What Constitutes Blatant Sexism of the Most Egregious Sort?

Jul 20 2011 Published by under Burns My Shorts, Manifestoes, Manly Men, Men Who Hate Women

I have not written a word in months, and barely read any blogs at all.  Even so the sorry outlines of ElevatorGate seeped into my consciousness.  If you don't know what I'm referring to, consider yourself lucky; if you need to find out, read Jennifer Ouellette's recent excellent post which talks about it in a broader context. I love everything about Jennifer's post and especially love her call to action at the end...and yet...I'm left brooding on part of it.  This part:

She was careful to say that she has not encountered blatant sexism of the most egregious sort, although she has endured unwelcome awkward flirting: a wink and a hand on the knee, lame attempts at playing “footsie” with her under the table during meetings, and of course, tacky double entendres. Even then, she cut the guys a lot of slack; it’s just social awkwardness, she rationalized, not a malicious attempt to make her feel uncomfortable — and yet, she does feel uncomfortable.

Ouellette is writing about a young woman who reports that she feels "constantly objectified" while working at CERN. Ouellette goes on to provide a very good discussion of the concept of a "chilly climate" and how it negatively affects women in science.  Yet I would argue that feeling "constantly objectified", having unwanted hands touching your body, goes something beyond a chilly climate and moves us into the territory of hostile work/learning environment.

What does constitute blatant sexism of the most egregious sort, if it does not include feeling constantly objectified, having men touch you when you don't want them to, and being treated like a sex object in professional settings?

Do we have to get raped to call it blatant sexism of the most egregious sort, and anything short of that is just a chilly climate?

Can we agree that rape is something beyond sexism - it is sexual assault, a crime - and that blatant sexism might include a whole host of things that fall short of rape but that are worse than a chilly climate?

Being subjected to unwanted touching means that your colleagues look at you primarily as a sexual object and moreover, a sexual object who is free game for their advances.  They need not ask beforehand, they need not establish consent - just reach out and touch someone!  If you like what you see, grab it and go.  After all, if you are rebuked, it can be written off as due to your social awkwardness.  Surely at no time in your twenty, thirty, forty years or more on this planet did you have the opportunity to learn any of the norms of human mating behavior, let alone how one conducts one's self in a professional setting.  You certainly have had NO opportunity to learn to think of women as human beings, that's for sure!!!

Ouellette includes in her post a link to this comic by Gabby Schulz, which is linked through the phrase "mirrored every internet comment thread".  Gabby's comic is titled "How every single discussion about sexism and woman-type stuff on the internet (and in real life) has ever happened and ever will happen, always, forever, until the earth finally falls into the sun. (Or until the patriarchy is dismantled.)"  But her whole blog post is titled "In which we betray our gender".  It may be worth thinking about why she gave it that title.

Here's the thing.  No matter what you say, no matter how nicely you say it, the d00ds are going to go batshit insane whenever you dare to suggest that sexism is afoot, and/or that one of their d00dly brethren has behaved poorly.  People who have some power and some relatively comfortable positions need to stop making excuses for the d00ds.  No, they aren't just socially awkward - they are fucking sexist assholes steeped in privilege who think they own any woman's body they see.  Ouellette gets this when she quotes the Social Network line that took my breath away when I saw the movie: “You’re going to go through life thinking girls don’t like you cuz you’re a nerd, when really it’s because you’re an asshole.”

But then...it makes me gnash my teeth in despair that in the middle of her excellent post, Ouellette has to stop and write this:

Let me be clear: I like men, and enjoy their company.

Because OMG, their wittle feewings might be hurt if they weren't absolutely sure and reassured all the time that every woman on the planet likes them!  All of them!  All men!  Even the assholes!  We can't just talk about endemic sexism and horrible incidents of harassment, no, we have to also say, "but hey, you guys, you know, it's cool, because I like guys, and I like to fuck them and all, so don't worry, whatevs." In which we betray our gender. Because if you don't betray your gender that way, you are a man-hating feminazi.  And no woman wants to be that, nosiree!  Why, the very woman who is the subject of all that constant objectification at CERN, who is discussed at the start of Ouellette's post, declares

I did not expect that CERN would start me on the road to being a cynical feminist, a type of person I previously dismissed, but which I now understand.

Oh dear.  So, becoming aware of the fact that you are being constantly objectified and being subjected to unwanted touching, and not taken seriously as a professional, and making the mildest of complaints about this situation, is equivalent to being a "cynical feminist"?  It's not, like, standing up for yourself?  Demanding decent treatment?  Just, you know, being a regular feminist?  Which is a good thing?

