Collective rage, privilege and what I wish men were actually craving: an open letter to the creator of the video “What Men Are Craving”
Dear Gentleman of the video that ignited fire in me,
I watched your video, “What Men Are Craving” a few weeks ago and I have not been able to shake it from my heart and head since. About 15 seconds in I felt a strong feeling of urgent dismay rise up in my throat. I decided it was pointless to come to conclusions until I watched your entire talk, so I waited. In the next 10 minutes watching your video, I observed myself as I floated between agreeance on some things you said, but then more dismay, deep rage burning in my throat and disheartened confusion.
The video ended and I found myself feeling slightly panicked. I felt the collective pain of all women over the centuries in my belly. I sat with what could possibly be my trigger here, I worked with what was truly my own shit and released it.
Still I felt the dismay and the sadness.
I spoke with a male friend whose perspective is always balanced and who will call me out on my BS. He told me he felt similarly when watching the video and that my perspective was important, write it. I spoke with my mentor to unravel why I was having such a strong response to your video. I wanted to make sure I spoke from a place of integrity if I did choose to speak, a place of love not a place of reaction. She heard me and also encouraged me to speak what I felt was missing from your video, which also felt so urgently important to insert into the conversation your video started.
So here I am. Writing it. Finally.
I won’t go into all the details of what your video-talk consisted of–you wrote the talk, so you know it well. And my desire is not to discuss semantics–I find those conversations pointless and petty.
But in your video, I feel you searching for answers just like the men you are giving a voice to. I feel you desiring deeper connection too. But I feel that some of the answers you arrived at in your search and then taught to the thousands of others who are watching your video, can actually cause more separation and division between the sexes.
I also feel that there are some things you failed to see or mention in this very important conversation, that cannot be left out when this conversation is being had. If they are left out, more division can occur. More dangerous assumptions that justify unkind actions towards women can happen. I don’t think that is your intention, but I do see how leaving out certain portions of an important dialogue can create that, as I feel your video runs the risk of doing. And that is what I finally pinpointed made me feel panicked by the time your video was over.
As I mentioned before, your video is called “What Men Are Craving”. In the video you talk about a survey you did to your audience of men, asking them what they’re really craving. From those responses, you tell us, you created a list of what men are actually craving. A list for women to listen to and take to heart as they deal with the men in their lives.
But I’m sorry to say, I didn’t react well to it. And I didn’t agree with quite a lot of it.
There was nothing “wrong” with the list. I’m sure that the men in your community on Facebook were being honest sharing what they shared in response to your question. I don’t have an issue with the list per se. There were many items on the list that are things that a human being would want out of a relationship and that I thought were lovely. And I do care greatly about men (and all human beings) and my greatest desire is that everyone feel loved and heard.
The “issue” I have with the topic and name of your talk is that I feel the video is extremely ill-timed. And privileged. It’s that I fear the video borders on dismissive without you being aware of it. It’s that I felt, based on the timing of when this conversation is happening and what is happening currently in our world with violence against women and other minorities in our world, it is not the time to make what you’re talking about in the video, a movement. And I feel that we need more men speaking up for women and other oppressed minorities, than speaking up for those who are are in the privileged position in our society and what they are “craving” from the oppressed minorities.
And I can feel that you did not mean to be dismissive or insensitive, I feel your heart in what you are saying. And I do not mean that you shouldn’t say what is in your heart. I’m a huge advocate for speaking one’s truth with love. But I do feel it’s important to address what I feel are certain blind spots in your arguments, which I feel, once addressed could elevate this conversation to the level at which I perceive your soul truly wanted to elevate it to.
When I was in college I took several classes on the marginalized voice of minorities in literature. I read bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Maxine Hong Kingston, Gloria Anzaldua and more. As a Latin American woman, I felt at home in those pages. Finally feeling that the voice of the feminine and the marginalized was being given the spotlight in the mostly male-dominated curriculum of my English major. I found so much comfort seeing the nuances of my culture reflected back to me on many of those pages, to see the experiences of those who are not in the dominant role in society there for others to see and experience. To hear these voices that I didn’t even know my soul had been longing for all these years.
Now, I am not of the most marginalized in society by a long shot. I was raised in a middle class family. I am a Latina and a woman yes, but I am light skinned, so that gives me privilege already, whether I am truly white or not.
