You are Facebook friends with Jack. You’ve never met in the flesh, you connected because you had a mutual friend, or maybe you got talking in a group you both belonged to and discovered you had mutual interests. One day, you open Facebook and on your timeline it tells you Jack liked this:
I think blacks are awesome. I have one in my toolshed, next to my lawnmower.
If you’re anything like me, you would see that Jack liked a “joke” that is excruciatingly callous about the history of slavery, that expresses the view black people are not human, that celebrates and condones racism. I understand enough about white privilege to realise joking about such issues is like Marie Antoinette criticising starving masses from the isolation of her opulence. Clearly, our hypothetical Jack is ignorant and lacks enough higher brain function to feel empathy.
So when this morning I opened Facebook and saw a “friend” had liked this:
…I unfriended him. I didn’t unfriend him because I think he’s a misogynyst, but because he is clearly either ignorant of the extent of the suffering, persecution, bias, violence and objectification women endure around the world every single day (with gay women experiencing even more intense suffering), or he is aware but lacking in the necessary higher brain function that would enable him to empathise enough to be repelled by a “joke” like that.
And if for a second you think: “Oh, but we’re laughing at the idiot who thinks that way, who can’t make a distinction between relationships and pornography, who doesn’t have a clue,” do me a favour and THINK HARDER. When we portray haters as clowns, we portray them as harmless. There are few more dangerous, enabling things we can do.
Picture dress code for the more formal workplace, or a formal event even in an office where the dress code is quite relaxed. You’d imagine people looking more or less like this lot:
Okay, now imagine all of them running a race.I’ll wait while you finish laughing. Even the girl wearing trousers is going to have a problem because she’s in heels.
Women are expected to wear clothes at events focused on their professional abilities which disable them, which limits their capabilities. Can it be that on some subconscious level, this contributes to the woeful state of women in work, especially management positions? Just a thought.
Before you faint, explode, celebrate or whatever, read my description. This word, it may not mean what you think it means.
My definition of feminism is a desire for women to be treated as human beings, no more, and no less. It is not a desire to deny the biological differences between men and women, it’s not a desire for men to be treated as second class citizens. It’s a desire for women and men to be subjected to equal expectations within their capabilities, no unreasonable or unfounded assumptions of capabilities or limitations based on gender, and no expectations based on a preconceived notion of what your interests, tendencies, talents or preferences are because of your gender.
Just wanted to clear that up, and have the definition written for a quick link as a handy reference next time I rant about stuff that annoys me.
I’ve recently come into contact on a regular basis with a person who has brought home the impact of subtle sexism to me. The definition of subtle sexism is:
1. Discrimination based on gender.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.
This kind of behaviour matters a lot. Without the person promoting it meaning to do so, they damage those around them (women are on the receiving end in the vast, vast majority of incidents, but it is totally possible for men to be the victims). Women feel isolated, targeted, and intimidated. Subtle sexists create a hostile environment for women.
The tragedy lies not only in the damage to women, but that the men in the situation are also damaged. Their views of women are warped. In the case I’m aware of, the boys involved are told again and again in little “jokes” and endless anecdotes that women are useless chatterboxes who always turn out to be stupid, and whose views always turn out to be wrong, especially when these airheads insist they are right and the superior male goes along with it just to show the ridiculous woman up for the idiot she is. They are trained to disregard or undervalue the opinions of those who don’t have a penis.
Lastly, the perpetrators of this kind of misogyny damage themselves in a tragic naked-emperor-like way. By contaminating the world with their belief that all women are useless bimbos, they reveal that the only women they ever get a chance to know are useless bimbos. The intelligent, funny, practical, strong, pleasant majority of the female population are smart enough not to hang out with arseholes.