Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Better Late than Never

My thoughts on #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen.

First off, I have to try and get over my disdain for Twitter hashtags. It goes beyond my well-documented disdain for Twitter itself. A hashtag is oh-so-trendy and it supposedly raises awareness. Maybe for a day or a week or in rare cases, maybe a month, says I; there's just too much happening in the world for "awareness" not to turn into apathy. Wikipedia suggests I might be wrong in this case. I hope so.
The first thing I noticed in the wake of the Isla Vista killings that brought forth both movements: many men seemed incapable of understanding why women were so outraged. I mean, after all, he killed four men and only two women, right? Doesn't it follow that men should be twice as angry as women?

Head, meet desk.

Why does the suggestion that half the human race be treated with respect by the other half arouse such fury in the latter half?--Joyce Carol Oates

Digression: you know what bothers me? Elizabeth Renzetti alluded to this after an unrelated killing spree. Many Canadians know the name of the misogynist who slaughtered fourteen women at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 because, he said, "feminists ruined his life". How many of his victims can you name? These people died for the heinous crime of being women and they've each and every one of them been almost completely forgotten, relegated to the margins, while their killer's name lives on in infamy.

I think the #NotAllMen movement is based on the same wrongheaded idea that hey, lady, it's not that bad--men kill more men than they do women, your argument is invalid.. I mean, I'd be a proud member of that hashtag's brigade because I'm emphatically not a misogynist...but how many women can take one look at me and know that for sure? Particularly in my younger days, when I was a forlorn, forever-virginal nerd of the type creepus getthehellawayfromme?  I'd have never even DREAMT of catcalling a woman, let alone doing anything worse...but how do you know that, just looking at a guy? If I'm afraid to hug someone who seems to need a hug, and even afraid to compliment a woman in case she mistakes it for a proposition...there's a reason for that. How do you think a woman, any woman, "yes all women", feels when they interact with any, yes all men?
How many assholes are there scattered throughout the male gender? I'd suggest it's more than a passing few...I don't know a single woman who hasn't been harassed or worse, and most of them have been the subject of unwanted male attention too many times to count.  Knowing this, I'm frankly amazed the women of my acquaintance can interact with men at all.

Girls grow up knowing that it's safer to give a fake phone number than to turn a guy down.--Kate Tuttle

Imagine, if you will, that you're a manly man, just minding your own business. You walk past a random woman and she suddenly swings a baseball bat at your head. Maybe it connects, maybe it doesn't, but you're a little rattled even if not...I mean, who saw that coming? Now arm every seventh or eighth woman you see with weapons, most of them invisible, a few of them huge and threatening. Do this for every seventh or eighth woman you see for a year and tell me you won't be a little afraid of what any given woman might be about to do.

(And of course some guy yelling "hey baby, nice tits!" doesn't equate to a swing at your head with a baseball bat...don't insult my intelligence or yours by taking this overly literally, okay? Besides, there's no telling what a guy who loudly announces an opinion on a stranger's "tits" might do if he's ignored or backtalked.)

Do you think women don't know that 'not all men' mean them harm? That's never been disputed. They just can't tell us apart, and I don't blame them.

The misogyny is occasionally subtle enough to trip even me up, and I'm a gentle soul. Before I grew up, I used to lament being thrown into the fabled "friend zone" when a woman didn't return my feelings for her. Why should I lament that? A friend is a glorious thing, and God forbid a woman should feel guilty for not returning my feelings in precisely the right measure.

I don't see men making an immediate and  concerted effort to inform any chance acquaintance of their girlfriend's existence, near to the degree that women feel they MUST bring the boyfriend up as soon as possible (presumably because men respect other men more than they do women?)  When a man is beaten up by another man, nobody questions what the victim was wearing.No, what I see is men trying to belittle and delegitimize a very valid concern that, yes, all women share.

No comments: