Smart, Interesting Girls. Sweet, Sensitive Boys.
Reading Viv’s excellent Zoe Quinn update really just bummed me out. I’ve been in a court situation before where I went into it expecting some version of ‘justice’ and came out very disillusioned. We truly have a long way to go as a society.
So I was watching TV the other night and for some reason I ended up on Kimmel, which is weird because that’s not my typical appetizer of choice. But this little featurette came on and I was really kind of charmed by all the sweet kids in it. When it was done, I thought “how, can we, as a society, make sure that these adorable little dudes who seem so full of kindness and love, don’t ever turn into gamergate dudes later in life?”
And I had trouble pinpointing the moment when that might happen. Because it’s all so situational, some boys fall through the cracks. And some of those who fall through end up being confused, and then angry, and then hateful bona-fide mega dickweeds.
I feel like maybe there’s a rite of passage thing for young men that may be missing somewhere along the way. Maybe more than one rite. Maybe it’s just a more stable acceptance of disappointment without it corrupting you, and a societal understanding among men that things don’t always go your way.
Maybe we just need more French wine and more Irish poets. I don’t know. But when I was watching the little dude at 2:00 who was saying that the little girl he liked was “just beautiful,” I wondered how he would feel if the feelings weren’t reciprocated (when he’s older, obviously). How are young men taught to accept rejection? Has it changed at all in the last fifty years? Is it still tied up in an overly macho/masculine “fuck that bitch” dynamic, or have we, as a society given young men the tools to accept rejection without lashing out, like these guys:
I know I was never given any training. I was very aware of my social rank in my group of friends based on the level of woman I could attract and not ever be rejected by. Still, I would never act the way the gamergate guys have acted. So what is the particular alchemy that makes that type of behavior a non-starter? (As a lifelong gamer, it pisses me off to no end that this misogyny has reared its head as a substrata of a hobby I love.)
In a world where your hair turns white when you read about the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses nationwide, is there anything we’re doing, outside of the family unit, to instruct little boys ? Are there some words about the complexity of rejection, the accepting of emotional pain and discomfort like a (new) man, the character that comes out of surviving unrequited love? Or are we just tacitly still accepting the male version of “hell hath no fury…” Historically, it’s been things like Boy Scouts and various religious entities and sex ed classes in some places, but is there a place in modern society, that isn’t anecdotal, where we know that young men are getting the right message? A unified message that they all hear during adolescence which gives them a foundation for navigating emotional crises?
I don’t know. It’s a big issue. Being around the amazing writers on this site, I’ve become more sensitive to it. We’ve come so far with women in this country and the world. It feels like it makes sense to wonder aloud whether there’s any way to formally instruct/accept/train young men to understand their hormones and peer dynamics around sexual ‘conquests’ and emotional vulnerability before they ever have a reason to become any version of a gamergate-type of broken, dispirited misogynist. We all, men and women, have to cope with disappointment and loss. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew we were giving children the actual tools they would need to come out of difficulties substantively more full and more emotionally stable than they went in?
Anyway, watch and enjoy. The kid at 1:34 slays me. (Though I’ve probably always been more of an emotional counterpart to the “I can do kicks” kid at 3:00. Sigh.)
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