Well, so let me be clear: I like men who deserve to be liked.  Men who are worthy of my respect.  Men who treat women with respect, as autonomous human beings.  Men who are not groping gaping assholes.  Men who can behave like professionals in the workplace and educational settings.  Men who don't assume that because someone has tits and a pussy, she must be there to provide visual and other pleasures, not for any other reason.  Men who understand that it is necessary to establish consent before engaging in any kind of sexual behavior.  Men who understand women in the workplace are there to work.  Men who will call out other men on bad behavior.  Men who don't need their little egos stroked every five seconds.  Men who aren't so terrified by women who challenge sexist behaviors that they feel a compulsion to vilify them.  Men who don't abuse little kids, rape women, coerce their sexual partners, or bully, beat, or emotionally abuse women.  Men who resist the urge to mansplain.

I don't care who you are - the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a tenured professor, some fancy-ass physicist at CERN, the Pope, or my own brother - if you can't meet these MINIMAL expectations of decent human behavior, why the hell are you walking around calling yourself a man in the first place?  What you really are, is a man who hates women.

63 responses so far

  • Kea says:

    Hear, hear!! Hoorah, hoorah ... from an unemployed, objectified, ostracised and vilified D cup A-grade theoretical physicist ... and not afraid of being a cynical feminist. And I didn't start out as a cynical feminist either. I know this environment very, very, very well.

    The thing most people don't realise is that these nerds DON'T have trouble getting women. They are like boy racers with the girly groupies in pink lippy and tights. They are used to appropriately feminine flattery from their groupies. They are even capable of rewarding the groupies with 'physics kudos', or even jobs, especially if the groupies have no training in physics whatsoever, because they then pose no danger to male superior intelligence.

    I'm not blaming these ignorant women for getting what they can, and I am not saying that the qualified women are in this category. But if a qualified woman gets a true picture of reality - god help her.

  • brooksphd says:

    Nice to see you back Zuska!

    I liked Ouellette's post and have enjoyed others I've seen (her links &ct.). Stating 'i like men, really' and its variants is IMHO a necessary disclaimer. We see from what exploded into 'elevatorgate' (#DFS) is a lot of male commenters who should be more rational just aren't *cough*Dawkins*cough*.

    Now, let me justify this: I thought I was emancipated and a feminist. My exwife (a NASA engineer), may she rest in peace, worked hard to school me on...overcoming my inate WMP bias. I really thought I was on 'your' side. And later I was schooled in the inanity of that statement and how it reflects the WMP. A couple of times it happened. And I was angry and perhaps reacted poorly more than once.

    But women, indeed people, like you helped me/forced me to confront my biases and sense of privildge. A sense I KNEW I'd gotten over. What helped me then was sometimes statements like "its not ALL men" or variants. I moved beyond 'bunch of manhating BS' when forced to think about that.

    So...rambling I know. I think I understand why Jennifer added that line. Adding a pre-emptive disclaimer is pretty common in any form of communication. I'd venture that it's especially so in communications the author knows will be contentious and wants to keep focused.

    *This comment powered by MFJ and written on my htc. Sorry for tyops etc.

  • becca says:

    But Zuska? If you apply it strictly, I've never met a man who meets all of your criteria. So if it's liking men *for* those things, and not *for* the fact they are men, YES! But if it's liking men ONLY if they meet that standard? I hope you know better men than I do!

    • Zuska says:

      becca, you have made clearer to me what I was trying to get at in my post, and what annoys me so much about the felt need to say "but really, I like men, I really do!" whenever calling attention to sexism. Saying "I like men" is not really equivalent to saying "I believe many, perhaps most, men are capable of behaving decently and treating women like human beings. I like those men who strive to behave this way despite the pressures of a patriarchal society that encourages and rewards them for behaving otherwise." It's more or less equivalent to saying "Don't feel threatened, d00ds! I like to have sex with men! I am totally fuckable!" Even if the woman saying it doesn't mean it that way or is not intending to send that message - I mean, damn, I've said it myself in the past. It's like a little badge that says "I am not a ball-busting man-hating bulldyke! I am not really threatening!" When, in fact, what we want and need to talk about is indeed threatening to the patriarchy, and to the continued existence of male privilege. Men - even decent men, men who might want to be allies - get upset when sexism is pointed out because they understand in their bones that for sexism to end, they will have to give up privilege, and that is no fun. There is real loss involved for men in dismantling the patriarchy, even if there are also some things they stand to gain. Two big things they will lose: the uneven playing field which tends to advantage them, on average, in competition for jobs and awards, and the unquestioned right to ogle and grope women when they feel like it. Even men who are on board with giving up the latter get testy when a woman "makes a big deal out of nothing" about an incident of sexism, because she's claiming the right to say what reality is. If women are allowed to do that...whoa, that's the slippery slope. It might reveal that all that stuff they think they earned all on their own merits really came about in part because they are dudes.

