Woke Man is often a Leader of some kind, someone Well Respected for his Work in some sort of Important Progressive Cause. Woke Man may, understandably, think pretty Highly of himself. He’s got quite a Clever Sense of Humor, you see. He’s got Helpful Insights and Wise Advice. He is Compassionate and Committed to Justice. He’s forgiven for being a bit Smug, because he is Popular in Certain Circles, or Admired in the Movement. He is Smart and Well Read, and/or good at Expressing his Informed Opinions. Often Eloquent or Pithy, he enjoys a Good Debate and likes to Sneer at inferior chumps who are Ignorant and Conservative, especially those Troglodytes who thump their chests in a brainless display of Toxic Masculinity.
He has Lots of Women Friends. Many of them consider him an Ally because of his Outspoken Criticism of certain problems such as Rape and Intimate Partner Violence. He may even Support these women when they bring up subtler issues such as Language or Equal Rights. He Proudly votes for Women Politicians and even Condemns the media for its Sexist Bias.
It must be hard for him. I get that. Our culture roars continuously at him in a deafening media cacophony that females are inferior, males are superior, and any male who is not clearly dominant in “masculine” forms of social currency (physical strength, wealth, fame) must be failing at manhood. So men who are getting older, or who are frail, or a bit on the plump/skinny side, or short statured, or less than wealthy, or losing their hair, or small-jawed, or didn’t do very well in school, or haven’t climbed far up a career ladder, or are rather Unremarkable… our culture tells them that— well, perhaps they aren’t particularly Successful at being Men, but at least they are Male.
How much harder when such men embrace some form of Progressivism? After all, one of the main ways that the Right Wing Authoritarians have tried to undermine all Progressivism is by derisively scorning it as weak and feminine (because females are to be despised, you see). Thus we have trouble convincing men to make environmentalist choices, lest they be seen as emasculated. Men who stand up for gay and lesbian equality are accused of being gay (because gay people are to be despised, you see). Racial justice, even economic justice – all progressive causes are defined by the Right Wing as “hippie” and therefore “unmasculine”… and thus to be despised.
So I do get it. It must be a challenge to be a Woke Man in our viciously mysoginist culture. I admire the Woke Man for sticking with it. He continues to advocate for the Environment, for progressive politicians and policies, he denounces the Trumps of the world and may even attend an Indigo Girls concert or Women’s March. He not only never makes homophobic or racist jokes, he Calls Out people who do. And if we’re extra lucky, he doesn’t rape anyone.
So women think, “Ah. An Ally. I can relax around him. I can trust him. He sees me as human. He sees me as a sacred, whole person, who deserves dignity, respect, and honor. He is safe.”
And then He Himself
Mr. Woke Man
Wokey Wokey Wokeness McWokeson
Shows his true, frightened, insecure, misogynist colors.
He says, “Haha, just kidding, I don’t see you females as human! I see you as subhuman objects who exist to gratify violent and degrading male perversions! Aren’t I such a manly man after all?”
Maybe it’s a clever pun about strippers or porn. Or a post of some almost naked female in a provocative pose. Or a joke about how he’d like to use the female body in that photo to get himself off. (Also, sometimes he has a tendency to “NOT ALL MEN!! ” whenever women get vocal about the epidemic of male violence against us, or tell us we’re Doing Feminism Wrong by not being Nice Enough to Men.)
Whatever flavor it takes, the poison is the same. Woke Man is turning around and giving the finger to every female in his life, and every female on the planet. He is revealing his insecurity: his belief that, after all, he does indeed believe that he SHOULD be inherently superior to all females. And since he is embracing Woke Ideas that might call his masculinity into question, might reduce his Male Social Currency, might make others see him as <gasp!> feminine…. well, he’d better make it Clear to Everyone that he is a MAN. A MANLY MANLY MANLY MAN. He knows females are nothing more than SEX OBJECTS, and he can JOKE ABOUT IT IN CLEVER WAYS. SEE HOW MANLY HE IS???
We see, Woke Man. We do see. We see that you are not an ally. We see that you do not see us as fully human, as sacred, whole persons who deserve dignity, respect, and honor. We see that you are not safe.
We see that you will cheerfully throw us to the wolves to protect your fragile ego. You sacrifice us on the altar of your own insecurities. You throw us under the bus to soothe your fears of inadequacy. You discard us as nothing more than a step you can walk over in your attempt to gain the misogynist respect of other men. You use violence against us as a form of bonding with each other. We are the disposable ones. We are trash. You just threw us into the garbage pit. With a laugh.
So, thanks but no thanks, Woke Man. Take your Clever, Respected Wokeness and shove it all the way up your manly ass. We don’t need false allies like you. Someday, if you get over your fears and insecurities and heal from your patriarchy-induced wounds, maybe you can earn you way back into our respect. Maybe.
But when you show your true colors like that, though other sexist men may respect you…. the girls and women you admire or love most, never will.
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.