Men Stop Being Shitty for the Love of God: Men R Rude
Morgan Donohue 4.11.2019
When I was 17, my therapist bought pepper spray for me to take with me wherever I went.
What a strange thing for a therapist to buy for their client, right?
Prior to this, I had told her about two times in the same month that I had been followed around a public place by a man I did not know. The first was at the state fair, a strange man struck up a conversation with me, asking me for way too many personal details. When the conversation ended, and I walked away with my friend, I noticed the man following me around the vendor area. Up to this point, my friend had not noticed, and I had to alert her so we could get somewhere safe. We walked quickly out of the building and all the way to the other side of the fairgrounds before we were sure we lost him.
Earlier that same month, with the same friend, a man stood by his car waiting for us to pass so he could follow us into the grocery store. When we were afraid to leave the grocery store for fear that he would be waiting for us in the parking lot, we asked one of the employees to walk us to the car. The men at the register laughed at our fear, teasing us for the fact that we didn’t want to walk alone. The bagboy at the grocery store walked us to our car but did not take us seriously the entire time.
When I was 15 I was walking to Target from the mall with a different friend of mine. I strolled down the street, basking in the warmth of the sun, and a man yelled vile things at me from his car. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but there was definitely mention of his genitals and something about my hair. I continued down the street—no longer enjoying the day, but instead terrified of the man in the car.
I am 19 and trying to buy some groceries at Walmart. I pass a man who I think is just ‘adjusting’ himself in the frozen foods aisle as I walk past. I continue to go up and down the aisles and this man is moving the opposite direction. I see him a few more times as I walk through the aisles and he grabs his genitals through his pants each time we make eye contact. I abandon my grocery shopping and go to buy what I have in my hands. I am terrified the whole time I am walking back to my car. I lock the doors as soon as I get inside.
My friend rejects a boy that was interested in her and he very obviously follows her to the store. He stays parked in the parking lot of our apartment complex throughout the semester. We aren’t sure why he’s there.
I carry my pepper spray with me wherever I go, staying on my keychain no matter what I’m doing. The light pink tube of plastic functions as my peace of mind.
I crave nothing more than to be free of the stress that comes with going out alone as a woman. They teach us so many things to prevent us from being attacked. Don’t dress too slutty. Always travel in groups. Don’t get drunk at bars or parties. Always watch your drink. If someone asks for your number give him a fake one close to your own.
Why is the onus always on women to prevent the violence perpetrated against us? I am sick and tired of being afraid for my safety if I want to walk somewhere by myself. I’m tired of having to constantly be aware of myself and my surroundings. I have to have a plan to get out of sketchy situations. I hate that I have to worry about the safety of other women going out in the world.
Men don’t have to think about any of these things when they go out. Men can go out and dress however they want and get as drunk as they want, and they don’t have to constantly be thinking about the last time they saw their friends or if they left their drink unattended for too long. Men don’t have to always be on the defensive. Men are allowed to just exist.
I want to just exist. No constant worrying. Going about my business carefree and able to enjoy myself.
Men, please, do better. I know not all men are evil. But the evil ones are rarely reprimanded by those that are not. If you see someone being harassed or drugged or followed or assaulted, call them out. Don’t let them think it’s okay to behave like that. Especially when the perpetrator is your friend. If you see something happening and you do nothing to stop it, you are complicit. We need to work together to end violence and harassment against women, and you guys are gonna have to deal with the fact that it is the responsibility of men to dismantle the conventions put in place (by men) that allow this to happen. Hold yourself and others accountable for their shitty actions. Please.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
The Tolerance Paradox: An Essay
Morgan Donohue 3.21.2019
American politics and society grow increasingly divided every passing day. The topic of freedom of speech is brought up frequently and begs the question: to what extent should speech be free? Many of those on the left side of the political spectrum are looking towards the Tolerance Paradox to explain that certain ideologies are counter-productive to the betterment of society. Arguments against fascism, Nazism, and other alt-right ideologies are often padded with support for the Tolerance paradox.
But what is the Tolerance Paradox?