    • Siobhan says:

      My husband is one such a man. Several of our male friends are also such men. I'm sorry you've never met one before, because they're truly wonderful to be around.

      I imagine it would be difficult for my borderline-autistic, socially-awkward husband to call out a male for his behaviour in a social context just because of insecurity about his ability to accurately read social situations. I have seen him make subtle observations in the past when around groups of males. Possibly too subtle to be heeded at the time, but hopefully seeds get planted.

      However, he'd never tolerate his staff (he's an IT supervisor) treating his female employees inappropriately. He wouldn't hesitate to correct such behaviour.

      • sam says:

        Let's hear it for the men who exhibit all of those traits! My husband is one of those men, and honestly, probably a better feminist than I am. And working in a CS department at a university, he gets to do a lot of calling out of inappropriate behavior.

        Maybe I'm just lucky? I sure hope not.

      • m Andrea says:

        I've never met your husband nor have I ever met anybody who even remotely acted like the man you claim your husband is. I've only met men who objectify women, which is why statements like yours just seem like so much bad logic.

        Your husband is supposed to magically make up for the three billion men who are sexist pigs? How does that work, exactly? Or am I supposed to not hate the three billion men who behave in a sexist manner *today* and who cause gross harm *today*, just on the off-chance they may or may not improve "someday" ?

        Would you also insist that it's racist to hate the white people who are racist? Is it also terribly rude to hate criminals for stealing and destroying what doesn't belong to them?

        Anytime I hear a heterosexual woman try to imply that being disgusted at the abusing class is wrong, I get the impression they are delusional and are in denial. I consider that kind of statement from a heterosexual woman ("my husband isn't like that") to be just as off-topic as a man who, when the subject is " hundreds of thousands of rape victims never see justice", wants to change the subject in order to talk about the 185 men who are falsely accused. It's a derail and I wonder why it's so important to you that women WHO HAVE NEVER MET AN EGALITARIAN MAN IN THEIR LIFE validate your wishful delusion that all men might improve *someday*.

        Thousands of years ago, women told their daughters that men might improve *someday* and that should be a good enough reason for their daughters not to hate the sexist men who surrounded them *that day*.

        But thousand of years later the abusing class is still busy pretending to not understand why their behavior is harmful to those they claim to perceive as human, and I see no legitimate reason not to hate them, nor does there seem to be any legitimate reason why saying so triggers such an automatic attack on the woman who says it, as if the woman who says it is "hating men for no reason". It seems perfectly reasonable to say that I'll stop hating them when they stop dehumanizing and sexually objectifying me.

  • Jane says:

    Where I work at, those incidences would be considered harassment and those guys would not be working at the company for much longer.

  • FYI, Gabby is a man. That might help clear up the title he gave his comic. The incident that he illustrates was about another cartoonist - Kate Beaton, IIRC.

  • jc says:

    "In which betray our gender."

    Don't think for one millisecond that these d00dbros will ever betray their gender. They will instinctively, reflectively rush in to prop up whoever d00d needs propping up. This could be their buddy, their colleague's buddy, the dept head's dad, some random d00d in an elevator, some d00d from the news like Strauss-Kahn. The male gender is not to be betrayed. *By women or men.* You will pay the price. You will be expected to along with whatever d00dshit comes up. It is your job in life to wade through d00dshit in all its glory.

    "the d00ds are going to go batshit insane whenever you dare to suggest that sexism is afoot, and/or that one of their d00dly brethren has behaved poorly."

