(This is the second part of the post – see the first part here – short version: words matter, and using them to bully or demean women makes you look ignorant, petty, and sexist so choose your words carefully, even when forming private thoughts.)
I’ll do the #NotAllMen and #NotAllWomen disclaimer again so we can get right to it. As I said in the first part, this might hurt a little, but suck it up. I’ve been here plenty, and I am better off for it. It’s a process. I know it sucks even admitting privately to ourselves that as educated adults, we might still harbor some sexism and/or racism no matter how good a job we think we did of purging it. We’re going to pull that misogyny you thought you didn’t have out of your brain, out of your heart, and lay it out in front of you so you can begin to deal with it, to learn, grow, and move on. This will be good for a us both as I have a ways to go unlearning and relearning, myself. It often happens that I find a post like the ones I share, and I feel the discomfort or the irritation, and I need to take some time to work out why I feel the way I do. No time like the present.
And before we get too far into this, I do understand that the men and women who do this offensive stuff or who harass/assault/rape others are/were possibly victims themselves. This post is very much about getting past our upbringing and the screwed-up stuff society teaches. It’s about rising above it, making conscious choices, being better. As adults, we’re responsible for our behaviors and for our actions. This is about taking in the facts, finding and recognizing truth, and taking responsibility for our own part in all of it, of our society. And it’s about understanding why some people have reacted the way they have to the #metoo movement. To some of us, it’s a ray of hope, possibly even a teensy chance at freedom from one piece of baggage or another. To others, we’re selfish for craving that healing, that hope, that recourse. We’re inconveniencing them or somehow messing up their fun in our pursuit of justice for the crimes committed against us. Because everything is about them.
The poster’s sarcastic comment above was spot-on. The abusive male involved in the screen shots is not unusual. I’ve stories of more than one myself, and many women (and a few men) I know have at least one, which tells you there are more of these losers out there than people realize. Defend abusive shitheads at your own peril; a good many of us are done with them and with you if you try to stand up for them or make excuses for them. They terrorize women. Put yourself in this woman’s shoes. Now imagine she has a child this man could hurt. You get it now? She’s scared of this man, what he’ll do if she goes back to him OR what he’ll do if she continues to ignore him. She’ll go out of her way to avoid him, but what if he finds her? He probably knows where she lives. Suppose she has a child or children to protect. Having a child really is just like having your heart walking around outside your body. It’s wrong that people like this nut have this power over others who have little to no recourse, but it’s reality for too many women (and some men). Have some compassion for the victims of these nuts; don’t assume these situations are all their own fault.
What if he does find her? Or what of many other situations we hear of that end badly, usually for a woman? Do not argue that a woman should “just say no” or “just leave.” We know it, and we do it all the time. Men, too. Most of the time it works, but when we get to the point where there is a story to tell, you can be pretty sure a man did (or tried to do) something horrible to a person who was powerless in the moment to stop him. Stop making excuses for the men who assault or rape women, children, even other men. The victim might have been drunk, and therefore unable to consent. Maybe the victim misread when it was time to leave; that’s certainly possible. That is never an excuse or justification for raping her. Assault is never the victim’s fault. She doesn’t owe anyone sex. Don’t make excuses for the guy who tells a woman she owes him for dinner, for his oh-so-valuable attention, time, or for anything else. Outside of a financial/business transaction (generally illegal but not everywhere) that all involved parties have agreed to which specifies money or some other item of value in exchange for particular sex acts, outside of this, nobody owes anyone sex. Period. Stop arguing for rapists. They’re rapists. Because of THEIR actions, they don’t deserve your support, you know, unless you’re their attorney, of course. If you were there when the incident happened and think you have some way to defend the indefensible, have at it, but don’t expect everyone to make it easy for you to defend a rapist.
The false claim argument is a doozy. Do not make excuses like “well, some people will put in false reports” for people abusing and raping other people. Obviously, people occasionally put in false reports for various crimes, but this is uncommon partly because it’s morally wrong, and partly because you’re going to be found out if you lie about something this important and this serious. When you use this argument to suggest that people shouldn’t have the ability to report their abuse what you’re really saying to victims – mostly women, mostly powerless people – is “a man’s reputation is more important to society than what he did to you.” This is rape culture in a nutshell. Stop it. You’re not helping anyone, including yourself.
