It's The Reality Of Being A Woman In Our World
December 28, 2015 6:02 AM   Subscribe

There's this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women's issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren't there more important things to worry about? Is this really that big of a deal? Aren't you being overly sensitive? Are you sure you're being rational about this? Every. Single. Time. And every single time I get frustrated. Why don't they get it? I think I've figured out why. They don't know. They don't know about de-escalation. Minimizing. Quietly acquiescing. [slhuffpo]
posted by ellieBOA (84 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect that a lot of men want to dismiss these issues because properly acknowledging the severity of the problem would also mean acknowledging the sheer vastness of the degree of change, to a system that privileges us, that would be required to solve it. It's like climate change denialism that way.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2015 [45 favorites]


So when I was younger I absolutely didn't take it seriously. I forget the description that make it sink in, I think something about getting your car in a garage. It was fucking dizzying, and reframed the whole world for me. I remember asking multiple women, "Is your world really like this?" And they were all like, "Um yeah, duh."

And I felt sick. And really fucking angry at the world for being a meaner darker place than I thought it was.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:30 AM on December 28, 2015 [20 favorites]


leotrotsky, I still remember when I realized that men didn't experience the world this way. It was in talking with my college boyfriend. I can't remember what brought it up, but I felt like the whole world changed, when I understood that he wasn't walking with his keys between his fingers or worried about walking around with headphones or any of that. I suddenly felt the bottom drop out, like I had been missing out on something and I only just then knew it.

And the older I get, the angrier it makes me, that half the population has to consider these things very carefully for their actual safety. Of course I still perform it -- if you're not wary and doing all those little things and something happens to you, of course it's your fault! -- but these days instead of feeling sad that I had to laugh or smile to deflect, I feel angry. And even angrier when I think that there are young women who still have to do this just as I did as a teen, and wondering, when will it stop? Will it ever?
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:39 AM on December 28, 2015 [33 favorites]


It's tough because part of the problem is that patriarchy dismisses, de-legitimizes, and undermines the voices of women, particularly when it comes to systemic issues that affect them and those are the very people best able to describe the problem!

It's like how many people didn't believe black people about police violence until video after video after video made it clear that it was a systemic problem. It's a particularly evil Catch-22.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:41 AM on December 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


I find that when I look around to other women to back me up, when I'm being positioned as an hysterical humourless feminist, they're also minimising. They're so used to minimising, they're believing it. And when they're not, they're afraid of being tarnished with the same brush.

In casual, social, conversations, I feel pretty lonely raising this stuff. And it's where it needs to be raised most.

I don't need Emma Watson's white knight men, on their steeds. I want other women to feel free to loudly agree that it happens, that it's happened to us since we were children and we expect it will happen until our deaths. It's shite that they feel they can't or shouldn't.
posted by taff at 7:43 AM on December 28, 2015 [46 favorites]


I always said we have these patch up issues because women are an afterthought. You can have a society that can function to its fullest if women's wants and needs aren't addressed from the get go.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:45 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's like Golda Meir said, we need a curfew for the men.
posted by jamjam at 7:54 AM on December 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


This is very accurate. I don't have a lot more to say, but I think the more women go on the record to confirm this, the better chance we have at getting others to understand.
posted by capricorn at 8:08 AM on December 28, 2015


I have to grin and bear it at my current job. It's not blatant or super creepy in the way it's manifests itself so I can deal with it for now. It's either deal or lose my job. There's no recourse, the guy is the power person in the company and his personality is of the type where there is just no chance in hell that he's mentally capable of even understanding what the issue is. He's also generally a good person but at his core it's become apparent over time that his respect for women and their capabilities only goes so far.

For while I had a hard time understanding why when we had a disagreement about something he wanted it got uber intense, like beyond what has been a normal workplace conflict. Also why in these disagreement I would end up getting lectured, in a very patronizing manner about things that Jalli should change to make my whole life better. Some of these things didn't even make any sense or seem related to whatever issue was at hand.

For a time I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. What I was doing or saying to make him all upset. My mistake I realize now was not focusing on professional ettique faux pas, miscommunication due to types of words being used and not the thing I can't actually control. I am a woman. Oh yeah, duh...sigh...one of these types.

This is just an example of this extra type of 'work' that many women just have to deal with. How do I get my job done with this guy and his 'issues'. In this case when I need something done I act the part in his play. It sucks but it gets the job done, makes my workday and at least I get to take some satisfaction that he's so dense this fault of his that manipulating it isn't hard. The soul sucking part is that because of circumstances this dude isn't confronted and gets to go on being oblivious. I HATE THAT but like the article talks about being a woman means constantly choosing when is a good time to address it and at least in this case, trying to address it would mean no job.

I don't plan to be in this job forever and am looking forward to the day I hand in my notice and will freely give my reasons to the other bosses. "And when it comes down to it, other reasons aside, there is no way I'm working long term for a company that kisses the ass of a manager who thinks it's acceptable to threaten to go to woman employee's husband in order to get her to understand what he's trying to say."

(He didn't do this to me, but when I found out he had it was super liberating because I finally got some not so subtle confirmation that yes, at his core he really does think woman are inferior and that I wasn't seeing things that weren't actually there.)
posted by Jalliah at 8:11 AM on December 28, 2015 [46 favorites]


I'm curious how to get this message outside the choir loft. I've read this piece a couple times, and it does impart some new truth to me, but I was already aware of the general issue and trying to give voice to the issue. But non-feminist and especially anti-feminists just will not read things like this or attempt to process them or internalize it. I don't have an answer, I wish I did.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:13 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Read this article and pick out all the examples of this at work. What makes me both incredulously laugh and and hopelessly cry is how people are acting surprised that this shit happens??!!!" How far in our denial we still are...

http://www.maxam-outdoors.com/politics/pornographic-email-scandal-ripples-through-pennsylvania-politics/2015/12/26/fc411a76-a374-11e5-b53d-972e2751f433_story.html?tid=sm_fb
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:15 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's also generally a good person but at his core it's become apparent over time that his respect for women and their capabilities only goes so far. [...] at his core he really does think woman are inferior

No. He is not a good person. Disrespecting people and their capabilities and expressing that repeatedly are not the actions of a good person, let alone the aggression and not-so-veiled threats. Good people do not write women off as inferior. I sympathize with being stuck having to deal with and work around him, but please don't blame yourself or make excuses for him. Even, or maybe especially, internally.

I also doubt he's not "mentally capable of even understanding what the issue is." Odds are he understands quite well, and doesn't care. Because he doesn't have to.

I wish you the best of luck safely getting away from him.
posted by pibkac at 9:15 AM on December 28, 2015 [43 favorites]


Echoes of Melissa McEwan's The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck

There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil's advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women's Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

posted by emjaybee at 9:36 AM on December 28, 2015 [117 favorites]


Thanks pibkac you are correct. He's not a good person. Reading it again what I was meaning by that is more that he comes off as being a good person most of the time so this core stuff isn't super obvious unless you've been subjected to it over time. It took me some time to realize what I was dealing with and it makes it a lot harder to get help with because other people don't see it because he comes off as a good person most of the time.

