Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 16 Apr 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

An open letter to Joshua D Jones

Heavens, but I’m bored of reading blogs like yours. More particularly, I’m bored of the prescriptive notions that you attach to masculinity and the repetitive zeal with which you articulate them. Men have been invited to think, by some informed and articulate people, about ways of being a man for an interval of time that is so brief it scarcely registers, which you think positions you as somehow counter-cultural and edgy. It doesn’t. It means that you’re appealing to values and a way of being that has trapped men for centuries and that you would quite like to continue. Why, I have no idea, but I can only assume it’s to save you the effort of thinking.

In one of your blogs, you tell men that society hates them and which is seemingly intent on persuading them that they are, in some way, an oppressed group. Well, I’m 44, reasonably well read and pay attention to the news and this one seems to have passed me by. Commercials are aimed at telling me how great I am and how some implausibly attractive women will find me implausibly attractive if I just buy their product and everyone seems in love with the rugged individualist who is driving to some distant horizon with a wry smile, having either bedded someone, bought a Ford Focus or had a refreshing energy drink.

And the news media, of course, is falling over itself to eviscerate women. There’s the serious stuff, like blaming them for their own rape, or not paying much attention when someone is predictably murdered by her ex-partner, but also the more ostensibly trivial things that flow from the same crapulent sources of misogyny, such as inviting people to sneer at those who wear the ‘wrong’ dress or who might weigh three pounds more than their target weight. If you want to see how stupid and vile this gets, look at the recent comparison of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon’s legs. It’ll be a very unusual day indeed when I open a newspaper and it opines that a male politician looks like a bag of rags or that he’s wearing an ill-fitting suit. Whether you’re raping someone or just dressing like a tramp, nobody cares. If you’re a woman, however, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

The problem with this is that while it advantages men hugely, people like you are sharpening the other side of the blade until it’s a double-edged sword. You cry that men should be rough, and tough and strong and dominant, able to hew roads through the wilderness. Well, you may not have noticed this, but there isn’t much wilderness left for us to hew through, and that while being rough and tough and strong might be valuable attributes in a vanishingly small number of careers, they’re bugger all use to anyone else. You don’t need super strength to open doors or move your mouse from one side of the pad to the other, or to get in a car or board a train. I don’t know what you want modern man to do, but it seemingly doesn’t involve reality.

One of the few careers that would need a measure of toughness is being in the Army, but here again your ideas are badly out of date. You see, I used to work for the Army and I’ve met people who were in combat. I’ve also met rather a lot of veterans who have PTSD and other disorders. One of the problems they face is the ‘man up’ culture, telling them that they’re weak for suffering, that the best thing they can do with emotions is to damp them down. Which they do, of course, using things like lager and violence, until it all gets too much and they either snap and kill themselves or snap and murder someone. This is the most extreme example of where your version of masculinity leads and its ultimate goal – the man removes himself from the gene pool because he’s weak.

In another blog, you tell men to eat red meat, which is where all this gets really bizarre. As well as causing sundry health problems, not least high cholesterol, the way that meat is farmed is giving people pause for thought. Meat that has been humanely reared is expensive. Factory farmed meat is cheap. Both, ultimately, involve killing something just so that you can have dinner. I’m not too comfortable with that. At all. In fact, I hate the idea of it and I’m severely disinclined to use meat consumption as a vehicle to shore up some feeble sense of masculinity.

But here’s the kicker. I’m a vegetarian, which perhaps means that you pity me, or would like to be seen to, and I’m also supportive of feminist causes. I’d hate you to think that made me weak, though, because that really isn’t the case. Don’t confuse compassion for weakness or timorousness. That’d be a mistake. Instead, I see people like you for what you are. You want to shove men, that’s me and every other bloke alive, back into a box, because that’s where you’re most comfortable with us and yet, you’re losing control of the narrative. Your way of being a man doesn’t interest me and I’d guess there are plenty of others out there who feel the same. We need to radically redefine ourselves, just as women have done and you, well, you’re the old order.

By all means get terribly het up when you preach about how men are losing whatever quality you think they should have, but you’re starting to slip into irrelevance and your ideas about what men are, well, they’re being challenged all the time. I don’t fit in the shape you’ve designed for me, and I’m going to hope that more and more men come to the same conclusion.

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