Men, You Can Survive Without Us — Please Try

By Ijeoma Oluo

Unsplash/Alan Labisch

Men — straight, cisgender men. We need to talk. I’ve been concerned about you for quite some time. You’ve been acting out. The yelling, the name-calling, the violent outbursts — I’ve been watching with keen interest and I’ve finally understood the pain and fear at the root of it. And I need you to understand something: You can survive without us.

Not only can you survive without us women, you can thrive. You can be successful, happy, fulfilled — all without us. Nobody likes rejection — it sure does sting. But you are so much more than your relationship to us.

I know that you’ve been told that your identity is tied to being able to have sex with us, to provide for us, to keep us in close proximity to you at all times. And you’re scared, because all that you’ve been told that you need for your manhood is at risk right now. We are refusing to have your babies, we are having babies without you. We are saying no to sex when we don’t want it. We are earning our own money. We are running for president.

Some men are even beginning to adapt their definition of manhood to fit this new reality — cheering on these women who are withholding the gender-based purpose that you’ve built your life around. I know that must feel like a betrayal. I understand why you call them “cucks” — if they redefine manhood without the ultimate goal of tying a woman to them, what would that say about your life’s work?

But I’m here to tell you that you are so much more than that. You are so much more than your desire to catch and keep us. Your manhood will still stand if we refuse to sleep with you. Your days will still have purpose if you spend your evenings with friends instead of a wife. Your job will still be as fulfilling if the women in your life do not require your income to survive. Your buildings will not crumble if we are not stuck in your kitchens. You do not need our love if you love yourself.

Bearing the sort of crushing fear and anxiety you’re currently experiencing is no way to live. It causes depression, it fuels hate-filled MRA blogs, terrifying YouTube videos, thousands of Twitter troll accounts. This sort of fear causes grown men to spend their days anonymously telling us that we are cunts whom they hope are raped to death.

Is this really what you wanted to grow up to be?

I want you to understand that you don’t need us, and that you should get used to living a life not defined by how closely you can bind us to you. Because your fear of living without us is literally killing us. When you shoot us for not giving you our phone numbers, when you stab us for breaking up with you. When you force us to have your children, when you force your bodies on us, when you demand that we make a low enough salary to make us financially dependent on you, and then you beat us to ensure that we know that all we are is yours. When you shoot into crowds of us because we rejected you in college, when you kill us and our children when we try to escape you.

All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead.

What bound us to you was circumstance — circumstance that you created. But what bound you to us was fear. And as we break our bonds of circumstance, you face an even harder task: breaking free of the prison of your own minds that says that you stand on nothing if you do not stand on our necks. That without us underfoot, you will fall into the abyss.

But I’m the mother of two boys, and I see in them the freedom that boys have before the expectations of manhood set in. I see how their confidence rises on their own achievements, and not on their superiority over the female gender. I see how they can enjoy friends and family and feel loved without feeling the need to bind the love of a woman to them. I see the joy of a life before they are told that their success can only be measured by power over another. To them, love is not yet a harem. And I want to protect that for them, and for you. I know that you too were once nothing more than humanity and possibility, and that it was enough.

It still is enough, if you’ll let it be.

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