Though I think that next time I get pulled into a meeting with other boss about how I need to work on communication issues with this manager because he's unhappy I will bring up the sexism. I've had several, 'we know he's hard to deal with and we know you are right on this issue but we need to make him happy meetings'
barf
posted by Jalliah at 9:37 AM on December 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm a young educated white guy but whenever I read articles like this one I get this dread in the pit of my stomach about graduating with my engineering degree and having to work around a bunch of gross chauvinists. I worry about being in a position to hire someone where the most qualified candidate is a woman or black or gay and suffering consequences from male cishet superiors for choosing them over a fellow techbro. I want to be an ally for feminists and retain my principles but hearing this stuff is pretty disheartening.
posted by azuresunday at 10:03 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's also generally a good person but at his core it's become apparent over time that his respect for women and their capabilities only goes so far. [...] he comes off as being a good person most of the time so this core stuff isn't super obvious unless you've been subjected to it over time. It took me some time to realize what I was dealing with and it makes it a lot harder to get help with because other people don't see it because he comes off as a good person most of the time.

Oh god I know this sort. They're worse than overtly "bad" types because at least with the bad types, everyone gets that they're bad, and there are even a good amount of people who will say, "and sexist to boot, ugh." But with these "good guys"? It feels impossible to win. The worst part is that other men tend to migrate towards holding similar views, to where it feels like the glass ceiling should be called "the dumb ceiling" because you get the very, very clear sense that there is a point of intelligence, always dumber than whoever has the most power, past which you will not be believed, taken seriously, or listened to. Worse, you'll be laughed at, told you "lack initiative," "don't have a sense of humor", "are a bitch", all the good stuff. You are a woman, thus you are dumb.

What's the point of initiative if every time you show it, make a suggestion backed up by factual research and realistic action points, you get a raised eyebrow and a "who told you that?" Fuck. I TOLD ME THAT. Me with my woman brain that thinks. What's the point of a sense of humor if it's only supposed to be used with men who suggest you spend 15 minutes with them in a hotel room?
posted by fraula at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2015 [27 favorites]


I worry about being in a position to hire someone where the most qualified candidate is a woman or black or gay and suffering consequences from male cishet superiors for choosing them over a fellow techbro. I want to be an ally for feminists and retain my principles but hearing this stuff is pretty disheartening.

You really, really need to speak up in those situations and let gross chauvinists know that you disagree with them, because if you don't they are absolutely accepting your silence as tacit approval. And any women within earshot are doing so, too.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2015 [36 favorites]


lately whenever I think about the roles (in a theatrical sense) that women have to play (in a theatrical sense) to survive in the workplace, I think about a particular scene from Jessica Jones. specifically the part of the scene where she smiles.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:20 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


You really, really need to speak up in those situations and let gross chauvinists know that you disagree with them

I plan to. I'm mostly just prematurely disgusted by the fact that I may have to. Or ask in the interview process questions like "how many women has your company promoted to senior positions in the past five years?", et cetera. Or have to risk being pushed out for being a decent goddamned human being.
posted by azuresunday at 10:24 AM on December 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


>> I worry about being in a position to hire someone where the most qualified candidate is a woman or black or gay and suffering consequences from male cishet superiors for choosing them over a fellow techbro. I want to be an ally for feminists and retain my principles but hearing this stuff is pretty disheartening.

> You really, really need to speak up in those situations and let gross chauvinists know that you disagree with them, because if you don't they are absolutely accepting your silence as tacit approval. And any women within earshot are doing so, too.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:10 AM on December 28


For the most part I've carefully avoided situations where I'd be responsible for making decisions about hiring (hell, when you get down to it for the most part I've avoided situations where I'd have to be responsible at all), but in my very limited experience I have found that when it comes to actual decisions in the moment, attempting to take a principled stand from a position within a human-hostile organization — and though we all prefer to live and work in pro-human organizations, sometimes we have to insinuate ourselves into human-hostile ones to pay the rent and keep the lights on — is a great way to get extremely shot down. No one cares about principles (they are right not to). instead, they care about the social signifiers that indicate that the new hire is going to be in their power bloc rather than someone else's (and I don't blame them for this).

So maybe what you have to do is slander the techbro. Find some way you can pretend he's a total non-starter along axes that the ruling group within the office value — find some way to manufacture evidence that he's not a good "cultural fit" despite seeming so at first, that he's weird in some way that might be real hard to handle down the road, and so maybe we should consider the other candidates instead. Institute progressive hiring within a human-hostile organization by diligently concealing what you're actually doing and your motivations for it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:44 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've just run into this at my current job, and it sucks because until now we've had a pretty good group of people that work well together. But a man I work with threw an epic tantrum because he wants something to happen a partictular way, but reality is not cooperating and unfortunately for me I'm a woman who had to explain to him why it wouldn't work. And he threw the biggest shit fit I've ever witnessed in a professional setting. It would never have happened if another man had told him to cut it out and handle things a differet way - the word "bitch" and "hysterical" was used to my face, which was absolutely insane as I was in my calm, just the facts mode and he was the one screaming and ranting.

I'm at the point in my life where being called a bitch means I'm probably doing the right thing (with reality checks with other women to make sure I'm not being a jerk, because that's very easy for me to slip into) so it doesn't bother me, but this event kind of freaked me out and I'm still trying to figure out how to handle it. At this point, I'm just letting him punch down and waiting for my boss to ask me what the heck is going on. But tantrum dude will probably get away with his bad behavior until another man tells him to cut it out, because his "numbers are great". Ugh.
posted by lootie777 at 10:48 AM on December 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


I swear, I do not understand why this problem is not being addressed with organized violence.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Uggghhh. After reading Annika Cicada's link, I can't help grimacing at how often the same thing happens in police departments. I wonder how far off the norm a "study" that parroted a police department's 40% false rape allegation rate is. It's not making that low rate of reporting rapes to police any better.

Screw trying to catch those rare abusers of welfare programs. Where's my court and law enforcement reform?
posted by halifix at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


At this point, I'm just letting him punch down and waiting for my boss to ask me what the heck is going on. But tantrum dude will probably get away with his bad behavior

Lootie77, I can't suggest you're doing it wrong, since you're there and I'm not and you know what it takes. I just find your story the most depressing of all so far. There are certain bright lines where even the most sympathetic manager can't sweep it under the rug. Calling someone a hysterical bitch to their face should be an automatic screeching halt to the conversation and disciplinary action started right that second. What manager could even try claiming well, that might be understandable under the circumstances-NO! That's never ok, even if it did turn out he was right and you were wrong on the technical issue. I know that guy would get set on fire where I work, even if he were a senior manager, and government service isn't known for being a shining beacon of progressive enlightenment.

