This month marked the thirtieth anniversary of a shooting I had never heard of, perhaps somewhat surprisingly as this one took place in Canada where shootings are rare enough to actually be newsworthy. One viral Tweet describes the event thus:
A blog called phenoMENalAct, which I had never heard of before and have no opinion on, takes issue with this. In an article entitled "Are Men Obligated to Die for Everyone Else?", an anonymous author protests, "Notice how not a single damn is given about the men who got shot during that massacre, whom for all we know, may have tried to intervene. Something else that gets overlooked is the fact that the men didn't know what the shooter was planning, and some, who feel survivors' guilt to this day, have said they would have helped if they knew."
The Tweet's indictment of these men for not "teaming up and fighting the shooter" reminds me of people who demand to know why a police officer didn't just shoot the gun out of a terrorist's hand instead of killing them. It's lofty, idealistic and unreasonable. Yeah, fifty unarmed men probably could have taken the jerk down, but the ones who rushed him first would have been screwed. Should they have drawn straws? Since the jerk was holding everyone hostage, and didn't come in with his gun already blazing indiscriminately like most shooters, it wouldn't have been an unreasonable assumption that everyone's best chance for survival was to cooperate until outside help could arrive. Anyone who's never been under such life-or-death pressure (aka most people in the First World) has little or no business complaining about what others should have done.
The author continues, "Here's a life lesson for you: unless it's their job, no one is obligated to risk their life to rescue you, whether you're a male or female. If a stranger decides to jeopardize their safety, family, etc. just for you, that's one hell of a blessing, but not a right. Our society is so spoiled and judgmental regarding this subject that too many people need to study this paragraph."
I, for one, would be happy to sacrifice my life for almost anyone, because being dead would immediately solve most of my problems. And also because that's the Christian thing to do. But I would agree with the author that this is absolutely not something I owe to anyone. If I did it, I would be a hero precisely because I went far above and beyond what anyone had any right to expect or demand of me.
"That said," the author continues, "the mindset of people complaining about the men says a lot about what society thinks of males. The term for this perspective is 'male disposability.' Apparently, a father's life is so worthless that he needs to take a bullet for women in order to be redeemed. Your son is a waste of life until he tries to fight a murderer and become an extra victim."
From the standpoint of reproduction and the long-term viability of the human species, men objectively are more disposable, but since polygamy has long been frowned upon in Western civilization I highly doubt that's what the framers of this cultural norm had in mind. And of course the implication that the human species deserves to survive is up for debate anyway. No, I imagine this was just another one of those "Let's give women special treatment so they won't notice that we don't let them vote" things.
The author then raises a point I had never considered. "And to you guys who believe that men should play superhero at a moment's notice, what would a random woman contribute to the family you leave behind for her? Would she adopt your kids? Would she start paying the bills for your family?"
Currently, if I gave up my life for someone, I wouldn't feel the slightest twinge of guilt for dodging my obligations to the student loan vampires. But what if, against all odds, I had obligations to a family? Would volunteering to die for a stranger, knowing that it would leave someone I actually knew and loved to finance and raise our bratty children by herself, actually be a noble thing to do?
"Choosing to be a hero is your decision," the author continues, "and I can respect people who make that sacrifice. What I don't respect are people who condemn the men who save themselves. Some say that being a protector is a male instinct. What they seem to forget is that survival is a human instinct."
I've wondered about that. Is being a protector a male instinct? Why? In an era when wolf and bear attacks aren't exactly everyday occurences, what do women need to be protected from, besides men?
The author includes several links to support his thesis about male disposability, and singles out the fact that on the Titanic, "304 out of 412 female passengers survived, compared to 128 out of 776 male passengers." But I think the best evidence by far, which I would have focused on at length if I had written the article, is the untold millions of men in the history of the world who have been sent to their deaths in wars, skirmishes or "police actions" they had nothing to do with. In the United States, men are required to register for "Selective Service", which means they can be conscripted against their will if the military ever needs a lot of soldiers really fast, in order to avail themselves of the rights and privileges that women get by turning eighteen. (A federal judge recently ruled this unconstitutional, so there will probably be a few years of court battles and then women will probably be required to register too. I think we should just abolish the stupid thing, but nobody asked me.)
Then he cites a female author. This is a great rhetorical strategy. When people inevitably claim that focusing on the ways society screws men over is sexist against women, he can point out that Helen Smith, who is not a man, wrote: "The guys’ behavior is a culmination that has been years in the making. Our society, the media, the government, women, white knights and Uncle Toms* have regulated and demanded that any incentives men have for acting like men be taken away and decried masculinity as evil. Now they are seeing the result. Men have been listening to what society has been saying about them for more than forty years; they are perverts, wimps, cowards, assholes, jerks, good-for-nothing, bumbling deadbeats and expendable. Men got the message; now they are acting accordingly. As you sow, so shall you reap."
*The quote in the article says "Uncle Tims", but since it didn't say "[sic]" I'm assuming that was a typo by the anonymous author, not Helen Smith.
I mean, I don't think anyone with more than two brain cells can deny with a straight face that this is exactly what society says about men. I can't say whether or not it's worse than how society degrades women, but it is a separate and independent issue that also exists. What's the point of even trying to be a specimen of positive masculinity if society is going to put you down and ridicule you either way?
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.