The most culturally acceptable locus of violence is the male body. The policing of masculinity assures this fact. Call this policing and violence whatever you want. Call these things The Patriarchy™ if you want, but neither of these things are male privilege and neither of these things are male domination. I prefer to call these things the lived-experiences of men.
I generally dislike “The Good Men Project” because most of their articles are milquetoast and because they try to understand the lived-experiences of men through the lens of feminism(s). This is problematic because ALL feminism(s) assume The Patriarchy™ (so far as I can tell) and proceed from that problematic assumption to make what are often wrong-headed assumptions about masculinity and men. However, I will give credit where it is due. Beth Leyba wrote this article the other day, “I Hate the Broncos: Daring to Question Whether Football is Worth It.”
In her “daring” article, Leyba gets a few things right. She writes. “Football is a brutal sport that sometimes ends up destroying the lives of those who play it.” She says that she was never a fan of football, but that her apathy about this sort of violence against men “morphed into moral opposition” because of the costliness of the sport.
She notes the physical damage done to men via multiple concussions and relates this to her own experiences with an injury that she suffered on a swing-set. She writes about football being a sport that “literally chews people up and spits them out.” I agree with her, but swing-sets, unlike football, don’t generally chew people up and spit them out. Note how it takes a remotely similar and personal experience of injury before she is willing to toss out her apathy regarding this sort of violence against men. I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt and be kind here because we have similar conclusions about violence against men; though we arrive at these conclusions through very different routes. From her feminist lens, a swing-set accident “has helped to crystallize” her feelings about the grotesque amounts of violence against men that exist in our culture.
I’m not sure that she understands the depths of this violence that permeates our culture, considering how it took the traumatic swing-set accident to cause her to shed her apathy, but she can see that our culture celebrates this violence against men. She notes that “football brings people together” for tailgate parties, for thanksgiving tradition, and etc. Hell, if not for this culturally accepted violence against men, most sports bars would probably not exist.
I just finished watching “Super Bowl XLVIII,” where millions of people all across our country and throughout sports bars tuned in to cheer about this violence against men. I’m not going to link to the tweets, but there were assholes celebrating the fact that Richard Sherman (a player for the Seahawks) suffered an ankle injury during the game.
There is also human cock-fighting, better known as the “UFC.” Yeah, sycophants can dress it up as strategy and as a violent form of chess, but it’s still primarily violence against men. It was only a few weeks ago where millions of people tuned in to watch Anderson Silva kick another man so hard that Silva horrifically broke his own leg.
Look at the suffering of this man. Anybody can see that these sports are a form of violence against men. This fact is so obvious…just look at him.
It shouldn’t take a traumatic swing-set injury for a woman (especially a feminist who is supposed to be knowledgeable about gender issues) to acknowledge this fact and sweep aside her “apathy” about this violence. It shouldn’t take one’s own personal experience with a loosely related concussive injury to bring about the empathy needed to understand such blatant suffering of men.
If you can’t see this suffering, or if you’ve only now begun to see it, perhaps you have been blinded to it because your theories about The Patriarchy™ have blinded you to it. Perhaps you have been so busy in-fighting with other feminists and jockeying for status on various feminist hierarchies of oppression that you have simply failed to see the obvious. These men are not dominating. These men are submitting to a culture that glorifies violence against them. These men are submitting to a culture that demands their suffering through the policing of masculinity.
We live in a culture where violence against men is not only culturally permissible, it is celebrated as heroic. Our president and congress perpetuates this norm. President Obama delivered one of the biggest standing ovations at the SOTU address. (You can watch the ovation here.) The ovation was for Cory Remsburg. It was an ovation to celebrate his heroics—being deployed 10 times by our military, having his body mutilated and sacrificed, paralyzed, blinded. The standing ovation was a policing of masculinity such that men-as-cannon-fodder are praised. Our entire congress cheered about the dehumanization of this man. They cheered that he was put through a meat grinder and spit out as a hero “who never quit.”
“Ahhh…but these are adult men who are well-paid to take these risks and subject their bodies to violence,” say fans and apologists of violent sports and the military. I say rubbish. These men were all conditioned via culture to “be a man.” One of the first questions I was asked when I spoke with military recruiters was whether or not I played high-school football. I don’t think this was any sort of unusual question asked by military recruiters. It makes sense that the military would want boys and young men who have a history of having had their personhood mutilated through violent “sport.” Hell, one of the first things done to young men, when entering the military, is the shaving of their heads—to try and strip young men of individual personhood differences—making new recruits a gaggle of “maggots.”
This conditioning (abusing) starts at a young age. Take, for example, the horrific show, “Friday Night Tykes.” It’s all about the policing of masculinity in boys, making them into violent monsters who are willing to harm other boys, robbing boys of their emotional well-being, robbing boys of their personhood, distorting masculinity into this grotesquery of socio-culturally acceptable violent behavior.
This kind of policing of masculinity ensures that the male body becomes the most socio-culturally acceptable locus of violence. This is not male privilege. This is not male domination. This is male submission. These are the lived-experiences of men.
So, when Ms. Leyba and other feminists write about shedding their apathy toward this violence against men, it’s hard for me to take seriously their often made claims about feminism working on men’s issues–how feminism cares about men, and how The Patriarchy™ hurts men too. If Ms. Leyba had actually cared about men, she would never have had apathy about them in the first place.
Ms. Leyba, take off your feminist goggles for a moment and try to understand the lived-experiences of men. You don’t need to be bonked on the head in one of your swing-set accidents to do this. Simply look around. You will see the policing of masculinity. You will see a culture of male submission. You will see the male body as the locus of culturally acceptable violence. That is not male privilege. That is not male domination. Such things are the lived-experiences of men.
[Edit: Part two is published.]