Beloveds: I won’t be keeping you long this morning. I just stopped by to share a word that God confirmed in my spirit late in the midnight hour.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and the occasion was nearly overshadowed by the kvetching of a certain group of people who have taken great offense with a hash tag that has been trending on Twitter for several days. That hash tag is #MenAreTrash. The source of their consternation (‘they’ in this instance being emotional men and the patriarchal princesses who enable their melodramatic tendencies) is that the proclamation that men are trash sweeps all men with a broad stroke.
“Is your daddy trash?” they ask rhetorically.
“My boyfriend certainly isn’t trash!” another exclaims indignantly.
Soon to follow, as always, is an attack on feminism. “You feminists say you want to be equal to men. And yet here you are today saying men are trash!” The idea behind this pseudo Socratic line of thinking is that feminists – and all women by extension – are ultimately trash because they want to be equal to men.
No one is interested in “equality with” men. What all people of good sense want is equal access to the privileges, resources and rewards that men routinely enjoy simply for the sake of their gender. No feminists that I have encountered has the slightest interest in partaking of the behaviors that led to the genesis of this hash tag in particular: that behavior being the routine and accepted violence against women, the economically disenfranchised and other marginalized groups. If you are unfamiliar with the birth of the hash tag, it gained groundswell after the discovery of Karabo Mokoena’s body in a veld. She was beaten to death, her corpse singed with acid and finally ‘necklaced’…the process of putting a car tire around a human body and lighting it aflame. It leaves the flesh nearly unrecognizable. Women all over the world have been sharing horrific stories about the physical, sexual and emotional violence that they have faced at the hands of men with whom they share close proximity, and the almost dismissive attitude from members of the communities in which the attacks have taken place.
I will agree with those who quake with fury that #MenAreTrash paints all men with the same brush. It does…because men (and many women) have facilitated as system in which men are rewarded – and even expected – to behave with trashy tendencies. The hash tag is broad sweeping because the problem is systematic. Therefore your loving uncle and doting father are outliers and do not operate within the expectations of typical male behavior. Men are unpredictable, and women have been socialized to police ourselves based on that capricious nature. A user online explained it in a way that should be simple enough to grasp with this illustration using snakes.
Yes, yes. I know! Not ALL men. But when an issue becomes systematic and has a high(er) likelihood of occurring, anthropologically we speak in broad terms. Like:
- People sweat when it’s hot, or
- White women don’t age well, or
- Africans love rice
There are always exceptions, however these events is what history and experience have taught us to expect. Even the Bible shows us this is the case.
Boaz and Ruth
5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”
6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”
As we see, Boaz had to command the young men not to harass Ruth. In other versions, Boaz says, “have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee?” We can see that as a matter of routine, men in that district made life difficult for women either by verbally debasing them, touching them without consent or both. Boaz had to give than command because he knew men were trash.
Jesus and the adulterous woman
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
The woman was brought for condemnation before Christ specifically for the act of sex outside of her marriage. Not for stealing. Not for blasphemy…for having an adulterous affair. That Jesus would then refuse to look her accusers in the eye as they challenged his authority meant that he was already confident in his knowledge about the types of lives that these men led. Why did they not also drag the man with whom this woman was having an affair with before the Christ? Because doing so would incriminate them as well, possibly setting a precedence for being drug into square when they might find themselves in the throes of adultery. Not a single accuser stayed to throw a stone, because they inwardly knew that they were trash. The difference is, that had the consciousness of mind and integrity to admit that.
You and your own father
“Akos! Make sure you are in this house by 6pm.”
“But, Daddy! Why? You never tell Kofi to come back in at any specific time.”
“Herh! Don’t argue with me. Insolent girl! In fact, you can’t leave the house at all. Go and sweep the hall.”
Your father wants you back in the house by 6pm, before the sun goes down, because even he fears what men lurking in the dark could potentially do to his daughter. He’s a man, and he knows men are trash.
Not convinced? Then ask yourself why you would never take your young daughter into the men’s bathroom, but have full confidence that your young son is safe in a public toilet full of women. Why do we expend so much energy on telling girls how to dress to avoid rape, rather than driving home the message in men that they have no right to access to anyone’s body…not even in marriage? So many factors contribute to the base (or trash) instincts that men harbor and exhibit. The entitlement that men feel is a direct result of global society’s refusal to demand responsibility from men.
Boys will be boys.
That’s just how men are.
If more men were really honest, they would admit that they are equally afraid of their fellow men. Rather than admit this, they permit sexist behavior to continue and endorse misogyny with their silence. I’ve had a man admit to me that he was in a room when a girl was being raped and did nothing because the other men around him threatened to beat him up if he intervened. She was sexually assaulted and he got to live with the guilt of being a coward, but lives unscathed nevertheless.
I’ve had a man admit that he sat silently while his homeboys plotted on how to ruin a woman’s reputation because she did not acquiesce to his unwanted advances. They would proclaim her to be a slut and that would be the end of it. Rather than risk the ire of his friends and look like “punk”, this guy sat by and let the scheme unfold.
I’ve had a man confess to me that he was at his friend’s house as he was punching his wife and did not intervene beyond a “Come on, man. She said she was sorry!”
This is all trash. And while you as a man may not be guilty of exhibiting trash behavior personally, you are not innocent if you do not call out trash when you see it. Now the challenge becomes not only to unlearn this thinking and abolish this fear of challenging the status quo, but also to raise a generation of men who will not find themselves victims of trash influences and eventually become trash themselves.
If you’re sitting there condemning #MenAreTrash because it offends your sensibilities, build a bridge and get over it. This is not the time for respectability. Not when women/girls are being burned with acid for refusing marriage proposals, or shot in the face because they want to get an education. Not when presidential candidates can grab women by the pussy and become leaders of the free world. You like hash tags like #MasculinitySoFragile because of its vagueness and because it provides no immediate provocation to inspect an issue or force introspection. But you do recognize that at the end of that conversation on fragile masculinity is the conclusion that men are trash. The former ruffles your feathers on the onset, and that’s what has you unsettled. That, and not the fact that 70 year old women in India now have to learn how to use swords and staffs to defend themselves from marauding young men in their communities.
And you patriarchal princesses: For you to sit there and demand a “better hash tag” because you’re thinking of the one guy who gives you orgasms or the other that sent you a couple of dollars to get you onto a flight is insane, frankly. It beggars belief. You are as asinine as the folk who demand peaceful (read: quiet and convenient) protests in response to police brutality and other forms of systematic oppression. All you are doing is enabling the perpetrator at the expense of the victim for the sake of nicety and for the benefits of patriarchy.
Girl, you trash too.