But among these powerful essays and books I read that don’t normally get taught as our mainstream curriculum in schools (and upon whose subjects I ended up writing my thesis) there was one small essay by bell hooks which struck me the most. It has stayed with me eternally. In this passage she talked about “colonizer mentality”. I’ll explain what colonizer mentality is. It is how dominant cultures have overtaken, dominated and eventually obliterated any culture they came across.
In colonizer mentality, I speak English and you speak French. If I am the colonizer, I don’t attempt to learn French to communicate with you at all. I don’t attempt to understand your culture, your history, where you’re coming from or what you value. I instead expect you to learn English and all of my customs in order for us to communicate and both get what we want.
Except we don’t both get what we want. What really happens with colonizer mentality is that one person has to assimilate to the other in order to get along and their identity is lost. One must submit to the colonizer. It is not an equal exchange. Suddenly, if I am the colonized, I can no longer speak my original language, I have to speak yours. The colonizer rules. They have privilege in society now. Their voice is the only one that gets heard. Their ways are the standard.
The truth is, you as a man, speak from a place of supreme privilege in our society. You, whether you like it or not, speak from the same place from which the colonizer speaks. You may not have the same intention, but you’ve been granted that privilege simply by being born a man.
And the truth is, whether we like it or not, we are dealing currently with the fact that men, for centuries, have been colonizing women. Even higher than simply “man” on the rank of privilege in our patriarchy is the light skinned heterosexual male. This archetype has been dominating our culture and our perspectives for a long time now. His voice gets heard. He dictates our culture, what is acceptable, what is attractive, who deserves to live or die. All of it.
As a result, anyone who is not a light-skinned, heterosexual man in this society is constantly being told that they need to be more like the white, male, heterosexual patriarchy suggests they should be or they are not adequate, they are not enough, they are broken.
Bringing this back to women (though this could certainly be applied to any minority group), just turn on the TV for a few seconds during the day and you will see dozens of ads telling women how they should act, how they should feel, how they should dress, how they should behave and how they should move in order to be more attractive to a man.
I am, by DNA purposes, a woman and I happen to naturally identify as a woman as defined by our society’s labels. So, I know this first hand. There has never been a time when I didn’t have the patriarchy our world is dominated by telling me subtly that my whole existence should revolve around being attractive enough to a man or accepted by the white patriarchal world view–the view of the dominant colonizer. That I should be a good girl, good daughter, good mother, good wife. Notice how all of these things revolve around pleasing–you guessed it–men.
It has only been in the last several years on my journey as a human being, after I turned 28 or so, that I have been able to finally begin to unravel myself from this indoctrination and see my value as something way beyond what the white, male, heterosexual patriarchy dictates to me.
But this is not just me. Before you dismiss me as an overly defensive, bitter woman who just “can’t get over” her anger at being oppressed, I would dare to say that a large majority of women feel this way, too. A large majority of any oppressed group would feel this way.
When I say your video is ill timed, I mean that given all of this information I mentioned above and the fact that we are currently in a time where the social dialogue is extremely raw around the position of women and other minorities in our country.…where we just watched a man who heartlessly raped an unconscious woman and showed no true remorse for his crime in court get off with only 3 months of jail time….where we just watched a man kill over 50 people in Orlando, because they did not subscribe to the way of living that the white male heteronormative patriarchy demands we live….given all that–do we really need a video on what one very narrow subset of men, who are in a privileged position, on your Facebook page requested from women?
I do care about men. I do care about their desires. I do care that they feel loved and supported. But watching your video felt like, once again, the voice of the oppressed parties was being bypassed in favor of giving voice to the already dominant voice of privileged men.
I felt pain in my heart for all women as I watched you talk about how men are craving women who move in a certain graceful way which you described and even mimicked it a little with your hands. It implied that this was better and more attractive. That this is what men want. That in and of itself implies men don’t want a woman who doesn’t move that way, or at least won’t be as happy or satisfied with her. Do you see how this is just acting like every other advertisement on TV telling us women that we should be more like this and not like that, in order to please a man’s personal preferences and sensibilities?
Do you see the colonization mentality in that?
My heart broke for women who don’t move this way and never will. Not all women are capable of moving that way. Not all women want to move that way. Not all women are interested in men. Some women want to be with women. Some want to be with both. Some want to just move however their body most naturally desires to move after being told for centuries by men that they should only move in a way that is pleasing to them. After they’ve had all of their wildness and power muffled and squeezed into an uncomfortable corset or a pair of painful stiletto shoes (designed by men, I might add).
