Why Do Men Suck?

I am running a short special-focus series of posts between now and March 8, from Imbolc to International Women’s Day, focusing on the problem of violence against women.  I have invited guest essays exploring how the abuse of one affects us all. I want a conversation about what we are doing to change this culture of violence. Here goes. -Sarah White

http://www.socialnatural.com/

Why Do Men Suck?

By Dale J. Dean

I am on the edge here, looking down. A long way down. I am a “man,” and I would like to push some other “men” over that edge. Let them fall into the abyss and force them to see what they have done to women in their lives. While they fall. Maybe just a little nick in an artery before the push. Bleeding. Falling. A long way down.

But first, I’ll just jump myself. Take a flying leap.

You see, I am an abuser. Before I take a knife to the throat of any man for raping or otherwise abusing my mother, sister, daughter, wife, or any other female, I need to look inside my self; not just the self I show myself and others, but the self that is lurking, hiding down there, telling me, “Just forget about it. You think too much!”

 I’m sorry for
the things I’ve done
I’ve shamed myself with lies
But soon these things
are overcome
And can’t be recognized — Neil Young


Even a thoughtful person can ignore the bad deeds they’ve done. They can focus on the good times and disremember the horrible.

I think that perhaps it is easier for most men to forget what they’ve done. Coping mechanisms abound. I can trick myself into thinking everything is all right. I can bury the bad things that I do. I’ve seen horrible cases where older folks absolutely do not remember the abuse they participated in earlier in their lives. It never happened. It’s all in the abused mind. Who do you believe, me the superior male, or her.

Even without forgetfulness, there are plenty of justifications: I was young and stupid. I was agitated. My baby left me. I was adjusting to new/lack-of meds. I have PTSD. I was too old to know what I was doing. It’s what I have seen and experienced growing up. The list of excuses goes on.

And, of course, abuse is greatly underreported. Who is your family going to believe? Who are the cops going to believe? Sometimes the abuser is the family’s pride and joy, a young man so intelligent, successful, good looking; he could never do such a thing! The same goes for your sweet old father or grandfather or uncle or whoever. But we are all men. We suck.

My true assignment was to answer—as a “sensitive man”—these questions:

  • Two-thirds of women victims know their abuser: WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?
  • Why do so many guys think it’s ok to treat women this way?

What’s up? Well, let’s just think of what I used to view as a stereotypical rape: the woman fumbling for her keys at night and the stranger approaches. Sure, that happens. And it’s horrific and dangerous. But rape by a boyfriend or acquaintance or relative or husband is much more common, although unreported. I’m sure the real numbers are much higher than any research study is able to purport. So we know that abuse is rampant. Just for the sake of argument, let’s just say that it’s 100 percent. If 100 percent of women have suffered abuse from men, than I have to think that fairly near 100 percent of men have participated in abusing women.

Why? Well, it’s our culture, stupid. (Oh wait! That very statement strengthens the old male-dominated culture.) So let’s just say it’s our stupid culture. And it’s a culture we are trying to change. Unfortunately, this change is happening a bit too slowly for most of us.

Lack of respect, of course, is the big reason. We strike out in anger even when the woman is not the cause of what makes us angry. It’s like that horrible cliché about the man kicking the dog after he comes home from work. But we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. Some women, I’m sure, would much rather be the kicked dog than themselves.

Men have control issues, anger issues. Maybe there’s a genetic aspect. From an early age I remember seeing the cartoon of the caveman dragging a woman by her hair. Or does that actual cartoon (culture) also lead us to disrespect women? Sure it does. We have a need to show women that we are physically stronger and more powerful, possibly because we feel insecure about our own self-worth. Couple that with the knowledge that we will most likely not be prosecuted. And add a dash of other people turning their backs, ignoring obvious abuse because they don’t want to deal with it or they fear retribution. The culture continues.

So how do we evolve into a culture that respects women? Imagine being a male rapist in a matriarchal society! I bet there weren’t many of them. At least, I bet they didn’t last long!

We’ve made some headway since my great, great aunt Victoria ran for president over 100 years ago. And I know we focused on it 40-some years ago. We were going to change the world in so many ways! And we still will…slowly. The moral compass points in the proper direction, but we don’t always choose to go that way.

