“Like a compass needle points north,
a man’s accusing finger will always find a woman. Always.”
– Khaled Hosseini –
This week a man tweeted a picture of assorted sanitary towels with the caption, ‘You don’t have to be in a relationship to care for the women who visit you.’ With this one line, he inadvertently launched that week’s war and fiery tweets about something that one would be forgiven in assuming is just an act of basic human decency and care. Let’s talk about those negative responses to him buying pads for his female guests and what they say about our society and masculinity in particular.
Responses to the tweet
Pick is a pejorative term that is mainly used to describe a woman who is willing to do anything for male approval from embarrassing herself to denying her own human rights and throwing other women under the bus. Simp is the term most commonly used pejoratively towards men. It refers to a man who is overly desperate and submissive and does way too much for a woman and gains nothing from it. Every other tweet was calling him a pick-me and a simp, all of them certain that it was a calculated move to get some ass. Men’s entire lives apparently revolve around getting some ass.
It’s interesting how pick-me and simp are thrown around as insults towards men who show the slightest concern and care for women. Men are apparently not supposed to show this level of affection towards women. When they do it’s weak and embarrassing. This view forgets that pick-me’s are often so desperate that they deny their own humanity and work against their interests. What this man did is an act that recognizes and affirms one’s own humanity and that of others. It works in his best interest which is caring for those he values. There’s nothing pick-me about that and if there is, that is exactly the kind of person one should pick anyway.
It’s worth noting that so many commenters insisted that when a man does anything like this, they’re just trying to get into women’s pants. It appears that to men, all women are is potential sex vending machines. Put in a few deeds designed to trick them into dropping their panties and you’re good to go. The idea that men can do nothing caring for women except when they imagine they will get sex from it is chilling.
Men have to ask themselves what it says about them if every act of kindness they engage in is calculated and designed to get them something. To get them sex. They can’t just care about women simply because they do. What does it say about men’s relationships with women they are not sleeping with? Are these relationships somehow of less value because they are just friends? Are these women of less value?
Not my man
The second most common tweet was along the lines of ‘my man better not’ and ‘any man doing that is definitely cheating.’ Those commenters insisted that if they found pads, they would immediately begin to look for other evidence of infidelity from strands of hair to hidden panties. A variation of this was the idea that a man who’s this nice to every girl should not be your man. It’s that old mills and boon thing where the main guy is a dick to everyone but you and that’s how you know he loves you. If he’s good to every girl then what difference does being his girlfriend make?
Men have to ask themselves what it says about them if their showing even the smallest concern for other women is interpreted as obvious evidence of infidelity. What does it say about how they treat women if the smallest show of care for others makes their partners palpably insecure?
Good guys finish last
The commenters insisted that his pick-me strategy would fail miserably. Women apparently do not like good guys. Good guys finish last and they never get sex. All they get is their ears talked off about the latest guy who broke the girl’s heart. Women according to the commenters like the bad boys and if you want to win with them (i.e. get laid) you need to stay gangster. In fact, a number of the women commenting insisted that the kind of guy who would stock pads in his house is usually a very boring kind of guy. Another variant of bad boys finish last was this man trying valiantly to get laid would just get friend-zoned and end up not getting the sex he’s desperately in pursuit of.
Equally worrying is how entrenched this narrative that good boys finish last is especially when coupled with the encouragement to ‘stay gangster’. It’s especially terrifying given that we live in a society with epidemic levels of gender-based violence and other manifestations of patriarchal violence. A society in which women continue to complain about how unfeeling men are, how they completely refuse to engage with their emotions and act in affectionate, caring ways. Stay gangster? Okay.
Period stigma and women’s problem
Periods are still a dirty, shameful thing that is a women’s problem. There’s still so much stigma surrounding periods that a man openly speaking about it immediately raises people’s hackles.
One commenter pointed out that the negative responses are evidence that there’s a lot of work yet to be done in destigmatizing menstrual periods. It’s also worth pointing out that somehow women’s problems are women’s problems. Men’s problems on the other hand are everyone’s problems. Women’s solidarity is expected when men need it but women can never count on men’s solidarity with them. Women need to take care of their shameful period problems in silence. This man publicly showing support and dignifying periods, making women’s problems his problem goes against how society is supposed to work.
Homophobia and single moms
Somehow this discussion came to the weakening of masculinity and how it’s the fault of single mothers. Also, as expected homophobia entered the chat. And the jokes, ‘Amebakisha tu kudownload period tracking apps’ and another, a picture of a pack of condoms with the caption ‘The only way I care for the women who visit my house.’
The single mothers being to blame was an interesting twist that appeared to come out of nowhere. Interesting because if we are to factor in the ratio of parental involvement in child rearing, most people are the children of married single mothers. The fathers were just occasionally around. Around enough for your mother not to bear the shame of being a single mother. This contempt for women and all things feminine and especially single mothers is one of the most enduring manifestations of misogyny. Everything is somehow women’s fault from soft men to entire wars. As Khaled Hosseini once said, “Like a compass needle points north, a man’s accusing finger will always find a woman. Always.”
Masculinity so fragile
Masculinity is so fragile in this society. Any sign of softness and concern for others, any rejection of the hard, tough masculine man who cares only about tough manly stuff and suddenly you are not a real man. One commenter said that a real man should only worry about brake pads and no other kinds of pads. You are only a man when you do tough masculine things, anything else and you’re obviously not a man. Worse, you are an embarrassment to every man beginning with your father and every male ancestor before you.
There can be no doubt that all the highly critical and insulting responses are rooted in misogyny and internalized misogyny. Feminine values like being soft and caring are for some reason repugnant and antithetical to what being a man is. We live in a society that devalues everything feminine and even women have internalized these beliefs. It’s the water we swim in and it’s damn near impossible to escape it.
Every woman knows what it’s like to suddenly get your period when you’re not prepared. Stocking period products in your house regardless of your need for them is an act of basic human decency and care for guests who visit your house and could find themselves in a period emergency. If nothing else, what we’re learning here is if the men you know would not be considered simps by ‘real men’, what are you even doing?
We Need To Have Conversations Around Menstrual Shame And How It Affects Women
Health: Signs Your Period Or Menstrual Cramps Are Not Normal
What The Kenyan Government Can Learn From Other Countries Period Laws
Parenting: Ways Of Talking To Your Daughter About Periods