I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Questions and discussions about gender, gender roles and identity.
BunsenBurn
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I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:48 pm

So, hi everyone. I'm new here. I am here because I've been having a lot of trouble lately. I'm trying to feel good about being male, but I keep feeling guilty. There's a narrative that has been going on for a long time about men just being the worst, and, while I understand on a logical level that it is just punching up, and they don't mean it personally, it is hard for me to not feel bad about it on an emotional level. Examples include:
When I mentioned I wasn't interested in having sex with anyone, I was harassed by a person and given more and more vivid descriptions of sex followed by "does that turn you on?" after I had made it clear I was uncomfortable with the situation.
Hearing the following narratives from members of the bi community: "Women are beautiful by sake of being women and men are a punchline" and worse "I don't know why I'm still attracted to men, I'm kinda ashamed". This hit me especially hard, as some of it came from a time when I was realizing I was pan, and hearing "Women are beautiful but men kinda suck" from the community I was thinking I might be a member of made me feel like my feelings on men were actually invalid, as there was virtually no "men are attractive and great" stuff that I could relate to like I could with the women stuff.
Being told I was "one of the good ones" when I tried to not be toxically masculine. Realizing just how much toxic masculinity has shaped your development and how you need to escape it is extremely difficult as a male person, and to me it felt like I was realizing I had been gaslit for 17 years and was now shaped wrongly because of it. So, when I try to do something else, and am met with being called "one of the good ones", it almost broke me. It reinforced the idea that the narrative was right, that being male was something I should be ashamed of, and that no matter what I did or how much I tried to change the narrative about men, I would always just be "one of the good ones".
I understand that this stuff comes from people punching up. I really do. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, and I often feel like I am not allowed to acknowledge the fact that these negative stereotypes have been extremely damaging. I'm currently gender questioning as well, and I don't know if I'm masculine nonbinary because I actually am, or as a way to escape shame over being male and I'm just faking it (I'm AMAB). I don't know how to feel better about this, which is why I am asking this forum for help. Thank you for your time, and I apologize if I am just being ignorant about something.

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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Mo » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:06 pm

Hi BunsenBurn, and welcome to Scarleteen.

I'm sorry that the way people have talked about men and masculinity has been so hurtful to you; I can understand why these experiences you've described here have been upsetting. I really feel you on the "I'm ashamed to be attracted to men" comments that you'll hear in bi/pan communities sometimes, I've been pretty hurt by that sort of thing as well. I try not to take it personally, but sometimes it just is personal whether anyone intends it or not!

It's good to acknowledge one's male privilege, and ways that sexism or toxic masculinity may have impacted one's life or behavior; the men I'm most worried about won't even admit that any of those things exist. It sounds like you're being pretty thoughtful in how you're approaching your gender identity, even as you're questioning it, and I certainly think that thoughtfulness is a positive thing. When people around you have made these hurtful statements, have you ever brought up how they made you feel? Do you think it's something you could do, if you haven't before? If someone's close to you I'd hope they would be open to listening if you said they were making you upset. If you'd like to talk about how you could approach those conversations, we could certainly do that. :)

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:25 pm

I feel afraid to talk to the people who say these things about it as it usually comes from a place where they are either punching up, or occasionally venting at me. I am nervous that if I derail a conversation that is mostly positive and about people acting in solidarity or supporting each other with "I don't feel comfortable with how you referred to men as a collective" or "I find the implications of that statement offensive", then I will just be muddying the water on something that is, for many other people, good. If a two wlw are joking about men to each other in this way, I would feel guilty to interrupt that conversation. So I just try to bottle up the frustration, but it is getting to me.

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Tue Oct 06, 2020 6:37 pm

I feel afraid to talk to the people who say these things about it as it usually comes from a place where they are either punching up, or occasionally venting at me. I am nervous that if I derail a conversation that is mostly positive and about people acting in solidarity or supporting each other with "I don't feel comfortable with how you referred to men as a collective" or "I find the implications of that statement offensive", then I will just be muddying the water on something that is, for many other people, good. Ultimately, I worry that it isn't my place to, and am afraid to say something as I risk sounding entitled.

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:56 am

Sorry, accidentally clicked submit on a draft.

Heather
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Heather » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:20 am

No worries.

