On male entitlement

Drunk men trashing an Ikea store as their way of celebrating their nation’s football team winning a match. In any other circumstance we’d call this vandalism. Not for these men, though. It’s just harmless fun. They’re singing songs and fluffing pillows. They’re just happy. Let these men have their fun and enjoy this moment, it doesn’t happen often!

A Twitter conversation where one man tells another man he’s been sexually assaulted in a club. The second man congratulates him for being assaulted and for being fondled by a woman! The first man is stunned at such a response.

A man recounts his experience of hanging out with two women friends on a celebratory night out. Multiple events converge. A march celebrating LGBT community. England winning their match. Drunk men forcibly and threateningly talk to women demanding their attention. The drunk men don’t see it as wrong. They just want to have sex you see. Not because they’re necessarily horny or aroused, but because we’ve built this culture where if you win at something you’re meant to be sexually rewarded. And the friends of the drunk men don’t try and stop their friends. They laugh and encourage them to keep trying to forcibly have the attention of women.

A group of drunk men smash an Uber taxis windscreen. They’ve just won an important football match you see. So the only other outlet if they can’t have sex is to be violent. It’s an urge. A visceral one. So fuck your need to make a living, their male entitlement to celebrate any fucking way they want to means there won’t be any consequences.

Every one of those incidents is a step away from being further violent and damaging property, getting into fights, or raping women.

And no, this isn’t all men. It’s a problem in the UK of alcoholic men. That when they get so drunk, they lose all sense of control and defer to base human behaviour. Their cognitive and rational abilities inhibited, they can’t be responsible for their actions when in that state, can they?

And yes some women do this, it just happens to be men who do this behaviour more, because that’s how they’re groomed to behave. You go out in groups, get drunk in groups, support the group in whatever they do, and never challenge the group if they choose a morally ambiguous path.

But who cares about those things when all you’re doing is getting drunk with friends and having a good time?

On social media is where we see reinforcement of this behaviour happen far too regularly. Many men and women will go out of their way to say things like – Ikea should have shut their store knowing the match was being played on that day. That the women shouldn’t have been going drinking where there are large groups of men present (the need for women safe spaces anyone?). That ambulances shouldn’t attempt to drive through large crowds of drunk people.

Because fuck blaming the perpetrators and shining the spotlight on their behaviour. We have to blame the victims and make sure they feel responsible for what happened to them. That’s all manners of fucked up. You cannot blame someone for being attacked because of the victim.

Each and every time we dismiss male drunken behaviour and their agency as men, we entitle men everywhere to continue with these kinds of dangerous and aggressive behaviour.

It is entirely possible to celebrate and have immense fun without needing to cause damage, be sexually aggressive towards women (or to men), be violent, or any other kind of damaging and harmful behaviour. If you want to get so drunk you become a lout, that’s fine, just don’t be surprised if you act in one of the ways mentioned and get into trouble for them.

It is entirely possible to help boys and men understand how to manage their emotions in healthy ways which don’t need them to have to turn to unhealthy and violent behaviours.

For the sake of clarity, I am very glad England are through to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. It’s an amazing achievement and Gareth Southgate has shown a level of leadership in this sport at a national level we’ve rarely experienced before.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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