So in 2010, I wrote a piece for AlterNet (two pieces, actually) about unfair gender role expectations for men. I interviewed my male friends, colleagues, and blog readers, asking them about their experiences of rigid, narrow, contradictory gender expectations, and I wrote my essays piece based on what they said. I also reposted the pieces on my own blog.
No, I’m not apologizing for that. I’m apologizing for the titles, and for some of the language I used in the content.
I’m bringing this up now because the first piece was recently reprinted in Raw Story. (AlterNet, Salon, and Raw Story do that sometimes, they reprint older pieces and give them a recent date: I wish they’d run it by the writers first, but they’re big publications and I get that they can’t always do that.) Because it’s being shared around on social media as a recent piece of writing, I decided that I need to apologize.
The titles of the two pieces were Five Stupid, Unfair, Sexist Things Expected of Men, and Five More Stupid, Unfair, Sexist Things Expected of Men.
I want to extend my apologies for using the word “stupid.” In 2010 I wasn’t aware of the problems with this language. I probably should have been, but I wasn’t. The piece also uses some other ableist language (“insanely rigid but impossibly contradictory”). If you want to understand more about why it’s ableist to use words like “stupid,” “insane,” “crazy,” “dumb,” and “idiot” as insults, please read the excellent piece on this by Ania Bula (my esteemed colleague here at The Orbit), Ableism Challenge. She explains it a lot better than I can.
I have a longer piece brewing in my head about things I’ve learned in the last ten years about social justice, our learning curves about this stuff, and what is and isn’t reasonable to expect with people who don’t know it yet. I think that’s a complicated issue, and I’m not yet sure what I think about it. And no, I’m not going to go back through my archives and apologize for every hurtful mistake I’ve ever made (although I am going to edit these pieces to link to this apology as soon as I can). But because this piece has been re-published and is being shared again now, I decided I needed to bring this up. I’m working to keep this language out of my vocabulary, and if I were writing these pieces now, I would not use it. Really sorry.