I guess I have always understood what the article talks about in concept. I realize now I must have grossly underestimated the magnitude, though, if your reaction to even THAT is hesitation.
posted by ctmf at 11:42 AM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where I work it's considered jokey (not harassing) to make dick jokes in group chats (literally this morning) and my director decides which women to hire or not based if he thinks "they'll need a hug" or not (literally last week). When I try to point out this behavior is shitty I am met with disdain. And oh yeah, I'm getting the "you're too emotional" coaching from my manager and director while my director sits chuffed and says my manger is "getting shit done around here" when he acts in the same manner. I have learned really fast saying "yes sir, I understand, no sir it won't happen again I'm sorry" is a very effective way to avoid more shit meeting the fan and spraying back in my face when my behavior is coded as female and therefore a problem to be quashed.

This is in a supposedly "cool tech company" in Austin Texas.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:15 PM on December 28, 2015 [18 favorites]


I guess I have always understood what the article talks about in concept. I realize now I must have grossly underestimated the magnitude, though, if your reaction to even THAT is hesitation.

It's pervasive and it's massive.

Blatantly unacceptable sexism and gross sexual commentary just kinda slide where I work because that's just How Things Are (TM) apparently. Horribly dismissive/demeaning gender-based things said towards women we work with from other companies on the phone, gross commentary about women in general/non-employee women in specific, bikini model calendars, unsolicited questions and advice re: my sex life and men in general, etc.

I attempted to avoid the conversation for a while actually because, you know, picking your battles, but through a combination of me being pretty headstrong and outspoken and the fact that the people involved seemed insistent that I see and comment on the bad behavior that conversation was had and nothing ultimately happened.

It's a small company. The worst offenders are the most important for its success. Doesn't help that I'm new/an outsider/no other women have complained before so naturally it's probably not an actual issue < /hamburger>.

At least before I was sometimes given the courtesy of them saying things in my presence with a tone of 'you're not going to make this an issue are you?' but now we're all just bros having a good time. I'll be glad when I can move on.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 12:18 PM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, my normal reaction would be to push back hard, but he was clearly out of control, and I'm going to be working with him for the foreseeable future. And honestly I'm more upset about being called hysterical than a bitch, but it was so laughably and obviously projection on his part I'm starting to wonder if the stress of his position is starting to get to him.

My boss doesn't like him, so odds are that he'll be transferred out of our area or he'll quit sooner rather than later. If I were contemplating leaving myself, I could try and take him down while I'm headed out the door, but as with Jalliah, this is the job paying my bills right now and the industry I'm in is a small one. If I get a reputation as difficult to work with, it would be tough to find another position.
posted by lootie777 at 12:20 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I get this dread in the pit of my stomach about graduating with my engineering degree and having to work around a bunch of gross chauvinists. I worry about being in a position to hire someone where the most qualified candidate is a woman or black or gay and suffering consequences from male cishet superiors for choosing them over a fellow techbro.

Sorry to pick on you when you're clearly thinking along the right lines, but honestly, the consequences you'd suffer are not the problem. You're a gate keeper - you're a manifestation of the problem - if you're in a position to hire qualified underrepresented minorities and aren't doing so because you're afraid of the negative consequences you might suffer. Part of being an ally is stepping up and putting yourself out there for people who don't have your privilege - using your privilege to pull up others. It's scary and hard, but that's what those of us who have the power in these situations have to do.

You also don't want to deny qualified people opportunities because you're afraid of the stuff they might face in your institution. First of all, you can probably trust that underrepresented minorities and women are going to be able to handle themselves, or at least have a better sense than you do of what is too much for them. Don't pre-emptively take people out of the running on their behalf. And, second of all, if your institution is so fucked up that you don't want to hire women or black people or gay people because of the consequences, START WORKING TO CHANGE YOUR COMPANY.

(I'm trying to make my department take the fact that we are an all-white faculty and a majority-white grad student body seriously. This has involved having kind of confrontational conversations with my department chair. It sucks. I hate being vulnerable. But I also hate the homogenous monolith of our department that engenders accidental racism, accidental misogyny, and giant blindspots. So we've got to suck it up and do it! Right there with you!)
posted by ChuraChura at 12:28 PM on December 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


If I get a reputation as difficult to work with..

My first thought was "I wonder if we have power to control that perception?" and I just want to go hide forever now.

Hugs everyone.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know what the most difficult part of this is for me? Having to parse out when I'm overreacting - which I do when I'm stressing about something - and when I'm being shut down because I'm a woman.

I'm support staff, and I work with sales people. My background is accounting and admin work and I'm great at drilling down on details and seeing patterns in systems. I'm the one that keeps everyone grounded and telling them what they can and can't do, based on our rules and how things work in the real world. Which means I'm telling people in my department, almost daily, "no" and "that's not possible" and "Legal won't let us do that!", etc. It's tough being the voice of doom, but the stuff the group wants to do to make a sale is crazy.

So I'm the office wife, the nag, the Debbie Downer. And it is so hard not to become bitter and just a crappy human being in general because that's what everyone* thinks I am anyway, so why not live up to expectations?

*Not everyone - some men in middle/upper management who have worked in orgs where support staff has not been taken seriously, or is non-existent and have had disasters occur appreciate the work I do. It's the young men and the very old that I have the most problems with. And other women who buy into the misogyny, due to ignorance or just trying to survive the system.

That's the tough part for me - how do I know the difference between freaking out because someone is getting ready to do something that the SEC is going to open an investigation about if I don't stop them, or if I'm just having a bad day and being "hysterical"? I get the same reaction regardless, so it's hard for me to tell.
posted by lootie777 at 1:20 PM on December 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe you aren't being hysterical ever?
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:27 PM on December 28, 2015 [24 favorites]


He's also generally a good person but at his core it's become apparent over time that his respect for women and their capabilities only goes so far.

He's generally capable of keeping on the mask of a good person. That's what assholes learn in high school -- how to appear human.
posted by Etrigan at 1:49 PM on December 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe we should reclaim "hysterical". It's our canary in the coalmine. We need hysterical.
posted by taff at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


Can a woman take time to explain the key thing to me? If you've already made the decision you're willing to hurt someone to protect yourself (a good thing), why limit yourself to an improvised weapon? A short bladed knife with good handle or a collapsible baton with a breakaway wrist lanyard just seems like a better choice.

Asked by an old dude from BFE that taught his daughter how to punch, throw rocks and shoot at a young age.
posted by ridgerunner at 1:56 PM on December 28, 2015


Can a woman take time to explain the key thing to me? If you've already made the decision you're willing to hurt someone to protect yourself (a good thing), why limit yourself to an improvised weapon?

Proper ladies just don't do that sort of thing.

Is what the patriarchy wants them to believe.
posted by Etrigan at 2:02 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can a woman take time to explain the key thing to me?

When I was sixteen, I was told by the older white men teaching my driver's ed class that I should always carry my keys that way as I went to the car. This taught me that, if I did NOT carry my keys that way, I would be blamed if something happened to me, so I do it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:03 PM on December 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


I personally do take a knife that's assisted open with me everywhere and carry it in my hand in those situations.

