Men are Trash & “Womb-Envy” could be the Reason Why
All it Took for Men to See Systematic Injustice was Comparing Them to Garbage
Until “men are trash” was put on a T-shirt and went viral, it existed as an informal cultural explanation created by women on Twitter to describe the female experience of consistantly dealing with men who get away with being selfish, carless, egotistical all at the name of masculinity. This moment has put toxic masculinity under the microscope to show that while women use this phrase to gain solidarity, #MenAreTrash is a response to the existing view of the female body mostly as potential property of men.
Expectantly, some men were offended by the pharse.
As the old saying goes, "men are trash." If you're a twenty-something woman, you've probably said this phrase to your…gizmodo.com
But, not all hope was lost, this movement struck a cord with a number of men who took this chance to provide their own definitions, doing feminist work to explain to other men how #MenAreTrash is a critique of the system which teaches men to be trash, not an attack on individual men themselves.
Following the footsteps of Gayatri Spivak, a critic of male-centric theory, who isolates that “we know no world that is not organized as a language, we operate with no other consciousness, but one structured as a language,” #MenAreTrash can be interpreted as the restructuring of language to change the way “we are operated by those languages.” Categorizing men as trash is a linguistic tactic to highlight that masculinity is defined within a culture that ignores and objectifies women. Spivak isolates how thoery played a role in the shaping of toxic masculinity by connecting Sigmund Frued, who influenced academic understanding of gender and social development by applying language like “penis-envy” to describe the female experince that created a specific identity of the potential of female bodies as defined by their abilities to “produce a surrogate penis.” Centered around the male experience, women have been left out of the characterizing of the feminine reality and #MenAreTrash confronts this truth head on.
“Our task in rewriting Frued is not to declare the idea of penis envy rejectable, but to make available the idea of womb-envy as something the interacts with the idea of penis-envy to determine human sexualtiy and the production of society.” — Gayatri Spivak
“Womb-envy” follows the pattern of #MenAreTrash by claiming lack of male accountability is a product of a culture that does not value the labor of women. Spivak proves this when she analyzes how society gifts “legal possession of the child” as an “inalienable fact of the property of the man who ‘produces’ the child.” This alienation of women from their body as a production site doomed the female identity to be the subject of male attention and set the stage for men to undermine women. Applying the thoery of “womb-envy” to men explains that they are trash because they only see a women’s mind and body as passive.
The womb as it is controlled by the female body is a source of power. The reality that women own their womb/means of production has shown to intimidate men so much so that men legally devote time and resources to make birth control less accessible. If “womb-envy” was taught along-side “penis-envy,” accountability could be reached, and there could be a chance to really explain why #MenAreTrash.