Manners: Why we need Feminism for Men

Yes, I think this is a topic on manners as much as politics.  There has recently been a kerfuffle about “Nice guys” and feminists and how the two shall never meet!

In case you missed it, this one started with a “Nice Guy” named Scott Aaronson blogging on the difficulty Nice Guys have with feminism. The responses (#1 and #2) I have read both are neither bashing nor justifying but trying to re-frame the questions, and both link to even further responses which are either trying to “teach” Mr. Aaronson how to “get over it” or why he IS still priviledged or…. the rabbit hole is deep my friends.

I could easily talk about Nice Guys, but this guy does a good job of it.  I’ll have to write up my explanation of Schrödinger’s Rapist another day because I don’t like that imagery (although there is something important about reminding men to respect women’s boundaries!). There is also a lot to be discussed around intersectional priviledge, but again there is a great walk-through for that discussion (in my opinion).

There is one thing I think so many of these discussions are forgetting – guys don’t get to have friends any more.

Really, the “friends” guys have are not the kind they can ask “hey, give me an honest assessment of my behavior” and get a true thought-out answer.  There is a “bro-code” which demands men always be seen as tough, as in-control, alphas (or at least not omegas or somesuch).  These “friends” are really hang-out-pals. Not soul-suffering-stand-by-me friends.

I have girl friends who I am emotionally vulnerable and intimate with in ways I am not with my boyfriend.  I am vulnerable and intimate with him in ways I am not with my other friends (and don’t want to be – sorry ladies).  And because I can have such a diversity of trust and love and intimacy – I don’t end up crashing and burning into a single person when life hurts. And if I broke up with him tomorrow, I wouldn’t be alone and devastated. Devastated, but not alone. Never alone. And I am stronger and braver because of it. I get what he’s saying. I was terrified of dating when I was in middle and high school too. But I had some dear and close (hear trusting and intimate) friends who allowed me peeks into their feelings and struggles in relationships that made it easier for me to step out onto that ledge.

Scott Aaronson needed a friend he could turn to in his “between 12 and 20” stage when he was so terrified. So instead of being isolated and scared. He and his friends could just be scared. They could encourage each other. Maybe practice pick-up lines out loud. And when he failed, he would fall into their arms and be told he’s still loved.They could discuss why he failed. They could talk about how to approach it differently. and when he (in his words) “over analyzed” on specific things in feminist literate his friends could bring him back to reality: “dude, you can offer a girl a drink without going to jail. If she says no, just walk away. Come back here and I’ll buy the next round.” And when he writes that he fought against the idea that “there’s no conspiracy to make the world a hell for shy male nerds.” I actually yelled at my computer screen “YES THERE IS! feminists call it Patriarchy! It hurts men too!”

I watched the George Takei documentary recently and they asked him about the erotica surrounding Kirk and Spock.  Takei laughed. Shatner grumbled. Nemoy rolled his eyes and shrugged. I got angry. By making that relationship SEXUAL – that relationship is made CHEAP. There is so much depth that Kirk and Spock are wonderful non-sexual FRIENDS.  By trying to tie that sort of emotional intimacy with sex empowers the belief that men are only allowed to be emotionally intimate with a sexual partner. That is the problem Nice Guys have. They don’t get to talk to other guys and get help, support, practice…. anything from each other. they aren’t supposed to get it from girls either. So instead they are isolated, scared (or terrified), and lost.

I’ve had guy friends who cry on my shoulder (literally) and tell me they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to (I mentally add “in their own gender” since they found someone to talk to…) They have to be “macho” and they can’t show weakness. I won’t lie, I do love being that person for my friends: the trusted voice (even when I say painful truths) and the confidant. But why can’t guys have that with each other? Why do we have to live in a society where men have to have sex with their best friend?