Mental Health Awareness Week and male tears.

Mental health awareness week has highlighted an interesting theme in gender politics.

I’ve long thought that talk of delicious male tears and other ‘ironic misandry’ is toxic and unhelpful. MHAW highlights where it’s most damaging.

Here’s some example posts I’ve been seeing:

There’s also Terry Crew’s vulnerable revelation about his experience as a victim of sexual assault, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein saga.

This kind of appreciation that it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s good to talk talk about your feelings runs into an uncomfortable friction with some themes amongst internet feminism – mocking male fragility and male tears.

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If we google ‘male tears feminism’ we get a few good articles on the top page:

Slate.com: The Rise of the Ironic Man-Hater – Summary: Ironic misandry is ‘reductio ad absurdum’ – intentionally exaggerating the stereotype of feminists as man haters to point out how absurd it is.

Time.com: Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn’t Funny – Summary: Even if ironic misandry is in jest – it’s bad PR for feminism to use it.

The Guardian: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did – Summary: Misandry is a way of blowing off steam and men complaining about it grasping at straws to find victimhood.

I’ll concede that being the victim of disrespectful jokes doesn’t entail the same amount of harm as being subject to sexual assault or being systemically paid less.

I would argue that ‘male tears’, ‘#killallmen’ jokes are more on par with ‘make me a sandwich’ and rape jokes.

A point that the slate article makes – is that genuine feminist men are ok with these jokes:

“The men who get annoyed by misandry jokes are in my experience universally brittle, insecure, humorless weenies with victim complexes,” while the “many intelligent, warm, confident feminist men in my life … mostly get the joke immediately and play along. They’re not worried I actually want to milk them for their tears.”

This is similar to saying that the pledges in a hazing ritual are actually ok with the hazing. They might say that – and the harm of the hazing may be outweighed by their desire for social approval – but that doesn’t making the hazing ok.

It’s a form of gaslighting to suggest that – ‘if you’re not ok with being the subject of bullying – it’s because you’re not a good person’.

It may be that many men simply don’t care – but we should acknowledge that some men are more sensitive than others. The idea that a good man is an insensitive one – is precisely the conception of traditional norms of masculinity.

The reason that ‘male tears’ is such an effective insult, is because goes to the heart of the traditional conception of what it is to be a man. Speaking up about it – only exposes one to more ridicule – revealing oneself to be a weak man with feelings.

It’s precisely having feelings, I imagine, that causes men to kill themselves – which they do at about three times the rate that women do – depending on what part of the world you look at.

The argument that the misandry is merely ironic identically reflects the arguments that many on the alt-right make about using racist terminology.

For example, Jeffry Lord tweeted ‘Seig heil’ and later defended it as ironic mocking of white supremacists.

If you’re interested in reading more – here’s a good article by Vox about ‘ironic racism’ and the alt-right.

There is a key difference of course – alt right ‘ironic racism’ is enforcing an existing dynamic, whereas feminist ‘ironic misandry’ seeks to flip an existing dynamic.

But in either case – they’re both toxic and bigoted. Ironic misandry is bullying, basically. I have a very hard time believing that someone who thinks it’s ok to mock male emotional vulnerability has men’s interests at heart.

Stop sharing your outrage about Brian Tamaki.

It started like this – a tweet by New Zealand journalist appears on my Twitter newsfeed:

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If you don’t know, Brian Tamaki is a relatively fundamentalist preacher in New Zealand who follows the ‘megachurch’ model of collecting donations from his parishioners and living a lavish style.

From context, we can see that he’s said something offensive, and here we go we’ve got a reaction going from people outraged by it.

Let’s look at Brian Tamiki’s twitter:

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Who does he sound like? Rich, has a large following,  says hateful things, believes there’s a media conspiracy against him?

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And it looks like he’s a fan too!

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I would argue that a huge part of Donald Trump’s success was that he would say controversial things – which would then get air time, and he grew in popularity.

I would say the best way to combat this kind of hate speech is to not give it the air of attention. 

Let’s think about it – what’s actually wrong with what Brian Tamaki, or Donald Trump said? It disrespects people? It encourages hate?

Ultimately it comes down to words hurt. 

If that’s the case – then repeating those words further perpetuates the hurt. It reminds me of a joke – where a man walks in to a bar holding some dog shit and says ‘Look what I almost stepped in!’.

What seems to happen is that some hateful person says some hateful thing – people see that – get outraged, and repeat the hateful thing to express their opposition to it – more people see it and they become outraged!

This twitter flurry does highlight the pervasive spread of hate though:

Step 1. Someone initially says something hateful (hate).
Step 2. People respond with outrage. (outrage).
Step 3. People like myself respond with outrage to the outrage. (meta-outrage).
Step 4. No doubt there’s somebody out there annoyed that I’m complaining about this. (hyper-meta-outrage).

And in the end we’re all feeling agitated. Ffs.

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