Woke Men, Stop Shitting On Women by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir


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.



Categories: Abuse of Power, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Gender, Gender and Power, Relationality, Relationships, Sexism

Tags: , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Thank you Trelawney – very honest …..very rhythmic…. very disappointing….. standing firm is setting boundaries – your post is very supportive of an issue I am dealing with – the simple lack of respective conversations towards women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tess. Disappointing is just the word… we get disappointed over and over and over and over by Woke Man… so many Woke Men, so very cheerful about their vicious misogyny. Why is basic respect so hard? They must indeed be utterly terrified. Poor dears.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for writing this Trelawney. This post reminds me of why I’ve come to realize that part of trying to be a better ally, for me (a cisgender heterosexual male), is self-education, working on self-awareness, self-reflection, and not being afraid to recognize and confront deeply internalized sexism. It sounds like Mr. Woke Man (which sounds like a descriptor for many people, sadly) has not done this difficult, yet important, internal work to educate himself, reflect, or recognize his own misogyny.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Brava! I love your use of Ironic Capital Letters and the overall irony and rage in this post. It’s beautifully written. I bet everyone, female or male, who reads this post knows at least one Woke Man. But too many guys just never Wake Up, do they??

    But I gotta ask……did some specific incident in your life bring this on? Something you read in the news or online or saw on TV? Can we ever escape sexism? Erase it?

    Brava! Excellent post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you so much, Barbara. I really appreciate your affirmation, it means a lot. The answer is yes and no. As in, I moderate and hang out in a lot of very progressive groups online, and sometimes the repeated (relentless, really) misogyny just gets to me and I need to vent. But whenever it happens for the first time with a particular Woke Man whom I had started cautiously to befriend or respect, or whom I had helped or supported or affirmed or promoted in one way or another, it is such a punch in the gut. And that did happen a month or so ago with a few men who are very outspoken leaders in a certain liberation movement, very inspiring people in their denunciation of oppression and their commitment to justice, and yet… one guy posts a photo of two women in bikinis, and some of the others start chiming in about how they’d like to have their d—s inside those (much younger) women. These men I just have to distance myself from, small movement though it is. They are now, to me, people I want as little to do with as possible. Which is too bad, we could have done a lot of great work together.
      I responded by saying “OK, so when the [____} oppress and dehumanize the [_____] that’s bad, but when men dehumanize and objectify females, that’s acceptable? Just want to be clear on which forms of cultural violence are condoned here.” Then I pasted about ten paragraphs from a great article on how violent it is to objectify females, and the damage that does. That was what tipped me over the edge into writing this piece. But it was really the last straw at that particular moment, after years and decades of this utter shit, and I will probably write another version of this within a year or so because it happens so much and is just so utterly revolting. Within a few days, a huge onslaught of pro-prostitution messaging came through the political groups I’m in, and it was just so demoralizing. I am often really demoralized by just how much males hate and fear females. Not putting up with it, is seen as so radical and man-hating. What a world!

      Liked by 4 people

      • I don’t belong to any groups. Have you considered dropping out of the groups, some of whose members are so often offensive? Is quitting a possible action, or do you want to fight back? I salute your courage.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I do consider it sometimes… but I guess the number of women who are really grateful that I say the things I say, and that I keep the groups I run free from this kind of misogyny, is high enough that it feels worth it. A lot of the women in my groups find a refuge there because I draw strict boundaries that they don’t find anywhere else in life. Thank you for affirming my courage… it can be draining, but having places like this to write about it and be understood and supported is a real shot in the arm!!! <3 <3 <3

          Liked by 1 person

          • My friend, you’re braver than I am. Good for you! I have no doubt that those women need as much support and boundary-drawing as you can provide. I, too, find FAR a good place to write about difficult subjects and situations. I’m grateful that so many of us have become friends over the past few years. Hooray!

