We Asked Them to Step Up, and They Let Us Down

For reasons I'm guessing I don't need to recount, I've been really let down by a lot of ostensibly progressive men recently.

I just feel constantly overwhelmed with disappointment at how many of them can't rise to the occasion, even when literally everything is at stake.

I'm disappointed by how many of them, men who I've seen publicly declare themselves "one of the good guys," are actively making things worse, and by how many of them further still are carelessly causing pain to people who are already hurting.

And I'm angry that appeals to them to do better, to get all in, to be more sensitive and thoughtful in response to endemic abuses, are met with sneering refusals or persistent silence.

I'm reminded of a relationship dynamic that a lot of women partnered with men experience: The woman does all of the emotional labor to make the relationship work, and eventually she's just tapped out, and she asks for him to step up, and maybe he promises he will and maybe he doesn't bother, but, either way, he doesn't.

And this might go on for days or weeks or months or years, until she finally gives him a desperate ultimatum: Seriously, you need to step up, because I don't have anything left. And he says, "It's too hard. Bye." The moment he is asked to put in a modicum of effort, the relationship isn't worth it to him anymore.

I feel like that dysfunction is playing out in the United States on a grand scale. Marginalized people have been putting in most of the emotional (and physical) labor to keep our democracy vaguely functional, even when it has been mostly (and the most) dysfunctional for us — and now that we're asking privileged men to carry some of the burden, they're like, "Pass. I'mma be fine either way."

And that is really fucking disappointing.

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