Stop Saying, "Real Men Don't _____"
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Politics and Activism

Stop Saying, "Real Men Don't _____"

Because masculinity IS the problem

Stop Saying, "Real Men Don't _____"
Ron Oden

TW // r*pe

When self-identifying cisgender males do something horrible (it's not really that hard to try to think of examples), people react in vastly different ways. Some explicitly justify their actions, blaming the victim or otherwise refusing to admit men's responsibilities for their actions. Some get angry, but internalize those feelings and don't act or say anything against them out of fear. And the worst thing, which many people do, is say that a "real man wouldn't do that."

These people wrongly think that by appealing to men's sense of self – by giving in to their hypermasculine identity – they will somehow deter them from doing bad things again. Newsflash: it doesn't work. It only makes them think that they're not the problem, because since they identify as "real men," why should they worry? It's the "fake men" who are the problem, right?

By saying that "real men" don't do anything bad, you are implying that masculinity is the source of goodness in these people. "Real" masculinity, according to that model, is the only thing that can possibly deter men from doing terrible things. In reality, it's quite the opposite: masculinity promotes aggressiveness and violence, dominance, recklessness, and entitlement. It's at the root of all the horrendous actions that self-identifying cis males carry out in the world.

However, since these individuals keep hearing that the only way to be decent is to be a "real man," why would they attempt to get away from their hypermasculine cages? Why on earth would they attempt to acknowledge that masculinity is the problem, when others simply tell them that in fact they're just not "man enough"?

They are "man enough," and trust me when I say, that's not a good thing. The men who do these horrible things are real; in fact, they are the most real of men: they are the exemplified versions of what masculinity truly is at its core.

When men do something awful, it's not women who are the problem, or non-binary people (which the "real man" rhetoric implies – since it demonizes those who are "not man enough")…it's MEN. We need to acknowledge that unless we want to perpetuate their actions.

When men rape, for example, we need to hold them accountable. We need to recognize that their actions are nothing but a clear expression of their will to express what it means to be masculine. It is an act of violence, and dominance, and aggressiveness, and it is utterly disgusting and depraved – and yes, it is a masculine act.

We, as a society, can never redefine masculinity by ignoring its problems – by saying "oh that wasn't a real man" whenever men do something despicable. Rather, we need to acknowledge its deeply-rooted issues and try to eliminate them.

Honestly speaking, I do not believe we will ever be capable of redefining masculinity. It is too ingrained, not only in people, but in the systems in place (in our laws, our societal dogmas, our religious ideologies, our “scientific” justifications of the status quo, and the rest of our socio-political institutions). As such, our only hope is to move away from masculinity, not to embrace or justify it. We need to get to the point where not being “masculine,” in the traditional sense, is considered a compliment and not an insult.

So please, before you say that a "real man wouldn't do that," recognize that you're a part of the problem; and instead, acknowledge the plethora of things that are wrong with masculinity. Only then can you hope to instill real change.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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