You know, I think it's okay for you to pipe up with your feelings in those moments. You can always qualify them with something like, "I totally understand you feeling that way because so many men have been so awful, but I'm sitting right here, working hard not to be awful, and that really makes me feel bad," or "I don't want to derail your conversation and valid points, but this isn't good for me," and then excuse yourself from the conversation. Leaving a conversation like that is one way to not derail it, but also take care of yourself. I also think there's a difference between someone "not all men"-ing and asking to be treated with basic care and courtesy as a human being, you know?

Can I ask you who these folks are talking this way around you? Are these people you're close to, or people you don't really know?

I also want to make sure to address the sexual harassment you experienced. That sounds very coercive and awful, and I'm so sorry that happened to you. Is that something you want to talk more about? Also, are you safely away from that person?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 10:14 am

The people who say that stuff to me are usually strangers or people I don't really know. However, I do occasionally hear it from female friends, usually when they are venting to me about a bad breakup or interaction or something. I can leave spaces where I don't feel welcome, but it is the "one of the good ones" mentality that I feel hurts the hardest, as that often comes from people who are trying to be nice, like friends, and to react negatively to that might be seen as rude.
The whole thing with the person who did that to me is... confusing honestly? I am not sure if it was sexual harassment, as I am AMAB and male presenting (I'm pretty sure my gender identity is either cis, genderflux, or male non-binary), and he is VIOLENTLY heterosexual, and didn't want to have sex with me. I'm going to tell the full story, of the person and the events, as follows, because I honestly don't know what to make of it:
So, this is a person I dislike. And that isn't just because of the "robot" incident. He is obnoxiously loud and disruptive in class, disrespectful, and is just... I am having difficulty qualifying it with words, but the mask he wears at school is pornographic in nature (anime girls with aheago faces) and he will constantly draw attention to it. This incident happened over a year ago, on a bus ride during a field trip. He was talking about sex, and asked me "So, who do you wanna f*ck?". I responded "I'm not really interested in that.", he asked me if I was gay, I said no (I am closeted panromantic and knew that at the time, but I was DEFINITELY not coming out because of him), and he says "Wait really, you're like some kinda robot?" He then proceeded to vividly describe sexual experiences or organs, with the question "does that turn you on?" or "so you don't like the idea of...". I asked him to stop, and he laughed and continued. Some other people, his friends, were watching him, and found the thing funny as well. Eventually it got to the point that I was holding my hands over my ears (school bus in motion, couldn't move away) because I didn't want to have to be made uncomfortable anymore by him. He eventually got bored and stopped, finding my reactions funny. I'm not sure if that was sexual harassment or not. I feel like if I told an adult at my school or even a person who wasn't a good friend about this, they would say "he was being an asshole, but it was over a year ago and you weren't really sexually harassed, he was just making a bad joke". Even then, telling an adult about the problem probably wouldn't do anything, because of another incident with this kid. He was in some kind of relationship with a girl in the grade below him, who sent him nude photos because he pressured her. She asked him to delete the photos, and he blackmailed her by saying he would only do it if she at first kissed him (she did), then upped it to having sex with him (she didn't). She told an adult when it got to this point, and he was suspended for a week, with the rumor going around that he would be expelled, but he ended up not being expelled. The girl left the school. So if another person couldn't deal with him by reporting him for documented attempted rape, then I don't see how I would be able to have my experiences with him have any impact on the matter, as they would almost certainly be put off to "he was just making a joke". I see him almost every day, and try to ignore the fact that I hate him so much, and I think that as long as I don't mention not wanting to have sex again he won't do it again, but he is constantly and openly talking about sex stuff, and asking him to stop just gets him to laugh and continue.

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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Sofi » Wed Oct 07, 2020 11:40 am

First of all, I want to say that the way you feel about this situation is completely valid and I'm so sorry you went through it. It is never okay to cross someone's boundaries and describe sexual encounters or scenarios with someone who didn't consent to it, especially if this person knew you aren't interested in sex at all to begin with.

I understand your hesitation to call it sexual assault, and to report it to your school - for now, perhaps talking to a therapist about the experience, or the feelings it brought up, would be a helpful place to start. This could really help process it and talk through healing. Would you like us to help you find therapists in your area?

Lastly, I want to offer a few ways for you to vent and/or find community. Of course you are always welcome to talk to us about all of this, as Heather mentioned what you feel about the comments about men is also valid. You can also talk to other people who are asexual and hear their experiences, here on our message boards, or even on our Reddit. You can search for existing posts, or write your own! Finding community is really important so you don't feel alone in your experience. Please let me know if there are other ways in which we can support you?

