It started as a joke on Twitter. At some point I must have even joined in tweeting it as banter. But in the past few months, it is beginning to crystallize into a movement that is spurred by man hate.
This is dangerous.
I had a conversation with someone on Twitter some time ago, we talked about the core values that feminism seeks to propagate. That men and women should be treated equally and the quest to remove gender stereotyping, to fight patriarchy. Our conclusion was that patriarchy hurts men, perhaps even more than it hurts women. I recall this statement each time I see the statement men are scum. This “movement” hurts women, perhaps even more than it hurts men.
Let me share with you the Teacher Expectancy Effect Theory. Expounded by some scholars it is the theory that students often turn out to be exactly what the teachers project they will be. If a teacher believes that a student should be in the top percentile of the class, they will expend their energy and resources, even giving the child extra classes to ensure they meet the projections. They are also more likely to pay less attention to a child they have written off, given them less attention, and generally overlooking them such that even if the child had the potential to be better, they don’t reach it. Sometimes the students realize the teacher does not think much of them and go right ahead to prove them right.
Society is a socializer – read teacher. In fact, sociologists generally agree that one’s peers, a big part of society have greater influence over who a person becomes at adulthood than one’s parents. Therefore, what society projects on the people is what they are likely to turn out to be. If you project on the younger generation that they have the potentials to grow into stable adults that make the right decisions, then you are more likely to teach them what it will take to be the sort of people you want them to become. Conversely, if you project that they will amount to nothing but raping thieves and scoundrels, you are less likely to teach the behaviors that will make them better people.
We really do not want to win the battle and lose the war. We cannot win the war by deprecating and denigrating people. The war against gender violence requires civil discuss. Everyone should be invited to the table for this conversation to have any effect. We really should not shame people into doing what is right, should we?
Ultimately, the “men are scum” movement will hurt women.Whether we like it or not. Men and women will always meet and get into relationships. As they get into relationships, there will be expectations. Expectations based on personal and societal values. If society promotes that men are scum, then this erodes the very basis of a healthy, happy relationship. Men enter believing nothing good is expected of them and women enter feeling, they are going to get the short end of the stick. Some will even socialize themselves into accepting bad behavior as normal. In the end, we all lose.
Where then do we draw the line?
Rape and sexual violence against women and the need to identify behavior that promotes same can be discussed without labeling people. They can be discussed without turning it into a war between sexes. They can be discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect. People should be allowed to tell their stories and speak their minds without censorship. Like someone rightly pointed out, I am yet to see a man who was handed a drink by his friends for raping a girl or sexually harassing her except his friends are sick too. Sick people don’t need a hashtag, they need to be identified and put in hospitals till they are cured.
These sick people should be shown that they have deviant behavior, they should not be led to believe they are in the majority. Their behavior should not be reinforced in this way. Have you ever heard the phrase majority carries the vote and if you can’t beat them, join them?
Women, who have gone through series of failed relationships and harbor bile against men, in general, should not be allowed to hide under the umbrella of activism to spread hate. Some women have indeed been the recipients of the short end of the stick in relationships. It is easy to blame the men they have met for all their woes. But when we think about it, if we can’t be happy relationships, should we not rather look within ourselves to see what we are likely doing wrong?
In all, we need to teach our children that they can be better. We need to tell our boys that girls are humans and deserve the same respect that they will give their fellow boys. They should be taught not to prey on women or exploit their vulnerability. Women should be taught how to use their strengths, to be proud of their womanhood. Men and women should be taught to be decent in word and indeed. Let us tell our boys and girls that neither men nor women are scum. Let us set before them the best examples to follow. Let us show them that we can all be better, more decent humans. Only in this way can we begin to build a just and egalitarian society where everyone feels safe.