Well, That’s Really Interesting, But Have You Perhaps Considered The Status Quo? Just My Two Cents
This takes way too many forms. Some examples:
- Have you perhaps considered that women sometimes act like bitches?
- Have you perhaps considered that men are ignorant of their own acts of cruelty and oppression (and thus blameless)?
- Have you perhaps considered that others may be made uncomfortable when you discuss oppression?
- Have you perhaps considered that stereotypes are there for a reason?
- Have you perhaps considered that sometimes men get treated really shitty and unfairly because of their gender?
- Have you perhaps considered taking the oppressor’s face in your hands, gently smoothing back hir hair, softly and sweetly whispering your message in hir ears with lots of words like “maybe” “sort of” and “I’m not blaming you”? I think the people who treat you horribly would be very receptive to that. Just my two cents.
In fact, I have considered all these things! Have you?
I ask because these things I have considered are precisely why I am a feminist. Over the course of my lifetime, I have considered these things and more, and come to the conclusion that these things are shitty and unfair and wrong – for men and women – and ought to be remedied immediately and without delay. And that is why I am a feminist.
Have you, sir or madam, considered that:
- Women cannot behave poorly without it becoming a reflection on their entire gender, and/or having their behavior attributed to their possession of a vagina as opposed to just, you know, their personality. Women can be shitty people without being shitty women, and that is why I am a feminist.
- Men have the privilege of being blissfully unaware of the things they do that oppress half the population, which causes a) oppression of women and b) shitty broken lives for men, who are now unable to fully connect with or derive joy from one entire half of the population that no longer fully trusts them, and that is why I am a feminist.
- Others are made uncomfortable when I describe the blatant injustices done worldwide due to the cultural segregation of gender because they see ways in which they have participated in this or support it and it’s scary and frustrating and sad and unhappy to realize that you have hurt many people that you love out of ignorance and you didn’t ask to be raised that way, and that is why I am a feminist.
- Stereotypes exist pretty clearly to benefit the current social order, and when somebody enacts the stereotype perfectly, it becomes evidence for the stereotype, and when somebody acts in the complete opposite of the stereotype, they are exceptions and also fall into other very convenient stereotypes (dyke, fag, liberal). And most stereotypes, if you examine them closely, are full of the kind of survival habits that a person would develop were they being abused terribly, so perhaps it is not a surprise that abused populations behave in these ways, and perhaps it is not a surprise that the people who abuse them take these habits and use them as an excuse for further abuse, and that is why I am a feminist.
- Men are boxed in by expected gendered behaviors nearly as tightly as women, and often experience consequences as violent and deplorable as women do when stepping out of those boxes. (The big difference is, when men stay in their boxes and perform their gendered behaviors well, they only experience the internal dissatisfaction of having their feelings and inner lives destroyed; men will not be attacked for acting as men. Women can be attacked for staying in their boxes and performing well, because even if they act like the perfect woman, they are still women, and still worth less than men.) Men, like women, must sacrifice an enormous portion of their personality and needs and desires in order to behave as their expected gender, and not ever ever ever behave as the “opposite” gender, and that makes men and women have shittier lives together. Masculine gendered behaviors couldn’t exist without something to define themselves against, something they are not, something they are different than, and that thing is our sick cultural idea of femaleness, and that is why I am a feminist.
- I have considered this one! I have done this one. I have also tried not doing this. Funny thing: you get the same result either way. And that result is based on the person you are talking to. You know, based on the way they choose to react, instead of your tone of voice, kind smile, and Circadian rhythms at the time. Everybody has their own responsibility to choose how to approach the inequities of the world; many people choose to slough off that responsibility onto the messenger, because they can, because they have that privilege, because to listen to the messenger and agree with them means the immediate end of that privilege. So it’s a lot easier to make up some way for the message to be generally true (because who wants to be the champion of “unequal rights are for the best! Rape is okay!”) without requiring any action on behalf of the receiver of the message (“Well, she made some good points about rape being wrong, but she was wearing a shirt I didn’t care for and also mispronounced Lucretia, so I don’t really think I have to care about rape yet…”). And that is why I am a feminist, because nobody should have the right to dismiss another human being (or entire groups of human beings) based entirely upon the tone of their voice and the style of their hair.
Here is the thing, okay? Coming into a feminist conversation with, “Have you considered that sometimes women acquire free drinks at bars?” is like walking into graduate school during Philosophy finals and saying, “Have you considered that the color blue that I see may not be the color blue that you see?”
Imagine you are the guy who just walked into that Philosophy class and laid that shit down. Imagine the class full of students who have worked very hard and committed themselves and sacrificed to be here, students who have spent several years of their lives learning about this subject. Imagine now their feelings when you go to the head of the classroom with a smirk on your face and demand the professor give you an A for effort. Imagine now that they think you are a douchebag asshole, because they do, and because you are. You are a douchebag asshole because you are obviously so self-centered, arrogant, and completely ignorant of the world around you, that you thought you could walk into a high-level course with no background and no work and say something profoundly simplistic and totally unrelated and also everybody should congratulate you for having done this thing, so brave, so provocative.
