Stop – Men aren’t trash. But they probably will start to be, if you keep telling them they are.
The phrase “men are trash” and similar such phrases have somehow weaved their way into popular discourse, particularly on the internet. It’s a phrase that many tend to skim across and ignore, not really noticing the brevity of it. Men are trash. Now think about the phrase “girls are psycho”… hmm.
Guys have been saying phrases like “girls are psycho” and we’ve been hearing skater guys in teen movies say things like “dude, your girl is crazy” for a very long time. In my experience, females seem to have a very strong opinion about that phrase. Unsurprisingly, they don’t seem to be very happy about being labelled as mentally unstable purely because of their gender. But equally unsurprisingly, guys don’t like to be told they’re trash either.
The rise of a feminist culture and female empowerment isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although I do feel like a power imbalance is starting to return. Equality is not an easy, and may not even be a plausible, concept to achieve. It’s a power struggle between two genders. Women have to be lifted up and empowered and given greater opportunities to even reach the same level playing field as a man. But this sudden surge of empowerment in a relatively small space of time then causes a power imbalance, and it seems the unfortunate consequence of trying to lift a woman up is to bring the man down.
Strolling through popular high street shops I see T-Shirts branded with the slogans “The Future is Female” “Femme Power” “Babes Only” and “Girls Bite Back”. It saddens me slightly; I’m 100% for women feeling confident, but when empowerment becomes cockiness, entitlement, and even belittlement of those that don’t meet that fierce and furious personality that ‘cool feminist girls’ are supposed to have or the subtle, perhaps unintentional, belittlement of men – I don’t agree. Imagine if those T-Shirts said “The Future is Male” or “Men Only”. I think women would be a bit peeved about that, and rightly so. You’d feel attacked.
“Good!” I hear you say, “men are supposed to feel attacked, women are the ones that are oppressed, how do you think we feel? About time that men feel the way women have felt for centuries!”
But, do two wrongs make a right? Should the average male be told that they are trash and just… take it? Blame the patriarchy, not the individual man. The patriarchy makes men’s lives hell too.
A modern narrative is that men are stupid, with a prime example being the “dumb dad/husband” stereotype. This archetype is used comically, particularly in domestic advertising for cleaning products and cooking for example. That is not too far away from the reality of advertising in the 1940s and 50s towards women. The “dumb dad” stereotype is just like the “silly, ditzy wife” stereotype from the 50s – what goes around, comes around.
It’s become popular and funny to make jokes about men. People claim it’s an exaggeration, and if people find it offensive they’re probably just feeling called out because they are in fact, trash. But it’s actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. If it’s on clothing, if it’s in memes when you scroll through Facebook, if it’s a tweet that’s been retweeted thousands of times, if it’s used as advertising, then it becomes abundantly clear that it’s become somewhat popular to have a certain disdain towards men, or claim a certain authority or power over them just to make someone feel more ’empowered’ as a woman.
If every aspect of popular culture seems to be against you, telling you directly and subliminally that you as a man are a piece of garbage, purely because you were unknowingly born into a system where your gender has socially and politically held power for hundreds of years, you’d feel worthless, and you’d probably start acting like trash too.