But I think the key thing is because you will always already have your keys with you and out (they should be out, so you're not fumbling with them at your car and being vulnerable to attack there, too), so they're already available.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:04 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


P.S. I'm thirty-one now and I still carry my keys that way because if, God forbid, something goes wrong, I don't want to deal with assholes asking me why I didn't have my keys out. I do not do this because I think it will be immensely effective.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:04 PM on December 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yes, as Mrs. Pterodactyl said and as I said in my first comment, "Of course I still perform it -- if you're not wary and doing all those little things and something happens to you, of course it's your fault!"
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:05 PM on December 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


The show Elementary really makes me want some baton training, though.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:06 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


why limit yourself to an improvised weapon?

Because you'd have it on you at all times? Because you can hide it so it's not obvious you're carrying it (not at all true with a baton the way you are suggesting, I'm not a person who carries a purse). Because having a weapon might be admitting that you were potentially going to be aggressive which might be a bad thing in certain circumstances/situations? Because it's possible an actual weapon would be used against you if you were in a real conflict? Because for a lot of women, carrying around an actual weapon is problematic for other reasons, basically.
posted by jessamyn at 2:06 PM on December 28, 2015 [46 favorites]


Because having a weapon might be admitting that you were potentially going to be aggressive which might be a bad thing in certain circumstances/? Because it's possible an actual weapon would be used against you if you were in a real conflict?

These are REALLY good points. Part of deflecting and minimizing is also de-escalating instead of escalating. Having a weapon in plain sight may actually attract the wrong kind of attention, and many people can be overpowered and have that weapon taken from them and used on them.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


+1 on the "your weapon can be used against you" point.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:12 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh god, not the weapon derail AGAIN!
posted by matildaben at 2:28 PM on December 28, 2015 [37 favorites]


fiercecupcake

Smith & Wesson makes 12" Compact Collapsible Baton that's 5" closed and looks like a penlight.

Everyone else, thanks for the answers. I'll think about them while bedding down the livestock for the ice storm coming in now.
posted by ridgerunner at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh god, not the weapon derail AGAIN!

Sorry. I'm a small guy and have carried a knife in case of ...dudes for a long time.
I'll shut up now
posted by ridgerunner at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get this dread in the pit of my stomach about graduating with my engineering degree and having to work around a bunch of gross chauvinists. I worry about being in a position to hire someone where the most qualified candidate is a woman or black or gay and suffering consequences from male cishet superiors for choosing them over a fellow techbro.

I have two things to say about this, as a ostensibly decent guy who also works in a STEM field.

1. First of all, the consequences for you are never that bad. You're still on their team. It's not like it's friendly fire, it's more like you ordered a hot dog when they all got burgers. Unless the other person being hired is an actual friend of the other people involved this will likely be less of a thing than you think.

2. In addition to that, yea, i agree with others that this is one of those situations in which you really just have to buckle down and throw yourself in the gears of the machine. Everything i've seen has shown me that standing up for the right thing just isn't that hard when you're the person in a position of privilege. Think of every time in your life a woman said something to an argumentative man, you said the same thing, and suddenly he agreed with you*. Just siding with them in this situation pushes the cart a lot further forward than you'd think.

But yea, seriously. Privilege is power in these situations. Take some more confidence in the fact that very often, if you're an Experienced Dude whose gained enough clout in the organization to be choosing between new hires you're not just an educated white guy who is on bro team, you're a respected educated white bro team guy.

People will listen to you. People will question you a lot less than you think, even if without your input they wouldn't make the choice you're advocating. You can turn the wheel a lot more than you think.

I haven't been the interview selection process person, but i've been putting myself out there a lot more lately just in general. Including to shut down bullshit conversations in the workplace. The amount to which you can disagree when you're seen as part of the in-group Vs when you're not is really, really depressing. It's up to you to take advantage for the side of not-awful.

*When i was younger i used to just think i was really good at explaining things. Then i watched it happen repeatedly to some of my very smart, and very well spoken lady friends and now depending on the tractability of it in that moment, i roast the shit out of the person who just did it. I don't scream at them or anything, but just a "Well i can't take credit for this one, Ashley just proposed the same thing 10 minutes ago. And since it's not my idea, i think she has a better explanation of how it could be implemented. Was there a reason it wasn't considered initially?" and watch them say something reaaaallllyyyy stupid or vague.
posted by emptythought at 2:40 PM on December 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


Maybe we need to explain it better.

I just internally groaned when I read this line. We always think that if we could just explain that maybe guys would listen and understand. But that's the whole point: Too many guys, sometimes even our partners, are unwilling to listen and understand when a woman is explaining something.

There are a million labels for women trying to explain things so that men will actually listen and understand: There you go again with your self-justifying tirades! Why are you always making excuses? Why are you so defensive? Why can't you just accept that I know these things and stop asking questions? Why are you always rationalizing things? Why can't you just trust me (and stop talking)? Why are you always overthinking things? Why do you always have this complex back story for everything? Why can't you just get along? Why are you always telling me these things when I'm trying to play this game/listen to music/relax/sleep? Or my favorite, why can't you just listen to me (when they've just refused to listen to you)? Etc. It's kind of like sea-lioning, only specifically using nouns and verbs that belittle the very act of trying to use words to say things about what you think or believe.

At a certain point, with certain men, you start to realize there's not a lot of point to continuing to try to speak up for yourself, even when it comes to explaining the logic or the "why" behind a given suggestion or decision or request. And that's why it's harder than just "Maybe we need to explain it better" or "Maybe we should talk about this more and make this more visible." It's just like with the emotional labor discussions we had a few months ago—for women, it's rarely as easy as "Say it and they'll believe it."
posted by limeonaire at 2:55 PM on December 28, 2015 [34 favorites]


Before I lost about say, 92 percent of my male privilege I'd do a thing where I "steal the mic" and pass it to the women in a meeting.

Because dudes can interrupt. In boy mode I got pretty good at it. Then I realized "I'm one of those asshole dudes interrupting men and women! I MUST NOW CORRECT THIS."

So for a good 7 or 8 years I'd do a thing where I interrupt then say "Jennifer has something to say, Jennifer, can you tell us what's what with what it is we're discussing here?" And she would the speak. And when a dude would interrupt. And I would re-interrupt the dude and "pass the mic" back. Until she had said what needed saying.

Nowadays I can't do that anymore.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:17 PM on December 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


Ugh. I'm (hopefully) starting a new gig in a few weeks, my first presenting female. Whoooooo........
posted by odinsdream at 4:40 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I should clarify, of course, that I've gotten cut off this way when I tried to explain ideas to other women before, too, as if listening to me or accepting my ideas would threaten their power. I've seen it happen to former colleagues as well—a woman will be branded as not worth listening to in some way, and then other women will play out the discrimination themselves in order to get a chance to be heard. Some women with a lot of privilege and/or who have been lucky in life say a lot of the things ascribed to men in this article. I've also seen women go so far as to acknowledge the discrimination and dangers women face and say it's too bad, such a shame, then turn around and pooh-pooh the thoughts of their women colleagues, as if it weren't all part of the same system. We minimize each other.

