The revelations of MeToo and the rise of strongman leaders has turned the internet in-joke into a foundation for political movementby Arianne Shahvisi / August 19, 2019 / Leave a comment
Are men trash?
Every few minutes for the last few years, it feels like someone has tweeted “men are trash” only to be met the wrath of those more indignant at its divisiveness than the sexism that keeps it viral. Earlier this year, Brazilian gaming influencer Gabriela Cattuzzo was dropped by her sponsor for responding to sexual harassment on Twitter with the retort “this is why men are trash.” Similarly, Facebook censors “men are trash” posts as instances of hate speech. Meanwhile, women on social media use the phrase to respond to everything from rude comments about their appearances to online abuse. What does the generalisation mean, and can we justify its use?
News of two mass shootings in the US rolled in as I drafted this article. Grimly, I predicted that white supremacy would be implicated, but I had taken it as given that the killers would be men. They were. The recent attacks bring the US total for the last thirty-seven years to 111. 96 per cent of the shooters have been men, 86 per cent of whom had previously abused a partner.
Even in places where guns don’t outnumber people, a similar picture emerges. In the UK, 50 per cent of murdered women are killed by a partner or ex-partner (compared to 3 per cent of murdered men), amounting to two women every week. In South Africa, where the #Menaretrash hashtag first went viral, a woman is murdered every four hours.
The harmful effects of masculinity also manifest in less extreme cases, too. Studies have shown that if a woman earns more than a man within a relationship, he’s liable to cheat and do fewer chores as a way of protecting his masculinity. Threats to a man’s gender identity also tend to increase his support for war, male supremacy, and homophobia, and reduce his willingness to recycle. Only 3 per cent of UK adults associate masculinity with kindness or care, and just 1 per cent with respectfulness, supportiveness, and honesty. More than half of young men feel they must not ask for emotional support even in times of need, and two-thirds feel compelled to display hyper-masculine behaviours.
Little wonder that masculinity is now rarely seen without its adjectives: toxic and fragile. Men are hurting and…