*Eleditor’s note: warning: f-bombs dropped below! Have opinions or thoughts about this article? Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your own view here.
Last week I witnessed something that broke my heart.
I watched and listened as a mom emasculated two preschool boys. I was horrified, and it broke my heart. They looked unaffected by it, but that made me even sadder, because that told me they are accustomed to it.
I watch emasculation of men happening all the time. And it breaks my heart every time. But this was especially horrible to me, because they were so young. Because even when young, males still need the same things from us, as women, as they do when they are older. They need our trust and appreciation. They need us to allow them to make us happy.
What if males actually want to make us happy?
I used to emasculate men too, gawd help me. I didn’t know anything different. I never questioned my treatment of men and my beliefs about them as I was growing up, as I was having relationships with them—relationships of all kinds.
This mom was subbing for an absent teacher and therefore didn’t know the usual preschool routine. She came into the office with them and said, “These guys are telling me the recycling goes in here, but I think they’re lying to me.” She looked at me in expectation, expecting me to sympathize with her, to join her in emasculating them.
That’s what we are taught to do, isn’t it, ladies? We are socialized into joining together against males, no matter their age. We are expected to roll our eyes too when women express their disappointment with their man, or men and boys in general.
We learn it early, in preschool and on the playground from other girls.
Even before that we learn it at home from our parents, our grandparents, our mother’s friends that come over to complain and bitch about their men, etc.
I wonder if I had a horrified look on my face. I tried to keep it neutral as I defended them, “Of course they aren’t lying! This is where the recycling goes.” I looked at them and smiled, trying to let them know that I trusted them even if she didn’t. In their minds, I didn’t want to be lumped into the classification of adults—adult women—who treat them so horribly.
Normally they deliver the recycling by themselves without an adult escort. They have been bringing the recycling in all year. Of course they know what they’re doing.
I encouraged them to proceed, but she was not done, apparently, because she insisted on following them, saying, “It can’t go in there! Surely not,” as they were walking to the closet that holds the recycle bin. I may have physically cringed at that, I’m not sure. I was trying to remain calm, but inwardly, I was angry, horrified and sad.
“Yes,” I said as I looked pointedly at her, hoping she would back off, “They know what they are doing.” It continued though, because she followed them into the closet and stood over them as they emptied their full recycle bag into the bin and said, “Are you doing it right?” with disdain in her voice.
I felt sick to my stomach and wanted to cry—and was actually finding it difficult not to.
They were finally done, and I thanked them with genuine smiles and words of appreciation at the successful completion of their usual task, trying to convey my confidence and trust in them. They left, and I let myself cry.
So it begins as soon as they are born, I guess, doesn’t it? In our society (does it happen all over the planet too?), as females, we are taught to emasculate males. We are taught they can’t be trusted to do anything the “right” way just because they don’t do things the way a woman would do them. We are taught that they are fu*k-ups most of the time. We are taught that the emasculation of males is not only okay, it is the norm, and it is expected.
We are also taught to look for their “mistakes”—those times that they don’t do something the way we think they should—and we are taught to emasculate them by pointing it out in the most embarrassing, worst way possible—usually in front of other people. Is this supposed to “put them in their place” somehow? Is it supposed to educate them?
And if, as a woman, you decide not to participate in the emasculation of men, you are seen as a traitor. And worse, if you decide to actually defend men, you are seen as the enemy—like men—someone who cannot be trusted.
A couple of years ago, when I began studying men, women and relationships, I came across the mother of all relationship books, The Queen’s Code, by Alison Armstrong. This book represents the results of her research of over 25 years into men, women and relationships. It is presented as a novel, a story, but it really is the compilation of her research.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be required reading for everyone—as early as grade school—especially for females.
Those couple of years ago, I took the Queen’s Code vow. I gave up the “right” to emasculate men. Because most women do see it as their right to treat men so horribly, to crush them, to emasculate them. I gave up my right to defend the emasculation of men. I laid down my sarcasm, my distrust, my habits, my self-righteous anger, my sword.
I began exploring the idea: What if men actually have a good reason for everything they do and the way they do it? What if the way a woman would do something is not the only fucking way to do something?!?!
The Queen’s Code is a code of honor and a code of conduct. To embrace the code is to embrace men, to embrace their inherent goodness and honesty, to embrace them as teachers, trainers and as the incredible source of support and providers that they are.
So ladies, I will not join you in emasculating men.
I will not roll my eyes at them ever again. I will not tolerate you doing it either. I will leave the conversation. I will defend them. I will treat them with the respect, appreciation and trust they deserve.
And I am angry that those two little men were treated so offhandedly horribly in my office last week. I am angry that this is the norm. I am angry that no one seems to be offended by this. I am angry that when it happens and I confront other women about it, I am seen as stupid, naive and as the enemy. I am angry that no one is paying attention. I am angry that this happens all the time, every day, everywhere. I am angry that that mom has no conscious idea of what she did (and is undoubtedly still doing). I am angry with myself that I spent so much of my life in that same category. I am angry that when I defend men I am treated as a traitor. I am angry at women. I am angry at our society that thinks this is okay.
I am angry.
Ladies, give it up. Wise up. Let’s educate ourselves.
Gentlemen, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for being that self-righteous, emasculating, blind, ignorant bit*h for so much of my life.
Author: Grace Cooley
Editor: Sara Kärpänen