Man Throws Self In Garbage. News At 11.
In 2017, I’m Probably Not The Only Guy Who Should Be Doing This.
“When I sit at a table filled with women, it’s honestly a new and amazing experience to stop and put up this wall where I no longer initially think, ‘oh, hello woman I’m engaging with in conversation. You are very or not so very attractive according to my personal standard of beauty.’ There’s a certain strength required to do this. There’s this emotional restraining wall that I’ve been using, and I’ve become completely okay with constantly run head-first into it. Ultimately, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, it’s the pain of this wall that’s helps me to note, ‘where’s the unique strength, intelligence, and professional talent in this woman?’ Because that’s the important stuff.’”
Roughly two weeks ago, I sat in a podcasting studio and made the above statement while discussing how I felt that we were heading into an evolutionary space wherein women-led industries were going to become the norm, and then assume the economic lead in modern society. It was on this same day that the New York Times printed an article entitled “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades.” Two weeks later the reverberations of this accusation have reached volcanic proportions.
Our digital and IRL streets are now awash in the in the sludge and scent of toxic masculinity as the destructive ash and lava spewed forth by the lives of tragically flawed American men. As a better corollary, at present, cisgender manhood in the United States seems, and personally feels like, an exploded bubo oozing plague upon the body of modern American society. Maybe because I’m guilty, maybe because I’m embarrassed, maybe because it’s necessary, I, as a man, contributing to this disorder, need to throw myself in the metaphorical garbage.
Weinstein, much like current American President Donald Trump, represents a certain type of toxic man plague. They represent a certain hegemonic, caucasoid, and monetized manifest destiny-enabled masculinity that places America in a terrible double-bind in regards to how to police its influence. Yes, Harvey Weinstein is a now outed and abusive misogynist. But, he’s also the producer behind incredible feats of modern American entertainment like Pulp Fiction, Clerks, and The Producers. Similarly, Donald Trump is also an abusive misogynist. But he’s also the guy who executive produced many Mike Tyson fights and The Miss Universe Pageant, introduced Herschel Walker to pro football, Lil Jon to the boardroom, and made Manhattan opulent again.
It’s said that we should never meet out heroes. Because of the memories they’ve created, Harvey and Donald are heroic. The memories they created, because they’ve created these men’s heroic mythology, have absolved them from blame. It’s as if in some way the iconic presence of Vincent Vega, Jules Winfield and/or “the art of the deal” in popular culture serves as a panacea. However, when things like New York Times reports and constant streams of Presidential bad press exist, the mythological power we give these memories is stripped away from them. Laid bare and without myth, men like Weinstein and Trump become, instead of Jay and Silent Bob, diseased zombies from The Walking Dead. Related, when you shoot a zombie in the head, it dies. Then, of the many methods of proper disposal, it’s best to throw it in the trash.
I wasn’t woke to the potential of how deeply embedded into my core toxic male behavior was until June 30, 2017, when I woke up, downloaded Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album 4:44, and was immediately struck by the brazen honesty of first track “Kill Jay Z.” By the time I reached his his mea culpa to his wife Beyonce “4:44,” I began to reflect upon my own existence. Moreover, I began to confront who I was and how I had let a particularly virulent strain of yes — given that we’ve mentioned “buboes” — BLACK DEATH, infect my life.
I love New York rap. Of all of the rap in the world I love, there’s a particular brand of cocksure swagger-having “money, cash, and hoes,” “P.I.M.P. Big Pimpin’,” “Get Em Daddy” “Talk Like Sex” “‘da next niguz dick’ sucking” “Put It In Your Mouth” music that is utterly deplorable. But, these songs were produced and written in a way that engenders then being committed to memory, screamed out as much as humanly possible, and even providing a rhythm to how I walk down the street. The artists behind these songs like Akinyele and Cam’ron to 50 Cent and the aforementioned Jiggaman have thus reached iconic status in my life, and maybe more tragically, because I was raised without a father, I use the very toxic words they rap as tent-post statements on ways that its perfectly permissible for men to act in society.
