Monday, April 29, 2013

I’ll bet you never thought that “men not picking up their dirty underwear” and widespread environmental destruction were connected, did you? Well, they are.

The first one is annoying on a personal level and the second one is disastrous on a planetary level, but the attitude behind both behaviors is exactly the same. It’s the arrogance of the Manplan that says “I’m superior, I’m privileged, there are others to worry about and clean up the messes I make.” The Myth of Male Superiority (the Myth) told men that they were superior beings who didn’t need to be bothered by the ancient values of fairness and personal responsibility. So self-centeredness and thoughtlessness have shaped the way too many men think about the world around them (both their personal space at home and their place on the planet) for a very long time.

Dirty underwear left on the bathroom floor (Somebody else will pick it up) and oil spills in the Arctic Ocean (We got our profit, future generations be damned) are worlds apart in scale but driven by the same beliefs. The values of the Myth and the attitudes of the Manplan say that men are superior, privileged individuals who don’t need to be bothered or limited by the “rules” that apply to others. Women and lesser individuals are meant to serve their needs and clean up their messes, and the planet’s resources were given to men by god to do with as they wish.

That mindset began to be seriously challenged in the 1960s by the modern women’s movement (Pick up your own mess!) and the environmental movement (We can’t just stand by and let them ruin our planet!). But if we want to continue changing those attitudes of irresponsible privilege, we must recognize and change the thinking behind them. We must stop excusing and tolerating the Manplan attitudes of selfishness and conceit. Instead we must encourage and call for values of fairness, equality, and long term social responsibility.

Values that say men should not only clean up their own messes, but should do at least half of the daily work of keeping families and households running smoothly. Values that say men must stop treating the planet like their personal cash cow and trash can, and actively support an environmentally sound plan for long term stewardship of our limited resources.

All people, but especially men, must truly recognize that their life is but a minute on this Earth. We must fulfill our responsibility to create and preserve a society and a planet that will be there for the trillions who will come after us hoping for their minute, too.

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