Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Just to make clear--that last post wasn't insinuating that all men are creepy assholes. Plenty are, of course. And plenty of women are conniving, gold-digging bitches. Blah blah blah. I think our stereotypes of each other are pretty well mined for material already.

Actually, when I reflected on those encounters (and I'm lucky, to be sure, that those kinds of encounters are rare for me) I was interested in the fact that the encounters themselves were pretty much harmless--no overt threats, either verbal or physical--but that my reaction was automatically one of mistrust and apprehension.

It's just another one of those things I'm sort of pondering lately, learning more about for pretty much the first time. I'm not the one to turn to for informed discussion about gender issues--you want some smart, fun discussion about that, you need to visit Bitch. Ph.D., Alas, a Blog, feministe, Mouse Words--hell, just go to What She Said! and scroll down the right side. I'm just rattling new ideas around in my head here, occasionally rolling them out like dice here to see what lands.

Like learning how many differences between men and women, things I was always taught are fundamental gender differences, turn out to be the result of socialization rather than genetics.

Like the subtle (and not so subtle) ways women are still portrayed as the "other" in our society. I'm not used to seeing that as blatantly as the man in the elevator revealed it--"should I let the woman out first?" There was a mild furor online recently about a Bell ad that, as Amanda at Mouse Words said, "is clearly meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but even so the joke doesn't make sense unless the intended audience is comfortable with the misogynist notion that the female body is something children must be 'protected' from seeing." And that's a fairly common notion, at least among the people I grew up with. (Remember when John Ashcroft ordered draperies to cover the exposed breast of the Spirit of Justice?)

Like noticing when I read a nonfiction book and can't find a single positive portrayal of a woman, when every single woman for a hundred pages is dismissed as "cranky" or "probably a prostitute" or "fat and slow."

Just thoughts, that's all. I'm by no means accusing all men of being misogynist assholes. And collective guilt seems unnecessary to me. Unless, you know, it spurs you to stand up to your brothers when you encounter their sexist behavior, as Hugo encourages here. (Scroll down through the recap of the past discussion until you see the bold line, "Men aren't hard enough on each other." Oh, and if you only click one link in this linky-dink post, I'd have to suggest you make it that last one.)

That's all. Thanks for listening, internet. You're too good to me.