An Unbalanced Gender Culture

I wrote a post in 2013, discussing the loss of male identity, and I highly encourage you all to please give this a quick read before continuing: A Push for Individuals.

I wrote that piece after a particularly difficult genders studies course in University.  Our professor was discussing rape culture, and the variation of machoism throughout our world.  How in some cultures men are encouraged by their male counterparts to cat call, grope and fondle passing women as a signal of how masculine they are.  While there are other cultures where men are the main caregivers, and they are taught to take care of, educate and play with the children while the women sew, farm, and make the political decisions.  What I found striking about all these cultures is that men and women seemingly had their gender specific place, putting aside natural outliers for the moment, but gender roles served their society.  The cultures existed and thrived based on gender specific traits that were cultivated and taught for generations.

Ok, so where am I actually going with this?  I have been cautiously waiting for the gender breakdown to occur in our own society.  And right now, before all of our eyes, it’s happening.  And I am nervous, anxious and trying to find a place of hope.  What do I mean by that?  Well, women in the 60’s right up through the 80’s gave a very hard push for equality.  Everywhere they looked they felt inferior and less valued in society, and they rallied together to change that, now known as the feminist movement.  A push for a female identity that was equal to men.  And the only way to do that successfully was to overshoot the target.  Woman not only proved that they were equal to men, but in many ways reached further to show that woman were and are actually better than men in many areas.  This was a revelation.  Women were not lesser, but rather had strengths and weaknesses, and enriched our culture outside of the home as well as in.

Are you with me so far?  Because here is where I get a little nervous.  Women united as a feminist movement with a clear goal of seeking equality.  And not only was there a vision, but there were real monetary and social checks that would show when we had succeeded.  To be clear there was a specific goal, that goal was clearly defined, with a finish line so to speak.  To be treated and receive the same rights as the husbands, fathers, brothers and coworkers.  Just one clear example is the wage gap, a clear monetary goal, that once achieved, we would get satisfaction and could do our jobs with security and certainty.

But now we have run into a little snag.  In all the focus on raising women up, to an equal place with men, we forgot that many men would feel that they have to come down to achieve gender equality.  That in order for the scales to find balance, men will not get to keep their status quo, the position of power and dominance.  And do you remember what I mentioned in that piece I asked you to read about men being breadwinners, etc?  That is a fundamental part of their male identity and it is being taken away.  So, in order for equality to be achieved there is a real give and take.  And the thing is, if the men are not willing to give, the women are fully prepared to take.  All personal opinions aside for a moment, the tides are changing, there is no stopping this forward movement, and there is no telling where the new shore will be.

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I personally think this is why men are having such a difficult time with the consent movement.  Not only are women telling the men that they are no longer allowed to grope, or touch females without their express consent, we are going back in time to show example after example of when men crossed a huge line.  Now, my issue here, is that although its obvious now looking back what that line should look like, it wasn’t so clear back then.  We have told men that sexualizing women without permission is a crime, but we have not offered any solutions for them to fix the behaviour other than to stop it, change overnight and in fact somehow go back in time and stop their past from doing what they did.

Feel free to pause here for a moment and yell and scream at me if you want.  Men should never have objectified women in the first place.  When a women says no, or looks uncomfortable or is in a position of lesser power such that her future and livelihood depend on pleasing the male at the top, men should have recognized that this was a problem and stopped.  But they didn’t, they were in fact often encouraged to continue by their fathers and peers, and now here we are.  In a turbulent time, filled with apprehension and discord all around.  In a perfect world, I wish  men could change over night and undo their past indiscretions.  Obviously that cannot happen, and women are so angry that nothing is filling the void we feel.  No apology is good enough, no career damaged enough, no action heartfelt enough to sooth the injustice of male dominance over our bodies.

It’s bad out there, and I think it’s going to get worse.  The male identity is lost, and they are going to get angry and push back.  Female equality feels so close to our grasp, and yet, there is so much past pain, that when we finally have it, in every single part of our lives, are we going to be content or do the scars run just too deep.

