So, I saw on Facebook today that some of my friends were participating in an event called National Man Day on Monday, June 15.
Here is an excerpt from the event’s description:
I’m not asking you to throw some sissy party, or to go buy a new power tie because you’re a man. All I’m asking you to do is step up live this day like a man would. Blow something up, shoot some animal, punch your buddy in the face for no reason, be a good father, play football and literally knock someone’s head off… Do something manly. Be a man like God intended you to be…
Take this day and celebrate your manhood!
When I help teach the amazing Gender Justice class at my current university, I ask my students to consider the question: “Which came first, men exerting power over women or men having power over women?” Centuries after the seeds of patriarchy were planted, the question is moot, because the two are in a vicious cycle.
Why do we have gender roles? Why does “being manly” mean what it means? Because being manly means taking control, being aggressive, being hard and not showing your feelings. Being womanly means being submissive and weak. This is the nature of patriarchy. It promotes power over women. It promotes power over the LGBT community (gay men don’t actively oppress women and lesbians don’t submit to men, so they are circumventing the power structure). It promotes power over other men, and competition, and aggression, and violence, and war. It all comes back to these simple gender roles and the idea that our society is male-dominated, male-centered, and male-identified. This is what we mean by patriarchy and the male privilege it enshrines.
So, seeing how (at the time of this posting) there are over 70,000 individuals actively participating in this event, I decided to add my voice to the mix. After all, my commitment is to putting myself on the line, speaking up, and resisting privilege. It’s important, even on a small scale like an inappropriate joke that really isn’t funny, to interrupt privileged views. Here is the message I posted on the event’s wall:
This event is extremely sexist. It just forces men back into their stereotypical, unfeeling, block-headed roles that so many of us are trying to undo. Whether you believe it or not, you’re contributing to violence and homophobia, and I think that’s pretty sad.
I’d like to share some of the responses I received. Since Facebook does not protect anonymity, neither will I. Here’s Ethan Gray (Montana):
dude zack do you have a pair of balls?
And here’s Chaz Cool (London):
Yeah Zack, grow a fuckin’ pair, pfft
The next response was one of my favorites, because the young man proceeded to demonstrate not only how sexist he is, but how racist as well! I can’t help but note the irony of his current network. Here’s Chase Weaver (Santa Fe Christian High School):
most stereotypes are true, zack. why else would people like you hate them? if they werent true… how come theyve done such an astounding job of sticking? men have just as many feelings, but a majority arent outwardly emotional. men play football and (metaphorically) try to knock peoples heads off. black guys can jump. white guys cant dance. asians are really REALLY good at math. stereotypes are defined as generalizations and thats exactly what they are. some black guys cant jump and some white guys can dance
How about just a few more for posterity? Here’s Joe Deligio (SEMO):
zach…. why u gotta be so gay
zack, you lost me (and everyone) at “this”
Brian Plant (De La Salle High School):
zach, you’re a woman, go make us really men sandwiches
And lastly, we definitely could not leave out this one. This one really takes the cake. Here are some words of wisdom from Jc Swaney (Lakeville Senior High School):
I think Zack’s gay, and we should commit acts of violence upon his head for being gay.
Is it sad that there is still a part of me that respects Jc’s attention to sentence structure and spelling?
Notice that most of these responses were from high school boys. They are not even 18 yet, but they are already conditioned to be sexist, heterosexist, aggressive, violent, and “superior.”
Somebody has to speak out. Somebody has to do better by these young men. If we want gender equity in this nation, we have a LONG way to go. We all have to acknowledge that there is a problem, acknowledge that this is NOT the way that our society has to be or should be, and acknowledge that it is not going to get better unless we cooperate proactively to resist and reverse the power imbalance and negative behaviors that maintain it.
I’ll end this post by sharing a very positive response that appeared while the others were gay-bashing me. Here’s Andrew Perrigo (Des Moines, IA):
You can be a man without having to blow shit up, kill something, beat something up, or commit some other act of random violence. Being a man is about taking responsibility for themselves and their family. Knowing that when times get rough you don’t rely on other people or the government. When a guy sells blood to put food on the table for him family. That is being a man. When a guy works two jobs to make ends meet. That is being a man. When a man sacrifices what he wants for what he or his family needs. That is being a man. Being a man is not about watching football, scratching yourself inappropriately, belching, drinking beer, eating bacon or steak, or some animal you just cook. That is not a man. That is a savage.
If you care about women, the LGBT community, or even men who don’t 100% conform to the ridiculously unflattering norms of “masculinity,” speak out against this event. Join the event as “Not attending.” That number was already over 36,000. Let’s send a message to these pathetic excuses for men that they don’t control our society anymore.