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Holden Shearer @HoldenShearer
, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
This is for the guys out there. Hi dudes. If you're like me, you were raised with all the nuanced social graces of a water buffalo on bath salts. Maybe right now you are afraid you'll say something or just be standing next to the wrong person and then an angry mob will kill you.
I can't promise this won't happen, although keep in mind that if it does it is PROBABLY because you did something fucking stupid that didn't seem stupid at the time. Anyway, here's the thing you really need to be aware of when the OH GOD THEY'RE COMING FOR ME response kicks in.
Men-- I primarily mean cis men here, trans men are also equally men but often have different early-life social training-- are not socialized to deal with being attacked the same way women are. Women learn a wide range of threat responses; for them, it's a matter of survival.
Most men, by contrast, are only ever taught one socially permissible response to being attacked, piled on, called out, embarrassed, or otherwise challenged, and this response doesn't discriminate between just or unjust challenges. It is the full-frontal counterattack.
Any other response, we are raised to believe, is emasculating. If a Nazi is threatening your friend, this is a really useful trained response. If someone is trying to clue you in that "gypsy" is a slur and that folks DON'T like being called that, it's not so good.
So this is a bad thing, for sort of the same reason that the nine-banded armadillo only having "jump straight up in the air" in its threat-response index is a bad thing. Good response to a snake, bad response to a charging Chevy Malibu.
(This goes quadruple if you are a socially progressive dude, because you have the same fucked-up social wiring to deal with, but you exist in a space with lots of women trying to trust you and brother, sudden explosions of male aggro do not play well in that space.)
In an IDEAL world when you fuck up you step back, apologize, and try to learn something. Lots of us are not ideal buddhas floating on a lotus flower, though, and have very little practice with being challenged for our thoughtless bullshit or serious missteps.
So let's set aside the ideal response for a moment and look at beginner to intermediate class reactions when suddenly you are surrounded by angry scowly faces.
Try to remember that the entire Planet Earth spent at least your first 20 years fucking up your threat index & that deprogramming that is a very long-term project. But also remember that it's not anyone else's obligation to put up with you being a work-in-progress in the interim.
If you don't have the zen reflect-consider-apologize-atone loop down, SILENCE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Back out of the conflict. Talk to your support network. Remember your screaming jangling fight-reflex isn't necessarily useful and is very apt to get you in deeper shit right now.
Don't go back to re-engage until you're using your brain rather than your adrenaline response to run point. It doesn't have the same visceral satisfaction of just throwing punches immediately, but it's a lot less likely to ruin your life.
Eventually, ideally, if you did something shitty, you know, try to make it right. But first step is don't make things even worse. Especially THIS WEEK, I have seen way too many progressive good dudes who apparently never learned that crucial step.
15 years of making good progressive art and voting right and hiring marginalized folks and whatnot will NOT help you if you never learn to move beyond the Donald Duck rage explosion reaction to things going badly sideways on you. You can undo all that good work in a big hurry.
And in fact you are probably conditioned to exactly that kind of self-destruction. Be mindful of it, don't let yourself be your own worst enemy. It's a tough lesson but an important one if you don't want to one day be "that asshole screaming at the Horror Writers of America."
Thus ends the sermon. Be good to one another, and listen to women, even if it costs you. Speaking up costs them more, I promise.
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