Having observed Facebook and Twitter going insane yet again about something called toxic masculinity, I find it’s time I started asking the questions I find no one answers. So, this is the first in a set of questions.
I’ll start with a question I asked someone last night. A question I don’t expect an answer too.
I’m a guy. A white guy. And an older one at that. By the definition of everything I see lately on Twitter, and Facebook, I am the problem. OK. I can accept that. I, being a 59 year old white guy, can make women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, worried about the actions I am capable of taking.
I’m a documented autistic. By definition, I don’t pick up on unspoken signals. I don’t observe and respond appropriately to body language. I don’t react appropriately to facial expressions, and spoken comments and remarks. Because, I’m socially deaf. It’s like I speak sign language in a room full of people who have never seen sign language. That’s how autism works.
I’m human. By definition, I’m imperfect. I make mistakes. I sometimes make embarrassingly huge mistakes. Like running my car into the back of the car in front of me. Of driving over a curb in a parking lot. How do you hit a stationary object you’re trying not to hit? Welcome to humanity. Welcome to mistakes. They happen.
Given these three items, I now ask my question.
How do I never make mistakes in the presence of women? How do I not scare them at times? How do I not do things that make them ponder their safety in my presence? How do I not say things that make them wonder if they should be in the same building I’m in?
The answer, of course, is I can’t. I will make mistakes. There is no way around that. No way to avoid that. No way to prevent that.
Guys know this. All of us know this. We scare each other all the time. Because. Mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t have said. We break pencils. We take walks. We make up song lyrics. We drink soda, or beer, or whiskey. We go to gun ranges and shoot hundreds of holes in sheets of paper that are a hundred feet away. We put our right foot down while driving.
In short. We express our emotions. It’s not toxic masculinity. It’s frustration. It’s anger. It’s disappointment. It’s grief. It’s anxiety. It’s terror. It’s emotions. And the very best of us still make the mistake of expressing them.
We sometimes scare each other. That’s right, women. Guys scare guys. We know how you feel. “Is that big idiot going to start throwing things?” We scare each other. “As long as all he hits is the wall, I’m good.” We scare each other. “Get out of his way, he’s driving like an idiot right now.”
We scare each other. We don’t just scare women.
A man with a kitchen machete, cutting up an onion. Especially if he’s talking about a bad day at work. A man with a beer, working on a car motor on a Saturday. One stuck bolt or nut, and bloody knuckles. And I wouldn’t want to be near him either.
But, that’s my question, isn’t it.
How do we, as men, as human beings, not be human, and not make mistakes. Because it’s those mistakes that scare you, isn’t it. How do I, as an old white guy, not say something, not do something, not feel something, not write something, not drive, not wash dishes, not mow the lawn, not run the vacuum cleaner on the carpet, not gather up laundry and sort it, and wash it in the washing machine and dryer, without sometimes scaring another human being, especially a woman?
There’s only one way, and everyone knows that.
By not existing.