This philosophical concept came about after World War II and was coined by a philosopher named Karl Popper. Popper introduced the Paradox in his book The Open Society and its Enemies and described it as such:
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should, therefore, claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal. (Popper, 543-544)
Basically, we cannot tolerate intolerance if that intolerance threatens our society and those that live in it. To tolerate that intolerance is to allow for intolerance to take over the discussion and our society. What do I mean when I say intolerance? Intolerance in this context means ideologies that threaten the safety of others and the structure of our society. Specifically, I’m referring to the resurgence of Nazism and fascism in the US. The vigor with which Nazism and fascism are becoming popular stances is incredibly frightening and threatening to disrupt our society’s work towards social progress.
I sat down with my philosophy professor here at NMSU, Jean-Paul Vessel (henceforth referred to as J-P), and discussed the implications of the tolerance paradox. As a huge proponent for free speech, J-P aligns himself with the John Rawls approach to the paradox. Similar to Popper, Rawls thinks that there are cases in which free speech should be suppressed. Rawls, however, adds the stipulation that free speech should only when that intolerance threatens the integrity of society. “I’m attracted to that idea,” J-P states, “…so if the intolerant are going to engage in violent activities to suppress the tolerant, then Rawls thinks the intolerant should be-should not be tolerated. And that makes sense to me.”
A phrase often uttered by the alt-right is “So much for the tolerant left”. This is usually the response to backlash alt-right members receive when they are given a public platform. When Richard Spencer, the founder of the alt-right movement, was punched in the face while discussing his bigoted views on the news the alt-right’s motto essentially became that phrase.
“In the US, if you have some intolerant view that some religion or ethnic group doesn’t deserve federal programs afforded to all citizens, you’re permitted to say that or express that and its protected by first amendment freedom of speech,” J-P begins, “but if you acted upon it and you, y’know, if someone was going to the federal aid office and you shot them down or you restricted them physically that’s not going to be acceptable and Rawls says that kind of behavior can’t be tolerated under a just constitution.” I agree with J-P that freedom of speech is important to maintain, but there needs to be a standard set by us as a society that does not tolerate violent ideologies coming to the surface.
The problem with allowing Nazis and the alt-right to comfortable hold and spread these ideas is it fosters that hateful and bigoted mindset and helps it flourish. Over and over we see the alt-right committing violent acts against the groups that they spew vitriol towards, yet people still believe there can be a middle ground reached between the alt-right and normal people. Since 2014, “there have been at least 13 alt-right related fatal episodes” (Hankes and Amend, 2018). According to the same article, the majority of these attacks occurred in 2017. All of these people have been emboldened by alt-right public figures such as Richard Spencer, or Ben Shapiro.
All you centrists out there may be asking yourself: “How is the violence on the left different from the violence on the right? Violence is violence.” First off, instances, where the left have killed people in the name of left-wing ideologies, are nonexistent. In addition, there is a huge difference between the alt-right wanting to kill minorities merely for existing and the left using nonlethal violence to suppress an inherently violent and genocidal ideology. Also, refusing to take a side and preferring the ‘middle-ground’ in these instances might as well be showing your support for the alt-right. If you are not actively against the alt-right and white-supremacy, you are supporting them whether you think so or not. If you stay silent in the face of oppression, you support the side of the oppressor. Allowing atrocious ideas and actions to be carried out in the name of ‘centrism’ is the most spineless, cowardly position you could take, and I implore anyone who is currently in the center on this issue to reevaluate your morals.
As I was in the process of writing this post, the Christchurch shooting occurred in New Zealand. A white-supremacist walked into a mosque where people were practicing their faith and, according to CNN, slaughtered 50 people while 50 others remain injured. In the wake of this attack, in New Zealand and the UK alike, people are facing legal repercussions for saying ‘racially aggressive’ language that is responsible for the attack in the first place. When we look at tragedies such as this one, restricting bigoted and hate speech is the key to preventing any more.
