A good friend of mine went to a job interview yesterday. While waiting to go in, he took a picture of a poster on the wall, the latest advertising campaign for the Battered Women’s Support Services. It is a picture of a pugnacious little boy, fists raised, with a smear of blood trickling from his nose.
The copy at the bottom of the poster is a lot of bullshit about ‘manning up.’ The fact that the copywriters (working on behalf of their ideological driven client) have decided to chew on this phrase – this particular bone – is bothersome precisely because, as a Male Human Rights Activist, I find this particular epithet of male shaming especially loathsome. Indeed, it is precisely because of my aversion to these two particular words that makes it crucial (in my mind) that I should unravel their agenda in their use of this phrase.
The copy posits that ‘manning up’ is, “a crisis in masculinity that causes violence against women and girls.”
The logic here – one of unquestioned causality – is extremely misleading. How does this societal shaming of men and boys lead inexorably to acting out in violence? How does this mechanism work, precisely? The poster does not attempt to answer this in any way shape or form; it merely offers up a statement as a de facto truism. It is lamentable that the folks back at the ad agency do not feel it necessary to look at the wider implications of this message: the way that it may addle and impinge on the psyches of young boys.
A major proportion of the people admonishing boys to grow a pair are mothers. Indeed, I distinctly remember my own mother informing me, after delivering a flurry of hand slaps, that ‘big boy’s don’t cry.’ The fact that I never once heard my father say this is notable. Working out from my subjective experience, it does not take a great leap of the imagination to posit that a significant percentage of these questionable messages are handed down to young boys from a female parent.
The statistics are unequivocal: according the US Census Bureau, of 12.2 million single parent families in the US, more than 85% have a female parent at the helm. Startlingly, 4 out of 10 children are born to unwed mothers. The undeniable fact that women have the greater access to young boys is suggestive that they have the main sway over their emotional and psychological development, and that they have the greater opportunity to divulge what their idea of a “real man” should, or should not be.
The pernicious ‘man up’ narrative is, essentially, verbally abusive. It is the ram-rodding of a triangular peg; it is an insistence that it has to fit into a square hole, irrespective of its differing shape or form. The fact that women visit this type of abuse on their children is also a matter of record. Mothers are, by a long measure, the majority of child abusers: a survey done by the Federal Association for Children and Families found that 58% of the perpetrators of ‘childhood abuse and neglect’ were women.
Greater access to children offers greater opportunity for abuse.
Back to the poster: underneath the nonsense about ‘manning up’ is a startling statement that needs evisceration. It reads, “We are helping men own their role.”
This gem obviously stems from the non sequitur, the assertion that male shaming verbal abuse inevitably makes a wife beater. Casting these aspersions aside, I would like to look at the precise use of the word ‘role.’
The Oxford English Dictionary defines role as being “the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.” This suggests that we adopt roles in response to outside stimuli. This is further clarified by tracing the origin of the seventeenth century French word, roule. A roule was the paper on to which an actor’s part was written. A script. In this light, we can now see how gender ideologues want to give young boys a new “roule”. Namely that of a violent abuser. But let’s not forget that this ‘abuser’ script is being handed down, assigned to young males by a third party. Moreover, let us not forget that those with the greater access to those tabulae rasae,- those blank young mental chalkboards – have the majority of the aforementioned scripts, and the time to ensure that those monologues are learned by rote and taken to heart.
The Women’s movement lamented, precisely, on the roles that they felt as though were impinging on them from without. The fact that they resisted these messages and sought to find a new identity for themselves was (and is) a good thing. However, it is clear from this piece of advertising that any such emancipation is a one-way street. The creative minds behind this poster are entirely content to place the plaster cast of socio-psychological immobility on men. Regardless of whether the gender ideologues maintain that the imbibing of certain words or phrases make boys violently abusive, we are being given scripts that do not emanate from within ourselves.
We are being handed our part regardless of what role we may actually want to play in life. In essence, every time a boy is told ‘to suck it up’ he is being bound and gagged. He is like Gulliver, staked to the ground, unable to move, amid teeming Lilliputiennes. Every time a radical feminist pronounces that all men are rapists, she is intimating that men are predestined, in a Calvinistic sense, to enact harm; she is placing duct-tape over his mouth and across his genitals, without even a cursory glance towards the human heart beating in his chest.
Let us look back at the image. I will let you know what I see. I see a young man who has been the recipient of violence, of physical abuse handed down to him – quite possibly from a woman. I see a whole world of pain in his eyes – pain that is reflective of a dissipating and crumbling emotions. I see the joy being sucked from a young spirit. I see a little boy that needs help, a kid that needs to be reassured and told that he is loved more than the moon and the stars.
I know this, you see, because, back in the mists of time, I was that little boy.