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.