            Liked by 2 people

  4. I had the same question Barbara has – what brought this on? Powerful post, and yes, we all know the story don’t we? One thought comes to mind – Woke Man can join Woke Woman – the male identified female who will religiously protect these bastards.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you, Trelawney, for writing this essay. I love how you dig beneath the surface of things.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How does this man came up with this name “Woke man” , maybe I am lacking on the understanding as English is my second language on this term? He rather should his hat on as the name “Respectless Man” .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cornelia, I am a woman – not sure you are saying “this man” meaning “the author” (me, a woman), or you are saying “this man” meaning “Woke man” meaning progressive men? The word “woke” started out to mean “aware of justice problems, especially racism” but has evolved to mean, generally, aware of social justice problems and oppressions, and committed to working for justice and liberation. So my piece is trying to criticize how so many progressive men are progressive about everything except females – they are very sexist and they say and do things that are sexist in order to feel manly and gain respect from other men. So it is always a more painful betrayal when progressive men are sexist because they say they want to help support feminism, they think they are allies, but then they show how they don’t really care about respecting females, they just want to feel proud of being progressive. I hope this helps explain the article. I agree, they are without respect, and they should not be considered progressive when they are so degrading to females.

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  7. I don’t ask what brought this on, because there are millions of provocations out there. It’s the wallpaper, and mostly goes unmentioned. I like this cartoon (by a man) about intrusive mansplaining:
    https://time.com/79357/not-all-men-a-brief-history-of-every-dudes-favorite-argument/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Max, thank you. Yes… it’s the wallpaper, exactly, and I personally feel relief whenever it does get mentioned. Thanks for this excellent article – absolutely perfect.

      Like

  8. I read this yesterday and was unsure how to respond. While I agree with you here, I kept thinking that many of the things the allegedly Woke Man says and you and I find reprehensible are actually contested within feminist ranks: for example some feminists defend stripping in the name of female agency and porn in the name of anti-puritanism. So where are we really? At minimum, not all in agreement as to what constitutes treating women with respect and dignity among feminists.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. And I do have articles swimming in my head about internalized misogyny… I would say something very different to such women. But at minimum, a lot of women have expressed to me that this article resonates with them – their frustration at this kind of sexist behavior from otherwise progressive men – so at least that can help us not feel so alone, and possibly help some allies (such as Brendan above) get some helpful insights.

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  9. Not particularly woke. I believe everyone should be treated equally in our society, but you would have to be a special kind of stupid to claim that is how it actually works. I had three daughters, one of whom came out as gay and got to experience the difference between their baseline treatment and what I expected as the norm. Not the most fun education in the world, but made me aware enough of the differences in my experience and theirs, that I did get angry enough to keep pushing to balance things at all political levels.

    Not going to claim this makes me a poster child for woke, which I will never claim to be, and peoples understanding of whether or not they wish to claim me as an ally is a personal choice with enough scope and depth that I won’t question anyone’s call, one way or the other. I do think that every step forward is worth fighting for, even if we can’t agree on what the destination is, we can agree the starting point was bad, the present position is only a bit better, and those pushing backwards are aimed someplace far far worse.

    Trying to be the best man I can be, and that should not be at the expense of women.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I read this and thought, ouch. My brothers, my sons, they are doing their best but sounds like all hell should rain down on them if they say the wrong thing. I myself have said things that were wrong or stupid or thoughtless, I myself have said things in younger years that were awful towards women or about women. Especially in my teens and twenties as I was trying to figure out how to be in the world and wanting people to think I’m clever and funny. I don’t hold my brothers to a higher standard than myself. All I ask is for men to try. They don’t have to be perfect. There are real awful men out in the world. Since we can’t serve them up for some justice, shall we turn pitchforks on the good men on our side, working with us shoulder to shoulder, for saying something stupid while trying to be funny or some other minor transgression? Leave my sons alone, I’m busy growing good men. And none of them will ever be perfect.