That's how they get you—when you internalize the belief that if a woman does it to another woman, it can't be sexist or misogynist or patriarchal. So to be clear, it's not as simple as "guys dismiss women's ideas," or guys don't understand what women do to make it, end of story. Sometimes women don't give each other space to be heard or contribute equitably because they end up (even unwittingly) playing the same game.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and all that.
posted by limeonaire at 4:54 PM on December 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is a question for the guys and other male presenting folks out there because women and other female presenting people have to deal with enough dumb questions as is: as a guy, I know I am in a position that I should be able to be an ally. I tend to hear this sort of thing only at work (and only occasionally, I am glad to say). It never comes up in a conversation that I'm in, so I don't get to use the "I don't get it, please explain" technique. Is there any good way to interrupt an overheard conversation (and if I'm hearing it, women around me are also) to tell guys (who are roughly in the same rank as me, if in different positions) that it's not cool? I know I should, but it gets super awkward feeling and then the moment is gone.

To those who have to deal with this sort of shit daily, I'm sorry there are crappy allies like me out there. Hopefully, I can be a better ally in the future.
posted by Hactar at 4:59 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


women and other female presenting people

Sorry to derail, but this phrasing is kind of gross.
posted by transitional procedures at 5:16 PM on December 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I recall there have been some AskMe questions along those lines, so you might want to check them out.
posted by odinsdream at 5:25 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the value of these kinds of articles, but I worry that the sheer repetition of these sorts of articles and stories reinforces the idea that women's lives are nothing but a constant battle against oppression and sexism. There is huge value in sharing your experiences and having them validated and corroborated, and I don't want to discount that! But it makes me concerned that these are the dominant stories about being a women that people are asked to empathize with. And then other stories about women that don't play on the same sympathies or fears that men have for the women they love ... just don't get the same support, or the same eyes, or the same empathy.

I hope that people realize that being a woman and feminism and being a good ally are about more than just grasping that woman experience sexism and harassment and supporting us through those experiences and speaking out against them. Those are REALLY IMPORTANT parts of being an ally, but you have to be willing to be interested in the other stuff too. Kids. Housework. Emotional labor. Badass main characters who are really good at things. Playing sports. Menopause. Periods. And you have to really listen. And you have to really empathize. And you have to be willing to take the initiative to seek out stories and answers to your questions (that I promise have been asked before). Just being horrified that women get talked over or not hired doesn't give you cookies or kudos or excused from doing the other heavy lifting of being an ally.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:33 PM on December 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


Playing sports.

Ick, sports.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:37 PM on December 28, 2015


(sorry, extraneous being a woman in the first sentence of the second paragraph)
posted by ChuraChura at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think maybe extraneous being a woman is sometimes permissible, so long as you apologize for it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:19 PM on December 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


> Sorry. I'm a small guy and have carried a knife in case of ...dudes for a long time. I'll shut up now

Can I gently suggest that instead of saying "I'll shut up now," which makes it sound like you're perhaps sulking or giving up (tone is hard to read over the internet), that you could instead recognize that asking women to "explain" a commonplace behavior was really asking to justify it. Specifically, to justify it against your bright idea because...what...you haven't stopped to think that most women have probably heard of knives?

Hey, instead, start out with the presumption that there is some real logic behind the fact that many women habitually carry keys pointy-side out versus the sort of weapons you suggest. Fairly consider the pros and cons of each objectively, then ask for an explanation. I don't mean "google it and see what women have said is their explanation," I mean think it through for yourself. Yes, that's a little work.

Coming back around full circle here, it's akin to the sort of work that women are expected to do constantly regarding every damn thing that we attempt to say, which is part of the reason why the "just askings" are met with a frustrated sigh.
posted by desuetude at 7:21 PM on December 28, 2015 [26 favorites]


Maybe you aren't being hysterical ever?

I can honestly say the only time I've been legitimately hysterical was at a restaurant in Key West in the early 90's, massively hung over, and being told they had no white bread for toast. I had a complete melt down and had to profusely apologize to the waitress, my roommate, 3 pedestrians and the manager.

But there have been occasions where I have lost my temper at work, through nothing but sheer stress. I can usually control myself when things happen, and I've only truly lashed out a few times over a 15 year career. I was called out for it, and rightly so because it was my stress causing me to freak out, not a red alert situation that called for someone to scream.

So, it's absolutely absurd and maddening to be accused of "being too emotional" (and what does that even mean? Like, do you think I'm going to drip my excess emotions onto you?) or told to "calm down" when it's not warranted. It's so effective, so saturated into our culture and society that it's hard to catch, even when it happens to you, unless you know to look for it. And you can't really fight back against it because everyone in the room has their script ready to go, memorized and ready to shut you down.

I appreciate the value of these kinds of articles, but I worry that the sheer repetition of these sorts of articles and stories reinforces the idea that women's lives are nothing but a constant battle against oppression and sexism.

I'm so torn about this, because on the one hand there are so many people out there who don't get that this is a problem or that their behavior and actions contribute to it, that every bit of exposure is important to drill the message home. On the other hand, yeah it would be great if the entire spectrum of women's experiences could be considered important enough to engage with, not just for the sake of loved ones or for what is particularly awful and click bait that day. But it's asking a hell of a lot for the privileged group (and they have been privileged for thousands of years) to take that on. Not that they shouldn't, but it's hard work and depressing to think about and when it comes down to it, they don't have to.
posted by lootie777 at 7:25 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I taught my 13 year old daughter the key thing when she started staying home alone after school. And we live in a really safe, upper-class neighborhood. She walks by five houses from the bus stop to home.

The first year she was a latch-key kid, a neighborhood boy forced his way into our home. He was younger than her, but bigger and stronger, and she was terrified. She told him that he couldn't come in when her parents weren't home, but, bigger and stronger. They were friends. She stayed safe, thank the universe. Now she refers to him as a dickhead, and I don't correct her.
posted by Ruki at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm currently working in an 11-person company where I'm the only woman. I don't feel any straight up discrimination, but definitely some shifts in behavior. For one, there's a foosball table in one of the offices and people play foosball for a few minutes multiple times a day. The door is closed, but you can still hear some of what's going on and see through the windows. When I'm not playing the noise in the foosball room is loud and raucous - lots of yelling and laughing. When I am playing the mood is definitely more subdued, calmer and a little awkward.

Another example: we have a group chat that the whole company uses for funny pictures and "I'll be in late" messages. I scrolled back to the time before I was there and the sense of humor is rougher and there's a lot more participation.

As much as I do have a sense of humor similar to that of a 12-year-old boy, I have to mind how I show that. Last time I tried hard to be "one of the guys" at work, I got left in a parking lot at a strip club while the guys went in.

I dislike feeling that I'm a buzzkill or that people have to alter their behavior or speech around me, but it's not my behavior it's theirs. Even in liberal Portland, OR, where I don't witness much blatant misogyny, there's still something that others me and makes me feel less accepted.
posted by bendy at 8:21 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


desuetude

I think its safe to assume the average IQ, linguistic ability and diversity of experience in a self selecting community like MeFi will be different than what I find out here in BFE. Then also I come from a tradition where learning how, why and when to fight well starts before kindergarten, and my first real world example of justified violence was provided by my mother defending herself against a large man. So yes, choosing an inefficient weapon when there's a need continues to confuse me.