And not all men feel that they are craving for women to move the way you described they should move. Some men are attracted to clumsy women, more masculine women, women who don’t know how to dance or move “gracefully” at all. I spoke with several men who watched this portion of your video and did not feel that a woman that moves the way you described is what they were craving at all. And not all men want women. Some men want other men, too. Some men want to be dominated by their partners. Some men want to be the one moving, “gracefully” as you described, instead.
In this way I feel your video reduces everything down into a heteronormative, black and white masculine/feminine model. And that is the model of the colonizer. It is not truly reflective of the immense variety of expression that is possible within the human body of both our masculine and feminine energies, our gender, our sexual orientation and so forth. The perspective you put forth, comes across as the perspective of the one that is in privilege and dominance in our society. I don’t say this unkindly, I just am not sure you see the subtle influence of this perspective in what you are saying in that part of the video and how it contributes to more “correcting” of women, more telling women that they are not enough.
When you said that men are like dogs and need to be trained by women, I also felt pain in my heart. First because I respect men too much to think of them as dogs. I have amazing men in my life and I would find it incredibly demeaning to their humanity (and their ‘manhood’) for me to assume they need me to train them or that I know better than them. I feel it would be degrading those men in my life to assume they are like a dog that I need to train. To me, that is looking down on a man and my desire is that the men in my life feel supported, uplifted and seen as the amazing men I know them to be. I desire this not just for the men in my life but for all the people in my life, period.
In addition, this request of yours for us women to help “train” you men like “dogs”, can be actually insulting. Back to the colonizer mentality, one of the things bell hooks taught me when I read that fateful essay many years ago, was that the colonizer, the dominant patriarch in society, will not only colonize you and force you to be the way they want you to be in order for you to get along with them, but then they expect you to, once they’ve participated in your suppression, teach them! To educate them in all the ways they are ignorant, after they’ve suppressed you. Imagine that!
It’s not the responsibility of the oppressed to educate the privileged. And while I know you yourself are not “all men” and you are an individual human being, while I know you may not personally run around suppressing women and other people, you do benefit from the privilege that arose from that suppression, whether you like it or not.
When you ask for women to help train men, without first insisting that you take personal responsibility for yourself, that you will be doing the bulk of the work to educate yourself on how not to accidentally use your privilege to continue the oppression of non-privileged groups in our society and understand beyond your male privilege perspective, you unknowingly are playing into the very suppression I am speaking about.
I would venture to say that, women, we’re happy to support our partners, but our partners should also be doing the work to show up fully present, work to undo the pain of male privilege that they unknowingly contribute to and take responsibility for uncovering their own blind spots, instead of expecting their partners who belong to the oppressed groups of society to educate them as if they were dogs.
Finally, we come to the last comment you made in your video.
You say “ You have every right to be angry AND now what do you want to create with us?“.
First, thank you for acknowledging the reality that there is a collective rage in the world due to the fact that the feminine has been violated, abused and suppressed in the worst ways by the dominant, male, heterosexual patriarchy. It felt really good to hear you acknowledge that, when for almost the entire video I felt you ignoring that and bypassing it. And that is really not something we can afford to ignore any longer when we enter into this type of discourse you started with your video, in this day and age.
But then almost as quickly you basically told me to get over it and just start anew with you already.
That hurt my heart even more for all of us, men included.
We do not get to bypass the rage and the abuse of the feminine and then ask “now what do you want to create?” especially when one is enjoying the privilege of being part of the dominant societal group that caused that rage and pain to begin with.
It is deeply dismissive to tell someone “yeah I know for centuries you have been abused, violated and hurt by the group of privilege I belong to and by the privilege I have enjoyed and am still enjoying by being up on this stage right now with a voice…but now I want to try something new so just get over it and start anew with me.”
In fact, Mr. Gentleman from the video, it is my opinion that the entire talk in the video cannot be complete when it is devoid of the real conversation–which is that all of these ways in which men disconnect from women, all of these ways men feel disconnected from themselves, all of the ways in which women are overly angry at men and needlessly take it out on them…all the ways in which we as human beings disconnect from our different selves….they all come down to this very thing–men have separated from the feminine within. And the white, male, heterosexual privilege archetype has separated from the internal feminine as well. To the point where all of us, men and women, have developed a fractured relationship with the feminine within all of us.
In short, when I saw so many women posting the video of your talk, I realized, even we the oppressed have been brainwashed into oppressing our own selves.
And that’s why we are all in this mess to begin with, you see.
