Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dear "Liberal" Man, Check Yourself

Dear “Liberal” Cis-Man,
Get your shit together, check yourself, and collect your mans, too. If Harvey Weinstein’s case has shown us anything, it’s that Hollywood and news media are not the progressive bastions that detractors claim, and liberals, especially “liberal” men, need to check themselves for the trash behavior they attribute to their opponents. They especially need to call out their male cohorts who are acting up, and they need to do it early, not after 15 or 20 years of them being shit.
Minorities already know that Hollywood and the media being aggressively liberal is a myth. Every time a movie casts a round-eyes for an obviously Asian character or a bunch of white people for a period piece in ancient Northern Africa or Persia, we are reminded of Hollywood’s obvious, blatant, and often deliberate, blind spot.  Women have been little more than props in most works on screen or in print. They are either victims of horrendous acts that must be avenged, or perhaps they were “crazy” psychos who deserved their comeuppance. Perhaps they are shiny prizes that the main character must earn through arduous trials, be it fighting monsters or turning form nerd to cool kid. Fridging was a thing before the term “fridging” existed. There is a damn good reason why Allison Bechdel proposed her test for movies. And don’t get me started on the ableism. From Blofeld to Dr. Doom, there is not enough time to list off all of the “villains” in stories who have some sort of physical disability or have been “horribly disfigured”, yet I cannot find examples of a person turning suddenly evil after being permanently debilitated. If they ARE assholes, they were likely assholes before their accident. Don’t tell Hollywood that, though.
The news media is not much better. Compare the way a black unarmed victim of a violent crime is treated compared to a white armed perpetrator of crime. For the former, if the person has so much as a detention from middle school, you’d best believe that it will be covered in the nightly news. What was he wearing? Was he wearing gang colors? Did he talk back? Surely, he did SOMETHING to spook the officer and force him to kill him. Even when no person was killed, media find a way to demonized victims. When that child fell in the gorilla pit at the zoo and Harambe was shot in order to save the kid, the child’s parents criminal records (all of which were long ago and not major) were brought up! So we now know that in the world of news media, a dangerous animal’s life is more important than a black child, his parents, and a zoo’s shitty security. Conversely, the latter will always be considered a tragic figure who somehow “lost his way”. He was an honor roll student, ran track, was an Olympic class swimmer, had a wife and children, was in the local Rotary Club, but he must have had some mental illness or something to make him snap! So in order to exonerate a white man from responsibility, they throw the mentally ill under the bus. Even when they say that they are doing evil for evil’s sake, they are still pitied. The murderer who shot up a predominantly black church explicitly stated he wished to kill black people to start a race war, and his past was STILL depicted as stable, as if that even mattered. The man who murdered a black man with a sword in New York City was described as “well dressed” when he was arrested. Oh, good! I’m glad he had the time to clean himself up after murdering an innocent man, unlike all those slovenly black children who were murdered in hoodies! How gouache!
Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment case is not the outlier. It’s not “just a few bad men” making the industry look bad. Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Stephen Collins, Jeffrey Jones, etc are more the norm than we want to think. However, instead of listening to victims of their crimes, we rattle off all of the progressive groups that the accused chairs, we hold up all of the great charities he’s started, all of the women that he knows that prove he CAN’T be the misogynist predator that his victims accuse him of being, and then we accuse the victim of attempting to “ruin a good man” or doing it for money and/or fame…until 20 years later when the physical evidence is nearly lost, but there have been too many multiple reports from other women to deny that something is definitely wrong, at which point we accuse the victims of not coming forward soon enough. We pick apart what she said. We ask the woman that if she knew that said powerful man is rumored to be a predator, then why would she work with him? Not once, in the many years of said assailant’s behavior, has someone thought to tell him to NOT be a said assailant? It is all on the woman who was assailed?  Imagine being beaten to a bloody pulp, and instead of arresting the beaters, YOU get arrested for an unrelated thing? Because that happens as well.
If this phenomenon is happening out in the open, you can best believe that it is happening in private as well. This is where you, the “liberal” man”, need to check yourself, and then check others around you. “Liberal” men will be quick to point out all of the sexual assault cases of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump, but will hem and haw with excuses and diversions when someone brings up Anthony Weiner or Bill Clinton or Hugh Hefner. I get the idea of “protecting your own”, but that protection should not extend to acts of unwarranted violence against people they claim to want to protect. Even if not a violent act, using the mask of liberalism to coerce women into your bedroom has no honor.  Hoisting up Jemele Hill onto a pillar does not give you the green light to call Ann Coulter a “cunt”. You really don’t care about women on a whole if you tweet out that you hope Tomi Lahren deserves to be raped. Calling a political opponent “retarded” or making fun of their “gimp” leg makes you look hypocritical, especially after you spent 5 minutes ranting about how Trump did it once. Calling Caitlyn Jenner a “dumb tranny” negates your claim that you are an LGBTQ ally, especially when you can easily talk about her very real vehicular homicide. Your pink Pussy Hat doesn’t grant you immunity from criticism when you mess up. “But I’m an ally! Look at my Atwood library!” That does not fly. You’re doing the “I have a black friend” equivalent to excuse your misogyny…also…Don’t LET me hear you say the N-word.
Plenty of “Liberal” men have used what power they have to hurt others who they claim to support. I’m thinking of people like Joss Whedon, Harvey Weinstein, and Hugh Hefner, off the top of my head. Yes, they’ve done a LOT to push more forward-thinking themes and trying to normalize women’s roles in front of or behind the camera. That doesn’t mean we can excuse their “minor” indiscretions of spousal psychological abuse and infidelity, incessant sexual harassment and possible assault, and assisting sexual assault possible economic terrorism. I am just as guilty as anyone else from slipping (not to that extent), and I’ve been called out for it. It doesn’t feel good, but I welcome it…later. I’ve stopped calling myself a “feminist” or “ally” because of the hypocrisy of “liberal” men. You’re making the people who actually WANT to put in the work bad names. It’s better to do the work that needs to be done, and then if a person from helped group believes me to be a true ally (or preferably cohort), then I know I’m doing it right. More men who wish to be allies need to do this, and check the men who slip. So check yourselves, and check your mans, and if you need to collect, then do so.

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