What do you think of when you hear the word trash? Unwanted, disposable, stinks, worthless, valueless, discarded, filthy? What pictures do you have in your mind? Banana peels, dirty diapers, slimy stuff that you don’t want on your body or clothes? Nobody likes trash which is why we take it away from our homes and neighbourhoods. Nobody likes going near trash.
On Twitter and Instagram, I follow a handful of people that regularly declare, “Men are trash” or when they’re really upset, “ALL men are trash.” The person posting the statement typically receives push back, 99% of the time from men, that shout, “Not all men!” Then all sorts of messages will be posted back and forth until someone is blocked and the claim that men are trash is confirmed.
I respect the stories of those who post the claim that men are trash. This is not a knee jerk reaction to the statement. I can understand the anger and frustration they feel and pain that’s behind their feelings and words. There is a spirit of murder against the women and children of this world and men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. All human beings are capable of much harm but sadly, we must admit men truly do some very trashy things and we do it a lot of the time.
And yet, what does it mean when we say someone, or many someone’s, is trash? Unwanted, disposable, stinks, worthless, valueless, discarded, filthy? We are shaming people. Despite popular belief, shame does not produce good; it never facilitates change. Shame erodes the very part of us that’s capable of change. Shame also produces disengagement, push back, or a desire to fight shame with shame. Think fight, flight, or freeze. Pretty tough to see change happen when that’s how people are reacting.
From that perspective, declaring that men are trash is defeating; it undermines the goal of changing the world for better. Isn’t that what we want?