There are centuries, oceans and mountains of rage within us all, within the whole world, because we all have oppressed and violated feminine energy within us and the world does too. And that collective rage (felt even more keenly by minority groups not in the colonizer/privileged position) is due to the fact that we have abused this feminine aspect of self for so long within and without.
It is an abuse that is rooted in the illusion that we are broken and need to be fixed. That is the wound the white, heterosexual, dominant patriarchy has left us all with when it removed its internal feminine and stopped acknowledging it by colonizing it. That is the wound that gets reopened and even more infected when we try to bypass it by saying, “okay I get it but hey let’s start anew”, it only makes the wound worse and more rageful.
In order for all of that pain and rage to be alchemized within women AND men, within the world, we have to sit with it. We have to sit in that shit.
Those in the privileged position who have unknowingly contributed to or benefited from that position, must sit with all of that anger and hold it. Witness it. Be with it. Instead of telling it to move on and make it go away because it is uncomfortable to sit with the death, anger and Kali energy that this collective rage brings up in all of us. We are still processing all of that rage and anger as a society. It’s not time to just say okay you’re angry, I get it, but come on over here and start something new and wave your hand in the air as if all of that pain and anger can be removed with that wave.
That tells me that actually, you don’t “get it”.
It must be acknowledged and held as part of the conversation between the masculine, feminine and all of humanity because there is a gift in memory. As many holocaust survivors will tell you, it is important to remember, so that it never happens again. So that we learn from it. So that we actually integrate and grow, vs. bypassing it, sweeping it under the rug with the wave of a hand and a two second acknowledgement and trying to start fresh from there.
Anyone who suffers a terrible trauma will tell you, they are never the same after that and never will be. That doesn’t mean they don’t make an empowered choice to create the life they do want after that and be happy and just stay in victim mode. But it also doesn’t mean one just can pretend they weren’t changed from the trauma. We will always be changed by it, this disassociation with the feminine, but we certainly can choose to not let it bring us down. We certainly can choose to rise from it, never forgetting, and build a new reality–not one that bypasses the old one, but one that honors it as it creates anew.
In essence, Mr. Gentleman from the video, this whole thing comes down to something that I’m not sure you see based on the content of your talk: the illusion of our brokenness. The truth is, if we believed we were whole, we wouldn’t need to suppress the feminine or any other minority which we do not understand.
The truth is if I view myself as whole, I don’t expect you to educate me on my blind spots, I actively seek out my blind spots and keep doing my internal work. I educate myself and don’t expect the oppressed to educate me as the privileged.
The truth is if we can start to see each other as whole beings, we won’t need to say things that imply that certain groups of people are more attractive when they move or act in a certain graceful way that is pleasing to a small subset of men that follow you on Facebook…and then make that universal truth in a video about what privileged men want.
The truth is, when we finally believe we are whole, we will accept and love people unconditionally exactly as they are, whether they move gracefully or not. We will encourage the flourishing and flowering of all human beings around us to be exactly who they desire to be, not who we desire them to be.
When we see ourselves and our fellow human beings as whole we will stop making lists of what they can do to fulfill our cravings and instead begin to fulfill our own cravings.
When we believe we are whole, we can sit with the collective rage and pain of the oppressed feminine in all of us and not feel so fearful of it that we have to bypass it and ask to create something “new” that ignores that pain. Instead we will witness the pain and also witness the love that surrounds all of that, always. We will be able to hold the beautiful paradox that it is to be a human on this planet. To find the connection and intimacy that comes from truly witnessing that pain and the flower that blooms from that pain.
When we stop believing we are broken, that what we crave or need lies outside of us we can arrive to the table with full hearts and nourished souls and give our best to each other. In that way we can truly show up for each other as equals. And in that way we can truly create more love and connection.
Which, I suspect, was your original intention. So, Mr. Gentleman of the video, I invite you to step into wholeness and see that one cannot talk about men’s issues in this day and age without acknowledging the huge elephant in the room that is male privilege and the suppression of the feminine in our world. One cannot make lists filled with emotional pleas about what the privileged want before making lists about what responsibility the privileged have to the oppressed in our society.
What would happen if instead of creating yet another list for women to please men with and using your privileged voice to give a voice to yet another privileged male position, you used those 10 minutes to give a voice to the suppressed feminine in all of us?
That is what I am pondering since watching your video.
Thank you for the initiation that it was to watch it.
Thank you for inspiring this article.
I hope that this lands, that this gives you an alternate perspective and that you can feel the love behind all of these words.