Okay, so that might be a little more abstract of an example. How about something more people are likely familiar with? Imagine you work very hard at your job, and yet you have a boss who is a fucking moron. Your boss knows nothing about the work the company does. Your boss doesn’t even know the names of the products. All your boss knows how to do, apparently, is walk around with a very smug look on their face, occasionally saying something like, “Have we considered… advertising our product?” and waiting for the advertising department to praise such a profound and remarkable idea. And if you do not praise your boss, your boss gets angry. Your boss tells you that you are not a team player. Your boss tells you that they got where they are by hard work and ingenuity and hustle, and you could show a little bit more of that, don’t you think? Also, have you considered using this new internet thing he’s hearing so much about? That’s why he gets paid the big bucks, you know, ideas like that.
This is what you do when you walk into a feminist conversation and ask whether or not we have considered that sometimes men get turned down by girls they like and that hurts their feelings.
You are not asking us a real question. You are simply illustrating, for all to see, your own ignorance. You are saying, “I have not considered the implications of the question I have just asked. I have not taken the time nor effort nor commitment to sit down and ask myself this question. Instead, I have come into your philosophy classroom/office/feminist blog and shit out my question with a smirk, because I believe that my two seconds of thought are worth more than your long-term analysis, because I believe I am worth more.”
Also, coming in with your “just my two cents!” shitbag makes you sound like the porn star roundtable in Southland Tales:
Shoshana Cox: I have a question for the Supreme Court. What happens when a woman has sex on a flight from London to Los Angeles… then takes the morning-after pill while flying across the time zone?
Krysta Now: I don’t know.
Shoshana Cox: Then it becomes the morning-before pill.
Deena Storm: You are a genius!
Shoshana Cox: Hello! Can’t answer to that!
Krysta Now: Holy shit! That is brilliant!
Why You Gotta Be Mean To Dudes Just Trying To Say Hi, I Mean, Yeah, Of Course People Think You’re Crazy
When I talk about screaming at some dude to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM YOU, I am not talking about this guy:
Who comes up to you and says this, “I’m sorry to bother you, I just wanted to tell you that you’re very, very pretty,” and then leaves you alone when you choose not to respond with anything more than, “Thank you.”
I am not talking about this guy:
Who comes up to you and says, “I love that Ursula K. LeGuin book! But have you read the sequel? It’s even better!”
I am talking about this guy:
This guy who gives you the bug-eye (it seriously looks just like this, guys):
And then approaches you with this, which he has determined is an appropriate topic of conversation:
There are a lot of little differences, such as personal hygiene and basic understanding of social boundaries. But the big difference is, a normal, appropriate, and actually nice guy who approaches you on the street is approaching you because he thinks you look pretty and/or interesting and would like to get to know you better, and if such a thing leads to sex he would not be complaining at all. An abnormal, inappropriate, Nice Guy ™ who approaches you on the street is approaching you because he has already been blatantly eye-fucking you (see the bug-eye, this is exactly what it looks like) and is just coming over to seal the deal. You are a woman who is there for sex and they are going to acquire you for sex and if you turn them down, nicely or no, the hostility that emanates from them is like a fucking wave. Because you are not just an individual turning down another individual; you are representative of all women turning him down, you are representative of all women being mean alien bitches, you are representative of all women deserving his hatred.
I am not advocating that all women scream at any man who approaches them within a certain radius (though I am advocating that all men take a moment to consider whether or not any particular woman looks like she really wants to be bothered right now). I am advocating that all women have the right to scream at any creepy fuck who thinks he has the right to invade her personal space and continue invading it regardless of her reaction. I am also advocating that all women (and all people) have the right to listen to their gut and stop interactions before they start when the person provoking the interaction is giving off an exceedingly hostile vibe, because all people have the right to maintain their safety, and that right overrides anybody else’s “right” to come up and talk about how much they want to kill their ex-girlfriend because you are sharing a bus stop together and have really pretty hair and I think you could understand me.
And I am saying that if you, fellows, have ever tried to hit on a woman nicely and she reacted in a way that you thought was over-the-top or extreme, you have two options here:
- Maybe she’s a really crazy person (please note: she is not a crazy woman, she is a crazy person), so lucky for you that she telegraphed that immediately instead of halfway through a conversation or a date
- Maybe you are not as nice as you thought, and all that hostility and anger and entitlement you thought you were covering pretty smoothly is actually extremely visible and extremely gross
You don’t have a third option, the option of “All women are obviously crazy bitches,” or “You are obviously a crazy bitch.” That option is actually just option number 2, sans self-awareness.
I Don’t Want To Say I Was Abused Or Raped Because That Cheapens Abuse and Rape/Some Girls Ruin It For The Rest Of Us
Let’s make this simple.
Rape and abuse exist. They’re horrible and they’re wrong.
The only way rape and abuse can be less horrible is if we don’t value the person who is being raped or abused.
