And we definitely need to talk about how you’re talking to men.
Ah-ah-ah – I see you sidling towards the door, thinking that you don’t need to read this because you’d never talk about women like whatever I’m about to say. Stay put, Mister. Because I do mean you.
Yes, you. Yes, Mr. I-Respect-Women. Mr. I-Would-Never-Say-Harmful-Shit. Mr. I-Would-Never-Ever-Be-Like-Trump. I’m not just talking to the men who say misogynistic shit today. I’m talking to you. Take a seat. We’ve got some hard things to discuss.
Content note for: Sexual assault, misogyny, sexism, denial, rape culture
Content note for sexual assault, victim-blaming bullshit, rape culture apologia.
If you think Carlos is making really good points and sounds really reasonable, you need to start educating yourself on what rape culture is. Now. Before you open your mouth to advise a woman on what she should or shouldn’t do. Before you nod along with your fellow dudes while they’re explaining this shit at women. Before you ever say one more fucking word, shut up and do some learning.
And keep in the forefront of your mind that what I’m saying applies to trans women, genderfluid, and nonbinary people just as much. Cis and trans women, along with people coded or read as women or femme, but who don’t identify as women, all have to deal with all this shit. And it’s constant. Carlos is just one vivid example in an endless septic ocean of them. Carlos is just one guy among millions who thinks he’s a nice dude and helping women out, but who is actually throwing toxic sludge all over them.
And you, dear reader, may also be a Carlos. I know you don’t mean to be. But you’ve been socialized that way, and most of you haven’t spent much time rethinking your assumptions. I know this because I was once a Carlita. I absorbed those same toxic rape culture messages and passed them on. Yes, women can perpetuate this shit, too, but it’s mostly men doing it, and we need you to stop. It can be done. If I can learn it, anyone can.
I’m contemplating doing a series on sexism in STEM. I’ve got an enormous collection of links on the subject to share, and I think it’s an issue that definitely needs more attention.
If any of my readers have experiences with sexism, sexual harassment, or discrimination based on gender in STEM fields, please do feel free to share if you want your story out there. You can remain anonymous. Email me at dhunterauthor at gmail, or PM me on Facebook. Thank you!
When I was in middle school back in the olden days (hint: it was just after leg warmers went out and hypercolor shirts came in), I had this t-shirt that had a cartoon duck on it. It said “Tall, Duck and Handsome.” I’d done some growing, so it was a little short – it skimmed the top of my jeans, and like an inch of belly was exposed when I raised my arms. This was too much for the puritans of our local school district, who pulled me out of class, called my mom, and told her that such skimpy clothing was not allowed on awkward prepubescent girls.
My mother, who was something of a warrior, read them the riot act. She belted them with facts: we were still little kids. The shirt was cute and funny, not sexy. The shirt covered pretty much everything unless I raised my arms overhead, and if they couldn’t handle that little bit of skin, that was their problem. She had them quaking by the end of her tirade. I think they were about to give up and send me back to class, but she pulled me out of school and took me to have either ice cream or lunch – unfortunately, my memory fades on that point. We had a nice mother-daughter day, and I knew from then onward that my mom would always have my back in battles over dress codes. When they divorced, my dad took over the not giving a shit and expecting other people to accept my sartorial choices. When people would ask him how he could possibly let me wear x, y, or z, he’d calmly explain to them that I was comfortable and creative, and if they had a problem, they’d have to deal with it their own damn selves.
In light of the Tim Hunt saga, now seems to be a good time to rerun this piece. I’m hoping to free up some time to write up some fresh stuff for ye – in the few scattered minutes where I’ve not been obsessing over finding a place to live and how to get rid of a ridiculous number of books, I’ve had Thoughts about privileged people’s responses to both Hunt’s sexist asshattery and the appalling slaughter in Charleston. I hope to share them coherently soon. Right now, I’m just wanting to grab certain people – almost inevitably white men – by the lapels, and shake them and shout at them until some sense penetrates.
One thing I will say is: good. I’m glad they’re whining about witch hunts. I’m glad they’ve been rocked back on their heels by the volume and effectiveness of the response. I’m glad they’re clutching at any excuse to avoid facing the reality that they’re losing. They’re losing their assumed and unquestioned superiority. They are being forced to share, and they can’t stand it. They’re being required to behave, and it’s outraging them. They’re facing actual consequences, and they have no idea why, or how to deal with it. They’re having to confront some damned ugly facts about how society works, and they’re completely horrified. Good. The louder they howl, the more they protest, deny, and try to accuse and redirect, the clearer it becomes we’re getting through to them, and it’s making them more uncomfortable than they’ve ever been in their clueless, privileged little lives.
This is why we raise our voices. This is why it’s essential that we never stop. Not until they’ve finished howling their wretched little lungs out, and are finally ready to listen. Then, only then, we might have a chance to speak without having to shout.
Some people never change. Take the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM). It’s full of men who panic as they realize they’re not actually the Kings of Creation. Women pry a tiny bit of privilege from their sweaty, grasping hands, and they shriek like toddlers being forced to share the crayons. Unlike toddlers, they never learn to share. They just howl persecution and lie a lot in a pathetic effort to get all the power back.
In our first installment, we saw how Mr. William Austin, Victorian MRA Esq., was being terribly oppressed by all those women with their miniscule hard-won rights. But he didn’t give us actual examples. He spoke in sweeping generalities that were, on the whole, pretty meaningless, especially when you contrast his problems with the actual conditions women in the 19th century faced.
Reading this book on Victorian England’s marriage laws is slow going, because I keep running into fascinating women. Mary Lyndon Shanley quotes a snippet of their work, and then I end up haring off after the source and promptly getting immersed in that instead. I made it to Chapter Two, and I did intend to get all the way to Three, but then I ran into Frances Power Cobbe. And I had to read her article “Criminals, idiots, women and minors” in its entirety. It is so full of good things that I will probably quote from it even more. The woman was a caution. She may have been an anti-vivisectionist, but she completely eviscerates the laws against married women owning their own property. She impales her opponents’ arguments on their own logic before she finishes them off with several master strokes. It’s just amazeballs.
Over the last couple of days, Misha’s been insisting on me making a blanket cave for her to sleep in. She likes to pick random inconvenient times, like when I’m asleep, or about to grab the computer and start typing. I could tell her no, but snuggling with a warm kitty is not to be turned down. I mean, honestly, look at how adorable she is.