If we want to live in a society where people are safe to freely live their lives without fear of being attacked or having their human rights stripped away from them, we need to be intolerant of intolerance. Everything that has gone on in the past several years, with the election of Trump (who I can only describe as white-supremacist adjacent until he actually outs himself as one) and the increasing number of alt-right members creeping into office, as well as other public spaces, has shown us that giving Nazis a platform to speak freely is what is causing our society to crumble into the terrifying mess it currently is.
With violent ideologies comes violent actions, and in order to stop the violent actions, we must suppress the violent ideologies. This is the reason Nazi symbolism is illegal in Germany, and America should strive towards that same standard.
In the words of Dead Kennedys: Nazi punks fuck off.
Confident yet Questioning: Struggling as a Bisexual
Morgan Donohue 3.7.2019
I’ve known that I’m bisexual since I was in the seventh grade. Though, at that time I was trying to ID myself as ‘bisexual heteroromantic’ because I was still struggling with compulsory heterosexuality and thinking that I was only romantically interested in men. I was only, like, 12 or 13 at that point, and I hadn’t fully developed in my sexuality yet.
Fast forward to sophomore year of high school. Growing more into myself, I began identifying as pansexual. I felt comfortable with this label, feeling it most accurately describing myself at the time. As the years went on, I began aligning myself more and more with the label of ‘bisexual’. This isn’t due to any change in my sexuality, I just began to identify more with the label and had an easier time explaining it to people (plus, the pride flag is prettier).
I deliberated over my sexuality for a few years in middle school and into high school. Questioning my attraction to different genders, I often wondered if my sexuality was valid or if I was just doing it for attention. I also asked myself the opposite, wondering if I was solely attracted to women and my attraction to men is another manifestation of compulsory heterosexuality.
For those that don’t know, compulsory heterosexuality is a term used to describe a common queer experience: in a heteronormative society being straight is the ‘default’ and we are all expected to fit that role. This can make it difficult for many queer people to understand their sexuality clearly. When we are expected to be attracted to the opposite gender, we can internalize that expectation and subconsciously falsify feelings towards people that we don’t actually have. This is why many lesbians and gay men think they are bisexual when they aren’t and why many bisexual people feel like they might be ‘faking it’. Compulsory heterosexuality is also a reason many people seem to think bisexuality is a stepping stone to being gay, when in reality it is its own sexuality.
Now, I’ve been in a relationship with a man for over a year now. He is wonderful, and I love him more than anything, but there is always a part of me that feels weird (for lack of a better term) for being in a ‘heterosexual’ relationship. Something inside me makes me feel like my sexuality isn’t valid because I’m dating a man, or I sometimes wonder if I’m lying to myself about my sexuality. I feel like I need to compensate by being louder about my queerness than I would if I were in a relationship with a woman. Desperately, I want my sexuality to be recognized and validated by those around me, but because of my relationship, my queer identity is hidden from public view.
I’m certainly not the only bisexual person who feels this way. Quite a few of my friends are bi as well, and they have expressed thoughts similar to my own. One of my friends, to whom I will refer to as Skeeter, says that generally, she is confident in her sexuality. When she goes home, however, she doesn’t feel safe talking about her sexuality and avoids the topic altogether. Skeeter has also had a journey to identifying as bi: first IDing as pansexual (wow me too), then thinking she was maybe a lesbian, but eventually settling on the labels of bi/pan to describe her sexuality. On that journey, there was also a period where “I kept dating boys. I wouldn’t stop dating boys. Boys, boys, boys, for like months. And I was thinking ‘well maybe I’m not as gay as I thought I was’, but that’s not true. It was just like, a period”.
Another of my friends, Scooter, has always known she’s bisexual. Out and proud since elementary school, she never really had to do the whole coming out thing. “I’ve always been ‘confident’ in myself,” she recounts, “and my sexuality is so tied to me.” Scooter never really had any reason to question her bisexuality; she attributes this to her acceptance of her current partner’s gender and her confidence in herself. Though she doesn’t experience much-internalized biphobia, she can see it in others. Scooter is passionate about positive bi representation and breaking stereotypes— both of which would be a step towards ending biphobia of all kinds.
