15th May2017

Trash Talk

by admin

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Men are trash. This is a maxim adopted by self-proclaimed radical feminists who wish to express their disdain for the status quo. A status quo in which not only do men accrue benefits such as higher pay, more career opportunities, and positions of power in society, but also are able to live their lives without fear of experiencing violence of a verbal, physical, sexual nature because of their being considered the ‘weaker sex’.  Additionally, men might be called trash because they aren’t necessarily willing to work towards changing things and enabling a more equal society (because how do you begin working against a system which benefits you?)

Moreover, arguably the trashiest of the lot might be the crowd that floods the internet, discourse, social media and really any public space to defensively declare that “not all men are trash. You are generalising, and cannot attribute the behaviour of a select few to everyone”, as if they haven’t made contributions towards the objectification of women and/or consume media that maintains that very same mandate. But it’s fine. This might qualify them as trash because instead of engaging with the actual discussion at hand, the conversation is taken and made about men and how they’ve begun to experience discrimination themselves. I might even consider myself trash. I stand to gain from the benefits of patriarchy, and while I understand and attempt to empathise with the plight of women everywhere and appreciate the need for change and serious discussions, I am unlikely to actually use my agency to change anything or even forfeit my societal privileges because I am quite removed from the situations that women find themselves in.

However, I identify with a different kind of struggle.

Society’s perceived hatred of women can be linked to the fragility of masculinity, and masculinity’s need to maintain its hegemony because that’s just the way things are. Anything that is seen to deviate from masculinity is considered abhorrent and inherently less. These attitudes play out in a number of different ways. Homophobia, could be related to the need to maintain heteronormativity, which essentially empowers masculinity because in a “traditional” heterosexual relationship, men are seen as being dominant. The Bible (and John Milton’s Paradise Lost) even say so.

We must concede that it is possible for women to benefit from heteronormativity, should they identify as heterosexual, in a way that men and women who don’t, would not. Heteronormativity occupies hegemony in society, which seems to be arguably why we wouldn’t generally hear of such a thing as homonormativity. When you do hear of homonormativity, it is in relation to how homosexuality aligns itself to the ideals and constructs of heterosexuality, such as marriage, monogamy and procreation. This alignment implies that that there is a normal, but it isn’t homosexuality, and there are women who can find themselves within heteronormativity and find privileges that their queer counterparts would not. This is not to suggest that women’s issues are not as pressing and imperative as queer issues, however, intersectionality dictates that we be inclusive and genuine in relation to identity politics.

To have this authentic, genuine debate, a few concessions must be made:

It is possible that women can occupy certain hegemonic roles that are exclusive towards certain other lived experiences. White women, for instance, have certain privileges. As do heterosexual women, when compared to queer bodies, perhaps on the basis of religion. Interestingly, religion tends to relegate women to certain unfavourable roles in society. We must also discuss the amount of cultural appropriation that might occur on the part of women with regards to queer culture and language; concepts such as shade, reading, “yasss” and “hunny”. The erasure of the lived experiences of queer bodies that can be seen in television shows for instance when they are made the “sassy gay best friend” or “pet”. The contribution they make to the cisheteropatriarchy’s violence against the queer body and lived experience when the church makes admonishments against queer people for simply being. The failure to say anything when their pastors, fathers, brothers and lovers decide that the only good queer person is a dead one, or at least one that knows that they ought to be dead. Perhaps, even when mothers kick their sons out because they gave birth to boys and not girls or sissies. Women.

It is also necessary to point out that there is a phenomenon of gay misogyny. Gay men might be gay, but they are also men. However, we cannot regard any struggles in isolation. Because while women are being harmed and killed by the men they trust to protect them; Chechnya has set up a concentration camp where gay men are kept and tortured and killed. In 2017. I don’t know. Men truly are trash. Even making the above arguments probably makes me trash. But I too buckle under the pressures and the abuses of heteronormativity and the cisheteropatriarchy.

To the women who face violence on a number of levels during every single second of every single day, you are Goddesses.

To our queer brothers and sisters: slay and werk, you are Queens.
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