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:30 pm

I don't think it was sexual assault, I was saying I didn't know whether to think of it as sexual harassment or not. I have talked to a therapist in the past, although I had difficulties with mine and did not know how to bring it up (I tried talking about things that were bothering me and felt like I was being judged the whole time because he kept trying to get me to second guess myself instead of helping me with what I was saying). Honestly, right now, I'm just trying to wait until college, in a year. I find that I have trouble developing relationships with people at school because I have virtually no control over my life, and I have trouble expressing myself as well because I have to explain everything I do to a third party. I am hopeful that by leaving my house and going to college, I will be able to function better, and find a new therapist. I'm trying to be active in communities, it's just difficult sometimes, I guess.

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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Heather » Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:39 pm

You get to decide what you want to call it. My apologies if I spoke out of turn in that respect.

No matter what you call it, though, I think we can agree it sounds like that came from a generally abusive person and was some kind of abuse. I'm really sorry it happened, and also sorry to hear there's someone like that you and others have tp encounter daily. All too often this kind of behaviour isn't taken as seriously as it should be at schools, workplaces, and other institutions.

I totally understand what you're saying here. You're certainly welcome to talk here as works for you in the meantime.

There's an advice piece I wrote a long time ago, but which I rarely forget because I found it so sad that the person needed to ask this question: it really upset me. https://www.scarleteen.com/article/abus ... se_someone

I think you might find it useful in some way, if for no other reason than to validate some of what you're saying here, that painting all men with the same brush, and defining male behaviour broadly as the worst of male behaviour can have a very real and harmful impact.

I'm happy to talk to you more about this, or listen to more about what's been hurting you, like what you brought up about being labelled an exception. <3
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:53 pm

I kind of would like to. Guilt over being male (well, toxic masculinity in general, but this is one specific part of that) has led to a lot of bad stuff in my life. When I was eleven, I got really into "anti-sjw" stuff, because I was angry at people saying men sucked and that outlet provided something that dulled the pain. I now recognize that I was wildly misled, and am deeply ashamed of how I behaved during that time. And it was a difficult journey to try to become better? I'm still trying to accept on an emotional level that people often don't mean me when they say it, but it does hurt, and I lack the ability to accurately internalize logical ideas so they affect my emotional state. But realizing how much toxic masculinity and this stuff has shaped my worldview... I have a strong desire to escape it. There's a ton of unhealthy behaviors I have or used to have due to it, which I try to avoid. It's shaped my development in an incredibly negative way, and I am trying to get out of it, to get away from it's impact on me. So being called "one of the good ones", which reinforces the idea that men are naturally terrible and I am only good in spite of that, is significantly more damaging than I feel most people would assume. It reinforces a narrative that has damaged my life, and made me go down paths I would rather not go down again. I understand people don't mean it maliciously, but its meaning to me is beyond the sum of its parts, and I wouldn't know how to communicate that to a person without totally derailing the conversation.

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:02 pm

Is there a way I could communicate that to a person without derailing the conversation or offending their feelings?

Heather
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Heather » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:13 pm

Thanks so much for sharing all of that with me. That sounds really rough, and it also sounds like you've done a lot of work around this. It's a big deal to work so hard on who you are and your worldview so young: kudos to you for that. A lot of people don't have that kind of awareness or don't invest that kind of effort.

It sounds like it's been really hard to have to deal with both toxic masculinity AND sentiments countering that or calling it out that also aren't so healthy. I imagine it's got to feel sometimes like it's hard to find a safe place in this regard.

When it comes to difficult conversations, something I like to do is just tell someone I have a lot of complex history and feelings about something, then ask them if they'd be open to talking about it with me. If there are things I need when it comes to my emotional safety in that conversation -- like just being heard first without a response, or being given physical space, or not being reassured, as some examples -- I'll put those things out there, too.

If it's helpful, I'm someone strongly feminist for as long as I can remember (and I'm 50), and often in a very public and big way, and I haven't found anything you've said here offensive or problematic. I feel like so long as you want to talk to someone about this, the way you do talk about it already seems totally sound to me.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Heather
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Heather » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:30 pm

I'm heading out for the day, but if you want to pick this up again tomorrow, I'll be here. Take care of yourself. :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

BunsenBurn
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby BunsenBurn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:59 pm

Bye! And there are some other things I want to talk about on here, but they aren't relevant to this section, so I might end up posting something in another one.

Heather
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Re: I'm having trouble not feeling guilt about my gender.

Unread postby Heather » Thu Oct 08, 2020 9:54 am

Sure thing. :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead


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