From my personal perspective I do not feel a part of the feminist community.  Instead, I feel like I align more closely with the humanist movement.  One free of genders, or biases, and one filled with individuals working together for a common good, the expansion and survival of our beautiful species.  I envision a world where we break free from gender norms or roles, where the boxes that contain us are broken apart.  I look for a world beyond equality, a world where we just exists in peace, love and unity.  For now though, I want to bring clarity to the real issues.  Men fucked up.  And women, we need to figure out how to educate them on how to treat us, and figure out a way to move forward after a harrowing past.  So keep spreading the #metoo movement, and explain why consent matters, that all people are equal, and autonomy over our bodies is a positive thing for both men, women and all future generations to come.

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Consent: Why is it Not Getting Through?

Last night I could not shut off my brain.  An exciting idea struck me that I would be doing my part for Online Dating by creating a PSA to talk about getting consent before having sexual conversation or sending nudity to a stranger.  I worked it all out, and fell into a restless sleep, where I edited it throughout the night in my head.  This morning I was fueled with motivation to film it, edit and publish it for the world.  Yes I thought, this would be a positive contribution, this video would make a difference in someones life.

And then, shortly after publishing it and sharing, I sobered up.  Reality struck me, and it struck me hard.  People do not want to listen, or change their behavior.  We are all stuck it this very weird place whereby we know sending an unsolicited dick pic is bad but we don’t do anything about it.  Just today I saw a Tweet of a guy who received a dick pic over facebook and he wasn’t outraged or offended, just rather surprised by it.  And I admit, that the first time I received a dick pic, I felt exactly the same.  It wasn’t a violation the first time, instead it was a curiosity and I remember showing it to my girlfriend and laughing about it over some wine.  But by the second and third time it happened, I got angry and wrote my piece called Dear Random Penis.  And are you ready for this crazy fact?  The guy who was the last straw with sending me dick pics, and inspired the writing of that post, to this day used Dear Random Penis in his searches to keep tabs on my blog.  And sometimes late at night he even comments lewd and harassing messages.  The point was not taken, in fact, it gave him a point of pride that I wrote a piece about him.  Are you starting to see my issue here?

When we receive a nude picture or a sexually driven message on an online dating site, what do we do?  Block?  Ignore?  Start a Twitter account aimed at outing all these uneducated souls?  For my part, I felt great relief when I wrote my post about dick pics.  And all it did was get agreement from people who already knew that, and created an abusive situation for me from the guy who inspired it.  My choice to discuss, and educate fell on deaf ears.

And here I sit, after posting my video about consent and online dating, worried that I have just created the same situation for myself.  That by speaking out and trying to educate people, I will instead be putting myself in harms way.  Or even more depressing, that I will be completely ignored.  That my words will fall yet again onto deaf ears.  And this makes me very sad.

Consent is not difficult to obtain.  Asking permission before you start sexting can even be fun, interesting or at the very least a great way to practice your communication skills.  There are blogs dedicated to teaching people fun and new ways to obtain consent.  But rather than educate ourselves, we prefer the push boundaries method and seek permission after the violation.  This way of thinking needs to end.  We don’t need apps, like Legal Fling (Use caution if you google this as it might send you into blind rage) to obtain permission or consent.  We need to grow the fuck up and start talking to each other.  To communicate and to stop looking for elaborate solutions to a very simple problem.  You want to kiss someone for the first time?  Ask!  You want to sleep with someone?  Ask!  You want to flirt and send sexy messages?  Ask!

I won’t stop trying to fight the good fight.  But today, I am tired.  I am worn out.  And I am saddened to read each new article about some woman who is speaking out for the first time about her experience with harassment.  I’m tired of feeling that #MeToo feeling.  I’m tired of all the memories of abuse, and sexual harassment that are a part of my past.  I’m ready for a world where consent is the expectation rather than a difficult burden.  Please don’t let this plea go unheard…

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