The Pickup Truck Diaries: Toxic Masculinity Part 1.
The Pickup Truck Diaries
A man writing about toxic masculinity?
This is a new one, or at the very least – out of the norm for most cases!
See, I’m a weird dude.
I’ve lived the extremes of many different lives
Firstly, the tradie faux-machismo lifestyle – encompassing the modern dudebro. The sorts of guys that drive a lifted truck, dial their programmer way down to spew black smoke because they’re fucking degens, and many of whom have raging alcohol and substance abuse issues. Note that I include myself in this category at various points in my life based on how I acted.
Secondly, the nerdy and oft-ostracized glasses-wearing loser, a “video game nerd” as my family used to mock me as. These are the basement or apartment dwelling internet-dwellers, whose white-knighting and internet-forum battles are a sight to behold, and to be scorned as they are often completely out of touch with the wider world and thus are mostly spewing incoherent illogical bullshit. Again, note that I include myself in this within the tiny scope of my lifetime.
Hell, I’ve even experienced the strange wonderland that is the new-media, theatre-kid, hipster-nifty, extroverted weirdo scene! Hilariously, I find myself sinking back into that last one yet again, much to my extreme pleasure. There’s rather a sort of catharsis there. It comes with liking what you like (and not giving two shits what people think about you if you don’t have any respect for them while continuing to do what you love and express yourself freely. You should try it!)
Now, while some of my knowledge was acquired in stranger circumstances along the way, some of which will undoubtedly come up in The Pickup truck Diaries… (Like one of my role models being one of like two out queer women in Squamish, growing up…) Most of my learning on this topic comes from taking various university courses in a wide variety of fields with Judith Butler types who are generally not folks who identify as male. (Unless they’re trans and adhere to the binary of course.) Some of the best profs I had were the types that actively targeted the men in the class – trying to help them figure it out. They approached it from a sort of liberation angle – you don’t have to live like this. It’s shitty and hard and you hurt people without meaning to all the time! It was actually rather empowering to have someone talking directly to you, and trying to help make things better for everyone. I sometimes wonder what the majority of women in the class were thinking at the time. Likely: “Here we go again. Time to educate the backwards hick!”
Inversely, some of the shittiest profs were the ones that shamed, blamed, and attacked, serving to largely reinforce the beliefs of the shitheads. (This works by getting them all defensive and then they rationalize their beliefs further, btw.)
The rest of my strange brew comes from lived experience in a wide variety of different cliques and niche crowds. I’ve spent a good majority of my life slowly transitioning between, into, and out of friend circles as I outgrow them one by one, graduating up the chain of shitty friend circles, keeping a few good eggs here and there of course.
And let me tell you, every subsection of male society has Toxic Masculinity lurking in the dark recessed corners. Yes I capitalized it like a title. Deal with it. It’s part of the title. Prescriptive vs. Descriptive grammar, blah blah blah.
Now if you’re a dude reading this, don’t get your back up right away. I’m not going to talk down to you like many folks would. I’d much rather be like the profs who tried to wake me the fuck up, and not the ones who shit on me. I mean, you’re likely only an asshole at times because you don’t know, so I’m going to do my best to translate all this bullshit for you!
We’ll build a sort of dictionary together, yeah?
And then you’ll be a better human, and I’ll have one less shithead to deal with, so you’re welcome. Win-win. I normally charge $80 an hour.
So why are you reading this, again?
Because I’m hilarious is certainly your first answer. And you’re right!
But in actuality?… Well, because you should see this as an opportunity for learning and growth. Yes, you too ladies and gentlefolk. This is your chance to see it from the dark side!
If you’re a guy, you get to see exactly the sort of dude that you should NOT be. And I’m using the gendered version of dude there. If you’re not a dude, or rather, an alternate dude (aren’t lexical anomalies fun?) it helps you avoid being bulldozed by these things. While I’m not going to prescribe exactly what kind of person you SHOULD be of course, I think that at least pointing to the nasty, raunchy bits and holding my nose will help you catch yourself in the moment when you find yourself becoming a complete fuckhead, pardon my logger-talk.
