened to beat me up! For not playing a sport with them? For making my own decision, to create art?! For the record, I was/am a straight male, but why in society do we teach boys from a young age that having a tendency toward sports/business = normal straight male behavior, and having a tendency toward arts/music/cooking/etc. = abnormal gay male behavior that ought to be discouraged? That, I believe, is where the problem lies. It starts with fathers, with male leaders, who teach boys from a young age that this is the way to act. This is the way to “get ahead.” That you have to be a fighter. That you have to throw a punch to earn your “manhood.”

I’m grateful that I was raised by artistic parents for that matter. My dad did like sports but he never made my brother and I do anything we wouldn’t want to. They both fostered our creativity and nurtured our intellect. My dad is a very relaxed soul who probably couldn’t hurt a fly, so he never taught us as boys this kind of aggression, to fly off the handle when we don’t agree with someone. He taught us to be civil, to listen, to learn, to be respectful of others. He also taught us to cook and bake. Hell, to even be in touch with our emotions if we felt like it. In a nutshell, both of my parents taught us to be well-rounded and to explore our passions.

Listen, in no way am I trying to pat myself on the back or say to you, “hey, look at me, I’m not one of them.” I’m sure to some biological degree there is a reason for this. But I think most of it is sociological, most of it is learned behavior. It’s all over history books—from assassinations to wars—men are the great force behind so much destruction since the dawn of time. So I applaud you for taking a stand in the face of it. What you say is true, and what we need to do as a society is start to think of how to raise boys differently. I think it’s all about creating that balance—teaching boys that it is indeed OK to be in touch with their emotions, it is OK to be creative, it is OK to cry, to be open with how we feel, etc. But the balance being learning how to manage these emotions. Picking your battles. Handling your fears/anxieties and learning to deal with adversity. Understanding that there is a time to cry and there is a time to pick yourself up and start over.

Anyway, I’m rambling. But yeah, I’m with you on this one.

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