One of the more curious crops this summer has been a root cellar’s worth of entitled men to deal with. Just to make it clear, they are not all now in a root cellar, although it’s a charming idea. Some I’ve had to deal with directly, some I’ve supported friends as they tried to deal with, and saw a lot of the trouble caused. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Entitled men – men who believe they are entitled to a great many things they are certainly not entitled to – are fond of making women responsible for things – usually for things said women have no control over. We are to provide unconditional love and support and ask for nothing in return (Gods help us if we do ask) and they are free to act in any way they like and consider themselves blameless and free of all consequences. They get really cranky when we don’t go along with this.
Most particularly, there’s been a theme of making women responsible for male feelings about the female body. We however, are accused of massively sexualising everything, by existing. We are weird, too tactile and not tactile enough. We’re sending out mixed messages even when we say ‘no’ clearly and repeatedly. How the entitled men feel about our bodies is some kind of unassailable truth about what we are, and our responsibility. If we can’t just suck that up we’re mean and unreasonable and in some sort of conspiracy to be horrible to them.
Male entitlement to female care and attention, to female emotional labour, has been a repeated theme this summer. Entitled men dismissing any female emotional response that wasn’t wanted as irrational and unreasonable has gone alongside this. There is no space allowed for women to be people. Entitled men feel entitled to occupy all the ‘person’ space and make the women around them into props, trophies, punch bags, and other non-person things. We don’t get to have needs or feelings, and we’re also expected to be ok with that.
The only answer to this is to walk away. We’ve all wanted there to be other answers, but when you don’t get a vote, asking for change is pointless. This has been really interesting too. I’ve watched other women dealing with this, and seen how guilty and responsible they feel. How they feel like they owe it to the entitled man to see the best in him, give him another chance, be kinder and more understanding. I’ve felt that too, where I’ve been dealing directly. And yet, when I see female friends dealing with this, it is clear to me that they owe nothing and cannot possibly be responsible for what’s going on. I can see how harmful entitled men are to the women around me where it’s hard to see what that does to me. It is through supporting each other that we are best able to overcome the pressure to give the entitled men what they think they are entitled to.
I also see how tough this is for the guys who would never do this kind of shit. How they too can be pushed about and badly treated by men with entitlement issues. How uncomfortable it can be for them squaring up to the issue of male entitlement in action. I note that the men with entitlement issues have made the most noise this summer and sucked up a disproportionate amount of energy and attention, but they are not the majority. It’s in their interests to persuade us that all men are like them, because then there’s even less reason to challenge them. The entitled men of this summer were a small minority of the men I had dealings with this summer. I won’t be dealing with them again, and perhaps in time, if enough people of any and all genders refuse to be persuaded by their self-entitlement, they will realise that it isn’t acceptable behaviour.