I mean, I do this for a living after all – literally taking people and doing my best to make them their best self so they can survive and succeed in the world. This time I’m just doing it for free for a hell of a lot more people than just 30 give or take. It’s almost like free community service! (Meaning I really need to find a way to monetize this, and fast!)
I know I sure as hell wish that I could have read something like this far earlier in life. Not only could it have helped me avoid some nasty relationships, it could have stopped me from doing some pretty shitty, toxic things myself. Because every dude has. It’s just the truth. We’re not “there” yet by and large. And I’m still atoning for what has been a very complicated and fucked up life, so here we are – trying to get “there.” Wherever that is.
I sure hope “there” is a tropical sandy beach somewhere, with a fishing rod and some good music. (You’re welcome for the playlists on my website, world.) Also free.
So let’s start with the absolute stereotype. The literal fucking chad. And not a hanging chad, those are completely unrelated. (See, lexical hijinx abound!)
I’m talking about frat-boy Fred. Your super cool sled/bike/board/ski/fishing/insertextremesporthere/cliqueybullshit buddies. Also included are tradies, male Americans from the south with enormous white beards and confederate flag tattoos, loggers, rig pigs including frackers, Wall St. businessmen. You know, all the assholes like the ones I’ve been on and off at various points throughout my life.
Don’t get me wrong, nobody is perfect. If I was, I’d be rocking magazine covers and chumming it with the celebrities I wanted to chum with that actually have half an artistic brain/bone from a new-media creative lens.
But my beer gut is staring up at me, so we can’t be, okay? And nobody has ever worked their muscles through a keg like this, baby! And… As this keg has persisted while simultaneously I have not been able to drink (because I can literally die.) Thank god “The Devil’s Lettuce” is legal now. (Those of you who remember my home town of Squamish when it was still a meth town know full well that danger, of course.)
And you know what? It’s not often the fault of the guys themselves. A lot of guys have an absolute fuckton of unprocessed trauma, shitty parents, substance abuse issues, or controlling and abusive partners. I’ve been on both sides of that coin, being the shithead I have been throughout my storied life.
You hear that, guys? A lot of the aspects of your toxic masculinity that are being sprinkled across the world like sprinkles on a Tim Horton’s donut aren’t your fault! They’re a result of our society and the circumstances of your upbringing.
A lot of these things are external factors that knocked you into what you’re doing now without your even being aware of it! I mean not all of you. Some of you are just complete shitheads. Salt of the earth-scumbags, worst of the worst. I mean, there’s definitely gonna be a couple of you that eventually read this article, tweak out, and get all pissy and defensive and stupidly double down instead of seeing it as an opportunity to grow and become better. (Which is exactly what I want every human to do.)
So what are the things you’re doing? And how do we stop them? How do we give you the kick in the ass you need to get the motor started and upgrade yourself to the shiny newer model?
There’s a lot here. An absolute ton. There is no way I will ever cover them all and write an article-sized piece of information for you, that would be a whole fucking book and I have far more fun novel projects I’m writing right now. As I said, this is more like community service. Meaning – there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to invest each time.
I think the first and most glaring issue is the whole “you can’t be wrong” thing. This is one that pretty much all men do. Doesn’t matter if they’re a jacked gym rat or a nerdy dweeb who has mastered all possible varieties of joystick in existence. There is a strange shame associated with getting things wrong. And some women are affected by this shame too for various reasons, of course. It’s just the primary drive for most of the toxic things that us men do. We’re fucking consumed by it a lot of the time. That outward perfect appearance of knowing everything, being able to do everything, and just generally being 100% competent all the time no matter what.
Even the dudes that are so chill as to “not care” or the logical nerds that debate it out in battles of backwards-ass logic do truly care. How many men (and women and other folk) go home and feel like hot garbage due to the self-doubt? How many dwell on it? I sure as shit have.
And in and around actually being right or not, there are those that will argue you regardless, often getting to the point of shouting you down if they lack patience or intellect! It usually includes using bullshit logical fallacies like “the no true scotsman” and “the red herring” and shit. I love flipping these back on people and literally picking apart the basis of the argument itself as flawed instead of the actual argument they’re making.
Guys, gals, strange pseudopod tipped creatures of the deep….
We don’t have to be right all the time!
