The headline seemed like clickbait but it was actually true.
That’s right, Reginald Moise murdered Tiarah Poyau for refusing to grind on him at a music festival.
The first and only thought in my head was, “Damn, that’s violent!” He is the embodiment of the ultimate dangers of toxic masculinity. He is a special kind of beast that sits at the intersection of male entitlement, misogyny, possible mental illness, and possibly even internalized racism. Yes, we could call him a monster. But, I’d rather call him what he is…just a man. Hell, on a regular day, he might have even called himself a “good man.”
Not too many will like this generalization, but it is my genuine belief that the majority of men who have grown up in patriarchal societies or have regularly consumed the most popular forms of media are only a few degrees shy of committing violence against women. All it takes is the “right” conditions: enough stress, anger, disillusioned reality, access to a gun, alcohol, sustained loneliness, or a lack of belonging.
If you’re conscious of the regular diet of violence against women that young men in their twenties, like Reginald, are fed then pulling that trigger was an expected outcome caused by a lifetime of conditioning.
In between the unprecedented access to and rise of hardcore pornography,
… the hypersexualization of the black female boy in nearly every facet of entertainment,
… the reinforced entitlement to female bodies for heterosexual males through the addiction of Hollywood to the token Guy-Gets-The-Girl by the end of the action-packet plotline,
… the aggressive repression of femininity young males are coerced into accepting,
… the saturation of male superhero bodies jacked by steroid or unrealistic diets and workout regimes,
… or the proliferation of men in video games, music videos, and films that get what they want by engaging in spontaneous sprees of gun violence…
In between all that violence, I feel mighty comfortable saying the average, modern man is walking around with…a monster. We’ve all got our Jekyll and Hyde. We are walking, breathing mines ready to detonate years of internalized violence. Most of us have been fed a regular diet of violent conditioning ready to be activated by empowered women who own their bodies. Yes, in this light, to be a man is to be violent. Thus, I argue that to be a good man is to adopt a traitorous identity. Yes, to be a good man is to be a…traitor.
Yet, even in adopting that traitorous identity, we aren’t perfect. Like liberal white folk who think they’ve somehow managed to shed 5 centuries of white supremacy, there just ain’t no such thing as a good man. Only a traitor who is undoing internalized violence at a faster rate than he releases it. Yes, raising your daughter helps, learning to love your partner helps, coaching little league helps, and reading two or three feminist articles a few times helps. But you’re still just a man. In one lifetime, you can’t possible undo millennia of privilege and systemically giving advantages to one form of gender expression.
This site is called “The Good Men Project” but I often get comments on this website that highlight the same violent tendencies of “bad” men. “Good Men” who are quick to dodge the burden of change that lie on men to address sexism, misogyny, and patriarchy by invoking misandry (the dislike of or contempt for men). These comments reinforce that the road to anti-oppression is paved with inconsistencies and hypocrisies that are inescapable. Yes, on my most cynical days, I like to believe that there is no such thing as a good man. Only better liars and foolish women (or men). I don’t always believe that but, I think, at some point, most boys or guys decide to own up to something they know deep down to be true.
We all know our society did not prepare us to co-exist peacefully in this world with ourselves, our partners, and our environment. Indeed, it did the opposite. We were born into a society that not only predicated men as legitimate subjects of violence but also granted us as status as the rightful operators of its varying tools. Only through humility, vulnerability and radical truth can we stay on the path of healing and adopting new, healthier, peaceful, and more loving traitorous identities.
Photo: Getty Images