    They go batshit insane to smack a woman down for honing in on one of their boys, whether they know him or not, whether they know what happened or not, whether they were there or not. It does not matter. How dare a woman call out a man, for any reason! A woman takes away power from a man by calling him out, which is precisely why a d00dbro gangup happens instinctively and defensively every damn time, where IRL or online. The d00dz are collectively defending maleness as an army of men by propping the solo man and circling the wagons. If you see this wagon circling happening, the d00dz already know this man cannot stand on his own. This leads to the feeding frenzy, which in no way reflects that sexism did not happen. The frenzy was cued by a batshit signal to smack the little girl back in her prescribed place while they chew up and spit her out with their privilege. It's another male-bonding opportunity. *high five*

    "Behaved poorly" is a matter of opinion. From the perspective of d00dz, treating women like inferior beings is the MO therefore, it's not poor behavior for their expected part. It's another pat on the back, another gold star for their helmets from their d00d posse. I told a male colleague about a male prof hitting on an undergraduate woman, and my male colleague said without missing a beat "yeah, he wishes he had that reputation." True, sickeningly true. Their "bad" behavior is how they drive women out and at the same time, reaffirm their maleness and the mirage of male superiority by sheer numbers: if no tenured women are in a dept full of men, then women can't hack the work, women do not belong, women are not good enough, women are inferior, blah blah. The downright ice cold to somewhat chilly workplaces and conferences for women are propping up d00d bonding in all forms, at the expense of women. The only thing women can do is stick together no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT.

    • Diana says:

      Srsly great post Zuska. I couldn't agree more.

      jc

      I have experienced far too often what you describe (and firsthand). While I was married (to a man), I would call out other men (his --and supposedly my-- friends/acquaintances) on their sexist attitudes/behavior, which in theory my ex didn't agree with. He always took their side. And he wouldn't simply say, "They're my friends." No. He had to ask me why I "couldn't just be 'normal,'" why "everything was a 'thing' with me."

      The first couple of times, I tried to parse this out--figure out what exactly I had done wrong. "You wouldn't just give it up." "You were yelling." Never mind that I was trying to make myself heard over this one particularly belligerent 'friend'--who was constantly interrupting me. What had I done wrong? I expected to be treated as though my opinion mattered. I refused to back down even when this belligerent friend cut me off, yelled over me, and got in my face. I refused to shut up.

      An unending problem with me--once, while we were at a local bar (most of his friends/acquaintances in attendance), one of his acquaintances started groping a female friend of mine despite her angry protests. None of the guys said jack. I got in the guy's face and told him to f- off, even though I was terrified (he'd been arrested for assault a few times). I expected him to hit me (and he looked like he was about to). But then he actually did (f-- off).

      My ex wasn't there at the time (in line for the bathroom). At the time, I wholeheartedly believed he would have said something to the guy had he been there, but I can't say for sure (and some of the vitriol/intimidation he spewed/practiced later makes me wonder). He certainly didn't say anything when some of his friends later accused me of overreacting and called both her and me names (she was a tease, and I was a b****).

      However...years later, one of his/our friends (one that hadn't been at the bar during the previous incident) called my ex out on his sexist attitudes/behavior (in his treatment of me), more than once and in front of the rest of the doods. They vilified him for that, but he didn't stop after the one time. And when all my and my ex's 'mutual' friends dropped me (when we split up), this friend dropped my ex. That gives me hope.

      as a complete aside...speaking of undue ownership taking (and please don't think I mean to diminish other forms--this just popped into my head--the situation was so ludicrous that I want to be furious when I remember, but I end up laughing): Once, while experiencing the great displeasure of spending a holiday at my then-husband's parents' home, I decided to (in part) repay their kindness (in having us), by cooking. I bought a few special ingredients and made this huge dinner. A neighbor happened to stop by, so he joined us. Halfway through the meal, the neighbor said, "This is delicious, Diana!"I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get syllable one out, my then-father-in-law boomed (all happiness and light), "Thanks!" I did a doubletake. In fact, I gaped at him for a full minute. He shot me a stern look and said, "My house, my food."

      (which, of course, wasn't even entirely true)

      In conclusion, srsly great post. It's up to all people, male and female, to say so when they see someone being mistreated (or are mistreated themselves)--not that I am advocating getting up in someone's face when that someone is known for violence. That's me being irresponsible/impulsive, which I do quite a lot.

      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing" (Edmund Burke?)

    • Gayle says:

      All true, JC. All true.

      You presented the problem and the only solution in one tidy post.

      Damn.

  • John Morales says:

    Re: "Let me be clear: I like men, and enjoy their company" being "more or less equivalent to saying "Don't feel threatened, d00ds! I like to have sex with men! I am totally fuckable!"

    You must be several steps ahead of me or know something I don't; I read that as a pre-emptive declaration that she's not misandrist — specifically, given the context, that it indicates that she has no ideological agenda against men per se and moreover that she enjoys their company.