Think you’re a man and you’re not guilty of anything? Think again. Think real hard. And don’t let it happen again. Show your sons and all formative-stage humans how women should be respected and valued. Or else.

I’m sorry for
the things I’ve done
I’ve shamed myself with lies
My cruelty has punctured me
And now I’m running dry.

________

Thanks, Dale. This conversation won’t be complete until men examine their behavior as brutally as any woman who’s been told “she asked for it”. Thanks for pricking a vein for us.

During this Season of Women I ask you to donate to causes that support prevention of violence against women and girls. If you’re in Madison, you could make a donation to a cause that celebrates women, such as A Fund for Women. If you’re elsewhere around the globe, consider giving to a cause like One Billion Rising. Yes, our February 14 global action is in the rear view mirror now. The road ahead takes us to the next stage of our efforts, where, as Eve Ensler said, “violence against women and girls will never be marginalized again.”

-Sarah White

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About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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6 Responses to Why Do Men Suck?

  1. ozzietales says:

    Thank you Dale for looking deep within yourself and for your honesty.

    • Dale J. Dean says:

      Thank you ozzietales. I’ve always felt that if everyone could look deep inside, look at themselves honestly, we could change our culture for the better. But it is difficult. We are human. We are not perfect. But we could at least try not to hurt other people!

  2. sebrock813 says:

    Great blog, and well done uncle. I am not a great writer, but I’ve been on both sides of the abusive fence. I was raped, only by people I was in relationships with, and my first physically abusive relationship was when I was 15. If I can help in any way, I would love to. I was/am deeply scarred by what I’ve been through and even how I treated my wonderful husband. I have found my way to heal, and part of it is sharing. I will continue to follow this blog

    • Dale J. Dean says:

      Thanks sebrock. Sharing and caring is what it is all about! If we ignore bad things, they get worse. I think we all need to heal, and to learn to help heal others. Sharing does help. I hope you turn your post in soon!

  3. Alexis H. says:

    Thanks for the courage to look in the mirror, Dale.
    Here’s something I struggle with: if a lack of self-worth is responsible for male violence, how does one hold a man accountable for what he’s done and simultaneously facilitate said missing self-worth?

  4. Dale J. Dean says:

    Good question, Alexis. I see lack of self-worth as one of many reasons, not the only reason. I oversimplified. But anyone, male or female, may strike out in anger just because they feel bad and can’t or don’t want to control themselves. Whatever we pin the underlying reason for violence on, the fact remains that that underlying reason does not justify violence toward another. Unfortunately, I see little hope for many sub-adult & adult male violators. Women need to report violence in order to hold a man accountable for his actions. No matter how difficult it is, we need to all be involved and reaffirm the message that violence is unacceptable. We only have current laws and peer pressure to work with. We need police to take all levels of violence-against women seriously. A victimized woman needs support from the police and friends rather than the sometimes additional victimization received from those fronts. It’s the little boys that we need to work with. They can be trained to realize that violence-against women is unacceptable, that girls and women are not targets for one’s misfired actions, that any male who violates these rules will be punished severely. At times, anyone can feel a lack of self-worth. We get bad breaks in life, but we must be taught self-control and-if needed–to find appropriate outlets for any violence we feel. We must be taught that violating smaller or weaker people is unacceptable, illegal, immoral and WRONG. It needs to be strongly taught and society needs to show perpetrators that they will be exposed and vigorously prosecuted. If we allow any human being to “get away with” violence, we encourage more of it. Excuses cannot be tolerated. Our culture needs to change drastically, and I am afraid that I cannot address all of the items–including the multiple reasons why men may feel a lack of self-worth–that need to change. Most of us know what is right and what is wrong, but that knowledge does not prevent some people from doing wrong things to make themselves feel “better.” Lastly, violence is a real part of human experience. We desperately need to improve the rules of engagement, and enforce these rules so that young boys and men know that violence against women is totally unacceptable. Self-respect–and thus respect for women and others–is needed. I’m afraid I am unable to address your questions appropriately, Alexis. I only know that we must keep on trying. There is no other acceptable option. Humans need to become more humane. Thank you for reading and reacting to my post.

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