When I try to talk about my attraction to girls with other people, they sometimes say things that affirm my feelings of invalidity. A while back I was talking to my brother and I said something about being queer and being attracted to women, and he said something along the lines of “but you’re dating a boy, so you can’t be that gay.” And I hear that more often than I’d like to from people. Even my boyfriend and parents say things like that sometimes. I know they don’t mean to hurt me, but it really sucks when people I care so much about invalidate my identity.
Hearing “you’re dating a boy and that’s not gay” when I’m still struggling to be 100% comfortable with my sexuality really bothers me. My relationship with a man does not make me any less queer. I am still attracted to women and that does not go away just because I am with a man. I will always be bisexual, and questioning my queerness is not going to change that. Any relationship I am in will be inherently queer, despite the gender of my partner, because I am queer. I didn’t choose a side, I chose a person.
I think a lot about my sexuality and the implications that come with being queer in a perceptively ‘straight’ relationship. It frustrates me to know that no matter how hard I try, there will always be people that want to invalidate my sexuality because of who I’m with. I have never been, nor will I ever be straight and being in a relationship with a man does not mean I “picked a side” or that my attraction to women was just a phase. My sexuality does not change because of who I am in a relationship with. I am mostly at the point where I am completely confident with my sexuality and who I am but being fully confident in myself is hard when the world doesn’t see me the way I see myself.
Existence: A Crisis
Morgan Donohue 2.21.2019
Walking across campus I am suddenly very aware of my presence: the way the air feels against my skin, the light shining in my eyes, the other people around me having similar and yet wildly different experiences, the fact that I am taking up real space and my physical being is the outward expression of myself. I know this feeling all too well and fight with myself to spur the oncoming existential crisis.
I often have moments like these—questioning my consciousness and sending myself into an existential tailspin. Questions such as “Why am I me?”, “Why do I have this consciousness in this body?”, “Why am I not in a different body?”, “Is my body me or just a vessel through which I express myself?” race through my mind and I get sucked into a hole that I have to dig myself out of.
Existentialism is not a new concept. Since the beginning of philosophy, we have been questioning the nature of our existence and contemplating what it means to be conscious. Existentialism as a philosophical term did not come about until around the 1930’s when many philosophers began to truly contemplate existence.
As existentialism is not a new concept, it is certainly not unique to my experience either. Internet culture is ripe with existential ideations and many of my friends experience crises around their consciousness on the regular. When I was talking to people about existentialism in preparation for writing this post I found that a lot of the thought processes are very similar in their formation. Myra, my editor (and friend), says that when she gets contemplative about her existence she thinks about “how small I am in this world that doesn’t care about me”, and I could not be more on the same page.
Thinking about my purpose in this world and where I fit into the bigger picture, I wonder if there is truly something intended for me by the universe or if everything is the product of complete and utter chaos. These thoughts fill me with anxiety but for Zane, the Production Manager here at KRUX, there’s comfort in knowing that things are so much bigger. “[Its] not that I don’t matter, but like things could be worse. Now when I think about my problems I try to go more existential and think about how it could be worse.” Using that mindset to put things in perspective is not something I had considered.
When we consider the nature of our existence, there are so many ways that we can choose to think about it. This could come in the form of understanding that we are at the will of the universe and having to live with the knowledge that we don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like Myra, or it could come in the form of using that knowledge as an empowering force that puts our experiences in perspective, like Zane.
Much like Myra, I struggle to deal with the fact that I am so small and so powerless in this universe. I want to understand what happens when we die, where our consciousness goes, how I fit into the grand scheme of it all. I know that I’m not alone in these thoughts, and it is comforting to know that other people are struggling to understand their place in this chaotic mess. At the end of the day we all want to answer the question “Why am I here?”. Even though it’s the reason for my abundance of existential crises, we may never know the answer.
We have to be okay with that.
Adulting is Boring
Morgan Donohue 2.14.2019
Why is there so much pressure to “grow up”? Why can’t we retain some of our childhood whimsy?