    (I really don't see how it means something orthogonal to its literal meaning and its overt implications)

    • Zuska says:

      Why is it necessary to explicitly declare that one is not misandrist when one is writing a post deploring sexist behavior? I mean, why do men otherwise assume that when women are deploring men who behave like sexist asshats, that said women must hate ALL men, unless said women declare affirmatively that yes, they really do truly love men?

      It's because for so many men, the mere pointing out of sexist behavior is taken as saying "I hate men. Men suck. Men should die. I would like to cut off the penis and balls of every man I see, saute them in garlic butter, and eat them for dinner. "

      Yes, I am several steps ahead of you. The state of affairs which makes it necessary for women to explicitly declare that they are not misandrist when what they really want to be doing is pointing out Our Sexist World And How It Works, is a state of affairs which requires of all women to constantly reassure men that all women love all men at all times and are always available to be fucked.

      Wrap your mind around this: pointing out sexism is not, in and of itself, the same thing as hating men. It should not be necessary for people who want to point out sexism to say "oh, and by the way, I also don't hate men!" If a man were to call attention to sexism, he would not feel compelled to say "hey dudes, I don't hate men!" because his privilege as a man allows him to say whatever he wants without having to justify his right to speak so. A woman who wants to speak about sexism has to justify her right to speak about it by reassuring d00dkind that she doesn't hate them.

      Although I will allow this: any man who advocates too much for gender equity and the rights of women is probably going to have his masculinity questioned and be subjected to homophobic slurs. RealD00dzTM don't care about that sort of shit.

      • Tabby Lavalamp says:

        Although I will allow this: any man who advocates too much for gender equity and the rights of women is probably going to have his masculinity questioned and be subjected to homophobic slurs. RealD00dzTM don't care about that sort of shit.

        Probably? The common term these days for men who get the silly idea that women are people is "mangina".

      • John Morales says:

        "Why is it necessary to explicitly declare that one is not misandrist when one is writing a post deploring sexist behavior?"

        I didn't think it was necessary, but (as your sentence and paragraph following that which I quoted indicates) that it was a dialectic stratagem to (as I stated) pre-empt an entire category of spurious objections.

        "Yes, I am several steps ahead of you."

        Ah, thanks. Your clarification following that quote is informative, and I now "get" why you put it that way. So, yeah, in a non-overt sense, it was indeed necessary.

        "It should not be necessary for people who want to point out sexism to say "oh, and by the way, I also don't hate men!" [...] A woman who wants to speak about sexism has to justify her right to speak about it by reassuring d00dkind that she doesn't hate them."

        Yes, point taken, and I quite agree.

        --

        I appreciate your time.

        (PS Cath, I've read your comment below this, thank you too)

  • John, it means something orthogonal because it's so obviously not being used literally. My take is that it's only being used to pre-empt and deflect a common criticism. Over, and over and over again, women who object to something that a man does get labelled and dismissed as misandrist.

    Also, I don't enjoy "men's company" in general. Who does? What I (and probably you) enjoy is *specific* men's company. Because men aren't all the same interchangeable things. Some are lovely people and some are shitheads. Why would one feel the need to make such a counter-intuitive observation?

  • Thegoodman says:

    "Let me be clear: I like men, and enjoy their company"

    I feel like this statement, which in some shape or form, is very common amongst feminist bloggers shows a gross misunderstanding of the detrimental societal side effects of sexism.

    Whether it be politics, religion, or wars; Americans all must be on one side or the other. Historically, the claim "You're either with us, or against us" was bullshit, its still bullshit today.

    I love feminism. I hate sexism. I hate how sexism hurts women because I care about many women and I hate how sexism hurts men because I care about many men. How could a person possibly choose a 'side' for a situation that hurts all of us?

    The only real sides are the empathetic and the ignorant. Feminist bloggers are doing a great job of creating the little jagged pill. It is up to the rest of us to help the ignorant swallow it.

  • Cripdyke says:

    Hey, you seriously misunderstood something about Gabby's comic & its context:

    Gabby is a GUY. When he said, "In which we betray our gender," he is saying that **guys betray their gender** by making masculinity look bad and he is also **joking** that he (Gabby) is betraying his gender by drawing that comic strip.

    I hope that clears that up.

