This is one to read with an open mind, being careful to note that hyperbole, sarcasm, and other deviations from standard fare are weapons I quite like to use. I will not repeat my lengthy critique of other straight men here. For that, the podcast is below. I do hope, at the end, you listen to the podcast and add to the discussion.
S3E6 - So Let Me Get This Straight (Again): Another Side
Trouble Again in the Kitchen! For this serving of FishTea, we've once again decided to stir the pot and bring an…
So, I was on the receiving end of my first twitter drag today, and while I now have a greater understanding of the complaints of those previously on the receiving end, my opinion of the current state of social interaction reached its lowest ebb.
It is to be clear that I was compelled to write, not from a place of apology, but from one of befuddlement because I am at pains to understand how we got here. Not that the quote in isolation could not have been taken as problematic, but the lack of interrogation that preceded the drag, if you can call it that, struck me quite ferociously. For context, the drag was initiated from a six word quote posted by a friend on twitter.
“Bashing men won’t end misogyny”
Accurate on its own, because misogyny and the patriarchy won’t end, short of a violent coup, without the buy-in of men. But the statement in isolation was a weapon in the right hands, because it taken to play into every stereotypical trope of the misogynist. My use of the word ‘female’ to demonstrate how men use the word to degrade more often than not was quite suddenly what I call women, thereby neglecting their humanity. I was, by my understanding, calling for women to cease the men bashing and spoon feed knowledge to the male composite sketch.
That shoe was going to fit, by hook or by crook. The glove was added too, so we knew it was legit. I’ve observed men becoming defensive once challenged to be better while they too rest in their comfort that there is a system of patriarchy which protects us, and a solace of knowing that wi bredrin will back wi up. Then I juxtapose that against my more reasoned approaches for us to do better and how more favourably they’re received than simple lambasting. When I do so I get labelled, because it is too suspicious for me to talk to ‘battyman’. It is a long road to travel and none of us have reached the end, but it is a necessary road, and one I’m gathering the courage to traverse.
My further statements sought to tease through a solution to this quandary which first involves men who are further along in this aspect being more vocal in teaching the men who aren’t. But it was all too similar to another recent twitter blow up that will receive reference at some point here, which was of western world proportions, for me to escape unscathed.
Now, he took the quote in the context of having listened the podcast and receiving the other tidbits and, admittedly, bold assertions as I aimed to give a real world perspective that the three hosts may not have all been privy to in such an undiluted dose.
Just a few years ago, it was have been inconceivable for me to appear on a podcast serving up Fish Tea, even though fish tea got me through many hard times in the past decade or so. But segments of Jamaican society have advanced enough for a straight man to share his views on homophobia, at least. The focus was primarily my own journey to greater acceptance, which now seems utterly ridiculous that I have shared a journey to treating human beings as human beings. Not to say I was ever fiercely homophobic; I just never gave it much thought and never therefore applied my furor and unapologetic opposition to this form of bigotry. You see, we hardly ever think on issues and problems that don’t directly or indirectly affect us. And we all fall prey to this.
There is no subgroup of people, that as a whole, tries to truly understand another today. It’s, sadly, about imposing our views, taking the form of a chorus of displeasure at the slightest perceived or real misstep. But when you borrow the lens of that subgroup, and try to see through their eyes, the task becomes all the much easier. I had to learn that in my teenage years, being on the receiving end to devastating effect. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed what was one of my first interactions in which I found myself in that sort of minority. I have lived in a white majority country for a short time and understood somewhat the heightened level of fear which comes with inhabiting a space in which you feel less welcome than you’d prefer.
In that sense, I empathized with my hosts, as they explained their experiences and I gave it to them straight, as I only know how. For, you see, there is no value to me in prettying up anything. And it is not my nature. Read my chart if you think a lie. My purpose is not to reinforce the status quo, in which I observed to have been ineffective, but to challenge us to rejig and come better.
I conveyed what straight men really say when we see flamboyantly dressed men in a party or some other gathering, which is accompanied by several hypocrisies and manifestations of male insecurity. The reactions varied, as I could surmise that some expected worse, and there are certainly far worse reactions to behold in this very conservative country of ours. Even our expressions of liberalism are conservative, coated with bubblewrap, and therefore contradictory, and only centered on comfort and conformity.