(Gasp! What?! No way!? [And the one asshole that always just acknowledges I’m stating the obvious, missing the joke because they’re too stupid or alternatively super literal…])
We have to normalize being wrong. And being right isn’t a fucking contest. I literally have entire encyclopedias of random bullshit stored within my brain cage that will never help anyone. It’s nice to know that I know them. But it’s not nice to wave my knowledge around like a dickhead.
Helicoptering has never helped a single person in the world as far as I’m aware. And I’m okay with being wrong on that, because knowing how helicoptering has ever been relevant would simultaneously be hilarious.
I only ever offer information I think will be useful in the moment. Ever. So hell, you’re going to fuck up at being okay with fucking up!
I mean, trying to argue with that is literally fucking it up. It’s like taking the buckshot, loading it, and firing point blank at your own foot. Or doing one of those scarification tattoos… Like, fuck… Just use normal tattoo ink you weird fuck.
(Oh right, I’m not supposed to kink-shame anymore, right? Sorry. Sex-positive. See? Fucking up! Right now!)
When every human can learn to normalize making mistakes, and halt the swaggering around of assholes acting like they’re the least stinky shit at the turd farm…
Well, we’ll have world peace, first off.
Second off, we’ll all just be… Better off?
I mean, holding that facade must be exhausting, eh? There’s a reason Bob and Doug took the piss, ya know? Have you ever watched Letterkenny? You should. Figgeritout!
I think… And because this article is entirely my fucking opinion and completely free…
The time for our second trait has come.
Another thing we need to stop doing, yeah?
Stop trying to impose your will on the world if it isn’t helping people. Shaping reality is for me, and me alone to do, you little shit. I’m trying to fix you! (I love how many people don’t “get” this faux-righteous comedy bit, by the way. You can definitely tell Monty Python, George Carlin and Lewis Black have colored my humor over the years.)
Inappropriately forcing your will upon others is another one that everybody does regardless of gender, but which men dominate the numbers of in overwhelming amounts.
You assume that imposing your will is the same as making peace. It’s not, dude. It just creates oppression, which in turns breeds resentment. People just start hating you if it’s “my way or the highway” all the time! This is one that traditional business hierarchies breed like wildfire and help propagate. It’s just shitty ownership or management style to assume your employees are stupid, or hate you, and then to dictate down to them without any input or feedback. It’s been proven a hundred times over by 2020. And you get a reputation as an asshole for doing this of course. (Not that people who do this usually care?)
And the opposite is simultaneously a problem. Have a backbone! If you’re just letting people have whatever they want, or waffling at answering requests, you are enabling this cycle by not holding your boundaries. People imposing will upon others is #1 the biggest no-no that immediately tells me somebody has some work to do on the self. I know this because I was in both of the above categories on and off for the entirety of my life. (Disabilities, hooray!)
See, in my case I was either trying to big-dick my way through the world for the wrong reasons, or was cowering in a corner. I was unsure of myself, of my ideas, of my opinions and I was often trying to circumvent or avoid conflict at all costs due to traumatic histories. Both are extremes of the same major problem. Of this forcing others into your views or opinions of the world.
Demanding of people whatever you want in the moment at whim, and being a people pleaser are both shitty. The people who learn the former succeeds against the latter? Often the loudest, most self-conscious, egotistical dude in a room. They continue to do it insofar as it works. The people who capitulate to others? They learn that giving in buys peace, friends, and acceptance. The cycle continues forever. You have these weird power dynamics that repeat, of subservient little pissants bowing before loud-mouthed assholes.
I got in a fight on Twitter with some dude (and many others, of course, who can’t see three dots from one) about this earlier, on the day I’m writing this originally. She thought that not having a partner contact you for 24 hours was a problem. Stating that she would beat their ass if they did so!
I assume it was intended as a joke?…
I mean, I’m neurodiverse so I’m used to going down hyperfixation-hyperfocus wormholes and emerging 12 hours later very hungry, very thirsty, very disoriented, and having to take one hell of a piss. But for you normies?
Well, this is actually a microcosm of the problem. An example, for you laypeople. That lady is forcing her will on the world, and expects that every single person in the world A. knows what boundaries are without her naming them explicitly, and B. isn’t going to take her words exactly as they’re written, without having any nuance or context or applying critical thought. She is literally imposing her will upon the world. The example here is a lady, but dudes, we do it WAY more often.