Women are just as strong, smart, and capable as men. Yes, there are individual men and women who make bad choices, who probably can’t be trusted to pay their own bills, hold down a job, etc. but that has nothing whatsoever to do with their sex or gender. What I’m asking you to do here is to stop judging every other person or group by your own capabilities or by some stereotype that was taught to you by society. I keep running into women who think other women are stupid or who can’t be trusted to make up their own minds about their health care or to judge what others want or need. Don’t assume everyone else is as clueless as you or whoever you set up as the standard for the sex/gender/race/etc. and then paint us all with your broad brush. Expect more from people. I’m not asking you to find your strength, though that would be nice; I’m asking you to see every other person’s strengths and weaknesses as they are, not as you expect because of the ridiculous stereotypes you were taught growing up. They’re wrong. Unlearn them. Relearn.
Unlearning is a tough one, but it can be done. We hammer some truly awful lessons into our children.
For some reason, we make excuses for men and boys behaving badly, as if they’re all children and unable to control their behaviors and impulses, saying “boys will be boys.” We even believe the stereotypes we teach our young men, that they’re “not emotional” (meaning they can’t feel/express sadness but anger is fine) or that it’s fine or expected for them to physically fight instead of solving problems using other means. We teach our boys and girls that boys abusing us – hitting us, pulling our pigtails, tickling us even though we’ve yelled “NO” repeatedly, etc. – is a sign of affection for us. Then our men grow up frustrated and confused because they don’t know how to (acceptably) express sadness, anger, affection. Hell, we even teach them that they can have male friends, but they can’t be too close because a guy can never cry or hug a male friend or offer comfort or be vulnerable in any way. That’d look gay (and gay is. . . “bad?” why?). But isn’t that all normal human stuff?
We expect women and girls to act mature, to nurture others, to control their own impulses. And then it’s okay for women to “be emotional” (meaning it’s okay to cry for sadness or happiness, or fine to show affection but never anger, and any other emotions need to be held for when we’re only around other women who are also, obviously, emotional woman people *eyeroll*). Women have to sit a certain way and dress a certain way so as to be attractive to men but also not to give the “wrong idea” because any sexual attention is our fault since men can’t control their impulses (back to “boys will be boys”). And we want to be pretty, but not too pretty. Smart, but not too smart, because people (code for “men” because obviously people are men) don’t like smart “girls.” Our looks and weight and clothes and demeanor are everything; they are the sum total of our value as human beings.
We are raised to believe all this and to teach our kids the same garbage, perpetuating these bullshit roles, keeping men abusive and repressed and women weak, powerless, and repressed. . .
And then I’m reading – too often – from women who claim to be feminists all these silly, stupid, harmful ideas and lessons. For instance, I’m told women (who, if you’ll recall, are supposedly the mature ones) need to be reminded like children that we have a lot of responsibility now that there’s a slim chance we might be believed if we report harassment/abuse/rape done to us. It’s super important to these women that we protect men’s reputations. All of us who’ve been suffering in silence as victims because we live in a rape culture (for centuries? millennia?) must be super careful not to harm a man’s reputation. I expect to hear that shit from men. I do NOT expect it from women, coddling these adult male abusers when they were nowhere around when the abuse happened. They don’t know. They weren’t there. They’re just jumping to defend this man’s honor because a man’s honor is above all else, even my or my child’s well-being.
So which is it? Are women supposed to be mature/adult up until we’re actually adults? at which point we can’t be trusted with making important decisions so some man is supposed to take care of us? Are men supposed to be like children and unable to control their impulses or take responsibility for their actions until . . . when? . . . until they can? These stereotypes are stupid. And wrong. And stupid. Did I mention wrong?
We’re humans. Men need to be able to process sadness and loneliness. They need to be able to cry. FFS, they’re humans; we’re humans. And women need to be able to process anger, to not take the blame for everything and everyone, to stand up for themselves and their ideas. We turn all this stuff we can’t process either inward on ourselves or outward at people who don’t deserve the rage and frustration.
We can do better. We teach our children better, and we should expect more.