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    • I do understand how easy it is to feel defensive about these things… I hang out in progressive circles in which black people write a lot of scathing critiques of white people – calling out the white “Becky’s” who triy to whitesplain away racism, etc – and I’ve written before about the importance of mentor culture as an alternative to call out culture. See https://feminismandreligion.com/2019/10/04/call-out-culture-vs-mentor-culture-which-one-will-save-us-from-the-apocalypse-by-trelawney-grenfell-muir/#comment-704442

      This space, this blog site about “feminism and religion”, is really helpful as a place for women to lament, rage, and grieve the ways the sexism and misogyny of our culture wears us down, especially those forms of violence that are invisible to most of our culture because they have been so normalized and accepted under patriarchy. My article is speaking to that awful feeling we women get when a man we had thought was an ally, was safe, was progressive, says or does some sexist thing that feels like a punch in the gut. Such a painful let down. Such a disappointment. Most women have responded that they know this feeling, and it’s a relief to have it named in a world that always tries to silence us and excuse/defend violence against us.

      I heard three stories from female friends just within the past day, in which the female suffered abuse at the hands of a man in her community, she named and exposed the abuse, and her community turned on HER instead of HIM and ostracized or punished her. When I posted on my facebook page that I had heard these three stories in 24 hours, the women who commented all said basically the same thing:” Is there another ending to this story? I’ve never seen or heard of it. This is just what always, always, always happens.”
      I guess I have another blog post brewing inside me about the heartbreaking universality of this pattern.

      I wrote my article from a place of heartbreak for myself and all the women and girls I know who have felt that punch in the gut. I realize that intent doesn’t always match impact. How I intend people to hear me isn’t always how they will hear me. My intent to help may be experienced as painful by some people. I know I can’t really control how people experience what I say, I can only control my intent — which is to support girls and women who are hurting, and make them feel more freedom and power to reject the ways our culture normalizes violence against us.

      I hope that men who read this, choose to read it because they want to be challenged to do better and be better, and they realize, when they read it, that their sexist jokes and posts and comments are hurting the women and girls they love, and they can heal from the wounds patriarchy has given them to become more confident, loving, secure, respectful, free, happy men. I hope they respond to that realization by trying to improve, as Brendan did in his comments above, and to educate other boys and men, too. I hope that they hear it the way I hear my African American friends’ jokes about “Becky” — humor and satire can be a good coping mechanism when one is surrounded by violence every day. Sometimes being nice and gentle and politely asking men to be less sexist just isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to rage and critique and give voice to our anger and pain. I’m grateful for this “feminism and religion” community, which provides that space, and I hope that everyone who visits it can end up feeling more freedom and power to believe we deserve basic human respect and dignity. Peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are doing important work, Trelawney. Thank you.

        I’m sorry that there are those punches in the gut ( though not really surprised.) We all DO deserve basic human respect and dignity. ( I would also add compassion.) I cannot even believe I have to say that, but I do. What a fucked-up world we live in.

        I often hear men say, “All men are not like that.” It’s time for men to listen to women about how we feel.

        Like

  11. Ach, it’s true, and as others have said, I am sure I have left people feeling betrayed and hurt and will continue to do so as well. I am glad to have space to rage and lament together when this happens, and to support one another as we all try to work for justpeace. Thank you for articulating this particular moment we have all experienced and will continue to experience our whole lives.

    Like

    • Thank you, Tallessyn. I think the smugly superior attitude of progressive men who look down their noses at others is a far cry from the humble “I’m trying to learn to be a better ally” approach you take. I do hope men can be open to learning, as Brendan is above, because that is what is desperately needed. It is a relief to be able to name violence like this bluntly, in a culture that socializes us to be smilingly grateful for whatever moldy crumbs of effort men graciously bestow. I’m grateful for this space, too, and for your support. <3

      Like

  12. Beardy woke bloke? I’ve met a few of them. It took 6 years for the last one to drop his guard and I heard him say the most vile things about women. Far worse than any other man had said in my presence. We are no longer friends.

    Like

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