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The Problem with the Men’s Movement is It’s Not Very Manly

The Problem with the Men’s Movement is It’s Not Very Manly: Illustration by Adria Fruitos

Illustration by Adria Fruitos

The most basic rule of being a man is to shut up about your problems. No kid hangs a poster of an athlete above his bed because the guy has an okay outside shot but, man, can he milk a minor injury. No coach yells, “Walk it off—and then come back and tell me all about it!”

Which is why no men’s movement will ever be successful. Men have lots of issues, and it’s fine to acknowledge them: Men are incarcerated too easily; boys are put on ADHD medicine too often; there’s probably a third one. But it’s not acceptable to group these issues together.

Because having a penis is awesome. You know how many times I’ve had sex without having an orgasm? Of course you do, because it’s zero. You know what I did after my shower to look good for my three meetings today? Neither do I. You know how sometimes a person I think is a friend will be nice to me in person but totally undermine me behind my back? I don’t.

So you can’t complain about being a dude. No one likes it when the people running everything act like they’re being treated unfairly. Because we’re the ones deciding how we’re treated. No matter how often people fail to see the problems we encounter for being white or being rich or having a huge penis (seriously, there are several sex acts we’re regularly denied; for instance, we never, euphemistically, get to sit in the back of the bus), we cannot point them out, especially with Rosa Parks metaphors. You know how much sympathy you get from women when you complain that circumcision is wrong because sex might feel even better without it? Not even a baby’s foreskin amount.

In the 1990s the men’s movement was just Tim Allen and Robert Bly going all Tom Sawyer and worrying that we’d become too “sivilized.” In the 2000s The Man Show was simply annoyed by Oprah’s over-empathy and wanted to pull some pranks. I get all that. Modern culture, with its back-hair grooming, front-hair grooming and lower-hair grooming, is a violation of our natural state, but be careful how you romanticize a past that had no porn, porn or porn. Yes, we have become less masculine since we moved down from trees, but so have women. Picture what a woman who lives in trees looks like. The answer: a tree.

But now, thanks to the anonymity and distance offered by the internet, we have the manosphere, which is a much darker place. Men write about having a moment when they swallow “the red pill,” like in The Matrix, and suddenly see what a supposedly woman-controlled world they live in. In the manosphere, men seek out feminist articles and make comments about them that are so scary, they prove that we need feminist articles.

The core of the new men’s movement is really just dudes whining that they’re not getting laid enough. Which, on the surface, is a totally valid complaint. The toughest part about being a man is desperately wanting to have sex all the time and having that pleasure denied by the people who can provide it. If I had made that sentence rhyme, I could have sold it to any number of rappers.

After all, it would seem mean if we controlled some basic thing that women wanted and continually refused to give it to them, such as 22 more cents to every dollar we earned. The problem is that our desire, while very real, is inherently objectifying. We don’t think of women as people with their own needs but as tools to solve our problem, which is technically called a boner. Sure, our desire is a biological itch we can’t control, but that doesn’t mean it’s their responsibility to scratch it, which, while not the most pleasant method, would probably work. We have lots of biological reactions we suppress all the time. Otherwise, we’d live in a world full of fighting, stealing, whining and pooping on the street. And no one wants to live in a world where people are slugging each other outside bars while slipping on poop—though I’m sure some porn sites would prove me wrong.

Besides, being angry with women for our sexual frustration is a failed strategy. It’s far better to act like a dick who’s having so much sex that he doesn’t have to bother texting back, not even with an emoji of a naked guy holding up his index finger, asking for another minute to get back to you while he’s having sex. I can also sell that emoji idea to any number of rappers.

Here are some things feminism has given us: short skirts, sexual liberation, contraception and bra burning, the purpose of which I’m too young to know, but I’m pretty sure it was about thanking men for their support by showing them female nipples.

The only movement men should be making is shutting up about their problems and listening to women’s. After all, that’s what the manosphere has to do if it really wants to return to the way things used to be.

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