A tweet that crossed my feed a couple of days ago (and is now lost so attribution is a mystery) that asked (in paraphrase):
Do men ever look around and ask “what’s wrong with men?”
My answer is this: No.
Naturally, this is a highly personal answer, and I don’t dare speak for all men, but I suspect in the case of the Straight White WASP-ish Male, I share some common habits with my demographic. Being a representative of the Dominant Culture where I live, not only do I have the ability to think to myself (and say out loud) that I treat everyone as an individual, I have the cultural freedom to be a prick and think this is actually true.
In fact, when I am dealing with other men, I do categorize them into one of three groups: Idiots, Assholes, and Heroes.
These are the easiest to spot and this is the easiest bucket to fill. It doesn’t take very long in conversation or just listening to a dude to determine that they are an idiot. When a guy says oil is never running out, he’s an idiot. When he says tax-cuts for the wealthy creates jobs, he’s an idiot. The problem with idiots is you have to give each bit of useless misguided noise they present a chance, because it is possible that the idiot may know something about the subject.
This second bucket is a little harder to fill because usually they spend time in the idiot bucket first, and it takes some prolonged exposure to determine that the idiot is really an asshole. Of course, some people land there immediately. Racists, sexists, homophobes, white nationalists, and others who take stands that require other people to suffer, are assholes. Assholes are easily dismissed without worry of the ad hominem fallacy rearing it’s head. I don’t listen to these people because they’re assholes, not because I think they’re wrong about a subject. They may be right, but I don’t have to listen to an asshole. In the same vein, as a capitalist I don’t see movies starring Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson. I don’t criticize their acting, I just refuse to give them my money.
This is not the bucket for supermen and there is no sense of worship involved in this bucket. Heroes, in this context, are people who have attributes I can admire and emulate. My friend Rob is a kind man, and his kindness defines him in a way that I wish I could be more like Rob. My co-worker John can understand the vast wodges of idiocy I encounter at work and the overly complicated systemic idiocy that big companies collect like dust bunnies. My father-in-law has incredible self-control (unless he’s being snarky), and my own father was able to talk to anyone without fear.
When I described this to Stephanie, she thought there would be a bucked for Bros, and I suppose extroverted men may have that bucket, but Bro to me is not a relationship but an attitude and most Bros I meet end up in the Asshole bucket.
So what about women? How do I think about women? When I look at women as a whole do I ever think “what’s wrong with them?”. No. I tend to place them into the same three categories. There are women in my life who are idiots, assholes, and heroes.
I am sure that anyone who really knows me will read this and call me on bullshit. I hope they do. I’d hate to be living a lie.