    As for the rest of the post, I'm mostly with you. It's just that one piece that I felt I had to respond to.

    ttfn,
    cripdyke

  • Meg Thornton says:

    I think the clearest piece on the whole business of how women have to interact with and live within a sexist society that I've ever read is Melissa McEwan's piece "The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck" over on Shakesville. It's a long post, and there's an even longer comments thread (which is closed) below it. And throughout both the post and the comments, there's this repeated sense of how difficult, it is, as a woman, to trust men both in the specific and in the general sensewhen we're living in this culture. The bargain we're repeatedly offered is "you can stand up for your rights, or you can be socially accepted". And so often, as women, we have to basically choose between, as Liss puts it, swallowing shit, or wrecking the whole afternoon. There doesn't yet appear to be a third option.

    I'd strongly urge anyone who hasn't read this piece to have a look at it. Take your time, re-read things as necessary - heck, if it's too much to swallow all at once, read it slowly over a few days. But do read it, and think about it. I'm still not sure what I can do when faced with those options - although most of the time, due to lack of energy, lack of time, lack of mental calmness, or just the sheer lack of enthusiasm for repeating a very, very tired argument I've had repeatedly over the past forty years, I choose to swallow the shit. It's easier and simpler than arguing, and if I'm angry with myself as a result, well, hey, it's an anger I'm familiar with and used to stifling and smothering.

  • SKM says:

    I notice that the folks who are quick to call a woman "misandrist" for even mentioning sexism are often the ones who ruthlessly restrict the definition of the word "misogyny" to blatant, violently-expressed hatred of women.

  • Brett Caton says:

    Wow, that's a rant and a half.

    While I suppose it is possible some male might meet your requirements, it does seem unlikely. What I have been thinking is that you might be better off forming some sort of female only society, perhaps buying an island and living together in Paradise. Of course, according to my theory, women will fill the unpleasant niches men currently occupy. Feel free to prove me wrong.

    "Men who can behave like professionals in the workplace and educational settings. " Wow, where do I start? How many people I know would be single if they hadn't hooked up in those settings? Perhaps the women are gender traitors for agreeing to it? You should shriek out your rage at their betrayal. Perhaps throw a few cats, too, while you are at it. Oh that's right, you only mention men as being bastards here. The sun shines out of the arse of womankind, no doubt.

    "if you can't meet these MINIMAL expectations of decent human behavior, why the hell are you walking around calling yourself a man in the first place?"

    Well, because being unpleasant or pleasant doesn't alter your gender? Might make surgery a lot less traumatic if it did. Oh but I expect you are just usually the old sexist definition, that being a man meant you had to be some sort of hero, well, sod that. It's a con, and if you weren't such a misandrist, you'd see it. You don't give a damn about sexism, you just want to be in the oppressive group instead of vice versa. You know, i wonder; how's that working out in Zimbabwe?

    • "While I suppose it is possible some male might meet your requirements, it does seem unlikely...and if you weren't such a misandrist, you'd see it."

      You think it's unlikely that any male can live up to the "requirements" of being respectful, fair, professional, and non-sexist, and SHE'S the misandrist?!

      Oh, and I'm a white male, so don't try accusing me of " just want[ing] to be in the oppressive group instead of vice versa." I'm already as privileged as I can get without being in a different tax bracket, and I'm still a feminist.

      Possibly because, unlike some of us, I listen to what women are actually saying instead of being outraged by some Feminazi tirade that exists only in my self-centered imagination.

    • JMS says:

      Gee, I'm married to a man who meets those requirements. Too bad you can't get it right.

    • Layla says:

      Dude, people can hook up with coworkers without harrassment being involved. It's inaccurate to assume that people getting together unquestionably involves harrassment and/or innappropriate advances and that therefore, all feminists are suggesting that no dudes speak to women ever. No and no.

      To the idea that if feminists don't want to be treated like shit for the crime of not wanting to be treated as less than and not shutting up about it, that they should all just retreat to an island nation of their own: this is bullshit, no one should have to move to the remote corners of the world just to be treated as an equal. And the idea that men are incapable of being respectful human beings and cannot:

      -Treat women with respect, as autonomous human beings
      -Refrain from being groping gaping assholes
      -Behave like professionals in the workplace and educational settings
      -Refrain from assuming that because someone has tits and a pussy, she must be there to provide visual and other pleasures, not for any other reason
      -Understand that it is necessary to establish consent before engaging in any kind of sexual behavior
      -Understand women in the workplace are there to work
      -Call out other men on bad behavior
      -Keep from vilifying women who challenge sexist behaviors
      -Refrain from abusing little kids, raping women, coercing sexual partners, or bully, beat, or emotionally abuse women
      -Resist the urge to mansplain

      says a lot more about you and your opinion of men than it does the opinions of feminists. Your assumption that doing all of these minimal things is the equivalent of exerting superhuman strength is pretty telling.

