Angry young men used to be the engine for social change. They were making the music, writing the books, creating the movements and shaking the world up. They thought they might ‘cut their hair’ again, but then decided that they ‘owed it to someone’ not to, to borrow a phrase from the late great David Crosby. These were the forward guard, Dylan’s watchmen at the gates. In short, you could rely on an angry young man to say something, even if what they had to say was tinged with a confidence in their own superiority and an inability to see they were not supermen. Women got shut out of the conversation, sidelined and tied up in fighting for their own freedom from this man’s world. Not any more. Angry young men are now more likely to belong to the ranks of the incels, living lives full of misogyny, hatred and frustration. They feel as if they are owed sex, a life partner, being a father, being worshipped and adored and never to be pulled on their shit. They want the most physically beautiful, fit and desirable women, whilst being slobs who marinate in their own stench and the grease of infinite chicken tenders, mountain dew and physical mediocrity. It is a sad state of affairs and a dangerous one too. How did men make themselves – as a group with some outstanding exceptions to this band of bastard brothers – so irrelevant?
The grumpy middle aged woman is the new angry young man. Whilst I do not identify myself as traditionally ‘female’, and prefer to exist outside of the gender binary, I occasionally dip my toe back into the waters of the war between the sexes, and end up always feeling slightly nauseated and a little bit lost. I don’t fit in anywhere. The grumpy middle aged women are fighting for their rights with as much vehemence as their second wave feminist glory days sisters ever managed, yet I feel disconnected from the whole movement. Women still don’t have the power: anyone born female does not have the backing of the Powers That Be in this patriarchal nightmare that is rapidly falling into yet another miserable war-scape. The military industrial complex needs to make and sell some murderous shit in order to stimulate the world economy and it is going to be some mother’s son that is out there fighting for the rich and powerful men, while mothers weep and the women and children suffer and starve and struggle.
All I see from most men is a lot of warlike venom. The prospect of war seems to enliven the male soul, make them salivate and feel their sap rising in the prospect of some good ancient blood letting macho domination-exploration. Winning. Planting flags. Fighting over hills and wastelands is a waste of blood and life, but the men can’t seem to evolve beyond their natural instincts to conquer and dominate. The ones who don’t buy into this disastrous philosophy of fight to the bitter end need to be louder in their condemnation of suffering. One of the most impressive men I have ever met is a conscientious objector, who refused to fight in Vietnam and was therefore jailed multiple times in the 1960s. The respect I have for his lifelong struggle against war and killing, and the reverence that he holds the edict ‘do no harm’ in is immense. This is a man I am happy to say influenced my son to take the path of peace, Buddhism and a commitment to the same tenets of no violence, no harm and no war. Yet there are not enough of these good peaceful men in power to stop the rising tide of hatred, violence, war and misogyny.
The average grumpy middle aged woman has simply had enough. They don’t want to see their families hurt, they don’t want their lives uprooted, and violence, bloodshed and war is anathema to them and their life philosophy. Whilst I stay out of the trenches nowadays, and find myself somewhat disconnected, I always look at their stoic battles of equality and fairness with great tenderness. These are the new firebrands, these are the ones who are truly revolutionary, raising their fists for equity and kindness. In the end the patriarchy is not much good for anything. It is toxic to people of color, to queer folk like me, to the planet and to every kind decent life and peace-loving good person out there.
There are some things worth fighting for – but not with the male weapons of bullets, bombs and rape. There are some things worth withstanding. But in the end none of it is worth throwing thousands of nuclear bombs at each other in a fury of injured male pride. Some people like to see it all burn, but why should they get to decide that destroying the world is preferable to sharing their power, fortune and influence with the others they have denied it to?
I don’t want a world in which I am having to make plans just in case the USA and Russia decide to make some money out of the death of poor young men. It is not the rich man’s ‘fortunate sons’ that will primarily die in this war that is to come. With China rattling sabers and sending balloons over US sovereign territory, and as of 28 minutes ago, shooting down an ‘unidentified flying object’ off the coast of Alaska, over US waters, things seem more dangerous than ever. Putin threatens to nuke us all into oblivion so often he sounds about as credible as Kim Jong-Un of the pariah state of North Korea. It is all ramping up to explode into something that is destructive to the planet, people and humanity as a whole. Capitalism eats itself. It is unsustainable. It keeps on eating until nothing matters except money and power, not even this planet we sit on and that we have no alternative to. It has to stop. We need to do things differently. We need to say as a society, as a world group of people who overwhelmingly want peace, not war, that enough is enough and we want to live peacefully. We have bigger problems to fix, like climate change and pollution, and we need to concentrate all our resources and our best minds into doing so, rather than allow the men to get so frustrated that they launch their death missiles at a bunch of people who really couldn’t give a flying fuck about their geopolitical grudges.
Me? I just want to be free. I want to be free of what I should be doing, where I should be going, what I should be thinking. I want to be free of all of this bullshit and fears of a future where the earth is burning up, the weather becomes more extreme, and housing is for making money not sheltering people from the elements. I want to be free to be a grouch. Free to sit here and sulk about all the things that time has taken away from me, and how I am a failure at most everything I have touched. I want to be free to complain about how terribly I have been let down by some people, and who much the Powers That Be have taken my happiness away from me.
My freedom can’t be bought with guns, or bombs, or disaster, nor can anyone else’s, and it is an old lie that war makes anything other than money. I refuse to comply. I won’t take part. This is not world war two, where giving in to war was terrible an deadly. This is world war three on the horizon, which will be over in moments with a flick of a switch and all the lights going off over the world, with holes left where people’s lives here. Shadows left where people were. Destruction left where happiness once was. The first step is to admit that nuking Japan was wrong. We cannot move forward until we see other humans as fully human and that no one should be nuking anyone else, let alone civilians. There is a story I remembering hearing about a little boy and his father. The little boy was riding his trike with his friend Kimi when the bomb hit. The boy’s name was Shin. He was only three years old. He did not survive the night and suffered terribly. His father buried Shin, his bike and his friend together. The tricycle is now displayed in the museum in Hiroshima. Nuking little Shinichi Tetsutani was wrong. It was abhorrent. It was a war crime.
Peace. Love. Understanding. Those are the things we all need to hold onto, and not give in to baser desires to fight and destroy. Humanity needs to evolve. Enough is enough. No more violence. No more bombs. No more little boys or girls like Shin and Kimi losing their lives while the irredeemably evil justify the means of doing so. If we all refuse their plans to stimulate the economy of death then we might be in with a fighting chance of survival, otherwise, my friends, I fear we are all headed for the horrors of war. Men need to not be in control of anything for at least 100 years. They need to detox from all this macho bullshit. We all need it. The planet needs it. Enough is enough.