Here’s one from a blog post on Medium. I’ll share for illustration, but in between some possible good points it was just icky and sexist and dripping with privilege – shame as this person has a following. It would be nice if they’d use their powers for good. Anyway: “. . .Because (Senator Al) Franken was not offered due process, any man knows he can’t expect it either. The only way to avoid a similar fate is the Pence rule, don’t be alone with women.”
I’m sure there would have been due process if there were charges against Senator Franken, but there weren’t. He apologized; she accepted his apology.
And why can’t other men expect due process? They’re men. They are protected by the Constitution. Women, well, not so much. It’s the men who can expect and even demand due process if there are formal charges. Especially white ones like Franken. So no idea where that line comes from.
There was going to be an investigation within the Senate, but Franken quit. They can still do the investigation, perhaps they will, but he chose to leave in the meantime. That’s a party thing. Probably none of my business. I think he should have stayed for the investigation, but the choices/mistakes were his to make (not mine, not the author of the post, and Franken is a grown man – he can defend himself if he chooses to – his second apology was a good one, in my opinion).
The author of the piece I quoted from in Medium is a woman. She’s suggesting the “Pence Rule” is okay or is somehow an alternative to interactions with the opposite sex. Clearly, there were more than two people in the room when the photo of Franken and Tweeden was taken so it wouldn’t have helped, but that’s not really the issue, is it?
I’ll remind you that the “Pence Rule” means that a man, Vice-President Mike Pence in particular, won’t be alone with a woman (other than his wife, aka “mother”), not even a coworker. Ever. Not even for a meal. The argument I hear from men is that’ll mean fewer women in the workplace.
NO. That’s not how this works. If men are having this much trouble understanding how to behave around other human beings, and they don’t think they can control themselves sexually around women, then perhaps we need to HIRE FEWER MEN?
So the “only way to avoid a similar fate (to Franken’s) is (to abide by) the Pence rule, don’t be alone with women,” according to our writer. The only way. No other options. That’s it, America.
But, wait. . .
Did we consider, perhaps, not being rape-y? Because from that line it appears this author doesn’t believe it’s possible for a man and a woman to be in each other’s vicinity without the man risking harassing or assaulting the woman or, at the very least, doing something that will open him up to being reported for something he must have done. This could ruin her fun. And clearly, it’s the woman’s fault that this is just the way things are now. And screw her for making this poor, hypothetical man worry for his safety. (insert another *eyeroll* because welcome to what every other human being besides white, cis men have lived pretty much forever)
Simply offering the “Pence Rule” as the only solution to how to interact with the opposite sex is sexist and demeaning to women, women who ARE NOT the problem. I’m sorry for Mike Pence that his parents didn’t (couldn’t? wouldn’t?) teach him how not to be inappropriate around other humans, but the alternative isn’t just skipping parental duty altogether and suggesting the “Pence Rule” instead. If the people you hang out with are concerned they will been inappropriate/rape-y around women, they probably already are or have been. It’s not our problem as women. We (most of us) don’t have a problem behaving ourselves and controlling our impulses around others. These men need to change THEIR behavior. Not us. THEM.
After months of discussion, some men are still running around worried about what to say – because we can’t do this or say that “anymore” – as if something has changed. Don’t be rape-y. It’s that fucking simple. Learn to find your own power, or get your “power fix” elsewhere, guys, but don’t harass or assault women, children, or other men. It’s not rocket science. Millions of men and women manage to not be rape-y every day, all over the world. Millions. If you’re worried about still being able to have fun with coworkers, perhaps instead of blaming other people who are victims of horrid crimes/harassment for spoiling your fun (wah!), maybe you need to take some time to consider if your fun is inappropriate for the workplace or for the crowd you’re hanging with? Perhaps you also need to change your behaviors?
And ladies, you probably should consider whether or not you want to be hanging out with/encouraging rape-y people. You know, in case I need to point that out to you even though it’s obvious to the rest of us. Adults know the difference between which dirty jokes are okay to repeat in the company of friends and which friends like hugs and which don’t. Obviously, yes, it’s obvious, the way you interact with friends is a bit different than the way you interact with coworkers. And if you or your friends have to make an excuse about “locker room talk” then it’s not something to say in the locker room or anywhere else. It’s probably inappropriate anywhere, from anyone, male or female. You know, like bragging about being a sexual predator and assaulting women. Who admits that? much less brags about it? Oh, yeah, rape-y fuckers.
