Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How patriarchy doesn't help men and hurt the rest of us...

We live in a society where white men own everything and everyone.  We also live in a society that worships youth.  So what happens when you're a young, white male, and you don't own anything?  You don't have any power over anything?  What happens when you're marginalized, because of something you can't control... your personality, economic status, body type, because of your past or the circumstances of your present?  What happens when you're young and white and male, and you're broken?  You're not allowed to ask for help.  You're not allowed to have feelings.  Feeling them would make you even more marginalized.  Feeling them would make you a faggot or a fucking woman.

We seem to understand, as a culture, that the institution of white men oppresses everyone.  It is called patriarchy or being privileged.  If you're a woman in America, or a minority or homosexual, you understand that you're being oppressed and that it can have a terrible effect on you, on who you might become.  If you're lucky, you can find comfort in community.  You can stand up for yourself, tell the world that you refuse to define yourself the way society tries to define you, and be supported and loved by someone.  You can tell the world that you refuse to be bought and sold.  You refuse to be lorded over by religion and tradition.  You refuse to be, at the core of who you are, something other than what you are, and what you are, in the very seed of your being is okay and enough.

Sometimes it works, and people get out.  Sometimes people learn how to be themselves, how to process the hurt and mutilation of growing up in our culture, rise above it, and become something amazing. 

Lots of times, it doesn't work, though.  If we're being honest... the vast majority of the time, it doesn't work.  That is why we live in fear.  That is why we hate ourselves, in the mirror.  That is why we tell ourselves that we're disgusting, that we're not enough; we're not good enough, just being who we are.

We've had a longstanding, marvelous and infinitely important discourse about how patriarchy affects women and minorities.  We haven't talked so much about happens when you're a young white male, and you don't feel enough?  You don't feel like you own anything or anyone, but you should.  You're not dominant.  You're not big and strong.  No one fears you.  No one wants you.  You don't possess any of the qualities that make a male.  You're damaged and emotional and afraid.  Maybe you've had your power taken away from you.  You belong to the demographic that lords over everything, and you have nothing.

What are you supposed to do then?  Cry about it like a pussy?  Run to your mommy and tell her you're sad, like a little girl?  Divulge your feelings to a friend, like a fucking faggot?  What are you supposed to do when you're a male, but not really.  You don't have the power to hurt anyone, to own anyone, to make anyone your bitch.  You're a man, but you don't possess any of the qualities that make a man.  What do you do?  

Any of the steps you could take to get better, to beat the odds and become who you are, only feel like deepening your weakness and making yourself more of the thing you're running from. 

This is why we need a discussion about mental illness and about helping damaged people.  In our society, being emotionally or mentally other makes you a pariah; especially if you're male.

If you're male, and you feel broken inside, you could try lifting weights, or drinking.  You could get drunk and your feelings could well up inside of you, and you could start a fight.  You could beat somebody's ass.  Maybe you could build something, buy some power tools.  Or you could buy a gun. 

It sounds stupid, like I'm just being simplistic or sterotypical or something, but I mean, really.  In our culture of men, what are you supposed to do if you're anything other than an alpha specimen? 

If you're very lucky or very smart or very brave, you become uniquely who you are, and you don't get mutilated too badly along the way.  If you're very lucky, supported and capable, you become a man with a singular identity that isn't tied up in the devastating patriarchal ideals that rule our society.  If you're not very lucky, though, you get hurt and broken very badly, and there's no place for men who are hurt in our culture, unless maybe if they're in physical pain, the only kind of pain a man can feel.  Right?  It all sounds totally fucking outrageous, because it is.

The world is broken in abominable ways.

It is time for a discussion about mental illness.  What kind of fucking dirtbags are we that we make getting help so hard, in policy and in theory and in action?

It is time for a discussion about gun control, because... what in the fuck kind of world is this where people cling to their right bear arms when babies are being killed?

But, those issues don't encapsulate the enormity of what is wrong.

It is time for a radical discourse about patriarchy and privilege.  It is time to discuss these things in a way where they aren't exclusive.  We need a discussion about the way our society is structured and how it's oppressive and damaging to EVERYONE, including men.

The men committing these unthinkable atrocities aren't victims.  The people they are hurting are victims.  The men committing these terrible acts are monsters.  They are nightmarish ghouls.  They are reprehensible demons.  And we live in a society that is creating them. 

We need to acknowledge that patriarchy isn't protecting white men and harming the rest of us, it is harming them, too.  When discussing privilege, it isn't an issue of US vs. THEM.  It is an issue of A FUCKED UP SOCIETAL STUCTURE vs. ALL OF US. 

We live in a terribly broken, amputated and mangled world full of disconnected, confused people who feel like they have no options and no power.  Where becoming something legitimate through doing good, through loving and helping and being who we really are doesn't feel like an option. We're scared.  We need one another.  We need to create and foster good, in the world, and love and compassion and kindness.  We need to allow for diversity, for people to grow into themselves and live as they are, even when they're different than we're told they should be.  We need to stop creating and consuming violence, we need to stop treating it as a resource or a solution.  Truthfully, I don't know what the fuck we need to do.  I just know that we need to do everything differently.

I will never be the same, not after Friday.  I will never be the same person I was.  I am irrevocably changed.  The world won't change, though, unless we change it.