Sunday, February 08, 1998 at 10:31:11 PM Pacific

Alan Ballew on Male Anger

From Alan Ballew, cernunos@lips.net, in response to Male Anger.

My name is Alan and I'm an unemployed programmer/ counselor/ photgrapher/ truck unloader who lives in the Midwest. I got to your pages thru Metacrawler as I was doing some research for potential articles or a book. I had run across a news item on Lorena Bobbit and was looking for more information. She's wielding the knife again, this time against a woman, her mother. She beat up her mother and stabbed her in the face. I don't know how she will blame this on John, but I'm sure she will manage.

I passed anger a long time ago, and have even gone through the metamorphosis of my rage. It is difficult to prove, but one of my contentions is that conditions today are worse for men in general than for blacks in the south in the 1950s. Not precisely the same nor even analogous, except when it comes to violence. There is far more female on male violence going on in this country than anyone realizes, and a woman who kills a man is more likely to get away with it completely than a white who killed a black was 45 years ago. When we saw black rage erupt in the 60s, some people were amazed. They didn't realize it was there. I think there is even more male rage now, although I don't expect it to erupt in the same way.

Most of the violence is covert rather than overt. I contend that the situation you described of the party where a woman says "Bobbit" and everyone cringes is violence. Far more so than pornography could ever be construed as violence toward women. Yet we allow and codone it by allowing it every day. Each time we allow it to go unchallenged, we condone it and perpetuate it. I disagree that it would have done no good to say anything, because I have spoken out in similar situations and it has done much good, most of all for myself.

The last time I was in a similar circumstance I stood up and said: "If someone had just talked about poking out a woman's eye, or chopping of a hand or, since we're talking about genitals, ripping off her labia and clitoris we would have a riot on our hands right now. What you are laughing at is a horrible and disgusting thing and should make all of you sick. The fact that you are laughing at it makes me realize that you are horrible and disgusting and you make me sick. I'm leaving now."

And I did. I simply ignored all the "only teasing" and "lighten up" bullshit. Everyone except me was horribly embarassed.

It was not "only teasing", as most teasing is not. It was intentionally and deliberately hostile, and was meant to prove power and status in the same way that making Kunta Kinte in Alex Haley's Roots grovel to the name "Toby", and making Rosa Parks sit at the back of the bus. It was a covert form of violence veiled under a social illusion.

It is well know in anthroplogy that primates grin when nervous or frightened. It has nothing to do with good humor, but mimics it to minimize the challenge shown to the threat. In the same way, we laugh at what isn't funny because we fear to confront the unfunniness and lose social approval.

I have reached the point where putting up with it is worse than the social disapproval, paritcularly when it is never as bad as I fear. Several of the men present came up to me afterwards and thanked me for speaking out. A couple of the women actually apologized. Those people are more uncomfortable around me now, but they at least do not expect me to sit there while they air their arrogant stupidity. I am far less uncomfortable, because I know I no longer have to put up with the demeaning and humiliation.

Loss of social contact with stupid hatred filled people turned out not to be a price, but another reward in and of itself. I cannot stop people, and I will not always change their minds or behavior, but I can hold up a mirror to show them their own hideous faces, and throw that face out of my life. THAT is the secret to male power. WE make the choice. We act.

Most of the propaganda about how bad men are is either false or distorted, yet everyone has fallen for it, including men. Men are so beaten down that we allow people to say "Toby, sit at the back of the bus" and we go "yes, massa". They will not stop when we ask them to. The time has come to stop asking.

Women do not love us and will not love us. That is one of the things we don't get when they say "Now, do you get it?" And why should they, we do not love ourselves? Would you allow someone to throw shit in the face of your daughter, or any other 5 y/o little girl and sit there silent? As long as you allow people to throw shit in yours and laugh about it and remain silent in fear of being told to "lighten up", they will keep doing it. The day you say "no more!", it will stop. I may cost you a few so called "friends", but if you hate it as much as you say, you will find that is no price at all, but a blessing.

Alan Ballew

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