It's time. Amid varying reports of sexual assault, icky male behavior, and endless sex-based trauma, it's time to detox masculinity. We need to relegate masculinity to a lifetime's subscription to hot yoga, pump it full of fresh squeezed juice, and introduce its muscles to a terrifying, vomit-inducing, deep-tissue massage. In short, we need to take care of masculinity.
Not "take care" of in the mob sense, as in "Ey! Tony, go take care o' that rat." It's the kind of care you have to prioritize after letting yourself go. Masculinity, much like your beard, has become unruly and unpredictable, and in order to be pleasing to others, it needs to be trimmed and oiled regularly.
I understand why many of the people in my life have conflicting opinions about this Aziz Ansari debacle, the latest example of toxic masculinity. Taking the steps to understanding the nuances of his behavior is as daunting as staring at all of your belongings in boxes and deciding which to unpack first. Although intimidating, we cannot let it stop us from communicating with one another.
Unfortunately, much of this responsibility falls onto men to educate themselves. After the 2016 election, it was revealed that white women put race before gender and millions of well-meaning white feminists had to dig in and listen to people of color about their experience. Like white people were long overdue for this reflection on behalf of people of color, men are long overdue for doing this work on behalf of trans and cis women.
To be frank, trans and cis women are tired of teaching you. Also, and I can't speak for every woman, but I refuse to further engage with your terrible "devil's advocate" Facebook comment attacks. Stop it.
I'm calling on men to educate themselves and listen to trans and cis women. (Don't know what trans or cis means? Google it.)
I'm calling on trans and cis women to share this (or any of the linked articles) with at least ONE man/masc of center person in their life.
In women's everyday experience, our normal is terrible. We are regularly treated as objects to be looked at, disrespected in our workplaces, and ignored because of our gender. Consider this as well: the New York Times reports, "According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the annual murder rate for Americans ages 15-34 is one in 12,000. But an investigation by the news organization Mic found that for black transgender women in the same age group, the rate was one in 2,600."
Whether you like it or not, men, you are responsible for making the world a safer place for trans and cis women. If you think that you're a progressive guy, or even a decent guy, then be that guy. One of my favorite comics, Brittani Nichols aka @BisHilarious, tweeted with regard to the election response, "Be the person you think you are."
"But Christine, how can we educate ourselves if you don't want to teach us?"
Glad you asked, invisible dude! Here are some tips:
1. Go out of your way to listen to women and read articles like this.
2. Talk to other men about how you've been socialized
3. Think about times when unhealthy masculine practices were modeled to you through an elder, pop culture, or porn. Work to unravel these things.
4. Through research, do your best to understand why most of what you've learned about enacting masculinity (perhaps through little or no fault of your own) has the power to inflict harm on others.
I'm embarking on a podcasting project with my male partner in the next few weeks. We'll be discussing a lot of these same topics in order to help more people wring the toxins out of their masculinity like sweat out of a gym rag. I encourage you to continue to listen to this conversation (and to let my shameless plug slide).
Lastly, here are a few great articles I have found to be helpful to unpack the Aziz Ansari situation. I think they're very relatable and easy to understand, as well as personal and impassioned. Please take some time to think about all of this and how it all fits into your experience.
"Violence Agasinst Transgender People Is on the Rise, Advocates Say." New York Times. 9 Nov 2017. Maggie Astor.
Graphic by Griffin Browning