Humans are notorious for finding ways out of the problems we create. We start blaming others as soon as we can talk. Whether it be a sibling, the dog or even an imaginary friend. This behavior does not get much better as we get older, in fact, the blame game continues but the problems get more complicated. One of the downsides to our growth as a country is the fact that we encourage each other to "do you". It sounds wonderful, it promotes self-growth, a love for yourself that isn't based upon someone else's assessment of you. But it if not handled correctly, it can and is used to let you off of the hook for personal responsibility.
We are amazing at the excuses, we use them like currency. Cheat on your significant other; excuse. Steal from a friend; excuse. Or even steal an election; excuse. We've become so desensitized to our own excuses that we no longer know how to take responsibility for our behavior. We apologize but those apologies always seem to have a caveat. No one seems to stand up and say "I'm sorry for what I did, I was wrong, I hurt others and I am completely responsible for my behavior."
Not only do we excuse away our behavior we also blame our own actions on others. You can't turn a corner without running into someone who is going to tell you about how their action is not only NOT their fault but, in fact they will be more than happy to tell you who the real culprit is; someone else.
I've gotten tired of people blaming the crap that they pull, on their parents, their upbringing, their environment, the wealth of money they have or don't have, etc.
When did we start using the reason for our behavior as an excuse? Yes, there is always a reason why we do what we do but that does not give you a blanket check to act a fool.
Question: Could someone who was raised in an abusive household become an abuser?
Answer: Absolutely, statistics back it up but does that mean you have to? No, it does not. Anyone raised in any kind of adverse situation could ride the blame train until the wheels fell off but that doesn't make it the right thing to do.
Nothing is written in stone and that includes our behavior. Which brings me to my point - if you harass and belittle women for whatever reason, it's your fault not outside forces, nor childhood trauma. I don't care if it's cultural, or financial, or physical, or mental, or parental; in the end, you are the reason you do what you do.
Men who think that the concept of "Toxic Masculinity" is bullshit take notice - PLEASE!
Excuses, Everyone Has One But They All Stink -
The article below illustrates some of the useless excuses that men have given for their predatory behavior:
"Let's break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators."
"The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.
And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.
It's no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial."
Where Does It Start? With The Parents -
One of the biggest influences in every child's life is their parents. There are studies upon studies that show your child pays attention to not just what you say and do, but also what you don't.
As citizens of this world we have systematically failed our sons by allowing them to behave in ways that we, theoretically; would not and do not tolerate. How many times have you heard "He's just being a boy" "Boy's will be boys" "That just means he likes you" "You know how boys are" "Girls are more mature" "Girls are more responsible", the list could go on and on.
And believe me, the list does. These sayings have become such a part of our every day vernacular that I find myself using some of them without realizing it. I will correct myself but by then it has already come out of my mouth and I can't take it back, I've now become a part of the problem.
Sometimes they aren't even verbal, I'm sure everyone has seen a commercial or a sitcom that is based upon one of the above phrases. Whole episodes have been written around them, yes they are for comedic laughs but comedy is built upon how we view the world around us. And boy is it misogynistic....
What Makes These Phrases So Dangerous -
1) More often than not these words come out of the mouths of parents and guardians. In my opinion this is in the top ten of the laziest forms of parenting. Rather than address the issue, we as parents choose to allow boys off the hook by explaining away their poor behavior as something they have no control over. These aren't phrases that start when they are teenagers, this is something that starts at birth and continues on until they are Senators, award-winning actors, bankers, most importantly the President of the United States.
2) It is always used to excuse at best, poor behavior, at worst criminal. If you take the onus out of someone's actions by explaining away their abhorrent actions with a dismissive nod, you ask others to co-sign the excuse. This tells the person that has committed the act that not only did they get away with it but that in fact, they might be correct in behaving like that. This also tells the person, that the act has been committed against that their feelings are invalid. Not only are they a whiner and a complainer but they are also someone who doesn't understand how the world works.
For example. a little boy goes up to a girl on the playground and hits her in the back of the head and as he's running away he yells, "you're nothing but a doody head." The little girl runs over to whichever adult is present and tells them what happened. What do we tell her? We tell her, "Oh sweetie, that just means he likes you."
WHAT HAVE WE DONE! Seriously though, do you have any idea what that does to a little girl?
You have just told someone who is trying to figure out her place in the world that one of those places is at the end of a man's aggression. And by excusing his behavior you have validated the fact that he thinks he should handle his feelings with aggression. You can tell me, no, but Yeah, Yeah you have.
she gets hit - she cries - he feels good - she asks for help - she's denied - she feels powerless - he feels that he has done the right thing, and the cycle continues on, in one way or another.
Now I'm not saying that every boy who hits a girl on the playground grows up to be an abuser. But, he has a far better chance of being one then say, a young man who is pulled aside at that moment to deal properly and verbally with his actions. What you miss out on when you excuse this is the ability to empower young women to say no and feel comfortable in it. And the ability to change decades of misogyny.