      I believe men can do all of the above, because as someone who believes in gender equality and believes anything men can do, women can do and vice versa, I believe men can do all of the above because those are things I do every damn day. It's not hard. Half of those I do without even thinking. The idea that men cannot do and be these things is a lie created by the patriarchy.

    • Daniel Collins says:

      I am a man and I think OP's standard is fairly lax. You can still hook up with someone at work according to her standard, as long as the flirting goes both ways and the sex is desired by both parties. She is just saying that when it comes to work, treat women as equal workers; seems easy enough.

      My girlfriend is an engineer at a biomedical firm; she works hard and does a good job. Some men still grab her hand like she a freaking princess rather than giving her a proper handshake. It is incredibly disrespectful of the quality work she does. At work, treat women as professionals, the same way you treat men. Whether you happen to develop a romantic relationship with co-worker is entirely tangential.

      In other words, grow up.

  • Arthur says:

    Precisely. Objectification IS blatant sexism, and unwanted touching is assault or harassment at best. Don't tell people it isn't, they have a hard time getting it as it is.
    Feminism - don't apologize for it.

  • Roberto says:

    "Men who resist the urge to mansplain."

    Typical misandrist silencing technique. While there might not be a way to justify unwanted touching and the like, I've yet to read a feminist blog where the word "mansplain" isn't used whenever a man attempts to articulate an opinion that's even slightly contradictory to the opinion expressed by the feminist.

    Healthy discourse doesn't seem to be something that most modern feminists are interested in. It doesn't surprise me that you'd lump a man who expresses what's perceived as an anti-feminist opinion into the same hole with child abusers and rapists.

    • "Typical misandrist silencing technique. While there might not be a way to justify unwanted touching and the like, I've yet to read a feminist blog where the word "mansplain" isn't used whenever a man attempts to articulate an opinion that's even slightly contradictory to the opinion expressed by the feminist. "

      Read a little more carefully and you'll see that the word is generally used to describe a man expressing an opinion on an issue that is deeply intertwined with the subjective experience of being a woman.

      In other words, it's a man offering his opinion on something he is not properly informed about. And condescendingly so, at that.

      Also: "...there might not be a way to justify unwanted touching and the like..."

      Might not? MIGHT NOT?!?! I get that you're trolling dude, but is your head so far up your ass that you can't unambiguously agree that non-consensual touching is wrong? You think maybe that's affecting how people react to you when you stomp into a feminist discussion and try to mansplain things to everyone?

      • Roberto says:

        "Read a little more carefully and you'll see that the word is generally used to describe a man expressing an opinion on an issue that is deeply intertwined with the subjective experience of being a woman.

        "In other words, it's a man offering his opinion on something he is not properly informed about. And condescendingly so, at that."

        For the most part, that's not how I see it being used. I'll give you an example:

        A feminist blogger is discussing rape and dismisses false rape accusations in general by calling them statistically insignificant. A man comments by saying that in 2006 there were more than 200,000 rapes reported in the US. If 1% of those reported rapes turn out to be false, you've still got 2,000 innocent men who were accused of or charged with rape . A certain percentage those innocent men undoubtedly ended up in prison. Then he wonders if there are dozens or hundreds or thousands of innocent men in prison for rape right now.

        That guy will almost certainly be accused of "mansplaining" on most feminist blogs, and he doesn't need the subjective experience of being a woman to make that comment.

        If Suzanne Franks wasn't suggesting that only men who agree with her feminist beliefs or keep their mouths shut if they don't are worthy of her respect, I apologize.

        "Might not" was a poor choice of words.

        • Layla says:

          "A man comments by saying that in 2006 there were more than 200,000 rapes reported in the US. If 1% of those reported rapes turn out to be false, you've still got 2,000 innocent men who were accused of or charged with rape . A certain percentage those innocent men undoubtedly ended up in prison."

          Actually, probably not. According to this, http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates it's highly unlikely that 100% of the 1% of men falsely accused will ever even come to trial, let alone be convicted. By using your numbers with the percentages I've linked above, you'd actually only wind up with 185 innocent men in prison. Which, unfortunate as that may be, is a far cry from the amount injustice of the 200,000 rapes to begin with, wouldn't you agree? That's also assuming too that those percentages I've linked are correct. It's been estimated that the number of unreported, underprosecuted, non-convicted rapes is much higher.

