This was originally posted on my personal blog, The Demon Haunted World, but with something else in the pipeline, and wanting to make my position on certain issues clear, I figured why not repost on here? Enjoy.
I’m tired of not listening to women.
Moreover, I’m tired of it being okay to not listen to women simply because they’re women*. Of it being okay to dismiss the concerns of women because they’re being hysterical, sexually manipulative or otherwise exaggerating. I’m tired of my sexual choices going unshamed because I’m a young straight male while every other combination of sexual orientation or gender gets lambasted for being too slutty, too bitchy, or too unnatural. I’m tired of being coddled for my “natural urge” to stare at women’s bodies like they’re a rack of lamb on display because I’m a man and that’s just hormones at work don’t ya know? Of being treated like an idiot who can’t stand more than five minutes without a pair of breasts thrown into my movie/comic/video games; not because I’m not a fan of those, but give my gender some credit here.
I’m tired of subtly (and not so subtly) blaming women for the horrible things that horrible people do to them: for dressing too seductively, for being out too late at night or just plain leading men on like a cocktease. Ever notice how we generally don’t blame the pedestrian who gets run over by a drunk driver, but quickly rush to the defense of a drunken one night stand that might have turned non-consensual? Forget personal responsibility, it’s the girl’s fault at the end of the bar that someone sexually assaulted her, not the one who, drunkenly or not, violated her basic rights to safety and autonomy. If only there weren’t women around, then shitty men wouldn’t be so tempted to act like shit, right?
I’m tired of men who call themselves ‘Nice Guys’ but turn into rageful sore losers when confronted by a lack of attraction from the object of their desire. It’s not the idea of someone being upset with rejection that’s troublesome, it’s a guy being upset because he was due sex/love/a relationship for all the attention and admiration he’s given her, as if she’s something he bought off Amazon. The minute you flip the roles around and ask yourself if you would roll over and play boyfriend to someone who insisted you had to love them because they loved you is the minute you realize how ludicrous the premise is.
I’m tired of seeing the attitudes of the Pick-up Artist (PUA) community become popular, like the idea that women are disposable arcade games to use cheat codes on with strategies, routines and parlor tricks. Least of all because *spoiler alert* I’ve more than dabbled in that world, and while some of the ideals are useful, even enlightening – that things like charm, banter, and body language are skills to be worked on, and not immutable, for example – they’re also surrounded by a deep haze of hostility towards women. Though they are unintentionally funny sometimes, as this Buzzfeed article into the online world of PUA’s shows.
I’m tired of, though morbidly amused by, the antics from the crop of Men’s Rights Activism (MRA) groups that have popped up all over the net recently. These groups, calling themselves the last remaining bastions of masculinity and manhood (apparently never having heard of Mad Men), are nothing more than rotting cesspools of misogyny, racism and facepalming idiocy. Case in point:
The original “male chauvanist pigs” of the early 70′s, were right all along. Women are biologically and chemically ill-equipped to be men. If the Creator had meant women to be more like men, he wouldn’t have given them the ability to bring forth life from their bodies.
It’d be even funnier than you weren’t reminded of the fact that they actually believe all that.
And dear god, let’s not forget how tired I am of the religious yahoos and their political constituents, the GOP, trying their darnest to strip away the reproductive rights of women who dare to have sex without intending to get pregnant. Or stonewalling legislation like the Violence Against Women Act because battered wives simply aren’t fulfilling their wifely duties to their husbands. Let’s sum their position with a passage from their book of authority:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Dumb as these groups are though, what I’m most tired of is the insistence by everyone else, especially men, especially men who should know better, that there isn’t a problem anymore. Fun as it is to traipse through the extreme fringes of open hate toward an entire gender, that’s just what they are, the fringe.
Here’s the thing: Most men and women aren’t openly misogynistic chauvinistic monsters who want nothing more than to rape all womenhood, BUT that doesn’t mean we don’t carry around stupid and misguided attitudes about women’s status in society. For instance, despite working the same jobs and for the same hours (though not for the same pay…) as their partners, women still do a majority of the housework. In the media and elsewhere, we insist that women’s lives need revolve around the men they’re around and when they don’t, such in Brave’s Merida, we question whether or not that means she must be gay. As if that could be the only reason why a young woman might not be interested in boys every second of her life. Certainly not last or least, there’s also the sheer volume of unreported sexual harassment that women experience as an axiom of daily life in every country in the world, including America, of course. Any way you look at it, the point stands; the game’s still rigged.
Men, myself included, are given the benefit of the doubt; in the workplace, in relationships and society. We’re considered the default, and our concerns and needs are the ones considered first. This mostly comes as an invisible boost over the fence, one that doesn’t discriminate between the hateful creeps and the average joes of the world, the latter overwhelming the former. The attitude that women don’t matter as much, their problems aren’t as serious, or that women are things to be looked at, not heard from is an attitude that’s still alive and well. Even if you don’t call yourself a Men’s Rights Activist.
