This is my sixth decade as a human, as a white, straight male.
Here I want to attempt confession, possibly seeking greater understanding, but fully aware of the huge complexities of making these claims, raising these personal struggles in the context of my many privileges.
I am treading lightly but committed to rise above the problematic satire of Ben Folds’ “Rockin’ the Suburbs”—which both speaks to me and makes me cringe:
Let me tell y’all what it’s like Being male, middle-class, and white It’s a bitch, if you don’t believe Listen up to my new CD
My formative years over the 1960s and 1970s were spent in the redneck South. Just as I was reared to be a racist, I was taught very clearly to objectify women, even as that was tempered in my immediate family by direct and indirect messages about respecting and loving females.
Growing up, I was a Mama’s boy, I was very close to my sister (my only sibling), and I had strong and warm relationships with aunts and my maternal grandmother.
As a so-called pre-sexual boy, then, I genuinely learned to feel deep and healthy affection for females—to whom I have always been drawn more strongly than any male bonds.
As a teen, however, I was significantly enculturated into objectifying women, sowing the seeds for potentially behaving in ways that fed into and participated in predatory masculinity and even the various degrees of rape culture.
My classroom was, at first, superhero comic books and then soft-core pornography (such as Playboy and Penthouse)—but the wider popular culture was always reinforcing the worst possible models for how men treat women.