Let’s create a movement by and for men and be as great as we can be, says Zek J. Evets. Let’s do something good.
Like Tom Matlack I, too, don’t know what it means to be a good man. I’ve tried to find the answer in everything from college textbooks to Blues music to sex with strangers to hopeless romanticism. I eventually took to cyberspace, the final frontier, in order to find answers. It was there I too became embroiled in the zero-sum game of the gender Oppression Olympics. I debated Feminists and MRAs about rape and video games like I was back upon a podium, or in my old college classroom. We never talked about real people; nobody seemed to care. It was always about who was right. Schwyzer, Marcotte, Valenti, Futrelle, Matlack, Elam, Farrell. Names tied to ideologies beloved or despised by thousands.
Even now, I still get in trouble because I don’t care about those concepts of privilege and Patriarchy. I’ve been filled with so much gender 101 that I’d rather pass or tune out than give a damn. I label myself, call myself a Masculist, but it doesn’t really mean anything to the guy sitting next to me at the bus-stop or coffee shop. It doesn’t mean anything to my girlfriend at home. It’s just a word. So much of these arguments are over words, over abstract concepts floating in cyberspace and labels applied haphazardly like a collection of fruit stickers.
Tom says the reasons behind being a Good Man are not a Feminist issue. And he’s absolutely right. This isn’t about women. It never was. This is about men. Straight men, gay man, queer men, White men, Black men, short men, tall men, Muslims, Jews, Hipsters, Jocks. All kinds of men.
That’s why I can understand the disappointment he expresses in his article over how so much of the conversation has been about Feminism, about women, about everything BUT men. We’re being talked to, talked at. We’re not being talked with. Worse yet, we’re not talking with each other. There’s no conversation happening. No more stories are being told. Nobody’s even pretending to listen anymore. Honestly, it’s just pure histrionics.
Maybe that’s the bitterness talking − the bitterness of having been slapped down for voicing thoughts and opinions outside a highly regulated gender dynamic. One where victimization is strictly for women and demonization is strictly for men. It’s hard, as a man, to give voice outside of macho stereotypes about issues like prison rape, like education, like fatherhood in safe spaces without being labeled suspicious. A men’s group is perceived as inherently supremacist, as if we cannot possibly come together as men for a positive purpose. I’ve often felt attacked, not because of anything I’ve done but because of my superficial resemblance to men who quite frankly don’t speak for me or the thousands of others I know struggling to answer the question which Tom has asked.
What makes a good man? There are thousands of reasons to say what makes a bad man, but can any of us think of one good reason that makes a good man which isn’t immediately hijacked, dismissed, or outright ignored?
More than that, however, is the thought that one day when I have a son, how will I teach him to be a good man? What about masculinity can I give to him which isn’t already tainted by toxic pop-culture stereotypes, Feminist suspicion, or misandric fears. What can I teach him that isn’t already corrupted by embittered misogyny emanated from old men who’ve played this game before, and lost. How can I raise a son when the world’s already made up its many minds on what he is?
I was asked what I really think about Tom’s piece. I feel powerfully about it. I feel emotional. This isn’t a PC response or a calculated attempt to pander to any side, even that of neutrality. This is how I really feel: unless we as men come together to save ourselves, we will continue to slip through the cracks. Nobody will care about us so much as each other. Nobody is better equipped to combat the problems facing us than each other. Nobody knows what our lives are like more than each other.
And here is my challenge. Let’s create a movement by and for men to do this. Let’s be as great as I know we can be. Let’s do something good and, maybe, in the process discover if doing good can help us to know what it means to be good.
photo by dno1967b / flickr