Men, listen up… Join me, with due diligence and civic duty, and publicly claim: I am sexist!
In the pages of the New York Times, a philosophy professor named George Yancy is gushing his little heart out:
It is hard to admit we are sexist. I, for instance, would like to think that I possess genuine feminist bona fides, but who am I kidding? I am a failed and broken feminist.
Upon which revelation, I suppose we could all just stop and go home. But no, let’s press on.
More pointedly, I am sexist. There are times when I fear for the loss of my own entitlement as a male. Toxic masculinity takes many forms. All forms continue to hurt and to violate women.
The word toxic, by the way, is deployed no fewer than nine times, excluding various synonyms, as if it were an incantation. Now brace yourselves for some full-on testosterone-jacked beastliness.
For example, before I got married, I insisted that my wife take my last name… While this was not sexual assault, my insistence was a violation of her independence.
To reiterate. Asking a fiancée if she’ll change her surname upon marriage, as is still the custom, perhaps to avoid confusing people as to whether you’re actually married or not, and possibly to avoid imposing on any children lengthy hyphenated surnames… this is not sexual assault. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.
I had inherited a subtle, yet still violent, form of toxic masculinity… These are deep and troubling expectations that are shaped by male privilege, male power and toxic masculinity.
What, then, are these dark and monstrous expectations, the ones that are “subtle, yet still violent”? Apparently, our professional thinker is troubled by the fact that he appreciates thanks after cleaning the house or cooking a meal. Yes, it’s deep and troubling.
Oh, we’re not done yet.
If you are a woman reading this, I have failed you. Through my silence and an uninterrogated collective misogyny, I have failed you. I have helped and continue to help perpetuate sexism. I know about how we hold onto forms of power that dehumanize you only to elevate our sense of masculinity. I recognize my silence as an act of violence. For this, I sincerely apologise.
And yet, frankly, I’m not sensing an excess of masculinity. If you spend hours preparing a meal, or cleaning the house, and then appreciate some acknowledgement, however small or routine, this doesn’t strike me as “toxic,” or “troubling,” or “dehumanizing,” or a “violation” of womanhood. Framing an appreciation of gratitude as “uninterrogated collective misogyny” sounds just a tad preposterous. And when my own Other Half takes charge of some particularly tricky meal preparation, some feat I daren’t attempt, I keep bunting and T-shirt cannons on hot stand-by.
Professor Yancy goes on to denounce, on behalf of all men, “our sexually objectifying gazes… our pornographic imaginations.” Our “dominant phallic economy.” Indeed, he continues, “we are collectively complicit with a sexist mind-set and a poisonous masculinity.” You see, being aroused by women, while not quite rape in itself, is nonetheless, as it were, rape-adjacent, and constitutes “a violent, pathetic and problematic masculinity.” One wonders how a species of suitably corrected human beings, purged of such heterosexual inclinations, might propagate and flourish. Such that we can indulge the theatrical sorrows of woke philosophy lecturers.
Or, as our educator puts it, tearfully, his face reddened with shame,
When I was about 15 years old, I said to a friend of mine, “Why must you always look at a girl’s butt?” He promptly responded: “Are you gay or something? What else should I look at, a guy’s butt?” He was already wearing the mask. He had already learned the lessons of patriarchal masculinity.
Yes, adolescent butt-watching. Oh calamitous woe. And which, apparently, girls never indulge in. Presumably, we should only be sexually attracted to personalities, and never the fleshy packaging.
There was no wiggle room for me to be both antisexist and antimisogynistic and yet a heterosexual young boy. You see, other males had rewarded his gaze by joining in the objectifying practice: “Look at that butt!” It was a collective act of devaluation.
Or possibly the reverse.
The acts of soul murder had already begun.
I’ll just leave that one there, I think.
Ooh, a button.