A Good Guy

This post started me thinking. I often write about the hypocrisy of certain zealots of feminism and the double standard by which they seem to operate (bear with me, this post isn’t going there). Rather, I’m thinking about a different double standard.

Millions of people object to the status quo believing it limits options and prevents equality for women. Other millions object to a cartoonish, one-dimensional perspective of complex, multi-faceted gender-equality issues that will actually require a stunning degree of cooperation and collaboration to solve.

But let’s talk about Society. The cultural water we swim in – in this instance I’m speaking about North American culture here but the principle applies in every culture. There is much about Society that encourages, facilitates, models, teaches, and enforces the stereotypes so many of us object to. That capital ‘s’ is not an accident. There are very few individuals I know who will admit to espousing cultural norms which perpetuate an unjust or oppressive status quo, and yet, here we are, Society somehow making its presence felt in the most significant ways.

1184206946_3-c504284b-b657-46cc-8b77-18ce411104cdTake the column that started this post. Men, apparently, are bumbling (or ignorant) but well-intentioned, and women are mean. Society will evidently excuse men for inexcusable things because they’re ‘well-intentioned’ or ‘basically a good guy,’ but whatever a woman’s intentions might be are irrelevant, because as soon as she says anything vaguely authoritative, or declarative, she’s a bitch. Again, Society must be perpetuating this issue, because it’s happening everywhere – from the school playground where adults devilwearspradathumbare supervising children, to the boardroom.

So. No stats about women and leadership, or the total unfairness of castigating a woman for being authoritative (“Stop using your ‘mom’ voice”), or the irrefutable data that proves that a man and a woman can say exactly the same thing and he’s perceived as “trustworthy and collaborative,” and she is perceived as “shrewish and difficult.” No. Let’s not go there.

How about we talk about ‘Society.’ You know, you and me? The ones who stand idly by and give this crap a free pass? THAT ‘Society.’

“He is basically a good guy,” confirms one of our most pervasive biases. A colleague who made a sexist remark in a meeting? Well, we think, he didn’t mean it. He’s basically a good guy. The young man who insulted his date in front of his friends? He didn’t think she would take it so personally. He’s really a good guy. 

Being derogatory toward women is not the behaviour of a “good guy.” It is a slip of the tongue revealing values mostly kept hidden.  There may be a willingness to practice humility after the fact and apologize, but this does not change the reality that somewhere, deep in that man’s internal framework, women are ‘less than.’ The source of life’s problems. A convenient whipping girl. Not worthy of respect as an individual. Take your pick. But the rot is there …evidently. Maya Angelou famously stated, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The root etymology of the word ‘violence’ means “with words.” Make no mistake, Fellow Humans. Calling your partner a ‘stupid bitch’ is violence.

I have 54 years’ experience with men. I’ve had a father for that long, brothers for 51 years, and a husband for 35 years. They have done nothing over those years except demonstrate over, and over, and over, sometimes in the most trying circumstances, that women are worthy of the same respect they themselves enjoy. Even women trying really hard to disqualify themselves as worthy of respect were still treated with dignity (not that they appreciated it at the time) by the beloved men in my life. It is normal for good men to have an unshakeable conviction that every human being, regardless of gender is worthy of respect.

Here’s my take (and it is mine). ‘Society’ is you and you and you …x 7.5 billion …and me. When we, that is, ‘Society’ speak up and say, “Good men, real good men don’t refer to women in that way, E.V.E.R,” we become part of the solution and agents for change. The point is, when people don’t speak up, they become part of ‘Society’ which maintains, facilitates, perpetuates, and encourages this behaviour as the acceptable norm. Since ‘Society’ is you …and you …and you …and you …and me, when will you stand up… speak up… IN THE MOMENT when these unacceptable and demeaning behaviours happen?

I suspect that cultural norms would change a lot more quickly if ‘Society’ spoke up often, consistently, vociferously, and implacably.

Be a part of the change you want to see. ~Mahatma Ghandi

Kuwait 2014
Me, and my good man. Photo by Chris Loh Photography

More interesting/relevant stuff here, and here, and here.

And here, here, here, and here.

#YesAllWomen is FIRST WORLD Propaganda | Reblog

http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/28/the-ten-most-asinine-things-about-yesallwomen/

As I read all the hype about the shootings (another senseless tragedy) the same crap is happening as it does every time. The special interest groups get all up in arms and use the victims to push their own particular agenda, half the First World takes to social media to play the “Blame Game,” and the rest of the world carries on.

This particular incident started the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which began trending immediately after the shooting, got picked up by the major news media, and promptly deteriorated into a misandric (I may be making up a new word here) and misogynistic hate fest that dishonours and marginalises the victims (the majority of whom were men in this case) and completely hijacks the real business of dealing with the aftermath of senseless, stupid, preventable tragedies like this.

The Federalist article caught my eye – number six on the list of “10 Asinine Things…” puts a whole different ball into play. Which nobody is catching. Apparently, shiny, floaty little soap bubbles are preferable to a real ball (though one would think that this particular “ball” is a hand grenade the way the world in general avoids it). That is, someone is (yet again) whining about #everydaysexism as if there is a causative connection between wolf whistles and sexual assault… or ogling and sexual assault… or sexual innuendoes and sexual assault… and so treats the former with the same degree of gravity as the incidents listed in #6.

No. No. No.

Correlation is not causation, as one can see from this funny little graph.

Correlation does not imply causation

People use statistics to prop up their position, and as Mark Twain famously stated, “There are lies, damned lies, and then there’s statistics.”

News flash.

Women do these sexist things, too. Oh, yes. They do. We stand in huddled little groups at parties, around the water cooler, in the bathroom, on the beach, over coffee… and we’re SEXIST. Yes, yes we are. We discuss pecs, butts, faces, hairlines, abs, six-packs, voices, hands… we dice, we dissect, and we diss or delight in the object of the discussion. Women are just as sexist as men. We just do it differently. Furthermore, we discuss men AND women in this way. We might not wolf whistle at the buff construction workers on the scaffolding across the street, but we surely will have a more-or-less lascivious discussion about that buff dude over coffee.

So my point?

Correlating #everydaysexism with the use of sexual violence (an act of humiliation or power-mongering) is just plain ridiculous. The former is most often an acknowledgment of certain characteristics of an individual (whether appreciated or not) and the latter is a deliberate act of subjugation; dominance of the strong over the weak. This is a HUMAN propensity, not a gender-based phenomenon. A woman will do the same thing – we’re just sneakier. We tend to be underhanded, manipulative, and sneaky – though women DO use violence when it suits them to do so. See the research of Erin Pizzey, for one.

Individuals who do these things are wicked, whether male or female.

I have a two-stringed guitar. The first is that violence is a human propensity, not a gender-based one. And the second is that INDIVIDUALS perpetrate this evilness, not GROUPS. Someone recently posted on Twitter – “Anyone who will not distinguish between ‘man’ and ‘men,’ or ‘woman’ and ‘women’ is dangerous.”

I agree. Out of that consistent habit of tarring the whole group with the same brush this gender war has grown to the point where rhetoric, vitriol, and strident accusations dominate discussions instead of problem-solving, collaboration, and finding points of accord. Men and women are different, VERY different, and expecting one to act like the other is a recipe for disaster. Clearly.

Hatred is hatred. Whether directed from a man to a woman or from man to man, or from woman to woman or from a woman to a man. It is all the same. These are not emotions unique to gender, they are emotions common to human beings.

If we remembered this and dealt with situations as they are – the work of a disturbed individual –  and not as if one person represents half the world’s population, just imagine what we could accomplish together to move forward toward a future where these tragedies don’t happen.