A Conversation About Men, Male Behavior, Feminism, Fear, and Bacon (Yes. Bacon)
A couple weekends ago, I went out with a group of a dozen or so people to celebrate my homegirl’s birthday. And, as people in the greater Pittsburgh-area are wont to do after a night of drunken, WorldStarHipHop-worthy ratchetness, we went to Eat & Park afterwards to soak up ourÂ alcoholÂ with pancakes and half-assed cheese eggs.
While most others usually opt for the menu food, I always choose to buy the breakfast buffet; a vast decrease in quality, but, when it’s 3:13am, quantity has a way of making you not give a f*ck.
There were so many of us there (I’m guessing 15) that the server put three tables together toÂ accommodateÂ all of us. And, since I was the only one who chose the buffet food, it meant…
A) I would be the only one eating food for the next 15 minutes.
B) I’d have to fight off a clawing pack of drunken and hungry zombies every time I returned to the table from the buffet.
The second part actually became a bit of a running joke. I’d go to the buffet, return with some bacon, and I’d have to smack the hands of my friends away as they tried to grab a slice. Sometimes I was successful in guarding my bacon, and sometimes the bacon zombies would get me. (I know this doesn’t sound like a very fun game to play, but we were all five exits past drunk, and the bacon game happened to be the funniest thing on Earth at the time. Only God can judge me.)
Anyway, although the table was filled with people who all were at the party I was just at, I didn’t know a couple of the people sitting at the other end of the table. I’m bringing this up because all the fun and games stopped when, while returning to the table after one of my bacon runs, one of these unfamiliar hands reached and attempted to grab the food on my plate.
When I made it back to my seat, I called this person out, asking what the f*ck was wrong with them (I think my exact words were “What the f*ck is wrong with you? I don’t know you, n*gga“), and basically put a slight damper on the mood.
(In hindsight, it was funny remembering the reactions of the people sitting around me, their expressions going from “Wait, Champ’s not serious, is he?” to “Um, yeah, he’s serious. This is getting uncomfortable. And entertaining. This isÂ uncomfortablyÂ entertaining” and finally landing on “Wait, um, we’re not able to witness a couple dudes in suits fight over some bacon, are we?“)
I eventually forgave this person for theirÂ indiscretion. (We actually stood up and shook each other’s hands) The next day, as I was reflecting on the evening and remembering exactly howÂ ridiculousÂ that near fight was, it dawned on me that none of that would have happened if he was a woman.
You see, I was perfectly cool playing the bacon game with the people sitting close to me — all women that I knew. In fact, even if dude had been a woman I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have reacted the same way. I probably would have laughed, flirted, or perhaps even tried to steal some food off her plate when it finally came. But, because he was a guy doing something that guys aren’t supposed to do to other guys, it pissed me off enough to have the following absurd exchange with him
“Where are you from?”Â
“Don’t worry about where I’m from. I’m from a place where n*ggas don’t take food off of n*ggas they don’t know plates.”Â
(I apparently say n*gga a lot when I’m drunk and/or angry. Perhaps there’s another post in there somewhere)
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what the hell a story about two drunk men having a pissing contest over some soggy bacon has to do with feminism, a concept defined asÂ a collection ofÂ movementsÂ aimed at defining, establishing, and defendingÂ equalÂ political, economic, and social rights for women.
Actually, thatÂ definitionÂ is a bit too bulky to work with. I prefer the one coined by Cheris Kramarae
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”
Regardless of how you choose to define it, feminism has some roots in the idea that (most) men, even (most) well-intentioned men, don’t regard women with the same respect we do other men.
Thing is, as shitty as men historically have been and currently still are to women, we are pretty much just as shitty (if not shittier) to men.
As history continues to prove, men willÂ regularly intimidate,Â embarrass, ridicule, mock, taunt, dominate, and even sexually humiliate other men if given the opportunity.
Think about this: WhereverÂ you’re currently reading this, you’re at a place that was “founded” some time ago as a result of a group of men invading the land of a weaker group of men and subsequently murdering and colonizing them.
Even many “educated” and “domesticated” men still regularly do this in their own way. For instance, asÂ ridiculousÂ as that bacon story sounded, most men reading it probably laughed at first and then thought to themselves “You know what? I probably would have reacted the same way The Champ did.”Â
Why? Well, although it may have seemed innocent, that guy reaching on my plate was his way of attempting to assert some dominance over me. His fat ass didn’t want any bacon, but he did want everyone to see him taking a slice of bacon off my plate — alpha male-ing me, in a sense.
I (over) reacted the way I did because, frankly, I wanted him to be scared. Not pissing in his pants scared, but “Hmm. This guy’s tone and body language suggests that there’s a possibility that he might actually get up and punch me in the face. It’s a slight chance, but still. Perhaps I should apologize to him.” scared.
Most people would probably consider bacon boy’s act a violation of some “man code” or some other unspoken kinship between men. While this is true, the creation of “man codes” aren’t really about any male kinship or spiritual brotherhoods or anything like that.Â We have these rules of decorum when dealing with each other because of fear of possibleÂ physical danger, and we treat each other with thisÂ tenuousÂ respect because there’s always the possibility that we might get our ass kicked if we don’t.
Now, I’m (obviously) no feminist scholar, but it seems like the root cause behind man’s historically unjust treatment of women has something to do with the control and suppression of female sexuality and sexual freedom. It also seems like the only reason why (many) men are “nicer” to women than they are to other men is because they want sexual access to them, and getting women to agree to want to be with you is the socially acceptable way of gaining this access.
I don’t want to believe that the only things motivating us to be kind to each other are fear and sex, but history and any read of any newspaper continues to prove that this may be true. Am I completely off-base here, or are we (men) too f*cked up to evolve to a point where the majority of things the majority of men do are done, not because we can do them or can get away with doing them, but because they’re just the right and just things to do?
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)