How men get hurt, what it means, and what to do about it.  

HeuristicTourist 57M
1 posts
1/2/2006 5:43 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

How men get hurt, what it means, and what to do about it.

All men are good.

This is an assumption. It cannot be proven, though neither can it be disproven. Certain religions, philosophies, and individuals would claim that all men are evil. Christianity for example holds that all men (and women and boys... and even girls!) are inherently, intrinsically, "naturally" evil. If this were true it would certainly explain evil behavior. I believe there is another explanation for why good people do bad things.

Men- as boys- get hurt, and do not heal completely. (Females also get hurt, and, unfortunately, also do not heal.) Certainly every individual experiences a wide variety of hurts while growing up. There are certain hurts, however, that are inflicted upon an individual NOT at random and NOT as a consequence of that person's individual behavior, but because of that person's membership in a group.

We all belong to many groups. Some groups are ascribed (e.g., race, sex), and some groups are elected (e.g., jazz enthusiast, cyclist). The difference between whether a group is ascribed or elected is not always an easy one to perceive (e.g., Jewish, alcoholic). The way we are treated is in part based on other peoples' PERCEPTION of what groups we hold membership in. I, personally, am a member of the following groups: "white" people, males, able-bodied people, working-class people, middle-aged people, Americans, coffee-drinkers, computer-owners... the list goes on and on.

These memberships (and the labels appertaining thereto) would not make much difference- would only help me to locate other group members- except that there is such a thing as "oppression." Oppression refers to the fact that some groups are privileged, and some groups are targeted. (I say, "targeted" instead of "hurt" because people in the privileged groups are hurt by oppression as well.) So in the category of "sex," men are members of the privileged group, and women are members of the targeted group. The oppression of people based on gender is called "sexism."

Women's oppression is called "sexism," but men are hurt by sexism, too. Most women can list several ways they've been hurt by sexism- can cite a number of ways being female has resulted in them being limited, discounted, excluded, and even physically harmed (or at least had their physical health neglected) that did not happen to their male peers. Women are hurt by sexism in very real ways, and it is easy to figure out who is doing the inflicting of those hurts- men... right? If not all men, then how about all "sexist" men? It is not easy for men to figure out how we have been hurt BECAUSE of our maleness.

It would be easy for a woman to conclude- based on her own experiences and observations- that many men are bad because they hurt women. (Some men are very bad because they hurt women a lot, and most men are at least somewhat bad because they hurt women a little.) I would think, given the preponderance of "badness" in men, it would be discouraging for a woman who is trying to find a "good" one.

One aspect of male badness that seems particularly annoying to women is our sexualizing of absolutely everydamnthing. (This is where I start to tie together all the points I've been making.) The reason that good men (all of us) overly sexualize is that we've been hurt and have not completely healed. Upon making this claim, I am immediately confronted by several objections:

"How can men claim to be targets of hurt, when they are obviously the ones doing the inflicting of the hurts?"

"How can men claim to be victims at all; it doesn't work. The only stance with integrity is responsibility."

"Hearing men whine about being hurt makes them seem... unmanly."

"Sexualizing everydamnthing isn't a problem, it's fun!"

These concerns will be addressed in a future post. I will delve into the specifics of how sexism is installed in boys, how this hurts us, how our healing is inhibited (institutionally), how we are trained to hurt others, and how this plays out in our dating rituals. I will also address how to be an ally in the healing of men, and how to train men (your man?) to be allies in the empowerment of women.


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