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Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

Ladies, let’s have a chat.

We live in a culture – as my last post stated – where, as a female, not only do I not feel grounded in being female, but that I’m surrounded by expectations of what a female should be based on what men want me to be.  There is no shortage of rants we can go on about this topic, about male ignorance, male chauvinism, male ego…

But guess what?  None of that excuses women being sexist, either.

None of that excuses ranting against all men as if all men do anything, because men, being roughly half of the entire population of the world, don’t all think with the same head.  (Nope, not even that one.)  Just like women, men are individuals, with their own ideas, their own ways of being, and especially here in the US, they have sadly short circuited many of their own natural tendencies in the blind pursuit of what they think  it means to be male.

Women, let’s not fall into the trap of following in the footsteps of those whose actions we ourselves didn’t like!

We don’t like being marginalized, let’s not start marginalizing men.  We don’t like being harassed for our sex, let’s not start harassing men for theirs.  We don’t like all being lumped together as being whiny, emotional, manipulative, unfaithful, or  irrational, let’s not lump all men together as being overbearing, sex-crazed, misogynistic, predatory, or emotionless!

Why not you may ask?  Why not, when it seems “only fair” to fight fire with fire; when we do it, it doesn’t “hurt them like it hurts us”?

But it does.  It does, not because men are afraid to walk down the street alone, not because men get harassed at tech conferences, not because men are less likely to be perceived as intelligent or get hired…

But because us treating them like they have treated use does NOT restore balance to our culture, it just makes it even more unbalanced.  I don’t mean that we should just take it.  We absolutely should stand up against it when we are dismissed, marginalized, harassed, threatened, and objectified.  But using this as an excuse to bash men does not solve the problem.

Women are still largely the caretakers of children, whether as mothers, teachers, nurses, daycare providers, babysitters, and more.  Women largely hold these roles in society, to greater or lesser degrees, and therefore our actions and attitudes have a profound effect on these children who may still be searching for where their place in the world is.

That means when a female teacher stands in front of a class of girls and boys and bashes men, she is not restoring balance to a culture out of balance, she is damaging male and female students alike who hear her words and feel her anger.  As women, we do need to have conversations with girls and boys, but it should be in the context of why the negative words and actions are negative, and why they’re damaging.  The conversation should not be shaped by talking about why men are bad or wrong.

Boys don’t just need to be slammed over the head with how awful they are and how horrible they will be when they grow up.  They need to be shown a better way of being, be taught why the current social views are harmful, not just to women but to themselves.

“Why can’t men do that?!”  That’s a good question.  Why can’t they?  We should ask them.  But that doesn’t mean we get to wipe our hands and say “not it.”

Why?  Because it matters more to us!  We’re the ones ultimately affected the worst, so like it or not, we’re the ones who have to keep pushing and keep fighting and keep working toward it.  We’re the ones who have to adopt the most effective means to do this, we’re the ones who have to force the change for the better, because if we sit back and say that’s men’s responsibility, it won’t happen.  And we all know it.

Girls need to be taught why the current social views are harmful, also!  They need to be helped so they don’t just absorb all the negativity and stereotypes.  They need to be encouraged to follow their dreams in the face of opposition – from both men and women!  Even if those dreams are to grow up, get married, and stay home with the kids!  That is a perfectly acceptable dream to have!  And I’m tired of women who want to belittle other women for it.  I’m tired of men thinking they get to dictate my thoughts, thinking I owe them my body, thinking that being angry is the same as being ‘whiny.’

I’m tired of women treating each other like competition, using boys as scape goats, dictating what are or are not acceptable “female aspirations”.

Men being sexist hurts women, girls, boys, and anyone who does not fit a binary gender or biological sex identity.

Women being sexist also hurts women, girls, boys, and anyone who does not fit a binary gender or biological sex identity.

We need to know better than to perpetuate it.  We need to realize that copying negativity does not cancel out negativity.

We need to realize that many, many men don’t know any of this is going on.  That when they do things that are harmful, they aren’t consciously being sexist, they are following the examples that have been taught by society; they’re following the rules they’ve been brought up with; they’re following other men.  So when we confront men about doing something harmful, it isn’t *him* we’re fighting.  It’s the society that taught him, the culture that shaped him, the men that modeled this behavior for him.

A lifetime of learned behavior is not undone in a day.  A lesson of this depth is not understood in a single conversation.  Not for men, not for women.

It “takes a little time to turn the Titanic around,”  Patience and perseverance are things we need to hold to.  It’s personal to us, but we can’t make it personal against them.

Anger, resentment, and bitterness are all understandable feelings to have, but they will not solve this problem, either.  With thousands of years of momentum, we can *want* but we really can’t *expect* even a hundred years to be enough to reverse that course.  We just need to hold to patience and perseverance.

Keep working, keep fighting, keep pushing: but remember we as women are not fighting against ‘men’… we’re fighting against a society and culture that has been shaped by a form of masculinity.  Neither men nor masculinity are the enemy, just the society and culture we’re in.

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