Why Men Should Speak Out About Sexism, Misogyny and Rape Culture
(Once again, trigger warnings.)
I guess THREE POSTS MAKE A SERIES, eh?
One last post on this subject, then I’ll cool it for a little while and talk more about story plotting or how to cook your eggs while using the requisite amount of egg-specific profanity. But I felt this needed to be said as it’s something I’ve been wrestling with over the last couple of days —
I posted the two posts over the last two days about this difficult and uncomfortable topic — the post itself and then the follow-up. And most of the responses are positive from both men and women. Overwhelmingly positive in some cases. Lots of signal boost and agreement and thumbs-ups and high-fives. So: YAAAAAY.
But I’m a guy. I say stuff like this, I get credit for being brave or standing up when I’m doing no such thing. I’m making a controversial argument from what is ostensibly a very safe position. I’m up here on Heteronormative White Dude Mountain (which is a very long name for this mountain so most people just call it “Mount Norm”) and few people dare to fling rocks up at Mount Norm where I sit on my comfortable chair made of Safe, Patriarchal History.
When a woman says stuff like this, they might also get credit for being brave and standing up, but then they also get a tide of venom sweeping over them —
Sometimes in the form of rape or death threats.
My goal isn’t to jump into this conversation and be all like, “DON’T WORRY, LADIES, I WILL OPEN THAT STUCK CULTURAL PICKLE JAR FOR YOU — POP! — THERE WE GO, YOU ARE SAFE NOW. CAPTAIN MAN-PANTS IS DONE HERE.”
Some have even raised the question of, should men say anything at all? Are we just muddying the conversation? Are we just continuing the cultural vibe that women need us to swoop in and save them? We’re the heroes, they’re the victims?
Here’s why men need to speak up:
Because solidarity. Men speaking up are choosing solidarity with the side of change and against the side of sexism and misogyny. If men don’t say anything, it sounds like they agree by default — or are at least not concerned enough to take those two steps up onto the soapbox. And it also sends a message to those rank, rancid assholes — “I’m not on your side.”
(Sidenote: that’s actually a thing about being a white dude. You sometimes get other white dudes coming up to you and in apparent confidence they start spilling racist or sexist shit like, without even knowing you. And when you react poorly they get this look like, “Ohhh, oooh, you’re one of them. See, I thought because we both had these KKK robes for skin we could talk about stuff like this but apparently you’re a Pod Person gotta go.”)
We don’t want the behaviors of this septic culture to become or seem normalized. If we’re quiet about it, we contribute to the normalization of misogyny or any of the other cultural poisons.
Like I said the other day, this isn’t about playing the hero — we aren’t going to fix it with our magical man-hammers, and women are not our Death Star Princesses to rescue. But we can signal boost. We can support. We can be on the side of the angels instead of the side of the diseased dick-bags (they don’t rate being devils, honestly) who want to trumpet their hate and rampant shittiness. We can try to do better and ask that others do the same.
Postscript: Speaking Of Rampant Shittiness
The anti-woman vibe amongst gamers is some of the worst out there.
This isn’t universal, obviously — a lot of gamers are awesome people. Most gamers, probably. But there’s a very strong and not necessarily small contingent of deeply ingrained awfulness out there. (It’s why I don’t generally get on Xbox Live anymore — I can only hear angry 13-year-olds spew toxic racist or homophobic slurs at me so long before I contemplate melting the console into slag and moving to some cozy island where I can raise sheep and tend a lighthouse.)
I actually tweeted about it, referencing the tsunami of hate (warning, reaaaaaaally triggery) cast at Anita Sarkeesian just for saying that none of the Xbox One game demos had female protagonists in them.
And lo and behold, just by invoking her name, I got some troll comments all my own.
My favorite (“favorite” being relative, mind you) was:
@chuckwendig anita sarkeesian sucks big fucking cock
— fullname (@steedsoftware) June 12, 2013
Now, at first I just assumed — well, here’s some chump with an egg-avatar on Twitter, so I’m going to look at his feed and it’s going to be puerile boy-rage all the way down. Oh ho ho, no. You look at his feed and what do you see? Someone who wants to work in the game industry.
My deepest hope is that this little human turd would never be allowed through the gates, but then again, given some of the behaviors not only of gamers but also the game industry, I can’t be sure that @steedsoftware won’t one day be among those Captains of Industry.
Point being —
There is work yet to do.