Robert Llewellyn sees the angry boys of today, and looks back at his own reasons why he was angry. And why he wasn’t.
Young men are often very angry—massive generalisation with many caveats—-but there’s undeniably some truth in the statement.
I know I was and angry young man but for some reason I’m now trying to understand and maybe even communicate, I wasn’t angry about women, homosexuals, immigrants or people who had a different skin colour to mine.
I was angry with powerful people (let’s face it, white men) who had a genuine influence over the laws that governed my life.
I was angry with big international corporations who were above mere national laws and behaved in any way they chose with no consequences.
I was angry with politicians of all parties who were crudely influenced by these corporations and did their bidding while lining their own pockets.
I wasn’t angry when a young woman explained to me that using the word ‘cunt’ as an expletive, as in, ‘don’t be a silly cunt’ or ‘you dirty cunt’ was offensive to her.
I understood the thinking behind the plea, I understood the male fear of female genitalia and the power possessed therein.
The gut wrenching contradictions a man can experience between love, tenderness, lust, fear, hatred and weakness is a dizzying concoction that takes years to come to terms with.
It made sense to me not to use ‘cunt’ as I had been doing and the word did not pass my lips from mid 1975 until fairly recently, even now I very rarely say it.
I don’t feel oppressed by women, I don’t feel I am unable to express myself because I’ve been told by women not to say cunt, I feel I understand that the thought process behind the use of such a word is ‘sexist’ or indeed ‘misogynist.’
I am a white man, part of my DNA (or part of my upbringing) is without question misogynist, I have misogynist reactions regularly.
‘Bloody mothers mollycoddling their sons who then turn into deeply misogynist bastards who threaten to rape and murder women they’re scared of on Twitter.’ Might be one such reaction.
I stop myself when I have a thought like that, I have to think through the emotional reaction in a step-by-step logical way.
I’m a bit thick—I’m talking emotional intelligence—it doesn’t come naturally, I have to take it slowly.
I work out that blaming the mother for creating the son who could express such clench fisted hatred is just a continuation of the patriarchal mind-set we are cursed with.
When men behave like tragic sad-acts it’s not women at fault, no matter their involvement in that man’s life. Mother, sister, Auntie, Grandma, wife, lover.
The fault is the man’s and of course other men who support such bigoted hatred.
What recent news stories have highlighted is the thrashing fury of powerless young men who have aimed their anger at the easiest, least challenging target.
These young men are very lost and very, very easily manipulated by a male power base that has, for at least the last 100 years, felt under attack.
As more and more women rise to prominence, proclaim their right to be independent, free thinking individuals who are very skilled at expressing themselves, I fear this kind of ranting male violence will only increase.
It is vital therefore that men who aren’t quite as pathetically weak step up to the plate and confront such moronic impulses. Not with threats of violence or retaliatory trolling, however tempting that is.
No, we need quiet, logical and carefully thought mentoring, a gentle suggestion that possibly, it’s not these women that pose a threat to our masculinity or power, but the truly dangerous and far more insidious old male power base which keeps us locked in the pain of our existence.
It is possible to be a man, to be strong, protective and brave and not hate and fear women. It is possible to be a man alongside strong women, not crushed and oppressed by their emotional skills, but equal and unthreatened by them.
It’s not easy achieving such balance, I’m 57 and I’m still struggling to get close but it’s a much better, more positive and life enhancing experience than blaming women for our own failings, weaknesses and errors.
photo by bobaliciouslondon / flickr