Why I’m Not Saying “Men Are Trash” Anymore (or at least going to try)

Enter any bar on a Friday night, in most countries in the world, and you can probably find a group of women talking about, and I’m paraphrasing here, men are trash. I used to do it all the time, and still do (most often in bar bathrooms). But I’m going to be cutting back.

While “men are trash” is a comforting platitude, its lack of nuance is actually harmful. It’s the grown-up version of “boys will be boys.” By saying “men are trash” (henceforth abbreviated to MAT), we are saying that’s in their nature to be violent, abusive, harmful etc. Men are not intrinsically bad. It’s being socialized in a culture of toxic masculinity that makes them who they are. Which means that it’s actually possible for them to stop being trash!

Not saying MAT doesn’t mean we should not be critical of cis men. Rather, it holds them accountable for their actions as people who have an obligation to learn, grow, and better themselves. And not to sound apologistic, but calling someone trash is rarely a helpful way to get them to change their behavior. I mean, men definitely need to work on their communication skills in general, but when it comes to telling another person how their behavior was wrong and hurtful, blanket statements aren’t helpful. “Men are trash” is the end of a conversation, not the beginning.

Obviously, this rule isn’t hard and fast. There are rapists, abusers, murderers who do not deserve the dialogue the alternative to “men are trash” presents. They’re just bad people. And I’m not going to tell other women/femmes/NB folks to stop saying it either. Because, yes, it’s not a helpful segue, but “men are trash” is often cathartic and a way to explain a kind of hurt or frustration that others intrinsically understand. I’m not going to tell other people how to process their pain.

You may just not see tweeting it any time soon.

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