I have finally figured out the whole sexism thing. My mother was really the key, also Carol Gilligan. Thing is, it’s pretty hard to argue that western society has been pretty sexist… but as a male I got to deal with a lot of the attitude that men are intrinsically worth less than women, that our points of view don’t matter, that what we like is barbaric and wrong. That while watching girls I went to school with get more attention, more benefits, just more.

How do I account for it? Simple really: when my mom was kid girls had a pretty rough time of it. The were told to be pretty and sweet, and to keep their voices the hell down, because men were talking. That pretty much sucked (it wasn’t even really that historically true… womens roles were stronger in primitive cultures). Her generation reached out and took that on, changed it. They said “Fuck you, we’ll talk, and if we feel like it, we’ll shout”, and that was good.

Problem is, they don’t realize, at least not on a deep level, that men my age grew up with them as mothers. We didn’t grow up with the same assumptions, at least not the men that I am friends with. We see old movies where a man pats his female receptionist on the bum and we find it bizarre, some kind of strange cultural artifact that makes no sense. We don’t have an emotional connection to it, hell, on some level we feel like it’s just in the movies that stuff happened. Now, there is still sexism against women in some places, my fiance is experiencing some of it at work, but it hasn’t been at all common anywhere I have worked. Sure, sometimes men make comments about the women they work with… but all of us make damn sure that there are no women in hearing range… and none of the comments are negative (pretty much the only thing you hear nowadays is when a male colleague finds a female attractive, and then the level of respect in the statement is pretty high). So, as all of us who were mothered by feminists and taught by feminists are wandering through the world, we are still told that men are sexist and that women are under-valued in society.

As an adult I have had to find my own way, from being married to a woman who was abusive and never being willing to deal with that fact because hey, I’m a man right? I should be able to deal that sort of thing, to being told over and over again that the only reason I did well at things (and this was always implicit, not explicit) was because I was a white male with a middle class education. This kind of thing messes you up, the belief that whatever you achieve is because you were born privileged, while being abjectly poor and having to fight for every goddamned thing you achieve (although with a lot of help from loving family who were also abjectly poor).

Then there is the edge case thing. Turns out that boys are more likely to have extremely high IQ’s than girls… but also more likely to have extremely low ones. This means that it is a natural that you will see more physicists and mathematicians that are male, but also more ditch diggers. To ignore that is to ignore that there are gender differences beyond plumbing, and to discount it is to live in a world that isn’t the real one.

My mother is incapable of talking about this with me… it just makes her angry. I finally even understand that (at least a little bit). What her generation went through to try and gain equality was horrible and should not have happened… but that doesn’t make it okay to treat me like I don’t count either.

I say fuck the whole thing. Lets stop marginalizing people based on gender and start treating them based on what they have to offer, lets put all forms of sexism in the past.


3 Responses to “Sexism”

  1. 1 Rob
    July 22, 2008 at 1:01 am

    I just stumbled upon this after seeing your rather extreme comment on what happened at the bikini atoll and followed your comment home to your website. I read your post on how you felt being in todays PC society. I assume you are much younger than me but we are sort of in overlaping generations. I am 38 and I was lucky and grew up in a family that never marginalized women. My mom was a force to be reckoned with but thought feminism went way way to far. And at times was misguided as feminism in its earliest form focused to much on women being able to be anything men could instead of insisting on equal valuation for feminine qualities. but I thought I would tell you that if you are interested. There are mainstream and very credible books that talk about the whole feminism issue at it pertains to men that are not cavemen. go pick up the book “the Myth of male power”. It is written by one of the founding man of the feminist movement and a sociology PhD in California. Hey gave up his very powerful and cushy position as a highly paid speaker for feminism after being involved with it for 20 years because he got tired of the female researcher being totally unconcerned that there gender research also came up with some big facts on how men have been harmed by being locked into a certain narrow stereotype. He puts what you say a bit more clearly and I agree with him and I think you would too. What he says is that instead of their being a women’s movement and a men’s movement. Which he contends would never happen anyway as men are programmed from birth that whining about your situation and talking about your feelings is for “wimps” he shows interesting things like women “try to commit suicide more often than men” because they often are making a dramatic cry for help, while when a man “trys” to commit suicide he often feels useless and is really trying to end his life. and his ideas are supported by the amount of men that shoot themselves and the amount of men that drive off cliffs drunk. And he also points out that if women are being objectified by being “just a pretty body” than men are too as being, “just a big wallet”. He in no way says that things that were accomplished that made women more free were bad. He simply points out that feminism can go way to far as it does not acknowledge any harm done to men by being “stuck” into narrow Gender stereotypes. ANYWAY I am trying to be brief, but what he says how about a gender role dialogue movement where both the female and the male are valued and the roles of what it means to be a guy and a girl can be discussed in such a way that allows people to have the maximum amount of freedom in defining how they want to live in the world without worrying that the are “not normal” or “not manly” or “not feminine”. he calls it a gender roll evolution movement. this way we can be what we should be friends and partners in creating the future and society. Not waring factions. The US and THEM game is one of the oldest tricks in the book to creat animosity and I am glad you are instinctively rejecting that idea. cheers, Rob PS I did not proofread this so I hope my error are not to bad that you find it difficult to read and understand.

  2. July 22, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Found it perfectly easy to understand. Also, agree with it pretty much. There is so much more I could say on the subject (and probably will, hey it’s my blog…) but in short, I am trying to raise my son to accept who he is, to acknowledge that women have every bit as much to offer as men but that when he behaves in a what is typically a masculine manner, that’s okay (and if he doesn’t behave in a typically masculine manner, that’s okay too).
    As to Ronglap Atoll… the material I read was distributed only in countries in that general area, but was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever read. Don’t think I could call my point of view extreme at all, just read about the jellyfish babies local women started having, the children who thought the fallout was snow and went and played in it, the navy crew members who claimed the test was to discover the effects of fallout. All of it is pretty damning and really just changed the way I view the world.

  3. 3 dynas2001
    September 11, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Nicly put. I have pretty much the same back-ground and I’d don’t even get myself. I look at people as people and think that most everyone I know does too. Hopefully all this sexism will die as more baby boomers do.

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