I have written extensively on cancel culture and how vampiric it is in nature. Sure, I believe the motivations to be pure for the vast majority, but the execution often impairs actual progress. Even as I wove my way through the minefield that were the conversations on homophobia, sexism, toxic and fragile masculinity, misogyny, and very briefly, misandry, on the Fish Tea podcast, I was acutely aware that in skilled and determined enough hands, I could receive a bite on the neck.
These are all contentious issues that, in my eyes, have no real resolution if the status quo is maintained. Suddenly, the offending tweet was found, and all hopes for the discourse I pleaded for in the podcast, and recognized had been unfortunately missing, were dashed. In quick measure, everything I’d said in the podcast was being explained to me. I was being admonished using my own views! No amount of clarification and expression of calm would help me. Pick up a one unfollow. I would say go listen her dope podcast, but that altogether sounds too much like the rapper for which my drag bore grave resemblance. Me dem come for. And me dem would get!
Read my chart again. I saw someone remark we should private our accounts and bask in our shame. I said, a who and dem people ya?! I deven know where the Notes app is much less to be intimidated on the internet. For what have they heard about people from Spanish Town? I did the very thing in becoming defensive as I quickly realized there would be no rhyme or reason and that blood must spill. Truthfully, it was my second reaction to defend. My first was to, well, be a hothead. That would not have accomplished anything, but it was what would have appeased me. Is that my own flaw, my humanity? Yes. Nobody wants to be wrong or feel wronged. Not in the year of our Lord, 2020, for there could be impermeable evidence rendering my drag hasty, it would not and will never matter, and never warrant a retraction, public or otherwise.
I have seen people older and more accomplished than myself recoil and deactivate their twitter accounts, or lash out and portray a fierce and proud defiance. They catch that shade, whichever path is chosen. I lost track of the amount of times I was called an idiot. With every one, I checked their pages and chuckled. A who and dem? I met their own arrogance and overestimations with my own surety that I was indeed right and would be vindicated once someone listened to the podcast.
There was a great reluctance on both sides to give an inch once I understood that they’d be repeating the same talking points as the ones proffered in the NoName — J Cole saga. Nowhere did I imply or state that it was the woman’s job to educate men, as the popular talk was when J Cole penned ‘Snow on Tha Bluff’. It was, however, palpably obvious that men are taken to be a homogenous group, save for the men participating in this very conservative drag. It is sad that men, and primarily straight men, have neglected their own humanity enough to almost universally be seen as lacking depth or variance as a group. But it is our own doing, a result of years and years of the same nonsense which men have perpetuated against women, and also, ourselves.
If you know me, I hate few things more than being educated on things I am already aware of. I would have believed I earned more respect from some teaching me to at least not insult my intelligence. And so I resorted to simply laughing, because dem nah beat me on that there bird app (sorry mi Soca dj).
In the aftermath, there was a fabulous thread summarizing the discussion. It takes incredible inquisitiveness and fortitude to not move in chorus and instead interrogate, and in doing so, the thread put succinctly, the views expressed in such a way as to remove all doubt as to what the true gravamen of the podcast had been.
Much was brought into focus. None more so than the idea that there is only one way to be right in 2020. And even so, I would hope to cultivate the idea that learning never ends, nor does our duty of civility to our fellow man. At the outset, that was partly my intention, but I also went into the podcast with a view to learn and find common ground. We did find common ground with the television show, Pose, which I’ve watched from inception. I made the very astute observation that we seemed to be coated in skin that covers our bones and muscle, and must have some point of intersection.
We’re all more alike than we’d care to admit, and we’re all problematic in some way. The current discourse allows for no such admission, introspection, or acceptance. Any critique of a political party from one of its members or from a neutral catapults one into being a loyalist to the other party. Any critique of one gender renders you one who hates the other gender. The idea is that any attempts at an argument acknowledging the complexity of humans and of balance is met with disdain. For we must label and label we must. Indeed, any deviation from the very conservative behemoth that is the internet mob, valid or not, is a recipe for destruction and mayhem.
We live in a world of two shades: black and white, and you had better be white.