I think I’ve played Jay-Z’s “4:44” roughly 1,000 times already this year. I’m perfectly certain I’ll play it at least 1,000 more. The most poignant piece, I’ll quote here:
I apologize to all the women whom I toyed with your emotions / ’Cause I was emotionless
And I apologize ’cause at your best you are love / And because I fall short of what I say I’m all about
Your eyes leave with the soul that your body once housed / And you stare blankly into space
Thinkin’ of all the time, you wasted it on all this basic shit / So I apologize
For the 21 years that I’ve officially been an adult, Jay-Z has probably best represented the man I wanted to become. Surely I’ve idolized Black Panthers, black athletes, black politicians, and others, but this black rapper was THE guy for me. Hova’s The Blueprint album dropped when I was 23. I was freshly graduated from college, newly single, working, about to move out on my own, and open to any and all suggestions on what to do with myself as in so many ways a just-actualized man-as-individualized force. Instead of using that force for good, I was all about using that force towards having sexual intercourse with as many “Girls, Girls, Girls” as I could. I succeeded at that gambit, and though I have, at various points of the past two decades, attempted to pronounce myself as being over and above such behavior, most certainly was not. In short, my modus operandi at 23, and probably at 33, but certainly not at 39, was summed up by the appropriately titled 1973 Persuaders song “Trying Girls Out” sample in the “Girls, Girls, Girls (Part II)” hidden bonus track on The Blueprint which says:
“I’m not a one girl’s guy, and they know it. When it comes to love, I don’t lie, and the girls respect me for it. Ain’t gonna say my nose can’t be open, but right now it’s just too many fine ladies out there to choose one from!”
Given the level of adoration I paid to the words of Jay-Z, I’m not surprised that when he apologized for his own wrongdoings, Harvey Weinstein misquoted Jay’s “4:44.” “Jay Z wrote in 4:44 ‘I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.’ The same is true for me,” Weinstein stated. At no point in “4:44” does Jay-Z even remotely say such a thing. For my entire natural born adult life — which is probably as long as Jay-Z has known Harvey Weinstein — I’ve wrapped my masculinity around the words of Shawn Carter. Much like Harvey Weinstein, though I’ve tried in conversations to do so, I can’t bring myself to quote “4:44” correctly, either. There’s something in this song, something about Jay-Z being an actual adult with a wife, child, assets, and most importantly, maturity, that’s important. Folks like the I/we of myself and gentlemen like Mr. Weinstein must similarly be mature and own up to the realities of our situations as well. But it’s the idea that we have to watch this legendary man commit rap game harakiri that hurts us so badly that we just don’t want to actually admit it.
But, we have to admit it. And the easiest way to admit it is to metaphorically throw ourselves in the garbage. There’s something about the idea of women doing the heavy lifting of throwing us into the garbage themselves that feels entirely unfair, like some sort of again, double-binded success-as-punishment-as-success related to handling this situation. Women bear so much already, in the having of the children, the weathering of the misogyny, the being borne of man’s rib, the overcoming of second-to-third-to-fourth class citizenship (depending on racial, ethnic, social background) already endemic, very specifically, to being American women, that throwing American men in the trash is likely a step too far.
The likes of Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Jay-Z, and the likely more to come bad men who have committed bad behaviors have unleashed the worst thing upon society. Historically, fighting because of race has proven to be horrible. Fighting because of class, proven to be just as evil. But what could be worse is fighting, across race and class, because of gender. We can change being racists, we can change being class-ists, but it’s impossible to change 250 years of what it’s meant to be men and women in this country. 2017 has proven to be the year that’s now seen our grossest, and most concealed, and most diseased white-headed and black-headed national blemish squeezed and popped. To ask women everywhere to clean up this mess is akin to asking our mothers to clean our grown adult snotty noses. As men, as grown men, as grown men needing to apologize for ourselves and our behavior? Just as we can wipe our own noses now, we can also throw ourselves in the trash.