We live in a culture where violence against men is prevalent, normalized, excused, and celebrated by the media and in popular culture. Laugh if you want, but the best humor is practically indistinguishable from tragedy. The best comedians understand suffering. The best jokes are lamentations.
We have multi-billion dollar “sports” industries (e.g., the NFL and UFC) that glorify this violence against men. Families gather on Sundays to celebrate this violence. Corporations make billions on the cultural normalization of this violence against men–making the male body the most culturally acceptable locus of violence. All the while, folks scream that “CONSENT” is freely given by the men being violated, failing to understand how these cultural norms influence consent, failing to understand that freedom itself is not the perpetuation of violence against men, failing to understand that consent does not change the underlying fact of violence committed against men. Freedom is not two men beating each other unconscious for entertainment or some false idea of sportsmanship and competition. If you believe such types of violence are freedom and sportsmanship, you have an impoverished sense of both and you are likely perpetuating a culture that glorifies violence against men.
We have a war machine that keeps turning – making billions more in profits off this exploitation, destruction, mutilation, and expendability of the male body. There is no end to it. It never stops because our culture demands it. We defend our freedom by consenting to violence against the male body. We are proud of our “heroes.” We celebrate them. We love them for subjecting their bodies and the bodies of other men to violence.
If we learn to hate this violence against men and speak out against it, we are told to “shut the fuck up.” If we learn that all war is anti-male because all war is violence against men, our masculinity is policed and threatened because we must be “weak bitches” to complain about male suffering. Even feminists who claim to be working on male issues mock such complaints about male suffering as “man feelz.” Some of these feminists insist that male suffering is actually male privilege. Anything else is “assholery.”
There is real “assholery”: our prison systems. They are monstrosities of prison guard unions, corporations, legal institutions, and law enforcement agencies that are partially sustained by our war on drugs. It is a war that throws men into cages and commits violence against them for non-violent drug “crimes.” Instead of rehabilitation, we punish these men with prison rape and other violence. Instead of recognizing our sick culture, we blame the drug addict for wanting to escape. As Krishnamurti said, ”It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” While the “right” wags their finger of shame and screams for harsher punishments and more violence against these men, the “left” wags their finger of shame and clamors about “rehabilitating” these men to a profoundly sick culture that demands their submission, failing to recognize that our culture may need more rehab than do these men. Culture may need rehabilitating because it fails to recognize that these men are not dominating and that such violence against them is not male privilege and neither is it a privileging of masculinity. Many are blind to this fact, and some even make the bizarre claim that the suffering of men somehow represents a devaluation of women.
Yes, in our sick culture of male submission, the suffering of men is caused by a society that doesn’t value women. In fact, it is claimed, that violence against men is actually the oppression of women. That’s what makes sense in our sick culture because the obvious truth is “assholery.” If a man learns to say that men suffer violence because men are systematically devalued in our culture—that man speaks pure misogynistic truth.
Only in a profoundly sick culture would violence against men be interpreted primarily as the devaluation of women, rather than the obvious–the devaluation and oppression of men. Only in a profoundly sick culture would violence against men be seen as the overvaluing and privileging of men and masculinity.
Fuck that and all you folks who fail to recognize that the male body is the most culturally acceptable locus of violence. Violence against one man is a “degradation, terror, and limitation to all” men. Most men and boys limit their behavior because of the existence of potential violence against them. Most men and boys box their emotions away to create a front of stolidity, an avoidance of the crushing reality that our culture demands their submission, obedience, oppression, and acquiescence to a culture that doesn’t value them, considers them cannon-fodder, expendable capital, human resources, objects-of-utility.
My dad is 76 years old. I had the “freedom” of watching him break into tears a few weeks ago as he recounted some of the horrors that he saw while in the Army. This is a man who never shed a tear or spoke a word about his suffering and the suffering of his Army buddies until he was no longer strong enough to “be a man.” At 76, he’s no longer strong enough to keep that shit boxed in. It was an emotional prison for him. There is nothing heroic about it. PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and being used as human cannon-fodder is not and should not be celebrated as awesome heroics of willpower. It’s a prison for men. It isn’t male privilege and it isn’t male domination. Such things are male submission. Such things are what my father did and experienced in submission to a culture that demanded it of him. Such things are what men do in submission to a culture that doesn’t value them.
This is our culture. This is violence against men. It is prevalent, normalized, excused, celebrated, glamorized, and glorified. If you speak out against it, you will be subjected to further ridicule, shame, aggression, and oppression by the masculinity and language police. You will be accused of misappropriating words that are reserved for women because there is no such thing as violence against men. It’s not a real thing. It’s just plain old violence. Laugh if you want. It’s funny how that works–how tragedy becomes comedy, how the best jokes are lamentations, how the suffering of men makes for the best punchlines.
Editor’s note: feature image by Jessica Patterson