Conversation is not an equal opportunity activity.
I found this quote in Deborah Cameron’s Feminism and Linguistic Theory, as part of a discussion of men’s (vs. women’s) dominant linguistic strategies.
This passage of Toril Moi’s great essay on using Pierre Bourdieu’s work for feminist theory touches on why men are affected by sexist structures - without there being such a thing as reverse sexism:
Our habitus is at once produced and expressed through
our movements, gestures, facial expressions, manners, ways of walking, and ways of looking at the world. The socially produced body is thus necessarily also a political body, or rather an embodied politics. Thus even such basic activities as teaching children how to move, dress, and eat are thoroughly political, in that they impose
on them an unspoken understanding of legitimate ways to (re)present their body to themselves and others. The body-and its apparel such as clothing, gestures, make-up and so on-becomes a kind of constant reminder ( of sociosexual power relations.It follows from Bourdieu’s understanding of the social effects of gender divisions that the dominant group -in this case men- do not escape the burdens of their own domination.
But unlike a lot of what passes for TV feminism, the show’s not just about women being confident or comfortable in their own skin. It’s about reaffirming that their skin, their body, and their decisions are theirs to control. This is the battle all women in America are living with right now, whether they realize it or not. I’m not saying I’m worried about someone owning my DNA, but I am exhausted by people exerting their own values and opinions onto my body.TV’s Most Important Political Debate Is Happening Right Now on Orphan Black (TV Guide)
Being a woman is kind of like being a cyclist in a city where all the cars represent men. You’re supposed to be able to share the road equally with cars, but that’s not how it works. The roads are built for cars and you spend a great deal of physical and mental energy being defensive and trying not to get hurt. Some of the cars WANT you to get hurt. They think you don’t have any place on the road at all. And if you do get hurt by a car, everyone makes excuses that it’s your fault.
A friend of a friend (via onesmallflowerofeternity)
And even further. Let’s expand the metaphor of the cyclist to not only to women but generally human beings who are less privileged. Because let’s face it not all bikes are the same. Some have more gears to help them conquer mountains while other have less air in their tires which makes travel that much harder.
Some cities don’t care much for their cyclist population but others try to make the life of cyclists better and safer by installing bike lanes making it easier for cyclists to come from a to b.Cars will still be faster but the cyclists will get along faster and safer.
This is a great analogy not just to explain privilege but also to explain how programs help human beings who are less privileged and why they should be in place.
- #NotAllMen: How Not to Derail Discussions of Women’s Issues (via http://www.slate.com/)
Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them.
Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves. I watched this happen on Twitter, over and again.
Third, the people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it. The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. (Though, I’ll note, it can be. I’ll get back to that.) Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand, try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying.
Fourth—and this is important, so listen carefully—when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.
This is the reality women deal with all the time.
This little compilation of links to Monday morning must reads after the terrible Isla Vista shooting Saturday goes out to all my readers, but especially to my fellow cismen.
Laurie Penny in New Statesman makes a lot of great points in an essay titled “Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism.” Here’s an excerpt:
We have been told for a long time that the best way to deal with this sort of harrassment and violence is to laugh it off. Women and girls and queer people have been told that online misogynists pose no real threat, even when they’re sharing intimate guides to how to destroy a woman’s self-esteem and force her into sexual submission. Well, now we have seen what the new ideology of misogyny looks like at its most extreme. We have seen incontrovertible evidence of real people being shot and killed in the name of that ideology, by a young man barely out of childhood himself who had been seduced into a disturbing cult of woman-hatred. Elliot Rodger was a victim - but not for the reasons he believed.
Misogyny is nothing new, but there is a specific and frightening trend taking place, and if we’re not going to accept it, we have to call it by its name. The title of the PUA bible belies the truth: this is not a game. Misogynist extremism does not exist in a mystical digital fairyland where there are no consequences. It is real. It does damage. It kills. And this is no longer a topic where abstraction is anything approaching appropriate.
Read the whole damn thing.
Also a must-read (if you can read German) is this text by Charlott at Mädchenmannschaft that adds a bit of context. The articles she links to in the piece are essential reading, too. Check out the #YesAllWomen hashtag on twitter, it highlights how not all men practice violent misogyny, but all women experience it and have to fear it.
I found these words about “gentleman supremacy” as a response after the shooting. But read the women* first.
Girl Talk goes vaguely feminist. Of course people compared that to Nazi indoctrination, because that’s totally reasonable. Discussion below.
I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations.Junot Diaz (via luciaferr)