Cameron Conaway on how the email we’re all hating very well could have influenced his behavior.
Years ago, the “rapiest email ever” could have influenced me. There was a time before and during and even after puberty when I was one of those undersized young boys desperately searching for how to be smooth and “manly” with women. I liked girls, a lot, but I remember feeling like their younger brother when I was with them. I was tiny and still am small – at my 10-year high school reunion the old jokes came out during group pictures:
“Cameron, I think you should stand in the back so people can see you!”
I laughed then because it was funny, but during junior high, high school and even my first years in college I laughed merely to cover up deep insecurities. There was a point in my life when that disgusting email titled Luring Your Rapebait could have influenced me. How much? Who knows.
In An Open Letter to the Rapey Frat Brother and the “How to Get Laid” Generation, Jamie Utt opened with the following:
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not sure you deserve it, and a lot of people are going to give me hell for it, but I’m going to try. Because when you wrote the email “Luring your Rapebait” to your Georgia Tech fraternity brothers, you touched on something much bigger than yourself.”
While the hate rightly spews over the words of this alleged writer, oh my goodness is this problem far bigger.
Society told me that big was better. Strong and aggressive was manly and manly was what women wanted. So what the hell was I to do when I wasn’t either?
I hit the gym hard, of course. And I saved my money so that I could eat an insane amount of food and after – when I was so full that I could barely breathe – I’d force-feed myself a smoothie made with a half cup of extra virgin olive oil for the additional calories. Before going to school I’d sometimes put on four pairs of socks so that it might give me an extra inch of height and maybe a boost of confidence to talk to a girl.
And that was all in an attempt to grow more confident through physical changes. To say nothing of the time I spent researching how to talk to women, how to walk around them, what smells they might like. Like many men, I also researched and was toxically tempted by the study of pickup artistry. I could see myself, at 17, reading the excerpts below and psyching myself up while at the prom:
Okay okay okay, right when she puts her hair over her ear…
After a series of “mack” techniques, the intention of which is to persuade men to get sexual and to persuade women to get drunk:
“Here is how to dance: Grab them on the hips with your 2 hands and then let them grind against your dick.”
“If she starts putting her hair over her ear, THAT MEANS SHE WANTS A KISS.”
This all builds to the finale, a step after “ejaculation” and referred to as “Expunge”:
7. Expunge (send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished. IF ANYTHING EVER FAILS, GO GET MORE ALCOHOL. I want to see everyone succeed at the next couple parties.
Look, a young boy or even a young man (as many of these frat guys are) willing to go online to research the average penis size in an attempt to make sure their own stacks up (been there) might also be someone willing to take or at least not totally disregard some of the advice in this deplorable letter.
So what of the young boys and men who are bombarded with persuasive bullshit gender stereotype advertisements, commercials and social messages from parents and peers and everywhere else, especially those in that crucial time when they are going through puberty and trying to understand themselves? Might some of them internalize these messages to the point they think it normal or harmless to wield them on others? Damn right. The result isn’t right, but neither are the continuous drips that built it.
This email, as unbelievably gross as it is, did not come from thin air. The ideas it contained have been brewing drip by drip, trickling into boys for years in ways both subtle and obvious. The words are not just ideas from an ignorant voice or two or many, they are the result of the trickling assault that has inhabited male culture. Rightly, we’re getting upset at the result. But when we step back are we equally pissed? Hell no. Well, we should be.
I was fortunate enough to have a tough mom who didn’t take shit, and to have a man (who wasn’t my biological father) come into my life when I was around 13 and show me over the course of years how a true man carries himself. How many boys have that? How many boys have a man in their life (and throughout those times of searching — this is important) who embody what it means to be a role model, what it means to exhibit healthy masculinity?
At a urinal yesterday, the sign on the wall in front of me read:
“Drink bourbon? No? Are you a man? Real men drink bourbon. Check the menu.”
Millions are spent because such messages work on adults. Imagine their impact on those wading into adulthood?
This letter sucks. But so do the million little pieces that caused it.