As the new year approached, Huffington Post editor Emily McCombs tweeted that her resolutions for 2018 are to “cultivate female friendships” and “band together to kill all men.” She subsequently deleted the tweet and protected her account, but Internet Archive preserved it.
McCombs is a founder of the feminist site xoJane.com, and moved on from there to editorial director of the Huffington Post parenting section, which presumably is aimed at parents of both females and males. In another irony, McCombs is the mother of a son, whom presumably she neither wants to kill now or when he grows to be a man:
Now, look: We all say stupid stuff. This might have been just a random stupid comment unthinkingly posted on Twitter. That does indeed seem to be the bulk of Twitter postings, and I’m certainly not guiltless in that regard. Like all of us, I’ve said lots of stuff I regret as jokes, stupid asides, and serious statements, especially to the people I love most. But that doesn’t make the stupid or cruel stuff okay.
Just as we all can agree that I should not tell anyone “I’m going to kill you” even if I never actually mean it and am just expressing foolish rage that the toddler covered the couch in Sharpie, we should all also be able to agree that anti-male statements and actions are ultimately bad for us all. It is not okay to target men simply for being men. This is a basic concept important to courtesy and respecting the human dignity of all people equally.
It’s More Acceptable to Disrespect Men Today
It’s also an opportunity to think through the reality that many people, particularly those at the commanding heights of Western culture, seem to maintain a double standard about acceptable behavior towards men versus women. I’m not talking about sensible variation in treatment based on sex, such as putting the women and children on the lifeboats first, expecting women to be the primary nurturers of young children, or sending exclusively men to the front lines. I’m talking about the fact that the fauxrage would be a lot higher had McCombs instead written “band together to kill all women.”
Remember, Mitt Romney described his desire to hire qualified females as reviewing resumes in “binders full of women” and lefty types still frame that as some sort of anti-woman statement, even though it is not only not even slightly offensive but actually displays a pro-woman preference. Then there is the incessant escalation of made-up grievances against men, such as “mansplaining,” “manspreading,” and criminalizing compliments. It doesn’t happen to women socially in the same way.
Men are frowned at for complaining or laughing about women being “naggy b-tches,” even if such observations happens to be accurate about the intended object, although women are apparently so free to say equally hurtful things about men as a group that it’s an old TV and movie cliche. We excuse or ignore when wives make fun of or degrade their husbands in public to a far greater extent than we would if it were the husbands making the same comments (at least my social circle does). We’re supposed to be all huffy about the fact that working wives still do the bulk of housework while entirely ignoring that working husbands do the bulk of the yardwork and car and home maintenance. It’s asymmetrical.
This Disparity Affects Serious Injustices, Too
Outside relative trivialities such as these are asymmetrically applied standards for all manner of crimes, as well as economic opportunities. Four times — that’s 400 percent — as many college scholarships are designated for women as for men, even though a smaller percentage of men earn college degrees at all levels today. Men receive 63 percent longer criminal sentences than women do for committing the same crimes, and if convicted women are twice as likely to avoid incarceration, according to research from the University of Michigan Law School. Single women in cities now outearn their male counterparts.
This asymmetry on occasion leads to major injustices, something happening right now to University of Arizona Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguex, if his version of events is accurate. A mere woman’s allegation against him, which investigation has so far found no evidence for, he says, and has certainly not led to a guilty sentence in a court of law, has led to him losing his high-profile job and possibly career.
Folks who read publications like this have surely seen similar statistics and outrage incidents many times. My goal is not to grievance-monger on the men’s side to counter grievance-mongering on the women’s side. Since men and women are indeed different biologically, as groups they will have different challenges and successes, and that fact is not necessarily unjust. My goal is to point out that deliberately targeting one sex about things that have nothing to do with our innate biological differences and capacities is unfair and inaccurate. This is so regardless of whether laws keep women from inheriting family property or driving cars simply because they are women, or whether the military lowers its physical standards for female recruits to achieve artificial sex quotas.
Your Sex Does Not Automatically Make You Bad or Good
Weaponizing either sex will do nothing to solve human problems. It in fact only makes things worse. What we all really need to do is let the grievances go. We need to return to objective criteria for good and bad behavior that apply equally despite a person’s sex, rather than our current culture’s subjective array of one-upsmanship ammunition.
Although it seems ridiculous that it is necessary to say this, being a man or a woman does not make you inherently bad nor inherently good. Neither all men nor all women need to be targeted for the sins of some. That’s unjust. The people proven to have done something evil should themselves face appropriate consequences for their actions. Those who have not been proven to have done something evil should not live in fear or under suspicion because they happen to share immaterial characteristics with evildoers. In other words, just because more men have raped women, it does not follow that all men are likely rapists and on for that reason deserve to die or be marginalized.
It is of course easier to believe that we all deserve — nay, WILL HAVE — some good thing without having to earn it. That’s the basis of identity politics and grievance-mongering: thieving reputation, authority, economic resources, and whatever other stuff people find desirable but do not wish to put in the hard work to earn. But this is, quite simply, a mark of low character. It’s a sign of at best immaturity, at worst diabolical power manipulation.
Now, we all have peccadilloes. We all do bad things from time to time, even if our norm is good behavior. But a person of honorable character is properly ashamed when she displays an aberration from a respectable norm. Instead of seeking to hide her shame in brazen marches, p-ssy hats, and increased vulgarity, she admits the truth, humbly seeks to make amends, and works to do better in the future. Admitting you were wrong is a display of virtue.
Emily McCombs hiding her rude tweet was at least a tacit expression of this, and for that deserves a bit of praise. We all should follow suit, frequently, and in bigger ways. We should judge people as individuals on the basis of their own actions, not group them for the purpose of placing ourselves above them because we have low self-esteem. Only the humility to acknowledge truth leads to reconciliation, whether in our tiresome war between the sexes or any other.