Again, thanks to everyone who replied, especially Mrs. Pterodactyl for making it very clear why she uses keys. Unfortunately for me, the underlying assumptions of these decisions are so foreign they still seem incomplete.

matildaben was right it was a useless thread derail. The assumption a hillbilly wouldn't think about a question before asking might need a just a little reconsideration.
posted by ridgerunner at 9:55 PM on December 28, 2015


[Hi ridgerunner, moderator here. The discussion of your question has pretty well run its course -- asked and answered. As you say, best to let it be at this point, so the thread can continue to discuss the article. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:03 PM on December 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know what the most difficult part of this is for me? Having to parse out when I'm overreacting - which I do when I'm stressing about something - and when I'm being shut down because I'm a woman.

This is near impossible and what I deal with all the time and have dealt with for years. It's like I almost wish for the kind of nasty overt sexism like someone patting my ass or something, because at least that's concrete, something I can point to and label sexism and be believed. But what I deal with all the time, at every job I've had are the more subtle things that most people don't see, most people don't realize they're doing and leave me second and third-guessing myself almost to the point where I'm gaslighting my goddamn self because I just don't know. I can't tell and I want to be generous in my interpretation, err on the side of caution because being labeled one of "those" women is like the kiss of death in any job. Ask me how I know.

Right now, I'm dealing with something at my job and I've been stressing myself out over it for a few months. I could type the whole thing out but I'm tired of thinking about it and right now I'm off until the new year and am upset that it is still bothering me when I'm not at work. Because I have to do something about it when I get back and I don't know what to do or how to present it in a way that doesn't make me seem like a complainer, not a team player or god forbid, have it come off as me accusing anyone of sexism.

Basically on my team of three people, my boss, myself and a junior guy, I am the only woman. I do not have access to my boss the way the other guy does because 1) they both smoke and go out together multiple times a day and have all sorts of conversations talking about god knows what, and 2) my manager is too busy (legitimately) to have his weekly one on ones with us (even though he's supposed to) so if I need anything from him, I have to basically take him away from other work he needs to be doing and he's already stressed to the max with it. I KNOW I have every right to ask this of him and part of his job is to do this, but guess who runs the risk of getting branded a huge pain in the ass for even asking? Luckily for the other guy, that's not a problem, as he easily gets 15-30 minutes (or more) a day alone with our manager due to smoke breaks together. And then I get to hear about it all the time from this guy whenever I say something to him - "oh yeah, [manager] and I were just discussing this the other day and we think..." as if they're part of a secret club with their privileged information sharing that I am lucky to be privy to. This includes the bonus of being mansplained to by a guy who is junior to me and has been working in the industry less than half the time I have, who is more or less empowered to talk to me this way because he has extra access to my manager and therefore extra information that I don't get due to their smoke breaks together.

At this point, I'm just so tired of it. It feels like a neverending fight and it just takes it out of me. All the second-guessing of myself, all the mental and verbal acrobatics required to soothe the potential defensiveness/hurt feelings/whatever of my male colleagues. That's if they even have the good sense to get defensive, i.e. they haven't outright dismissed me for some stupid thing, and me trying to guess if that might happen, under what circumstances it would happen, what do I need to do, how to I need to modify my behavior to prevent it, is preventing it even possible, etc. It is exhausting.

I now understand when I see women of a certain age, who I know for a fact understand this stuff, but they just quietly put their heads down and do their work and wait for retirement and don't bother with fighting anything except maybe the most egregious things. Because it's not worth it. Because in the end it's us just putting our necks on the line and sacrificing our jobs and security, and for what? Nothing really changes. Maybe we can get men to stop slapping our asses, but if they still hold these deeply embedded beliefs and biases about women that put us in a position of not being able to win no matter what we do; and if they still get either dismissive or defensive when women try to talk about this at all, then what does it really matter?

Of of my very favorite pieces that I read on race in 2015 was this essay (there was also an FPP about it), where a black man discusses why he will not discuss race with white people anymore and it mirrors a lot of what the link in this post is discussing. It is an amazing, amazing essay and I think should be required reading for everyone. There is one line that really struck me when I first read it, because it was so powerful, and which still echoes through my head today when I am thinking about issues regarding race - "Once you let yourself see it, it’s there all the time.".

This is true. I go through my day and I see little incidences of racism played out every day, everywhere. And I know that by privilege of my white skin, there's still a lot of it that goes unnoticed by me. The same is true with sexism. Except I don't have any gender privilege that shields me from that. I see all of it. It is there all. the. time. And that's with me being generous, giving people the benefit of the doubt, understanding that most people don't intend to do it and are maybe well-meaning, but are doing it anyway. And that it still matters because the actions of unaware and well-meaning people still have an effect on me and other women.

And I'm just tired of dealing with it. I'm getting closer and closer to just putting my head down and just doing my work and keeping my job. But to drive home how sick of it I am, I would actually put a monetary value on it. I would likely be willing to take a pretty significant pay cut if it meant that I could work in a women-only environment. And this is being well aware that women are often complicit in the same system. I would still take the pay cut. Because as much as I love men and have lots of men in my life that I love and cherish as dear friends (including many current and former male colleagues AND managers), I am tried of dealing with this in the workplace. Tired of anticipating and soothing over hurt feelings and egos, letting things slide, listening to people Tell Me Things, the multiple little indignities and microaggressions that are part of day-to-day life in a job. And when I stand up to it in even the slightest way (e.g. not letting someone talk over me, not automatically volunteering to take notes in a meeting) being penalized for it in subtle but noticeable ways. I'm just tired of it.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:02 PM on December 28, 2015 [29 favorites]


I was just participating in a facebook conversation that elevated SO QUICKLY in related ways that it's legitimately a little scary.

A friend works at a fancy movie theater in town and posted about how obnoxious it is that men keep giving her a hard time for not having seen any Star Wars films before (and that this was a clearly gendered interaction). Some guy said "But dudes do this to dudes all the time!" and I commented that #NotAllMen and its conversational relatives are really unhelpful ways to respond to things like that. I was told that women need to lighten up, he would never do that, and he's certainly never seen anything like that happen so it must never happen and any times when it did seem to happen were taken out of context. I said that it's great that he wouldn't do that, but he should consider that women know more about their experiences of the world than he does and there are times when it's worth just sitting back and listening. And so he responded "LOL you feel cornered. You are your own worst enemy. I'm done walking on eggshells if all I'm ever going to amount to is a sexist asshole. Fuck this and fuck you."

