In my last post I wrote about wanting to be better, so I guess now I have to get around to the act of actually being better.
I have been thinking a lot lately about gender equality and what I think of it, are men in fact trash? I can't talk for "men" I can only answer for myself. This would be a very short blog post if I just gave a yes or no answer so instead what I will do is take you back to last December. I was listening to a podcast where Ana Marie Cox was talking about men individually being accountable for there own actions. After dwelling on this thought for a while I sent the following tweet to her
I like to think of myself as a basically decent guy, but this question shined some light on some areas where I really have not bathed myself in glory.
There is the above exchange where I mansplained the gaming industry to a video games journalist. Also I cant remember any specific occasions but I am sure that in the past I have used the phrase "not all men". Basically for the longest time I failed to listen. I went about life as it suited me and was inconsiderate to women because i could use things like "not all men" to justify it and this was OK because I saw myself as one of the good guys.
Clearly I'm not, I don't consider myself one of the bad guys and I would say its fair to call me well intentioned, but to be honest that probably describes just about everyone with a few notable exceptions. So I think the thing too do is for me to look at where I have gone wrong and own it.
This could be a long list so i'll endeavor to keep it to the key points.
I think the fist sign of my problematic behavior came in at an early age. Like most dorky comic book loving guys as a teenage my ability to talk to women was non existent, so beyond casual "hi" "hello" conversations I didn't really talk to women that much until i was in my late teens. So there was a long period of time where my relationships with women my age were entirely imaginary. Women were very much like trophies to me, something that I wanted to achieve, and I suspect that limited a lot of my interactions with women for a long time. This wasn't intentional I had no desire to behave negatively to anyone let alone specifically to women, it was more born of a very limited world view. This probably went on far too long and is perhaps responsible for some of the behaviors that I carried over into adult life that i ended up apologizing for in the email above.
As my life went on and I got older I have had actual relationships with women that of course change these dynamics, and I'm sad to say that when i reflect on these things I can think of 2 relationships where it would be fair to describe me as a toxic partner.
Now in both these relationships I'll just frame it that neither of these toxic relationships were one way and would not be fair to lay the blame at any one persons feet, but we are here to talk about where I have went wrong so that is all I will be writing about.
The first was my ex fiance, my first real relationship, we were together for about 7 years and to be honest I spent far to much of that just expecting her to look after me. I didn't take part in house work when we lived together, I was very needy, wasn't looking after my money so in constant need of bailing out etc etc. Just a shit boyfriend who took the relationship I had for granted, it took me a long time to be able to look back at that and accept that I need to take responsibility for that.
The second one is perhaps the worst of my faults, this was a relationship i got into a short time after the break up with ex mentioned above, and there is no other way to say it than i was manipulative and controlling.
There had been a few things in my life that had shaken me up at this point and I suspect this is where the seeds of my depression truly started to grow. I was using this relationship like a drug to make me feel better and to cope with what I didn't realize at the time was depression. I was forever texting her, getting angry if she wouldn't give me enough attention, I would get jealous and again needy. When she wanted to do things separate from me I would try and manipulate my way into being a part of them. The worst of it was that I was with her the first time I had encountered suicidal thoughts. I didn't actively use this at the time to be manipulative, but afterwards I tried to use it like it was a strong hand in a game of poker. In my mind at the time this wasn't what i was doing, but only because I had done some mental gymnastics to justify these things in my head.
This also took me a long time to be able to look back on and be honest with myself about my behavior here and how unacceptable it was.
I consider getting in touch with them both to say as much and apologize, but i'm not sure if that would be opening old wounds and if I would be making things harder for other people to try and unburden myself. This one I still need to puzzle out.
Then there is all the shit, for years being one of those idiots who complained when Twitter would go on about representation, because I the white dude didn't get that other people weren't being represented. I did the thing where I only followed and talk to women on twitter, the unsolicited DM's etc etc. As i'm writing this it has just dawned on me that these are lines that I would have considered unacceptable to cross in person, that once the element of personal contact was removed it took me far to long to recognize and respect these lines.
So we come back to the question of am I as a man trash? I certainly have been, there are plenty of things that I can point to and say with the power of hindsight I regret immensely. I am trying to be better though. If you are reading this and you feel like I have behaved like this to you before, I'll put my hands up and say you are probably right, I apologize. I am going to work at being better, and that is all I can really say.
If you are a guy that is reading this I implore you to think about your own actions in the past, are there things you need to own to make things better in future. Continuing to get away with this bullshit just because we can is unacceptable and to be honest at this point unsustainable. So get ahead of the curve and make yourself better and make things better for the people around you.