[Content Note: Toxic masculinity; misogyny; sexual assault; stalking; class warfare.]
Of all the horrideous
post-election Reporter Ethnographies of the Mysterious Masculinity of the Rust Belt pieces, this might be the absolute shittiest, which is really
saying something: "Why I Hitchhiked the Rust Belt in Search of the American Man
" by Drew Philp at the Guardian.
There are abundant egregious failures in this piece — and I will leave it to you to tease out each and every one of them in their appalling abundance in comments, should you be so inclined — but there is no more execrable failure in the piece than its opening, in which is recounted a story of the writer and his accompanying photographer being picked up by a woman, who tells them of being "raped, beaten, left for dead" by an ex-husband who also killed their son in utero and continues to stalk her.
There is no follow-up to this story in the piece. No commentary on what that story, the story of an American woman whose life has been made a relentless misery by an American man, means for a piece in which two men are on assignment "in search of the American man."
That's because there's no room in this story for women at all. There never is.
There is never room for the women and children who are victims of the American man, and who are simultaneously
victims of the class warfare and unregulated capitalism and union-busting and erosion of worker's rights and automation and wage stagnation and insufficient safety net by which many American men in the rust belt are victimized, too.
There is only room for the conjuring of our sympathies for men, by other men who escaped their fate — and deal with the trappings of their privilege by lionizing men of the lower classes with gilded patronization.