And so now I'm going to back to thinking that I guess the world at large isn't ready to talk about all the other parts of being a woman and apparently we do need to offer up our fear and the worst parts in an effort to get men to empathize and understand even just a little. And I'm feeling nervous about the next time I interact with that guy in real life. If that earns me a fuck you and an LOL you feel cornered, what's real, difficult conversation going to get me?
posted by ChuraChura at 5:44 AM on December 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'll admit when I saw this fpp I just kind of internally shrugged and was like 'welp another one of these' and kind of moved on mentally. I still read it but honestly just kind of nodded along and despite myself I did have the thought 'why do we need another one of these' as sort of an isn't-this-ground-we've-tread-already thing.

But I think that's because I'm already dealing with this and talking about this every single day on tumblr, twitter, in real life that I had that reaction. Because this shit comes up every single day and I think my attitude a mix (for me) of over-exposure and maybe a little bit of fatigue.

But still, most importantly, every time I come into a thread like this and read it's a pretty stark reminder that we could pretty much use as many fpp's on this kind of topic that we can get. Every single time there's at least one man asking questions about one aspect or another which in the best cases serves as education for the men asking the questions and at worst indicate pretty clearly that yeah, these articles/discussions/fpp's are still as important as ever. Maybe tangentially, but maybe it's also good to be reminded of what other women are going through, and have the opportunity to offer some support.

Especially when this: "Maybe we need to explain it better." is still a line in these articles. I get where she's coming from, but I think we're explaining just fine and the disconnect is on the other end. Maybe we just need to keep explaining it louder and more frequently.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 7:25 AM on December 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


The other thing that gets me about trying to engage men in being good allies, helpful allies, against sexism is the sheer emotional labor involved. I have exactly one male friend I'll talk to about this stuff one-on-one right now, and the whole reason he gets to be special is that he never tries to make me deal with his emotions about the stuff I and other women deal with. Everyone else, well, I'm not touching that conversation unless there are a lot of women or nonbinary folk around who I trust to have my back.

It's not enough that you make men aware of things like this. Then they feel bad, and you have to deal with their desperate attempts to make the situation better right now, to solve the problem enough that they don't have to keep feeling bad. There's a flurry of suggestions--how am I not surprised that weapons came up? Actually I'm kind of startled that you all dropped that shit as fast as you did. Or they try to minimize it, so it's not that big a deal, so they don't have to sit with the shittiness of it and the lack of control. Or they try to change the topic.

Men, in my experience, do not know how to sit with a huge shitty thing, acknowledge it, and temporarily shove their feelings aside in favor of temporarily supporting someone else's. Sometimes there isn't a quick fix or a good solution. Sometimes it's a shitty thing, and the only thing that you as a privileged person can do is acknowledge that it's hard and see if there's anything you can do to help; and sometimes, the only thing you can do to help is sit with your friend in her shitty situation and tell her her reactions are valid, her feelings are valid, and reaffirm that she's not crazy. Because hell, we don't need other people to gaslight us about our perceptions of work; we as women, we do that all on our own after a while. It's pre-emptive; better to second-guess yourself than trust someone with a vulnerable experience of your own and find they're just going to reaffirm your hysteria and your tendency to miss things, to make things up, to get all overblown and emotional about things. It's easier, too.

Sometimes, your feelings about how hard being a good ally is aren't the right thing for that particular conversation. Sometimes your feelings about how to be a good man and your understandable confusion--look, see how I'm putting my feelings aside and affirming yours?--sometimes those feelings stand to put a burden on someone who's already burdened, at the exact same time as you are trying to help. Sometimes there isn't a thing you can do except listen, and maybe rant at someone who shares your privilege about how shitty all this shit is--women already know. Hold your feelings to yourself for a moment, and when you need to put down your feelings about sexism, try handing them to a man rather than a woman.
posted by sciatrix at 7:33 AM on December 29, 2015 [41 favorites]


And, goddammit, this line: Maybe we need to explain it better. That line. That line is so, so, so fucking exhausting. It puts so much pressure on women. Sometimes there just isn't a perfect way to phrase this shit, but the constant fucking self questioning about the "ideal" way to handle these things... well, it's such a cognitive and emotional energy burden that it just results in not bringing the topic up at all.

Which is, I suppose, the easiest thing. All of this shit is about energy, after all, and you gotta live, you gotta love, and everything is a cost-benefit negotiation. But the way that women are always handed this fucking minimization deal--the way that you try and bring this up and people look for any goddamn logical opening to make it a smaller thing, a thing that doesn't matter as much, to not have to sit with the magnitude of what you are trying to tell them--why the fuck is it always our motherfucking responsibility to say it perfectly the first time? Why can't other people listen and try to understand in the first place? Why do we have to explain it over and over and over and fucking over again and hope that maybe this time we'll hit the right cheat code combination of words in the proper order with exactly the right emphasis?
posted by sciatrix at 7:40 AM on December 29, 2015 [19 favorites]


The other thing that gets me about trying to engage men in being good allies, helpful allies, against sexism is the sheer emotional labor involved. I have exactly one male friend I'll talk to about this stuff one-on-one right now, and the whole reason he gets to be special is that he never tries to make me deal with his emotions about the stuff I and other women deal with. [...]

It's not enough that you make men aware of things like this. Then they feel bad, and you have to deal with their desperate attempts to make the situation better right now, to solve the problem enough that they don't have to keep feeling bad.


can I favorite this fifteen times or do I need to get indecisive about my mefi username again

'making men feel better about things' in my life even applies in to conversations like 'hey boyfriend it's been 3 days and you still didn't do the dishes' (the 'i still love you though' is supposed to be implicit but here we are). it's amazing and it's not just him. so if that's how an easily resolved problem like doing the goddamn dishes goes guess how eager I am to talk about institutionalized sexism/misogyny somedays
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 7:47 AM on December 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


"Maybe we need to explain it better" is awe-inspiring in its optimism that all men are reachable given the right words, rather than the more depressing probability certainty that some/many aren't open to hearing it in any way, shape, or form.
posted by phearlez at 7:49 AM on December 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


This problem seems so insurmountable. As a gay man, I always hope that other gay men will not be like this, and I'm disappointed a lot. But, I have noticed, hanging out with younger gay men, that this doesn't seem as much of a problem as is it in people my age? (I'm 35.) But perhaps I'm being optimistic.
posted by Automocar at 8:46 AM on December 29, 2015


I think teaching children that the world is experienced differently by different types of people would help things in about say 100-200 years from now. For this life, it's not much more advanced socially than say 1933 berlin.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:50 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Especially when this: "Maybe we need to explain it better." is still a line in these articles. I get where she's coming from, but I think we're explaining just fine and the disconnect is on the other end. Maybe we just need to keep explaining it louder and more frequently.

Men need to start explaining it. Because women talking about it are written off as hysterical or oversensitive and their words fall on deaf ears. Again, from the article on racism I linked above:

But I’m caught in the perfect Catch 22, because when I start pointing out racism, I become the Angry Black Person, and the discussion shuts down again. So I'm stuck.

All the Black voices in the world speaking about racism all the time do not move White people to think about it– but one White John Stewart talking about Charleston has a whole lot of White people talking about it. That’s the world we live in. Black people can't change it while White people are silent and deaf to our words.


