Unpopular Opinion: Let’s Stop Calling Men Trash

One STELLAR writer on why the term can actually do us more harm than good

“Men are trash”, it’s a phrase we’ve slurred over a glass of wine as we read the latest news in the evening, or anger typed into the group chat after one of the girls has been let down. Used as an umbrella term to encompass all of our feelings of dismay, frustration, and anger towards the actions of men. It’s a rally cry, in a post-me-too era women finally have the power to call out men for the ‘trash’ that their actions can be, and it feels empowering, no male is safe from our wrath, we declare war. 

I should probably preface this by saying that I myself have been a big partaker in casual misandry. With an estranged relationship from my Dad peppering my distaste for men from an early age, I’ve spent much of my teenage and young adult years being leered at by strange men on my way home from school or work, slapping male hands away from body parts in nightclubs, and picking up the pieces of my friend’s lives after a boy has seen it fit to trample all over their hearts.

I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the damage a male can do to a woman’s being, and for that reason, I categorised them all as garbage.

In recent years, Facebook has begun to censor ‘men are trash’ posts, branding them as hate speech, and we’ve seen the hashtag #notallmen trend on Twitter during multiple moments of female outrage. Do I subscribe to the ‘not all men’ subset of the Internet? Hell no, I’m simply playing devil’s advocate here and saying that while not all men are great, maybe not all of them are trash either. 

I’m a feminist, and at its most basic understanding, feminism is the advocacy of equality of the sexes. So, do I make a very good feminist when I tweet that the only thing men have is the audacity? No, probably not, to be fair. I do actually care about men’s rights just as deeply as I care about women’s. Granted,  there are far less rights for me to be concerned with, but things like men’s mental health and tackling toxic masculinity are issues still very close to my heart.

By lumping all men, the good, bad, and the ugly, into one group labelled ‘trash’, I’m actually probably just doing myself and fellow women more damage than I am men.

This is because when I call men bad, or trash, I’m actively participating in a culture I also want to dismantle. I’m accepting the patriarchy for what it is, and admitting defeat to some of its worst products. In the end, it comes down to being a decent, or a shitty human. Men and women, on the whole, are socialised differently from the second they enter the world.

Men are not inherently shitty, nor are women inherently amazing either, it just so happens that shitty behaviour is tolerated amongst young boys much more than it is young girls. Thus resulting in the upholding of the patriarchy as said men grow from being little shits, into big ones. By damming men as pigs, I’m throwing in the towel and affirming toxic masculinity, and worse than that, I’m also probably preventing some willing men from becoming my ally, because why would you listen to the angry woman who hates you without even knowing you?

For a long time, I worried that should I choose to have children someday in my future, what would I do if I had boys? I’m a girl’s girl through and through,

But, if they were my boys, they’d be deadly. Feminists before they’d even grown fingernails. They would respect and value women because I would be sure to make them aware of their inherent privilege, and they would be allies to all those deemed ‘less worthy’ by society, because if they didn’t, they’d have their Ma to answer to.

They would be far from trash, and I feel guilty for lumping all of the lovely men in my past, present, and future with that label. I have positive interactions with men every single day, whether it’s my boyfriend sending me a sweet text, or the postman stopping to chat with me for a few minutes. So no, not all men are ‘trash’, I mean, some of them have questionable behaviour, to put it mildly, but some are also very willing to call out said shitty behaviour. Here’s to the good men out there, may we know them, may we see them, and may we raise them. And also, may we get them on our side to take down this damn patriarchy, once and for all.