I don’t know how I missed this.
There is the unwillingness to listen, a ferociously stubborn not getting it on so many things, so many important things. And the obdurate refusal to believe, to internalize, that my outrage is not manufactured and my injure not make-believe—an inflexible rejection of the possibility that my pain is authentic, in favor of the consolatory belief that I am angry because I’m a feminist (rather than the truth: that I’m a feminist because I’m angry).
And there is the denial about engaging in misogyny, even when it’s evident, even when it’s pointed out gently, softly, indulgently, carefully, with goodwill and the presumption that it was not intentional. There is the firm, fixed, unyielding denial—because it is better and easier to imply that I’m stupid or crazy, that I have imagined being insulted by someone about whom I care (just for the fun of it!), than it is to just admit a bloody mistake. Rather I am implied to be a hysteric than to say, simply, I’m sorry.
Not every man does all of these things, or even most of them, and certainly not all the time. But it only takes one, randomly and occasionally, exploding in a shower of cartoon stars like an unexpected punch in the nose, to send me staggering sideways, wondering what just happened.
Well. I certainly didn’t see that coming…
These things, they are not the habits of deliberately, connivingly cruel men. They are, in fact, the habits of the men in this world I love quite a lot.
It brings to mind some posts I wrote a while back called Trying to Have the Conversation.
From my first post:
What has been particularly frustrating for me, is that when I try to have any kind of discussion with men about sexism in our culture, I honestly feel like I’m speaking a foreign language to them. No matter how I try to get them to try to understand where I am coming from, what my life experience has been, most men, if not all, just don’t get it. Worse, they don’t appear to want to understand. And I am speaking of men who are my friends and closer, solid progressives all.
In the comments to this post, I was accused of calling all men knuckle-dragging misogynists.
In my second post I wrote:
What many of us are attempting to talk about is a much larger picture regarding sexism within our culture that is so internalized and accepted (by men and women), that whenever we bring up the subject more often than not we get reactions like yours, even from those closest to us, that either tell us we are taking it too personally or accusing us of labeling you all “women haters.” For me, this is frustrating as hell, for all it does is serve to shut down the conversation. And where does that leave us?
And in my final post:
She concludes with what I’ve been trying to say all along, but wonder if, once again, the men who love us will misconstrue:
So what do I expect for all men – my spousal unit included? I expect him/them to stand up and say “this is wrong”. Not laugh at jokes that smear and make fun of anything female or feminine. Not condone comments made to/about a female co-worker. I expect them ALL to stand up and say “No More”.
That will be a good first step.
Guys, it’s simple. If you can do nothing else, the next time you hear some sexist/misogynistic crap from a friend, co-worker, or relative, put the face and name of the woman YOU love in place of the object of derision. And do what you would do if it were one of us that was being belittled and demeaned. Because when you don’t say anything when that “other” is demeaned, when the time comes for you to speak up for us, your words will be brushed aside because, after all, you’re only defending someone you love, rather than living a life that defends the right of all women, regardless of status, creed, color, to be treated as equals and not as objects or less-than.
Maybe posting this is pointless. But. I’ll give another go.