Men need to speak out about this loudly and unceasingly. It's not enough to just silently condemn it, it's not enough to just not participate it in. They need to not only call it out when they see it, but also proactively talk about it to other men. If women talking about it accomplished anything, this would have been solved long ago as we have talked ourselves blue in the face.

But this is the challenge, because how many (white, cis, straight) men even read these posts anymore (if they even did to begin with)? How many just scroll past because they get tired of women complaining or what they might see as "man bashing". And MeFi is a highly enlightened place when compared to pretty much anywhere else. But a huge part of the battle is just getting men on board in the first place. And not just on board in a generalized "sexism is bad" way, but really understanding what women deal with on a daily basis? Learning more about it requires emotional labor on their part, and many men just aren't doing that. Because it's draining, it's depressing and they feel guilty or helpless. What I would like to see is not for men to feel guilty, but for them to feel angry. Because anger inspires action and a desire to learn more. And that's what we need from men.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:58 AM on December 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


You know what the most difficult part of this is for me? Having to parse out when I'm overreacting - which I do when I'm stressing about something - and when I'm being shut down because I'm a woman.

Oh god yes. I have a hard time not assuming that a male coworker who is difficult is not doing it because he has problems with women. It is so frequently the case that I have to work hard to think about other possibilities in my line of work outside of 'dude doesn't think a woman can be competent doing what I do'.

What makes it worse is that usually when it IS due to another cause, it's not solely another cause - the sexism brews with the other reasons into an unholy stew. But I can't address the sexism and tease out the other reasons, because I can't talk about the sexism. Sexism is the third rail, even with female coworkers. If you mention it you become That Feminazi and anything you say is forever tainted.
posted by winna at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's really sad to me that some women feel the need to "be one of the guys" like that's some wonderful secret sauce for success in life.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:37 AM on December 29, 2015


That's probably way over generalized. Apologies to transmasculine non-binary folks.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing that makes me crazy is seeing men who are concerned, aware, and genuinely indignant when they see egregiously chauvinist behavior (which is certainly still a huge problem...duh, examples upthread) but are by and large not willing to work on whittling down the zillion ingrained microaggressions that reinforce that men and men's assumptions are the default and women are the "other." I get so ground down by the reaction of "huh, interesting, yes I can sort of see that...it must be frustrating (there's typically a little bit of doubt that it's a real pattern and not 'just' a perception here) but I don't know what I am supposed to do about it."

This is how societal sexism works guys, it's insidious and cumulative and ordinary. Train yourself to listen for it. Practice speaking up in a non-paternalistic way. Look, you don't have to stand up and interject a j'accuse explaining all the ways in which women are typically disrespected. Just move the needle for what's considered a "normal" way to behave toward others. You can just interrupt your interrupting friend with "hold up, you're interrupting, let her finish" and redirect credit-taking in a meeting with "so, you're agreeing with the plan that she just laid out. No, really, she just said that." This is basically golden rule type stuff, treat others -- both directly and indirectly -- the way you'd like to be treated.
posted by desuetude at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's a death by a thousand paper-cuts. I can't even start writing since I get too tired to share my experiences, and would rather go back to my fiction writing where I can work on building a world that isn't this one, that values voices like mine without having to deal with unnecessary bullshit. Really, fuck all of this.
posted by yueliang at 12:23 PM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


What makes it worse is that usually when it IS due to another cause, it's not solely another cause - the sexism brews with the other reasons into an unholy stew.

This is fantastic, and so true. Even if sexism is not the primary, immediate motivation, if you drill things down and look at secondary issues, sexist assumptions almost always play a role.

You can just interrupt your interrupting friend with "hold up, you're interrupting, let her finish" and redirect credit-taking in a meeting with "so, you're agreeing with the plan that she just laid out. No, really, she just said that."

I was really upset one day a few months ago by a really glaring, I mean GLARING example of a man being a total dick and completely disregarding me because I'm a woman and I kind of ranted about it on Facebook (I almost never post anything remotely political on facebook), and one of my guy friends interjected to say that being an asshole isn't gender-specific - women can do it too! This guy is a good friend and I'd say is pretty well above average with how he treats women and views gender roles in general. He also had just gone through a pretty horrific and drawn-out divorce in which his ex had acted pretty terribly and I know he was pretty focused on that at the time, so I wasn't upset about the false equivalency and was just going to let it slide. But another one of my guy friends who doesn't know the first guy jumped in almost immediately and said - hey, I agree that anyone can be an asshole but what she's talking about is indeed very gender-specific and should be recognized as such. It was a small thing for him to do, and he was really casual about but it meant more to me than he probably realizes. I almost kind of cried, it was such a relief to feel fully understood by a man for once (almost all my women friends liked and/or commented on my post, so I knew I wasn't alone there). My estimation of him went up significantly. Allies shouldn't expect or get prizes for being allies but I am always so relieved and grateful to see dudes who understand that active support and pushback matters. It makes it feel like me and all the other women who speak up aren't just shouting into an abyss.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:02 PM on December 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, I just realized that using a male-gendered term to describe a terrible person isn't great and I apologize.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2015


You can just interrupt your interrupting friend with "hold up, you're interrupting, let her finish" and redirect credit-taking in a meeting with "so, you're agreeing with the plan that she just laid out. No, really, she just said that."

It's not even always necessary to call someone's bullshit outright (because we can't always; this comes from "upstairs" sometimes and we need our jobs too); simply redirecting/recognizing where this came from initially can be enough. "Sounds like we agree your way is how to go, Jane. What's the first step?" Even if Shitbro McJerkbag interrupts that yet again you've done something to point the spotlight where it belongs and make it clear to Jane that someone noticed.

Personally I like to call the bullshit flat out and I think that makes greater strides, but I sometimes hear from other men that they can't blah blah etc whatever as if there's no ground between knuckling under and outright brawling and that's so not true. "Office politics" gets a lot of sneering but there's plenty of good executive jujitsu moves that can be used for good.
posted by phearlez at 2:17 PM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


But this is the challenge, because how many (white, cis, straight) men even read these posts anymore (if they even did to begin with)?

Just to pipe up here that yes, there's at least one person in that category reading all the way down here. These threads have made me try to make lots of changes to how I am, but I didn't want to interrupt (also, for the end of the Crone Island thread, I was catching up on the plane back from my holidays, so no internet). I think there's some things I'm doing better now, but we'll see.
posted by ambrosen at 4:33 PM on December 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


But this is the challenge, because how many (white, cis, straight) men even read these posts anymore (if they even did to begin with)? How many just scroll past because they get tired of women complaining or what they might see as "man bashing".

I read them all, but there's not always a compelling reason to add my voice when so much is being said by people for whom the issues are much more pressing. I don't see "man bashing" going on at all in this or other recent discussions here, though I have seen enough comments in previous threads, sometimes well-considered and sometimes not, requesting that men take up less of the conversational air that I would not be surprised if there are people choosing to not participate as a result, with results both good and bad in terms of the overall conversation.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:40 AM on December 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


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