Let’s Godwin’s Law this: Hitler is being raped and abused. How much do you care?
Okay, let’s back this up realistically. Your sister is being raped and abused. How much do you care?
A woman who sleeps with a lot of people and callously disregards their feelings is being raped and abused. How much do you care?
A woman who was drinking heavily at the club and hanging off every single guy is being raped and abused. How much do you care?
The only way rape and abuse can be cheapened is if we cheapen the victims. They aren’t cheapened by expanding the definition of victim. If rape and abuse are horrible and wrong, then more victims just equals more horrible and more wrong. But we can cheapen rape and abuse by limiting the definition of victims we give a shit about.
There does not exist the possibility of cheapening rape and abuse if rape and abuse are considered to be inherently horrible and wrong. No matter how few or how many victims, it is inherently horrible and wrong for each of them. There exists the possibility of becoming desensitized to the horribleness and wrongness when the number of victims reaches critical mass (thought experiment: try to imagine the experience of all the women and men being raped in the Congo and see if your brain doesn’t just burn out before you reach the point of major and crippling depression), but there does not exist the possibility of rape and abuse no longer being horrible and wrong based on who is victimized (and/or who is perpetrating).
But if rape and abuse are horrible and wrong only when committed upon certain people,
Then there exists the possibility of cheapening rape and abuse by trying to include people for whom rape and abuse are deserved and right.
That logic train can only exist if we live in a society that believes in some cases, for some people, abuse and rape are deserved and right. Only if some people deserve to be treated horribly and wrongly can we have a situation where something that is horrible and wrong can be cheapened by the amount and type of victims experiencing it.
A person can flounder about whether or not they want to call themselves a rape or abuse victim for a lot of personal reasons. Nobody really wants to identify themselves as a victim; it’s humiliating. And if the potential for being victimized again exists, then what’s the point? Why admit that something wrong happened to you, and deal with the emotional fallout of that, when that something is just going to happen again tomorrow? And admitting to having been victimized doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You may have to change your life to exclude the perpetrator, and allies of the perpetrator, which sometimes can add up to all your friends and family. You may have to admit that if this thing the perpetrator did was abuse, then this thing your family does is also abuse, as well, and you can’t make a moral stand that the one thing is wrong without confronting the other. All that shit takes time to work through.
But most people won’t say all that, because that stuff gets into some other sticky territory, like: Is there something inherently wrong with me if I’m a victim? or Why does my abuser have so many allies? And the answers to those questions can sound a lot like feminism. So a convenient and acceptable cultural shorthand to express misgivings about whether or not you personally want to be identified with that crap is to say, “I don’t want to say that what happened to me was rape because that cheapens it for other women who were raped worse.”
On the flip side, you’ll have people (mostly women, I’ve found) that express an extreme amount of hostility toward women who are not likable and worthwhile victims claiming to have been raped. They express the same amount of hostility towards women who have not claimed they have been raped, but are behaving in ways that would make them unlikable and non-worthwhile victims if they were to be raped.
“Look at that fucking girl. She’s hardly wearing anything. She’s so drunk, and she’s just rubbing her ass all over everybody in the club. If she gets raped, it’s going to be her fault.”
If we live in a culture in which certain abuses are always, inherently, unforgivably horrible and wrong, then the responsibility for those abuses always rests upon the perpetrator, who has done something horrible and wrong.
If we live in a culture in which some people are unvalued enough that we are allowed to commit certain abuses upon their bodies without those abuses being considered horrible and wrong,
Then the responsibility lies with those unvalued people for acting/living/being in unvalued ways, and “choosing” to be unvalued becomes the thing that is horrible and wrong, because it was the existence of an unvalued person that created the abuse and the rape (instead of the existence of a perpetrator).
And if those unvalued people are not born with a birthmark that says “unvalued”, if they are not an inherent biological class, then that un-value must be acquired through behavior and appearance and activity.
And if that un-value can be acquired, then anybody may acquire it, accidentally or purposefully.
And if anybody may acquire that un-value, then anybody may be abused with abandon, provided they bear a passing resemblance to the unvalued class (note: this applies to raped and abused men, too, who will have their masculinity mocked as a way to identify them with the rapeable unvalued class).
And then you end up with “women who are ruining it for the rest of us.”
What that really means is, there are women who deserve to be raped and abused, and by their very existence, they put me in danger of being raped and abused, because somebody might mistake me for them.
These ideas — the cheapening of abuse and women who make it worse for other women — can only exist in a culture that already believes that abuse can be cheapened, and that some people deserve to be abused. If we believed that abuse was always wrong, no matter who the victim (or who the perpetrator), abuse could not possibly be cheapened, and no woman could ruin it for another.
If these ideas exist in your brain, if you have said these words, it’s because you swallowed this line completely. It’s because you believe some people deserve to be abused. That’s a dangerous and frightening belief to have. If you believe that some people deserve to be abused, if you open that door, you might find that you or somebody you love is behind it. And they totally deserved it, too.