Sometimes I feel alone on an island where I’m the only one thinking about the words I say. What do they mean? Do they mean what I really think they mean? Or are they some cheap way to get across a point with horrible side effects? We often judge things that get the job down but have horrible side effects… like laws with horrible side effects, medicine with horrible side effects, corporations with horrible side effects but people don’t take a second to see that our words have side effects we couldn’t even imagine? Words that are trying to get at the heart of being a “good” person, sentences put together to tell people to be faithful to their spouses, to not bully, to dress however you want, with the side effects of saying some truly destructive things and often times false.
So to give an example of the most prevalent and my most hated I’ll use the “Real Men” example. This takes roots somewhere in society or societies where it was decided that men don’t cry, they don’t wear pink? they don’t hug, they want to have sex with as many women as possible, they are strong or not a man at all, this sort of BS that’s commonly agreed upon as bad set’s of rules for men. However then to combat these problematic ideas they use the very thing that starts them, saying “Real Men do so and so.” Real men wear pink, real men stay faithful, real men don’t bully, real men cry, what in the world is all this BS? I’m not saying Men SHOULDN’T wear pink, stay faithful, not bully, and cry… I certainly wear pink, am monogamous, don’t bully people, and cry when I have the need to but…. why are we dictating this is what men do? Some men don’t cry, some men don’t like pink, why are we trying to shame them? Not to mention, being a man is simply defined by either gender or sex…. so meaning you either were born with the parts or you identify as someone who would have liked to be born with the parts. What in the world are we adding on all these FALSE clauses? It’s not helpful, it’s just setting more ridiculous rules that aren’t accurate.
This goes down to the “No True Scotsman Fallacy.” It goes something like this (I heard it from a youtuber TheraminTrees).
Marv is Scottish and so is Brad. Marv says, no Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. Brad points out that Tim is born and raised in Scotland, Scottish by blood, but puts sugar on his porridge. Then Marv says “Ahh, but no TRUE Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. This extra clause doesn’t actually fit…. no where in the definition of “Being Scottish” does it say, not putting sugar on your porridge. This simple is just untrue!
So the point is, being a “Man” has a simple definition. Let’s stop saying “Real” or “True” men do things… let’s just say “It’s a good idea to do X, Y, and Z and your gender or sex shouldn’t inhibit that.” I can see it’s well meaning, but it’s counter productive. Actions don’t make a man the sex or gender he is…. his biology and identification as being a man does.
So, what’s the big deal? Well when we try and attribute good moral ideas to “Being a man” it’s almost like we’re implying that being womanly is well… the less moral stand point. This being something you’re born into should show the huge misstep of it. I know people don’t mean it this way, but we can’t give these subtle messages to society, to our children, to our friends, that being a woman is somehow inferior to being a man… You might be able to argue the biology of strength and agility, or ability to get pregnant, but moral compass as far as I’m concerned isn’t determined by your gender or sex.
So yeah…. I guess the lesson, as always, is think about what you’re saying. Seriously look at the words you say. This is a really easy thing to avoid doing.