Mourning the Death of Hope for Men: The Sad Realization that All Feminists Must Face

They say there are stages of grief. It goes something like: Denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance. I’ve been through some different stages in my realization of what men are and their irredeemability. I lived in various states of denial for a long time, of course. It was only my own experiences,  which include being held at gunpoint and nearly being murdered by random men several years ago, which ultimately forced me out of denial.  This was only one of many life-threatening experiences I’ve endured at the hands of men, but it was the one that changed me the most. It’s the one experience that personally introduced me to Death. Specifically, my common sense coupled with an overwhelming fear – the kind of fear you’d feel if someone tried to shove you off a cliff! – of being in the company of males forced me out of denial about their true nature and their motives. Then, time alone and time for reflection gave me perspective on our situation as women and girls among male humans.

Still, I feel the different stages of something like grief. If not grief, then it is the fall out of so much trauma. Sometimes it manifests as nightmares in which I’m in a situation with men – sometimes men I once knew and the situation reflects some real horror from my past and sometimes it is men unknown to me. The situation is one of being held hostage and being forced to act, like an actress on a stage, in order to survive.

Sometimes late at night, I revisit the past in the same way other people do when they’re feeling nostalgic. I think about people I used to know and the dreams I used to have when I thought the world was a different kind of place and men were human like us.

Because of the Mormons I had always hated men. But, when I escaped the organization and did the de-programming, I threw out that hatred and decided to give men a chance. But, I really didn’t know much about them. My father hit me across the face once and told me, “I’m going to show you how men are going to treat you.” I had thrown that out, too, because I thought the bad men were just the ones I had known up to that point, particularly those associated with religion. I didn’t think, nor could I imagine and nor could anyone have told me in any credible way, that it is all of them. It’s too much for the mind to take. It has to come to you in your own time – like maybe on some dark day when you shake hands with Death because it’s fun for men to kill you and any life that is in you.

Since I lacked experience with men, I had selected one in particular that fit some sort of ideal image for myself of what a boyfriend should look like and be like. He was an emaciated, heavy metal version of a young Shaun Cassidy. I was 24-years old by then and I’d never had a boyfriend like a lot of other young women. I just never really liked men or masculinity. I was not attracted to them, especially white men, I think because these had been the men I had experienced the most abuse from. I didn’t know how different they really were and back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, long before anybody ever heard of “transgender,” there were men who looked very feminine in that they either had sort of feminine facial features or they paid a lot of attention to their grooming. Back then some men wore make up and spent a lot of money on their hair.

Those were the first kind of men I ever had anything to do with and I was always dismayed when I discovered that despite the eyeliner and compulsive hair-flipping, they were not quite right. There was something wrong with them. Of course, I thought it was me. I didn’t ask a whole lot out of relationships with men. Mostly, I just wanted friendship and a sense of safety and belonging, but repeatedly I got the opposite of that.

What’s interesting is I still think some of those guys weren’t as bad as the ones I ran into later – all of which I fell into a situation with because I had other men threatening me. Those men weren’t just sort of animal and not quite right, they were extremely violent and sadistic. One plotted for years to steal my identity, rob me, rape me, and try to destroy my relationship with my family. The femme long-hairs were angels by comparison to those men.

Tonight was one of those nights when I started thinking about those days. I don’t know what I really expected from men except that they were just people. I never wanted the things that girls and women are supposed to. Yet, I am disappointed because they are, in reality, such monsters. They rape at any opportunity. Just turn your back for a second and they will attack you if they have the chance. They always seem to be plotting, always calculating, what they can do to you and what they can get from you. Even in the most brief encounters I have with men, which I am forced into by the circumstances of life despite my best efforts to avoid them, I am aware that they are full of hate for me and for women, in general. I now know how their hatred manifests in the way they speak, the way they look at me, the way so many of them simply cannot talk to a woman they’ve never met before without rubbing on me and patting me and trying to slather their filth onto me.

I am at a very high level of acceptance of the facts about men and their hatred and filth, yet I still find myself returning to these old memories from time to time. I remember when I thought men were just like us but with penises and facial hair. It’s kind of like remembering when I used to believe in Santa Claus. It’s sad that there is no Santa Claus and men are what they are.