#TimesUp On Criminalizing Masculinity

All this LMNOP ish is an attack on heterosexual men and specifically Indigenous men….

Terry Crews revealed a #MeToo moment of his own earlier this year. While he became the butt of many jokes, some of us took heed of what he said and thought about our lives. Were their times we were touched as we were younger and ignored it despite feeling comfortable? The touch usually came from a family friend, friend, relative, respected person in the community and the person wasn’t always a male.

The #MeToo movement has raised many eyebrows on the silence of sexual assault with the ‘keep your mouth shut, who will believe you anyway’ culture. Seeing someone in the physique and phenotype like Crews demonstrated that even people who look like him are vulnerable. Many would have thought Crews would have been a spokesperson for male victims of sexual assault, but instead he decides to get on the simp train like so many other black men to thinking they are helping the cause of ‘poor, helpless women.’ We don’t subscribe to that narrative around here.

During a recent women’s conference, Crews called masculinity a cult. He recalled his NFL days where he and others would go to strip clubs. He said the following.

“Masculinity can be a cult. When slaves were yelling about being hurt, the master would lack empathy. We have men who are in this cult as we have men who don’t look at women as human. This is humanity as we have many men who think women are here for them. I’m guilty as I believe that because being a man I was more valuable than my wife and other women in my life. I remember going to the strip club and seeing the strippers who would begin to talk about their lives, and we would cut them off citing you’re becoming too real. I want you to sit there and be an object.”

Of course, like many other social justice warriors, he’s speaking from personal narrative, and we don’t discount the experiences of anyone but let’s break down the root of his comments. First, masculinity is not a cult. In fact, black men are viewed as threatening in society and with Crew’s muscular complexion, he fits the bill.

We have studies that prove this. A recent University of North Carolina study reported after analyzing over one million stop and frisk records from the New York Police Department and conducting two different studies; the team concluded that being taller is not advantageous for black men. The study reports being taller increases threat stereotyping and the increases the likelihood and being stopped by police.

A 2014 American Psychological Association study concluded that black boys as young as ten might not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.

Researchers tested 176 police officers, mostly white males, average age 37, in large urban areas, to determine their levels of two distinct types of bias — prejudice and unconscious dehumanization of black people by comparing them to apes. To test for discrimination, researchers had officers complete a widely used psychological questionnaire with statements such as “It is likely that blacks will bring violence to neighborhoods when they move in.” To determine officers’ dehumanization of blacks, the researchers gave them a psychological task in which they paired blacks and whites with large cats, such as lions, or with apes. Researchers reviewed police officers’ personnel records to determine the use of force while on duty and found that those who dehumanized blacks were more likely to have used force against a black child in custody than officers who did not dehumanize blacks. The study described the use of force as takedown or wrist lock; kicking or punching; striking with a blunt object; using a police dog, restraints or hobbling; or using tear gas, electric shock or killing. Only dehumanization and not police officers’ prejudice against blacks — conscious or not — was linked to violent encounters with black children in custody, according to the study.

Another research piece came out in 2017, concluded that black girls are also looked at less childlike. In the same year, the APA also conducted a study where black men are deemed as a threat.

People tend to perceive black men as more massive and more threatening than similarly sized white men, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Unarmed black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” said lead author John Paul Wilson, Ph.D., of Montclair State University. “Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of black males that do not seem to comport with reality.”

Wilson and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments involving more than 950 online participants (all from the United States) in which people were shown a series of color photographs of white and black male faces of individuals who were all of equal height and weight. The participants were then asked to estimate the height, weight, strength and overall muscularity of the men pictured.

Crews comments and those who support him are all wet and full of personal anecdote. Too often, we see former playboys, retired womanizers and ladies men putting on the male feminist hat to be the voice who dares to question and challenges masculinity as a man. Just stop! These opinion-based, factless conversations are not creating any substantive dialogue in the communities.

Dr. Tommy J. Curry recently told the Inside Higher Education Journal that it’s time to stop using black men as phobias to confirm the toxic behavior.

“At a disciplinary level, black men should be engaged within debates about their actual status and disadvantage, not as objects of other groups’ theories. The work of early black male studies scholars such as Robert Staples, Clyde Franklin, Anthony Lemelle Jr., Calvin Hernton and Lawrence Gary is key in this regard because these scholars are having debates with Connell and men’s studies more generally,” he said in the interview.

“These authors need to be read and dealt with as serious theorists, especially given [that] their analysis is being driven by the same problems that we credit for sparking discussions of double jeopardy and, a decade later, driving the coining of intersectionality. There should be conferences, panels and jobs encouraging the interdisciplinary empirical study of black manhood, boyhood and the various masculinities of the global South, instead of assertions that allow racialized maleness to become the depository of phobias and negativity, as is currently the case throughout the academy,” he concluded.

We agree with Curry as for too long thinking black men are missing from this conversation and as men, we must stop letting these confirmation bias hit pieces from both men and women continue to drive the narrative. Ignoring it and saying it’s not our problem is no longer a valid and feasible solution but it will take for us to start doing our homework, conducting our research, and creating venues and platforms for us. Many female validated males will not like this, and they will attempt to derail and distract from the issues at hand. Crews had an excellent opportunity to become an advocate for black men in regards to sexual assault, but now he opted to join the parade of male feminism instead.

With that being said, time is up for criminalizing masculinity. We have the facts and evidence that demonstrated that masculinity is not a cult. It’s time for people to admit their misandry, daddy issues and come to grips their personal problems instead of shifting it on everyone else. Crews, you got it wrong on this one.

What’s more unfortunate, he’s not alone in his gross miscategorizations of this. He stands with the so-brothers of Very Smart Brothers, The Root, Blavity, and Afropunk. In those outlets, you’ll find not only men being misandrists but women as well. But here at Dominique Magazine, we are unapologetically for men and men who are proud to be men!

#TimesUp On Criminalizing Masculinity

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