On trying to be a much less noisy cultural presence…

This guest blogpost has been submitted by a man who wishes to remain anonymous. If you would like to submit something either anonymously or with full attribution email goosefat101@gmail.com

I don’t usually go in for writing about anything serious online, at least not without obfuscating it under enough weird metaphor to camouflage it as nonsense, but I’m going to make a brief exception as I’ve been directly asked to.

Specifically, I’ve been asked by Dave Pickering, @goosefat101 on twitter, to write a guest blog in response to his survey of 1,000 men on their understanding of patriarchy and masculinity.

I suspect he has asked me because of a DM conversation in which I explained why I, and possibly a lot of other men, would rather chew off our own wrists than venture a public opinion on patriarchy and its effects. It’s not because of the mean old feminists waiting to jump on us; it’s because we’re a bit worried that speaking up might make everything a bit worse.

One thing I think I can say for sure about patriarchy is that women get the worst of it, and another is that part of the problem seems to be a cultural bias towards the male voice. Because of these two things, it feels uncomfortable at best, part of the problem at worst, to pipe up with another male opinion.

There have been lots of times when I’ve been about to pile into a discussion, and stopped myself on realising that beneath my superficial belief that I’m helping to Make Things Better, I’m actually just looking to do a big old bit of virtue signalling in the hope people will think I’m a better person.

As such, I’ve taken the personal decision that it’s better to sit down, shut up and listen to people – overwhelmingly women – who are actively trying to sort out a horrible cultural mess, than spend time making sure people know how *I* feel.

Having listened, I’ve found I have changed an awful lot of my behaviour – by recognising there are things it is better not to say. For someone so prone to being loud, loquacious and inclined towards thinking they have something worthwhile to venture as me, silence is a challenge; it’s action rather than apathy.

A small example: despite having once been an enthusiastic user, I almost never say the c word anymore, unless I’m directly quoting the fruit vendors I hear roaring it at each other on the way to work every day. If it hurts other people when I use it, and it doesn’t hurt me to stop, then doesn’t it make sense for me just not to say it?

(Of course, this logic should extend to telling other people when it’s not cool to say things, but challenging other people takes a different sort of courage to challenging yourself, and I’m often poor at it.)

Having said all this, I’m now breaking the habit and telling you all what a good chap and what a great ally I’ve been. Surely my medal is in the post, right?

Well, if my understanding of Dave’s project is correct, it’s consciously surrounded by huge parentheses and prefixed by towering capital letters saying “READ IF YOU WANT TO” – and so I’m only saying all this within the electric fence of that particular Jurassic Park. And anyway, this is an anonymous post, so nobody will know who to send all those wonderful medals to anyway.

Having read a lot of the survey responses, it seems I’m speaking for a lot of other guys whose growing consciousness of patriarchy has prompted them to try and be much less noisy cultural presences.

In fact, I’m quietly confident there are plenty of men who have gotten so good at this that they didn’t respond to the survey at all, even though it was anonymous.

Whether this stance is a constructive attempt to show rather than tell, or just an exercise in cowardice – whether we are quiet bat people, or whether this is just the projection of a lurid Virtue Signal onto the underside of Gotham’s clouds – I’ll leave to other people to decide.

Suffice to say though, while we may or may not be helping by not speaking, we’re at least doing our best to listen.

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