|The Feminist Life|
|Written by Paul|
|Tuesday, 17 April 2012 04:30|
Watch out men! They have VAGINAS!
On my last column "Hooray for Whores" I received probably the greatest compliment a man can get when blogging about feminist matters - someone said they thought the piece was written by my wife until they looked at the byline.
Now one could say that this just means my creepy experiment to see if I can assimilate Naamah like some kind of alien podling is almost complete, and I confess that I wonder if the comment means that I am getting good at imitating her - only I wasn't trying to imitate her at all, I was just being me.I have spent my entire life as a feminist, even before I knew there was another way to be. I was just raised with the idea that women are just like men, only with different parts. My parents had a certain amount of gender-roles stuff going on - my dad had a Ph.D. while my mother just had a Master's, he worked at the same job while she jumped around here and there over the years working at different counseling centers and whatnot. But my dad was the good cook, while my mother was the volcano capable of Homeric fits of rage that resulted in broken and thrown objects.
The thing is, I wasn't told that there was any particular way to be. My close friends were all girls from a young age all the way until I reached Middle School. In retrospect it is really hard to go through those teenaged years of wanting to fuck desperately with a friend of the other gender - there's just too much social and hormone stuff going on.
So when I started hanging around with guys I stepped into a weird parallel universe where girls were treated like some kind of bizarre alien race with stupid pastimes and inscrutable motives. In truth I had begun to notice that there were in fact girls who behaved like this, but that ignores the fact that a lot of male behavior was equally mystifying to me. I have never understood sports fandom, car fetishism, or the omnipresent cult of physical violence that makes up a lot of male bonding. Not that I don't appreciate violence - far from it - but to me violence is not a form of play, as it seems to be for many boys.
These were the years when I started hearing sexist jokes, sexist slurs, and the ludicrous posturing and lies that makes up what teenaged boys would call 'talking about sex'. I learned that being a boy meant never being vulnerable or appearing so, and that was difficult for me and still is. All this was mitigated by my best friend being raised by a dominant and independent single mother. In retrospect it was fascinating watching him and his two brothers try to grow into men while not engaging in the rampant othering of females that is pretty much an endemic part of our adolescent male culture.
Funny story: This was the house where everybody came to play and hang out, and if you were there long enough their mom would put you to work: pick up the clothes, vacuum, dishes, etc. On this one Saturday morning there were like eight boys who had slept overnight stumbling around and grubbing for food, and she started handing out chores. Upon being told to wash dishes, this one prize-winner named Mike said loudly and disdainfully "That's woman's work."
The scattering of teenaged boys as they dove for cover was like roaches fleeing the kitchen light as mama slapped his face, pinned him against the kitchen counter, and read him the riot act about what was and was not appropriate to say in her house.
What I'm saying is that even in my formative teenaged years, when the pressure to treat women as the enemy was highest, I had examples all around that women were in fact just people, and the scheming, lying, game-playing type held up as universal actually only applied to a small minority of girls who were only concerned with their immediate social circle and were not any kinder to those of their own gender who fell outside it.
I think a lot of the sexism we see codified is really a kind of classism. The idea that women are all lying, cheating sexy bitches who only care about clothes and social status really only applies to the teenaged social elite from High School and College - and the image promulgated is a gross stereotype as caricatured as a blackfaced minstrel. I only knew maybe two girls who were really like that, the rest of the crowd being all shades of humanity but who felt pressured into conforming to a distasteful 'ideal'.
I just think that when men say they don't like or understand women, they are projecting this image in their head of what a woman is, and it is just an agglomeration of stereotyped characteristics from TV and movies that has little to do with any actual person they know. Just like those who say they hate gays are reacting to an idea rather than the reality. You could say that about any prejudice, really. It's like the opposite of a crush: you make an idea in your mind of what these people you think you hate are like, making sure to add everything you really dislike to it until it becomes a perfect ball of hate that obscures your vision and you can't see the actual, real human beings who are right in front of your face.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 04:31|