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Are men trash? Yes.
Are ALL men trash? No, of course not. But that doesn’t make the above statement any less true.
To tell you more about what I mean, here’s a short, personal story: In my first year of college, I became friends with Greg, a tall athletic-looking guy From Flushing Queens, with that all-American charm and personality. A college-ladies man if I ever saw one.
Everyone loved Greg, including me. He taught me that women were not, in fact, too shallow to see all of the wonderful things I brought to the table; it was the post-basketball Axe body spray in lieu of a shower, and lack of any disposable income that did it. And instead of dismissing my broke, musty ass, he helped me secure a job at the student center and even gave me some of his clothes.
See? Greg was a great guy.
A few months into our friendship we found ourselves at a college party deep on Long Island. It was 2 am, and we were in need of a place to crash; Raquel, one of the girls Greg was dating told us we could stay in her room. Her roommate was away that weekend so I could sleep on the bed, and she would share hers with Greg.
See? All-American-Great-Guy-Greg even dates great people!
Only a few minutes passed before I started hearing what sounded like a bad attempt at whispering. Greg was pressuring Raquel to have sex with him, but it was clear she didn’t want to. Finally, after one too many attempts, Raquel raised her voice: “It’s not gonna happen, what’s wrong with you?!” Greg tried playing it cool, telling Raquel to “relax,” but she was beyond fed up with him. She climbed out of the bed, turned the lights on, and said, “I don’t feel comfortable here so I’m gonna sleep in another room. Y’all can stay here.” With that, she left me and Greg by ourselves.
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Greg was big mad. He accused Raquel of being “childish” and tried to explain — to me, no less — that the only reason we were crashing at Raquel’s was for my sake: Raquel had an extra bed I could crash in and he didn’t want me to be stranded. Even in a state of exhaustion, I was aware that all-American-great-friend-Greg was using our friendship as a coverup for being blown off. His ego was bruised, and instead of humbling himself, he needed to find a way to save his machismo. A few minutes later I saw. Greg falls out of the bed and walks over to Raquel’s mini-fridge...
He opened it, pulled down his pants, and started peeing inside of it!
One more time: Great-guy-Greg, who dates cool girls that give us space to crash, pulled his pants down, and started pissing in her mini-fridge.
I tried to get him to stop, but he just ignored me and shouted, “No heart, no mercy!”
The next day, I told Raquel what happened. Greg was my boy, but he had crossed the line. I may not have had as many notches on my belt as Greg, but I knew what it felt like to be shot down… Greg’s reaction was something beyond childish. It was more than fucked up. It was disrespectful. I felt conflicted, but not conflicted enough to hold back from telling Raquel what happened; I knew it was the right thing to do. It did not go well. Greg knew I was the one who snitched and stopped talking to me soon after.
I think (or rather, I hope) most men would agree that Greg’s behavior was beyond trash. “I’d never do something so disrespectful,”…right?
But what if I told you that every man has the potential to be as trashy as Greg? Most people would blow me off, because who is going around pissing in people’s mini fridges? Not you, right? Not your brother, not your frat brother, not even the boyfriend you broke up with through a Twitter DM would piss in someone’s mini-fridge, right?
But that would be missing the point.
It’s not like Greg was born with this instinctual need to piss on people’s things when he didn’t get what he wanted; he evolved into that person. So the question we should be asking is, what were the factors that led Greg to thinking he should piss in someone else’s fridge because she didn’t want to have sex with him?
See, Greg might’ve been a really cool guy to hang out with, but he was also very entitled, especially when it came to women. Whenever Greg liked someone, they usually reciprocated; he wasn’t used to being rejected by the opposite sex.
Also, like most of the cis-gender, heterosexual men I knew at the time, Greg was much more interested in having sex with women than he was in the actual women. He put in the bare minimum effort — just enough to get her to give up the cheeks. And if the woman balked, he would dismiss her as “playing games.”
As someone who was used to getting what he wanted, Greg became the type of guy who believed pissing on someone’s property as retaliation was acceptable when he didn’t t get what he felt he had the right to: in this case, a woman’s body. Pissing in her fridge was also a display of his entitlement. An animalistic “marking of his territory” even though he didn’t get his hands on the “property” he expected — her body.
So yeah, maybe you haven’t peed in someone’s fridge, but have you ever felt entitled to a woman’s time, energy, or body? Did you get upset or feel slighted when she didn’t agree? Better yet, did you ever trash-talk someone who rejected your advances to your group of friends? Maybe you lied and said she did want to have sex with you, but it was so bad you cut it short? Did you ignore her phone calls and texts after she rejected you? Sleep with her friend to make her jealous? The answer to a lot of these questions, or to related ones, is an embarrassing yes for me.
Am I as trash as All-American-Great-Guy-Greg? I don’t think so.
But like him, I had a sense of entitlement to women: I would get upset when they didn’t like me or rejected my romantic advances: there’s no WAY my axe body spray shower was the problem, she’s just playing mind games with me! I knew deep down these women didn’t owe me a damn thing, but that didn’t stop me from talking shit about them, even when it didn’t feel right. But I was also lucky enough to have friends — not All-American-Great-Guy-Greg — that would call me out on my BS. On the few occasions, I would fall down one of those toxic rabbit holes, there was someone who I trusted that was ready to curse me out if necessary. You don’t just turn trash overnight; like anything, it needs a foundation, something to build on.
So no, not all men are not trash.
But men are trash, because of the way our world has socialized us to look at ourselves, and engage with women.
But don’t stress, it’s not all bad news. We don’t have to become the guy that seeks retribution by, for example, pissing in a girl’s fridge, because she rejects our advances. We can be better, but it takes work.
The first step is learning to really see and value women for more than how they make you feel or what they can do for you. It’s much harder to objectify or disrespect someone if you recognize and fully acknowledge their humanity. After Greg’s pissing fiasco, I started to pay closer attention to how I viewed women. One of the reasons I struggled to go as far as Greg and other men is because the most important and influential people in my life had always been women. How could I say I loved and respected those women, then treat others poorly? I realized that the best way for me to honor the women who have supported me was to give all women and feminine identifying people the same love, space, and agency that I give to the ones I hold the dearest. If you want to change for the better, I would suggest doing the same. There won’t be some drastic change right away, but I can at least guarantee you won’t be the guy who’s pissing in people’s mini-fridges.
Thanks for this perspective! My main feedforward is that for cis-men to unlearn the patriarchy, the long-term solution is so much deeper than just how they look at or treat women. For cis-men (and everyone) to truly unlearn this behavior, is to do decolonial work. All of this thinking and behaviors stem from colonialism, passed down from our ancestors (and their trauma), rooted in our childhood traumas, and through societal domestication. The work has to begin with wanting to consistently decolonize the mind. In my opinion, this work often requires one to attend talk therapy, support groups, and/or coaching to actually learn the science of changing their way of thinking/behavior. Furthermore, it involves directly learning how to help dismantle the patriarchy not just for cisgender women, but for trans women/femmes, trans men, people with disabilities, non-binary people, fat people, LGBTQIA+ people, etc. We have to accept this is lifelong work and that's okay. I agree... not all men are trash like Greg, but all cismen need to do WAY better than I continue to see.