Of course once you start bringing up the obvious disadvantages of being a women…anywhere, you get accused of wanting to destroy the rights of men – this is where the MRA’s come in by the way. For some reason there’s this idea that giving women equal standing in society necessitates cutting men’s legs off. You see this when people complain about rampant false rape reports as a counter to the massively under-reported sexual crimes perpetuated against women; but there isn’t any sort of reputable evidence that the rate of false reports are any more prevalent than those of crimes like arson or theft at 8%. False claims will always exist, regardless of how under-reported a crime is, but wouldn’t women feeling more comfortable about speaking openly about their experiences to the proper authorities only make it easier to collect evidence and sift out the real from the fake? Wouldn’t not shaming people for the sexual choices they make only liberate people to make healthier, happier and more honest ones, as well as rightfully punish those who take choice away from the equation?
Prejudice is not a zero-sum game, where the freedoms of one gender are balanced on a scale opposite those of the other; pointing out women still suffer a wage gap doesn’t mean ignoring the growing chasm of men not reaching college. Men suffer from societal norms too; such as expectations of stoicness and masculinity, of sexuality and power, of confidence at the cost of cruelty. Everywhere you look, our sexual prowess needs to be taken to ridiculous extremes; we’re both fed the idea that sex is all that matters and that failing at that makes us pathetic losers who deserve to be mocked. Worst of all, we’re told it’s biological destiny, that we can’t help ourselves and we’re nothing in the face of a good pair of tits and asses. Fighting back against those perceptions does matter too, but derailing the idea of gender equality because god forbid, bad things happen to guys too, only serves to distract from doing something about either side of the coin.
That’s exactly why it’s important to challenge the role of women as sexual genies who owe us a pretty face and their free time, because it frees men and women alike from the belief of sex as a winner-take-all fight. Fighting wage discrimination challenges the role of women as sole caretakers of the home and lets men be fathers and husbands too. And fighting harassment and sexism in the gaming community, the atheist community or the engineering, math and tech communities makes all those fields stronger and better represented, not to mention shows the idiots for who they really are when they push back against even acknowledging the problem.
Much like when Anita Sarkeesian was attacked for having the audacity to fundraise via Kickstarter for her video series on women and how they’re portrayed in video games. For the crime of exposing sexism in her community, she was summarily beset by cries of ‘cunt!’ and ‘feminist whore!’, her Wiki page vandalized and her videos trashed, effectively enough proving her point before she even started the damn thing. Luckily, with all the attention brought to her by the attacks, she ended up with over 100,000 dollars for her project, a meager increase from the $6,000 she originally asked for, and is in the process of expanding her project to a 12-part series.
Anita’s campaign and the resulting fallout is exactly the sort of thing we need to support, a means of which to start holding ourselves accountable for the way we look at ourselves. To acknowledge that men and women are not on an even playing field yet, and that it hurts all of us.
It doesn’t mean holding the opposite sex to a higher standard. Likewise, it doesn’t mean denying that being a woman comes at a price that men know little about from personal experience – unless they decide to listen and understand from the women in their lives. It means accepting that we’ve been hypocrites when it comes to women, that we’ll sometimes still be hypocrites as we work out and question the societal ideals and mores passed down to us. It means to stop accepting the way we still treat women as justified. I’m not saying we haven’t come a far way since the days of women as martial property, but it’s still an unsafe world** to be a women in many ways, strictly because they’re women. It’s stupid, irrational and to our detriment, also subtle. Realizing that doesn’t make you a FTBully or Feminazi, either.
That is the important takeaway here: it’s not gonna always be blatantly obvious when we as a whole are treating women as something less. It’s not the rapists and misogynists that women need to worry about so much, because again, that’s not most of us, it’s the idea that society won’t be around to back them up when there are politicians, Catholic bishops, CEO’s, and abusive pricks who aren’t interested in respecting their personhood. That’s why 61% of rapes go unreported, or why women find it hard to complain about harassment. Because they’re afraid no one will be there to believe them.
All that isn’t our individual faults, but nothing changes if we don’t shut up for a quick second about the lack of a problem, listen and point out the sheer fuckwadness of idiots who still live in the 18th century.
I’m tired of those morons having a say in the way we treat half the population. Shouldn’t we all be?
*The problem isn’t women are perfect angels and we don’t treat them as such, it’s that we mistreat them because they’re women, or in the case of transexuals and gays, because they don’t fit our picture of masculinity and femininity.
**Let’s not forget that women in plenty of places of the world are legislated explicitly as property. Sexism isn’t dead anywhere. The United States, home of the free and all, ranks 17th in gender equality according to the World Economic Forum’s 2011 report.