- Culture of rushing into maturity
- Pressure to get rid of anything “childish” in favor of being considered “adult”
- Children wanting to look and be treated like full grown adults—leads to grooming (idk if I should talk about this)
- Adults expected to refrain from enjoying anything considered “childish”
- Cartoons, toys, stuffed animals, cute things, etc
- I am NOT talking about adult babies (not to kinkshame but like ew)
- Going beyond teenage “I’m grown now I can make my own decisions”
- FOMO in the form of wanting to be considered grown up
- Childrens clothing emulating teens and adult clothing—sexualizing children
- Too much pressure to succeed, not enough focus on being a kid
- Too much pressure to be successful for adults as well, and with the growing income inequality its harder to find time for leisure
My best friend in high school told me that, when she was around eight years old, she threw out all her stuffed animals because she felt like she had to “grow up”.
When I was in middle school, I begged my mom to let me start wearing makeup—I just wanted to be cool and “mature” like all the other girls I saw wearing makeup around me.
Nowadays my 16 year-old brother makes fun of me for doing or enjoying anything he deems to be childish or dumb.
We all go through a phase where we think we are getting too old to enjoy the things we love, and subsequently, want to make drastic changes to ourselves in an attempt to grow up and fit in.
I know I definitely went through that phase when I was in middle school: I was absolutely one of those “I’m so cool and mature I listen to classic rock” kids for a little while. Or at least I tried to be. The thing was, I wasn’t really into classic rock like that. I was just desperate to seem “mature” while still retaining some individuality (in what might have been the most cliché way possible).
Despite my attempts to emulate adult maturity through makeup and my music choices, I was still a child and that was not going to change no matter how I acted, looked, or thought about myself.
Now that I’m almost 20 (which really isn’t that old in comparison but like whatever) I know that it’s okay to hold onto some of that child-like whimsy and enjoy things many people would consider childish. I am not ashamed to say that I still love to watch cartoons (like did y’all watch the new She Ra? Damn) and I still sleep with the stuffed animal I’ve had since I was 4.
I’m not ashamed of these things and yet I get nervous to tell people about my bunny because I don’t want to be perceived any differently than I already am.
But I love all things cute and dorky and the idea that just because I’m considered “grown” means that I have to sacrifice things that I love in the name of “maturity” is bogus. Life is too short to be worried about whether or not your hobbies and interests are mature enough in the eyes of other people. That isn’t to say there’s not a more insidious side to this maturity culture, however.
There is immense pressure on us to grow up as fast as we can. Once we start middle school, we are desperately trying to find somewhere to fit in. Thanks to pop culture, that pressure to grow up and fit in is all-encompassing: especially since we have unlimited access to social media and other areas of the internet.
Social media bombards us with images and ideas that we feel like we need to emulate in order to fit into society. You might say “Oh it’s just social media how harmful is it actually?” but you would be surprised the effects that influencer culture is having on today’s kids. Most obviously this is seen in children barely hitting puberty feeling as though they need to wear a full face of makeup in order to look presentable.
Why are kids going to middle school with a full beat face? The makeup I wore in middle school was like some shitty black eyeliner in my waterline, some ELF eyeshadow, and some mascara.
Not only are middle schoolers (and younger) wearing layers of makeup to school, the clothes they are being sold are trying more and more to mimic the fashion of teenagers and grown women.
Because of social media and the pressure to grow up and conform to the standards set by our peers and celebrities, children are becoming more and more sexualized by the makeup and fashion industries. And when these girls are told they need to act older than they are, creepy men take advantage of their need to fit in and be mature. I don’t know about you, but it creeps me out that men (and women) are using this culture as an excuse to be gross and we certainly shouldn’t be letting them.
Obviously, growing up is a part of life. But why rush the inevitable? Let kids be kids for as long as they can because the adult world really isn’t very fun anyway. They shouldn’t have to be afraid of being themselves and growing at their own pace (rather than the one society is telling them is acceptable).
Beyond that, you shouldn’t feel obligated to give up every last trace of your childhood for the sake of maturity. Sleep with your stuffed animal, cry over your favorite cartoons, paint your room funky colors, don’t be afraid to set boundaries for adult things that make you uncomfortable. The best part of growing up is being able to do all the things you wanted to as a kid but didn’t get to. Life is too short not to be enjoyed—no matter how you want to enjoy it.