Now that the story is told to you with flipped gender roles, see what I mean?
Imagine a guy saying that if his girlfriend didn’t contact him for 24 hours he would beat her. How fucked up does that sound? No doubt we’d look at that and view it as emotionally and mentally abusive.
Everything from food choices to major life decisions factor into this dilemma.
If you can, keep track of when you are flexing your will appropriately, and when you’re doing it out of sheer want. Is a healthy boundary being maintained or broken? Is someone trying to buckle down and use pressure or coercion to make whatever it is happen? Is it being done to help, or to hurt a person or group of people?
Want to know how salespeople work? They literally enable this in you. Your desire to do the thing you want. They take it and use this against you while trying to hide the fact that they are manipulating you. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve seen this in my own life, from buying Magic cards to even leasing my truck two years ago. I had an idea of what I wanted, and convinced myself it was the best decision with the nudging of the salesperson. I had someone else imposing their will upon me, and was made to think it was my decision and in my best interest. The me of two years later is now in a very different situation with very different realities such as a global pandemic, yeah? So fuck the me from two years ago. His needy ass just cost me the leisures of choice, freedom, and breathing room in the now.
(This is also how politicians and politics in First Past the Post work, by the way. By skewing promises and platforms to make you think they are in your best interest whilst usually helping donors and friends. This is why you read the platform and completely ignore the media and the people talking about it if you’re smart. Because both politicians and mainstream outlets like Post Media will modify the narrative as necessary to skew it in their favor. Don’t worry, there’s a Pickup Truck Diaries on Politics, Voting, and Nepotism coming eventually.)
Those first two traits of toxic masculinity? You can generally sum them up as:
“Don’t be an asshole! And stop justifying to yourself that you being an asshole is okay, if you are. People don’t have to like you, but that’s not an excuse to act like a tool.”
I mean, that’s pretty easy. Some of you have already made the captain obvious statement several times as per up above. If you get it, this article is for you to laugh at a couple times as my oratory and scripted genius woo you like a freshly laundered soft silken bed after a hot shower, and then for you to send to assholes who might learn something from it.
Yes, that was literally one of my intentions. My mind is a labyrinthine maze that I can’t even traverse myself half the time. If you’d like to try, be my guest.
Alright, checkmate self-loathing. Re-fucking-match!
Anyways, this article is already too long. I’ll have to revisit it. After like, only two points. Hot damn! I should have saved some of the comedy bits in this three thousand plus word article for later.
I think the takeaway is that if you feel vulnerable after reading this, just embrace it! Sit with it a spell… I mean, if you think I’m calling you an asshole, am I in actuality? Or am I baiting you – getting your hackles up to force you to think critically about a topic that harms millions if not billions of people each and every day? Because I’ll tell you, the people that read “asshole” and know it isn’t about them aren’t the intended demographic of this article, that’s for sure!
This is a chance for you to become better. To grow. To evolve. To literally cast aside potential parts of yourself that are making you hurt others. I mean, I assume you don’t want to hurt people, right? Unless you’re a sociopath…
And besides, there’s only enough room for one supervillain in this article, bub.
The point of The Pickup Truck Diaries isn’t to save the world. I’m not that naive.
The point is to entertain and inform, and to try for the love of the skygods to inspire some critical thinking! I don’t have all the answers, of course.
Just most of them.
Until next time, my friends. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @McraeWrites and of course you’re reading this on my website – www.McRaeWrites.com.
In terms of new stuff – my book “The Marionette Man” is launching sometime around the hellscape that is Covid-19, the first novel of many to be set in “Central Universe.” and we just went live with “Something Wicked,” my DnD5e Liveplay show that you can find at Twitch.tv/ToothlessEntertainment, on Spotify as a podcast, and on both my website and www.ToothlessEntertainment.com.
If you like “The Pickup truck Diaries,” buy some of my shit on McRaeWrites.com or support me on Patreon. Because independent art is nigh-impossible in 2020 and I have hosting fees to pay.
Now, let’s get the fuck out of here.