Greetings delighted readers, welcome to the latest issue of Taylor Talks Back; today we’re talking about something different then what I’ve addressed in the past, so if you’re one of the readers who hangs out for my expert political analysis or commentary on current events you may wish to re-read one of my earlier articles. Today, we’re talking about abuse; in particular we’re talking about abuse as it relates to yours truly. I’ve wanted to write this article for a while, tackling this issue has been a little difficult due to a particular social stigma and it’s probably not what you’re thinking.
See, whenever the subject of men being abused is brought up the immediate assumption by the general public is that’s it men abusing other men and of course the follow up to that is “men don’t want to talk about it, because of ‘toxic masculinity’”. I’m going to address that right now; bullshit! I have been physically abused by men, my older brother the raging drug addict and criminal was not fussed with being a physically violent asshole. Yes, he was an asshole, assholes like to hit people, it’s a thing that they do.
So if I’m not bothered at all by 1.) Admitting that I was the victim of physical assault from another man and 2.) Worried about my masculinity being called into question (seriously, I wear the tightest jeans on the planet, routinely colour my hair and dominate karaoke bars), who was abusing me? And what was the stigma? Well, it was a handful of specific women. This may come as a big surprise to a lot of people but there are women in the world who are abusive, I know right now your world is crumbling at the very thought of this, but it is true. So certain women, on the whole, have been more abusive towards me than men and while there have been some abusive men in my life the big difference I’ve noticed is that women who have abused me have been in positions of power and authority, comparatively men have either been a sibling or peers.
So that’s out of the way, let’s talk stigma; the stigma I’ve found regarding men being abused has nothing at all to do with what other men say, instead it’s a culture of apologist behaviour and victim blaming. This is particularly ironic because victim blaming and apologists are usually associated with sexual assault and yet this exact same phenomenon is mirrored when it comes to men being abused. I’ll give you an example: I’m an educator, I work in education and quite recently I got to witness this phenomenon in person; a young boy at the school I was working at was punched in the back of the head by a female student. Said student then ran off to her friends and they all laughed, the male student approached a nearby female teacher told her what happened and the response he received was “Well you must’ve done something to deserve it”. Now in this instance the young man was lucky that I saw this go down and proceeded to address the situation properly. I probably won’t be getting invited to that teacher’s birthday party any time soon, but it was the right thing to do.
The reality is that the situation I just described has parallels in every school across this country, every day. I can vouch for that with my own experiences in high school; I had female teachers instinctively decide that I was at fault in any given situation, even when I had done nothing wrong. I was not the confident person writing this article today, I was so shy and awkward that Michael Cera would’ve been jealous of me. This is a problem affecting young men the world over, when you are a shy and socially anxious person it’s very easy to be bullied. The issue here is that when you’re a man or in this case a boy and you find yourself on the receiving end of bullying, whether that’s from a female peer or a woman with some level of authority the immediate reaction you will get from men and women, indiscriminately, is that you’re making it up or that it isn’t really an issue. This can cause serious psychological harm, I mean I’m a qualified psychologist I actually can say that and you legally will have to get two other psychologists to come and disagree with me before you can challenge that statement.
The point of this piece isn’t to blame certain things for causing this issue, but simply to address the reality of the situation; this is a real problem, it’s happening on a global scale and no one actually cares that it is going on, it’s sort of just considered a non-issue. So when people say that the reason men don’t want to talk about their feelings because of “toxic masculinity” or some other non-scientific term you picked up from a Jezebel article, all you’re really doing is reinforcing the very problem. Men aren’t worried that their manhood is going to be questioned they’re not afraid of what other men will say; they’re afraid of being called liars. I can sit here right now and tell you about the time I was five, I had a school teacher who repeatedly called me retarded, I went home and told my mom and she sent me to school in a different country. That’s a thing that happened; I have the documentation to prove it. I could talk about the teacher I had in third grade who would routinely bully a number of male students, going so far as to throw things at them and you’ll read that and you won’t believe me, but it happened. Years later she threw something at the wrong person, the child of a politician, needless to say she ended up losing her job but the fact that it took that for it to be addressed is kind of ridiculous.
I can give other examples; the teacher I had in 7th grade who took great delight in belittling me for having a different accent, having just moved countries. The various women I’ve met who tell me that simply because I’m from Texas I am inherently a member of the KKK and hate everyone who isn’t Christian. These are all things that have happened, are happening and will continue to happen until people get over this narrative of men being evil, monsters who never do anything but harm all others around them.
Women can bully men, women do bully men. This isn’t meant to serve as a condemnation of all women as evil bullying dictators, nor is it supposed to exonerate every man ever from doing awful things. The reality is that there are good and bad people, that’s just how it is, but maybe, just maybe if the next time a man comes to you and says they’re being treated poorly by a woman, try listening instead of jumping to the conclusion that they’ve done something wrong to bring it on themselves. It took me 20 years to address this issue, because I genuinely felt that if I came forward and spoke about it, I would be called a liar, I would be called sexist and all sorts of other horrible things. That happened by the way; there are plenty of people who are absolutely insistent that none of these things happened or that if they did I caused them to happen. My experience isn’t isolated either; I currently operate a men’s health seminar twice a month and the stories coming from a large number of teenage boys and young adult males are the same one’s your hearing here, people being abused and being told that they brought the abuse on themselves.
I think it’s time we got over this idea of men being these soulless animals that desire nothing more than violence and sex at any given time. This attitude is literally the reason why last year 2184 men killed themselves, just in Australia. Did you hear about that one? See any news reports? Did the Prime Minister come out and say “hey, maybe we should do something about this”? Of course they didn’t silly, men don’t really have problems, didn’t you get the memo?
If you’re a man or a woman who’d like to share stories of mental health challenges contact Taylor Talks Back at firstname.lastname@example.org