I don’t accept any of this. I have seen from personal experience, that the vast majority of adults, males and females and genders in between, are perfectly respectful people with remarkable self-control who, when unsure, will ask what is okay with me or whoever else is around. They take “no” or “better not, to be on the safe side” just fine. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you really aren’t sure of what is okay and what isn’t. Personally, I love non-creepy hugs, and even with my abuse history, I don’t flip out about casual touch, but I understand perfectly why some people do. I can respect that. And I do.
Here’s a fun one, also from a supposed feminist:
(I expected the tweet above to come down, gave it more than a week, but this person clearly stands by it. *shrug*)
This sexism, and racism, and homophobia is a load of WRONG information that is screwing up our kids. Our kids are growing up to be the confused and fucked-up adults we are with all this stuff to unlearn.
This thing with people, especially women, making excuses for terrible behaviors and for repeatedly reminding other women the responsibility we have to each other when it comes to reporting crimes is silly. Stop and think before you make excuses for another human’s actions. Stop blaming victims. If you’re being told that an adult assaulted another person, if harassment is being described to you, stop and process the information like a mature adult. What does it take for a person, especially a child or a woman in our society, to find the courage to stand up and tell her story? She knows she’s going to be raped figuratively all over again just for telling? And how prevalent is abuse of women and children by shitbags? Why would your impulse be to stand up for an adult male who can fucking defend himself if he chooses rather than for the person he probably victimized? If you weren’t there when the incident happened, maybe STFU and listen?
Think. And stop assuming women are stupid or should be treated like children. Check your privilege, and have some compassion for your fellow human beings.
While once again asking for and expecting equal treatment and opportunity, we can’t assume/imply that women are children as many “feminists” are doing. As women, as humans, we fucking know the responsibility we have. We’re adults. Adults know the difference between thoughts and actions. Adults – all genders – know not to make false reports or spread lies. As adults we can also recognize when we’ve been victimized, and when that happens we need to feel safe and heard. We need to be able to stand for ourselves and make that report. We need to be able to say “NO MORE!” and be believed and listened to.
If this responsibility is too hard for some of you, turn in your grown-up card and go back home to your parents, but DO NOT think the rest of us can’t handle our responsibility to ourselves and to each other just because you can’t or because it could ruin your fun. Don’t project your problems or shortcomings onto us. We have enough on our hands with sexual predators and other misogynists, racists, our current government, etc. Your misogyny, internalized or whatever, is your problem. It’s up to you to unlearn those lessons. We expect more from ourselves and from each other.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope this post made you think about how you view others and the world. I can’t help but wonder what I’ll see when look back here a few years more into my own unlearning/relearning. What did I get wrong? What did I have right? It’s a process. *hugs*
Link: “Young women reported Larry Nassar for decades. No one took them seriously — until now.” – by Anna North at Vox
Link: “The Mother Wound as a Missing Link to Understanding Misogyny” – by Bethany Webster of Womb of Light
Link: “GOP Senate candidate flips out over ‘women’s rights’: ‘I want to come home to a cooked dinner every night‘” – by David Edwards at Raw Story
Link: “The female price of male pleasure” – by Lilli Loofbourow at The Week
Republicans on rape.
Link: “How NOT to sexually harass someone – The Mash Report – BBC Two” – good points done in a really funny way. Enjoy!
Link: Expect More (Part One) – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Uppity Woman – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters. More on making excuses for men and expecting more from others. “You don’t praise a man for not beating his slaves. You praise a man for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you and fighting for the rights and dignity of every person, for fighting alongside you until every single human being has the same rights and opportunities he does.” This post was important to me. I hope you find it helpful.
Link: According To Men. . . – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Live Your Life; Leave Us Out Of It – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Excuses, Excuses (first in the series) – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Nevertheless (second in the series) – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Don’t Rape (third/last in the series) – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original tweet from Liz Plank.
Link to first (actually posted the day after second one, but first in this story) original tweet from Queen Bravenak Wonderbitch.
Link to original tweet from Closeted Gay Guy.
Link to second original tweet from Queen Bravenak Wonderbitch.
Edited 29 January 2018 to include link to article from Bethany Webster.
#ExpectMore #MeToo #TimesUp