What “Men are Trash” Really Means
Before you think I am offending you by stating, “men are trash”, let me explain why that is an issue.
In the United States, we are brought into a patriarchal society, meaning a society that is “dominated, identified and centered by men” which involves oppressing women and folks that do not fall into the spectrum of being considered the “norm”. Patriarchal societies are dangerous for women because not only does it construct gender roles, but also because it continuously produces pervasive violence from pornography, to every day wife battering, sexual harassment, catcalls, and sexual assault. The normalization of machismo is also seen through actions such as a father telling his son “to be a man”, while telling his daughter not stay out too late because there are “dangerous men out there.” Mami then stays up late waiting for her daughter to come home, even if it’s past 2 am due to the fear of the same misogynist behaviors that have been perpetuated by her husband debajo de su propio techo. The statement “men are trash” then does not become an opinion—it becomes a political statement that we as women, as the ones that have been marginalized to the edges, have been trying to vocalize the issue of problematic toxic masculinity behaviors for centuries.
At a young age, girls witness the violence that her own mother has gone through, whether that’s from stories she’s heard from her mother’s past or right at home with her own father. I remember when I was about twelve years old, I saw my mother sobbing and asked her what’s wrong. She would sit with me for hours, telling me all the infidelities my father would make. It took me a while to understand why eventually, she would question my fathers every move. I figured, she lost trust for men years ago—due to bruises, drags, and punches and now, constant lies. At the end, my mother states, “El es un buen padre…y el nunca me ha pegado”. Us girls do not only grow up hearing it from our mothers, but we learn and re-learn these stories whether its from your amigas, tías, primas, cuñadas, abuelitas—I’ve lost track of the multiple and complex traumas that we have internalized and normalized. I’ve also lost count of how many women of color ended up “settling” with trash.
So when I say, “men are trash”, this is not supposed to belittle you. It is suppose to make you aware of how men slut shame women, this includes ‘male’-family members, how masculinity has made you overthink your every move before you believe that “that’s gay”, how the term ‘friend-zone’ was created because you believed you were ‘nice’ enough to get some, how you applaud when nude pictures get leaked but say, “oh I can’t date her” when she posts her own, or how men will only think harassing women in the streets is wrong when he has a daughter himself. Reading this list probably made you think, “well I’m one of the good guys!”—Stop. We as women do not know that yet. For you to lash out and scream “not all men!” is irresponsible and not taking in consideration all the struggles that we, as women of color have gone through. (TW: Rape) My rapist was one of my childhood best friends. I truly thought I could trust him—I thought he was one of the “good guys” because he would constantly try to prove himself that he was and I would have never expected him to sexually assault me. Statistically, most women are sexually assaulted by people that are already in their lives. Therefore, when you say the phrase, “not all men”, you are giving the free space for those men to keep socially involving performative masculinity without consequences, even if you believe that that was not your intentions. So instead of saying “not all men”, question yourself: Are you constantly telling your brothers not to treat women like shit? Are you calling out the men that cat call women when you’re a witness? Are you doing any work that requires destroying toxic masculinity? Are you having these conversations at all or are you just screaming “not all…” and going back to your routine? Because if you find yourself whining and not giving women actions, then you found yourself feeding into the patriarchal structure by not acknowledging your privilege.
So here’s something you should know: Masculinity is a prison!! You are trash because the system created you this way. Whenever we talk about white people, it is about white supremacy. Whenever we talk about straight people, we talk about heteronormativity—it is about the structures and the people that are privileged enough to constantly continue to be unbothered by their own comfort. It is up to you to decolonize yourself and question masculinity. It is up to you to love yourself and the women of color around you, in your life, and appreciate them whole-heartedly. It is up to you to re-learn how to teach your own brothers how to better person, instead of lashing out. And instead of thinking “well not all…” whenever I’m telling my story as a survivor, just listen. You are lucky we, as women of color, even tell you these stories of survival in the first place.
Until men learn to take responsibility, until I’m not scared of walking home late at night, until they stop telling young girls to not wear tank tops in middle schools because it might tempt the boys or faculty, until women do not get killed for saying “no”, until women do not get sexually assaulted, until transwomen are not killed by any means necessary, until sex-trafficking is dead, I will not stop saying, “men are trash.” And if you still think that the personal is not political or continue to think well “not all…” and not take action—congrats. Tu eres completamente basura.