I’m going to try to NOT get sucked into the dozens and dozens of cases that have been forefront in the media lately. From Bill Cosby to Bill O’Reilly or Harvey Weinstein. Russell Simmons, Bret Ratner, Matt Lauer on to Charlie Rose. Let’s not even get into the politics of Roy Moore, Al Franken, John Conyers and of course our “Harasser-in-Chief”, President Trump. The recent hashtag #MeToo seemed to catch fire and allow women to tell their stories of harassment and assault as a unified mass rather than needing to summon the courage to face their fight for justice alone. The power and immediacy of social media has once again flexed its power to press fast forward on the culture.
Honestly I’ve been struggling lately, trying to find the right way to speak upon the recent revelations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault that have come to light like a bank of stadium lights all throwing down the bat signal. Actually, this is something that is probably as old as time. People who possess power will eventually use it. Hell, it’s not even unique to human beings. It’s something that, in the words of Kendrick Lamar…. I got I got I got I got…. in my DNA.
Think about it. When you watch National Geographic or any of those other nature show that talk about how a species culture works…. it tends to be very much about domination and submission. As a general rule…. the males engage in some form of conflict or competition or ritual to illustrate their power and superiority among their peers. That usually plays itself out like March Madness, and then the winner gets his pick of the group to mate with. Now, broken down at that level it has a necessary purpose of continuing the existence of the species, which is the primary function of most living things. It isn’t so much about a fantasy of living out a real life Mad Men episode in the animal kingdom. In human culture, it’s really not so different.
Many different cultures have accepted behaviors that can be interpreted as a way of establishing who the dominate male is, and then engaging in some sort of reward for being such. I mean, did Prince Harry and Prince William have to create Tinder profiles?Have you looked at some of the spouses of the rich, famous, and powerful? Some societies have rituals where the family of the man proves their position by giving gifts to the family of the woman. Some societies attempt to maintain their position of power by uniting economically and not out of love. Many societies frown upon “mating” or “marrying” below themselves. I don’t point that out to say it’s right or wrong, I merely point that out as context for my point.
That point is that culturally, men have been afforded a position and privilege in human society. So I am not surprised one bit to see all of these instances of men, especially those of great power and influence, using that to their feed their carnal desires. Resist, and there are 10 more behind you ready to take your place. Fight, and weigh your odds of surviving, literally and figuratively in the society in which you live. I mean for women, there is a very real possibility of ending up IN a dumpster, or living behind it. This is something men have never had to really deal with as more than an afterthought. Whereas women live with that reality. #MalePrivilege is real.
So pause for a second… digest that and now go from #MeToo to #BlackLivesMatter. A social media phenomenon that really wasn’t much different. It too had hundreds of stories and tales of injustice, abuse, intimidation, harassment, etc.. that had very real consequences. Even more than #MeToo, there were hundreds of videos and pictures, and not just similar stories that illustrate a pattern. Ridiculous tales of people “committing suicide” while handcuffed in the back of a police car. People going to the cemetery because they weren’t in the mold society deemed acceptable. Videotaped shootings and beatings that if used in an NFL game would have resulted in a call being overturned. Thousands of people telling their story of abuse, harassment, assault, stress and angst that came from feeling powerless to accept it. Their need to exist in society required their acquiescence because the one thing that society had proven to them was resistance was likely fatal.
So how does a Black man raised by two women process all of this. I KNOW that these women are telling the truth. I KNOW that these stories and circumstances are real. On many levels I am happy for the sense of justice and relief that many of them are feeling just from telling their stories and being believed. It doesn’t make me a feminist or some kind of emasculated man…. I feel it just makes me a decent human being. Can I celebrate a victory for the powerless while it also confirms that my status as a Black man in America is still stuck in neutral? When can the wheels of justice and vindication for the stresses and micro-aggressions spin with that same speed towards consequences and credibility for what is killing me slowly? Will America ever accept #Me #Too?