Rejected men lash out because of threatened masculinity, entitlement

Rejected men lash out because of threatened masculinity, entitlement

Editor’s Note: The Loquitur recognizes that both men and women can be victims of sexual assault, harassment and abuse, but the heterosexual male model of the perpetrator is more common and this is why when referring to individuals making unwanted advances, the individual is frequently referred to with male pronouns.

“You’re a stuck-up bitch.”

Many women have heard this from significant others, supposed-friends and even strangers in public.

The process leading up to this phrase is not unfamiliar to a lot women: a man gives attention to a woman, the woman expresses that she is uninterested in the man and the man immediately turns hostile, calling her a bitch.

Dr. Betsy Crane, a professor at Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies and co-chair of the Widener LGBT Task Force, said men are taught to expect women give them what they want.

Women often feel uncomfortable when approached by men larger than them at social events. Photo illustration by Hope Daluisio.

“Challenging a man in particular— we’ll just use the heterosexual model— a women challenging a man around anything is problematic to some degree,” Crane said. “She can get called a bitch and she can get diminished in various ways.”

Women grow up hearing these things, experiencing these situations and being torn down by entitled men from a young age.

In 2014, Stop Street Harassment commissioned a 2,000-person national survey in America that found that 65 percent of all women had experienced street harassment.

“Some guys, when I turn them down, are like, ‘Oh, I didn’t want you anyway, bitch,'” freshman graphic design major Tiara Colon said. “They don’t take rejection very well, I guess.” 

Additionally, street harassment extends past being insulted. Sometimes, the male response to rejection is as intense as sexual assault or violent behavior, as reported by Stop Street Harassment.

Twenty-three percent of all women had been sexually touched when harassed, 20 percent had been followed and nine percent had been forced to do something sexual.

According to a study by the British House of Commons Woman and Equalities Committee, 60 percent of women had experienced sexual assault before graduating high school. In a UN study, most sexual crimes recorded in the study occurred when men were between the ages of 15 and 19. Sexual harassment is extremely prevalent as a result of male entitlement.

Dr. Mark Kiselica, a professor of psychology and the founding dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science at Cabrini University, is a national expert on raising boys with positive masculinity. Kiselica explained that men respond aggressively and forcefully to rejection as a result of an upbringing that promoted hyper-masculinity.

Kiselica said, “Men who think that women owe them sexually and turn to violence— men who think they’re entitled to sex from women when they don’t want to, when women refuse, the men respond with violence— that is an illustration, in the extreme, of the most constricted notion of masculinity.”

Men frequently feel entitled to female affection. When they message a woman, ask out a coworker or compliment a female they see in public, they expect affection in return. When the feelings are not reciprocated, the men often respond with harsh words, sexual advances and even physical attacks. 

Thousands of women have died as a result of being uninterested in dating or sleeping with someone.

In 2014, the Santa Barbara Shooter killed six people and injured 13, blaming women who refused to love him in a video.

In 2015, a woman was punched until she lost consciousness after ignoring the catcalls from a man on her walk home.

In 2016, a man stabbed a woman to death on a train for refusing his advances.

In November of 2017, a Pennsylvania man viciously murdered his girlfriend after she turned down his marriage proposal.

In the summer of 2018, 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts was allegedly murdered by a man she rejected while out jogging.

Male entitlement is revealed in a pattern of men lashing out at women who reject them. Men who grow up with negative masculinity feel they are entitled to women because women are objects for them to possess.

Kiselica said, “Men who are raised with very extreme, traditional notions of masculinity are given the message that women are objects.”

Negative masculinity such as this comes in the form of, “‘Not only are you going to give me what, when I want it, but if you don’t, I will vanquish you. I will destroy you,'” Kiscelica said.

“Men have been largely raised to assume that they have a right to get what they want, especially around sex,” Crane said.

This entitlement is exemplified in today’s age by social media, as men have another platform through which to reach women. Men are not just pursuing and harassing women on the street; they are pursuing women online and lashing out through messages.

When some men are rejected by women, they lash out aggressively.
Visual illustration by Coraline Pettine

Men now have the ability to message women on social media accounts, saying inappropriate things and sending lewd photos over applications such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Men can also use social media to lash out when they do not like the way women are responding to them.

“There have been multiple people over the years who have said these things,” junior elementary and special education major Brittany Lambert said. “In middle school, I used to answer them, but they would try to jump into things like dates. Now, I just block them.” 

“On some social media, there’s, like, f**k-boys. They’re the ones who tend to get angry,” Colon said. “They message you and tell you they think you’re attractive, but if you reject them, they’re like, ‘You’re ugly, anyway. No one wants your ugly ass.'”

Hyper-masculine outbursts caused by rejection can occur at any stage, too. While it is extremely common for strangers and acquaintances to be accosted, verbally assaulted and then sometimes physically or sexually assaulted for rejecting men, girlfriends and wives can also be victims of assault for rejecting their loved ones.

“We know that rape occurs in some marriages,” Kiscelica said. “[We know] that there are wives who are severely beaten and then raped by their husbands because the man came home drunk and he wanted sex that night and she didn’t want to.”

Additionally, this electric response from men who feel entitled to women can occur when the woman has consented, at least to some extent, but not as much as the man wanted.

Kiscelica counseled young women who had been sex workers and heard how clients would lash out when the female would not go as the man wanted.

Kiscelica, regarding the sex workers, said, “They would talk about how they might be seeing the men who are seeking their services and she might be only willing to go so far and if she doesn’t, he’s like, ‘You effing b, you’re gonna give it to me. Who do you think you are?’ It’s almost like he looks at her as subhuman, like she has no rights. Like she’s completely there for his pleasure. It’s despicable.”

“Consent implies that if I say yes,” Crane said, “then everything you do is okay.”

Crane said that teaching men about consent, hyper-masculinity and rejection as well as ensuring women they do not have to be afraid of rejecting someone is the solution. While she feels progress has been made in her lifetime, the end goal is still far off.

“Certainly in schools,” Crane said. “I think we’ve made some progress in some places in terms of boys not being treated like they’re special and different. I think all of these social institutions need to be changed. I’ve got no easy answer to, ‘How do we change masculinity?’ It’s a social process. Things have changed for women so much more in the past 40 or 50 years then they have for men. I think we are reluctant to change masculinity because it is, in some ways, the whole basis of capitalism and competition and it’s a part of our social structure. Hence the current president we have now. Exemplar.”