It’s a bad time for men. Well, all men who aren’t Justin Trudeau.
As a feminist, the prime minister will always enjoy absolution and be above the fray. For the rest of us, it’s been a few weeks of witnessing daily and very public shamings of men based on their behaviour towards women in the workplace – and, um, if I’m being honest, I guess in the world in general.
I think an apology is in order. So like the carnival game Whac-a-Mole, I pop my head up just long enough to say, “Sorry” before quickly disappearing again and hoping that this unpleasantness all goes away.
That apology took a lot out of me but I think it makes everything okay and should go a long way to redressing centuries of awful treatment directed towards women at the hands (no pun intended) of men. If Humphrey Bogart were alive, I’m sure I’d get a pat on the back – probably to make me feel better after Lauren Bacall socked me in the jaw.
I think it’s important to emphasize that – despite the gracious and spontaneous apology above – men are not a collective. They are not the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation who operate as a single entity with a hive mind. After all, if I were to begin or end any argument with a statement like “Well, you know what women are like,” I’d be in trouble before I could put down my drill or crush my beer can.
Yes, I’d like to think that we’re still complex and autonomous individuals whose unique actions – good and bad – don’t necessarily reflect or represent either all men or all women as a whole. To illustrate my point, I offer as exhibits both Trudeau (of course) and Donald Trump (too easy). Both are men, yet, when one listens closely, there are subtle differences in how they publicly comment about the fairer sex.
So egregious are the revelations about Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, so disturbing are the now curdled and criminal allegations against Bill Cosby, that I don’t even want to make a complete list of the powerful and prominent men who have recently seen their reputations ravaged and careers crushed due to what the military would call “conduct unbecoming” and what the rest of us would call just plain sleazy and inexcusable harassment.
The reason not to make that list is it would be out of date before this column was published, as each new day brings yet another sordid tale to light. As a charter member of the male gender, I cannot help but feel a bit peeved at all these other men who have so sullied our good name and character with their ill-thought-out and boorish abuses of position and power. I’m looking at you, Al Franken.
As a man, I feel I’m being backed into a corner with this avalanche of abuse only now getting public airing. Let’s admit it and just call a spade a spade: it’s uncomfortable and unsettling to be a man when so many of our number are being called out for actions that we probably all have, at the very least, witnessed and possibly tolerated by remaining silent in our professional and personal lives.
There’s only one logical thing to do in response. As a man, I have given this a lot of thought in between shouting at sportscasters on TV and engaging in public underwear adjustment. To be consistent in my manhood – and all the cunning intellect that implies – I think the best, safest and least controversial course of action is to try to come up with a way to blame women for the whole mess.
Good sense be damned, I arbitrarily proclaim it to be their fault. We all know that women are in charge of the household and exercise the most consistent and pervasive influence in forming who ‘puppy-dogs tails’ boys grow up to become.
All women probably feel guilty now.
I’ll be in my man-cave awaiting your apology.
Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer.