There’s a saying that’s floated around the internet. “Men are trash.”
It’s more of a statement. A response to patriarchy. It’s not to be taken literally, at face value, but at the same time, it must.
Much like how “all lives matter” is an unsatisfactory response to “black lives matter,” “not all men,” also similar to “not all white people,” is an insufficient response to “men are trash.”
Because these are deflections. These are devaluations.
“All lives matter,” is less of a purported response of inclusiveness, which is unwarranted in this case anyway, and is more of a rebuttal. For, “all lives matter” never shows up for unarmed police shootings of black people, dead immigrant children, and people of color who have been wrongfully incarcerated and detained. Those situations happen to fall under both categories of “all” and “lives.” No, this phrase only really comes around on one occasion: following the statement “black lives matter.” To divert attention away from systemic racism. To just not deal with the issue. To disregard it. To prefer a world in which black lives are not specified under “all.”
Relatedly, “not all white people,” is a common response to criticisms of white people. While this response may not exclusively come from the same “all lives matter” crowd — it may even come from those who claim to be allies in the struggle against racial oppression — it is still mostly counterproductive and self-centered. Yes, not all white people are “bad” — aka exhibit traits and actions of those who uphold white supremacy — this is understood among the vast majority of people in any movement. However, whiteness is inherently bad. The concept of whiteness exists solely to separate and carve out a place for said supremacy. It may take some nuance upon reading, but allies require nuance, to discern that statements regarding white people, are frequently not directed at general white, Caucasian individuals, but a person who is carrying out whiteness.
And it’s this line of thought that brings us to “men are trash.”
So, when you hear “men are trash,” the proper response is not “well, not all men!” Because, sure, not all men are trash, but all instances of carrying out patriarchy are trash. And, while men are not the only offenders, patriarchy and men are inexorably connected. One does not exist without the other.
The proper response is: let’s not be this.
That’s why we (along with my friend and colleague, Stanley Fritz) started letsnotbetrash.com. To create a space where men can express how their masculinity has evolved and how it is still evolving. To collaborate on how we can be better men, not in a sense of comparative ranking and status, but better in the sense of better to ourselves and those around us.
And most importantly, we created this space to display alternatives. Because, to paraphrase bell hooks in The Will to Change, the work of reforming toxic masculinity is incomplete until men have alternatives that are accessible and accepted.
So men, let’s not be nice.
Let’s be kind.
Let’s be generous.
Let’s be sincere.
Let’s be athletic.
Let’s be compassionate.
Let’s be strong.
Let’s be sensitive.
Let’s be sexy.
Let’s be nervous.
Let’s be intelligent.
Let’s admit ignorance.
Let’s have backbone.
Let’s have humility.
Let’s be smooth.
Let’s be clumsy.
Let’s have empathy.
I’m for multi-dimensional men. And we have so many options.
Let’s not be trash.
Subscribe to get full access to my latest essays, arguments, and other stuff. Never miss an update.
You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.
Join the crew
Be part of a community of people who share your interests.
To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.