3) One of the worst things about these phrases is the fact that they tell everyone including the young man that he is not capable of acting in a clear and rational manner. He is the sum of the worst parts of himself; incapable of growth or change. You have immediately dismissed his ability to make another choice - "you know how boys are" "boys will be boys". These are such destructive phrases to a child's self-esteem, both boys and girls. STOP allowing useless behavior to be the forefront of masculinity.
Every boy like every girl is born with the capacity to love and to receive love. Children are not the issue. We as adults go about stamping out all of the things that allow young boys to be emotionally available members of society. We create them and then send them on their way to undo the damage that we have done.
And yes, I know I said earlier that we are all responsible for our actions, I do believe that we are. But therein lies the rub, we build them and then they become responsible for undoing the shit we did.
Why Parents Allow and Even Encourage Toxic Masculinity-
9 Things Parents Do Every Day That Perpetuate Toxic Masculinity
"Insecurity breeds toxicity and parents sometimes unintentionally do things that perpetuate toxic masculinity. Both men and women are responsible for raising strong and kind men, but to say both will, in all likelihood, have the cards stacked against them is an understatement. After all, parents, themselves, were raised in a patriarchal society. "
I like to assume that we don't do it on purpose, I hope in my heart of hearts that parents never look at their sons and think that the best thing they can do for them is to teach them how to bottle up their feelings. Or to find any form of emotion to be negative and worst of all to think that anything resembling female behavior is detestable.
But sadly many parents do. They look at a crying boy and immediately shut his emotions down, sneer at him and let him know that if he ever wants to "be a man" he needs to suck it up. Feelings, empathy, emotional vulnerability are all things that will make his less than what his father, grandfather, uncle or favorite cousin is.
As much as our society has evolved this seems to be something that we struggle to move against.
My First Memory of Toxic Masculinity -
I remember when I was around 12, I babysat the siblings next door. There were two sisters and a little brother. The little boy couldn't have been more than five. He was a sweet, loved his sisters and followed them everywhere. But most importantly he looked up to and absolutely adored his mother's boyfriend.
This man was a "man's man"! Tall, dark and handsome with the most coveted "man" job; he was a police officer. He was always respectful, never loud and didn't make much of a splash when he was around. I never paid him much mind, at least not until the day he felt that his masculinity was in jeopardy.
I remember sitting on the grass in their front yard, the sun was bright and the day was warm. The girls had pulled out a shoe box of play makeup. They wanted a makeover and I was more than happy to oblige. As I was sitting there putting makeup on them, their little brother picked up a bottle of pink nail polish and asked so sweetly to have his nails painted. I never thought twice about it. For me, in the world I was raised, a request like this would have been totally acceptable.
I was raised by a man and he had never defined masculinity based upon misogyny or the need to separate the sexes emotionally.
The three of us girls had a good time painting his nails. When his mom and her boyfriend came home, he was so happy to show them what we had done. I can't remember the names or the faces of this family but I can remember the barely contained rage that his mother's boyfriend had. He was so angry, it seemed to take every ounce of self-control to not lash out at all of us kids.
What I can tell you for certain was that I wasn't allowed to leave the house until I had removed all traces of nail polish from the son. I have no recollection of how I felt but I do know that I was no longer allowed to babysit again.
Occasionally I think about that little boy and wonder what kind of man he had grown up to be. I have no idea, but what I'm fairly certain of is that this wasn't his first nor the last incident of "turning him into a man".
You may see these actions as small, with very little impact on a boy but I disagree. I believe that the pain that forced masculinity carries, affects all. It's like a psychological virus it doesn't just infect the carrier but it slowly leeches into the psyche of all of those around them.
Question: How can a boy grow into a whole complete man when he is given such restrictive parameters in which to explore what masculinity means to him?
What It Does To Girls -
If you think that it only affects the boys at an early age, you are so wrong. Children learn by observing the world around them. How boys are raised to be men is how girls will grow up to expect men to be.
Us females not only learn what masculinity is by watching the men around us model it, but it also shows us a definition of where womanhood is meant to be in our world. If crying is not manly and it is "girly" what does that make us? It makes us feel inherently weak and less than what society sees as a strength. Every time you tell a little boy that he's being a "Nancy boy" call him "Rebecca" when he whines or cries, you tell the little girl in the room that everything that makes her what society deems as a woman, something to be ashamed of.
Believe me, us girls hear you and then we grow up to be consistently apologetic for what makes us, us. We look for approval from the very people that tell us that our value is .70 to their $1.00. Why do you think we say things like "I'm not like other girls", "I only like to hang with guys, girls are too much drama"? We say these things because we want your approval. We want you to tell us that we aren't what you disdain.
The world tells us that men are the most important commodity, do we really need our parents to tell us that too?
Think About This -
How terrible would it be if we stopped vilifying femininity, if we stopped comparing womanhood with something that was undesirable? Would it really take away your testosterone? No one is asking you to trade in your masculinity but what we are asking is for you to look at what makes a man a man in a different more holistic light.