          All of that of course, is kind of off topic I think. The problem I generally have with those types of comments on feminist blogs is that they equate the frequency of innocent men being convicted as just as systematic as the frequency of women being sexually assaulted, which, I hope I've just debunked. The other problem I have with this is that it's often used as a derail, which is a silencing tactic, just like mansplaining. It may not be your intent to condescend, or insinuate that what you have to say is more important than the topic at hand, but that's generally the effect such comments have, which is why they are probably often called mansplaining.

          • Roberto says:

            @Layla--I didn't say that 100% of those men would be convicted. If you could point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it, but I've yet to find rape statistics that I find believable when it comes to the number of reported rapes in the US, the number of false rape accusations, or anything else regarding rape.

            From what I gather, 200,000 is the best estimate of how many sexual assaults occur in the US on any given year. I'd imagine that number might be higher, but the amount of reported rapes seems to hover around 200,000.

            Depending on the source, I've read that the number of false rape accusations in the US is anywhere from 1-2% to around 10% of reported rapes.

            However you look at it, A LOT of rapes are reported in the US every year. The vast majority of those reported rapes actually happened, but it's an inevitability that there are many men in prison today as a result of a false rape accusation. Some of them are serving very long prison sentences.

            Acknowledging that is not off topic in any rape discussion, nor does equate the frequency of rape with the frequency of the false reporting of rape.

            I think what's generally missing from this discussion is the men who are concerned with false rape allegations not taking into account how hard it is for most people who were actually raped to report it.

            The authorities should be extra skeptical of every rape accusation they encounter, just like they should be extra skeptical of every murder that crosses their desk. However, they should recognize that the majority of people who report rape are being honest, and their skepticism should be invisible. If you're going to contribute to sending someone to prison for a very long time, you'd better be sure you get your facts straight and can actually prove the person is guilty. You should also treat the accuser with the utmost respect.

            Few things are more horrible than rape. I don't know if being sentenced to years in prison for a crime you didn't commit is better or worse than being raped, nor do I care to weigh which is worse. Ideally, they'd both never happen. But they do.

            The false rape accusation argument that I've described wasn't one that I made myself; it was an example I used from a blog I read months ago and can't remember the name of now. This is my second or third comment on a feminist blog, and I'd like to thank you for actually "speaking" to me rather than yelling at me. I didn't expect it and I appreciate it.

          • Layla says:

            Roberto,

            When you mentioned that 1% of 200,000 was 2,000 and therefore, still meant 2,000 men imprisoned unfairly, you imply that 100% of those rape reports result in convictions. Simple math says that 2,000 of 2,000 = 100%. You may not have meant to imply that you think 100% of an estimated 1% of false rape accusations result in convictions, but your numbers indicate that.

            You're right that what's missing from these conversations is how hard it is for women to report rape cases to begin with, but that is because the false rape allegation is very much treated as a rule, rather than the exception. When a woman reports a rape, time after time after time again her past is scrutinized, her prior actions in the hours or days leading up to the rape are scrutinized, ie. if she was considered a "slut" she couldn't have possibly been raped, she must have asked for it, if she was drinking, she was irresponsibe etc, etc, etc. But this isn't missing, at least not from a lot of feminist conversations I've encountered. I'd wager it's much more likely that this is missing from ill reported New York Times articles. It's missing from the comment threads of Assange rape trial articles on the Huffington Post. Because there are number of dudes already rushing to trot out the false rape trope as gospel and any women who DO mention how difficult it is for a rape victim to receive any justice are shouted down by the dudes. It's there. There aren't enough people listening.

            In any case, this sort of thing generally IS a derail, particularly in a conversation about the rape survivors, not those accused of rape. If you want to discuss about those being accused of rape, that's your prerogative, but bringing it up in a thread focusing on the difficulty of receiving justice for rape survivors is off topic.

            "The authorities should be extra skeptical of every rape accusation they encounter, just like they should be extra skeptical of every murder that crosses their desk."

            I'm not sure what you're insinuating here. Are you insinuating the authorities aren't skeptical enough? That the scrutiny of the past activity of victims is not stringent enough? Because there are plenty of cops who assume lying slut until proven otherwise. See, this guy, http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2011/06/quote-of-day_07.html

            "However, they should recognize that the majority of people who report rape are being honest, and their skepticism should be invisible. If you're going to contribute to sending someone to prison for a very long time, you'd better be sure you get your facts straight and can actually prove the person is guilty. You should also treat the accuser with the utmost respect."

            This already is what DOESN'T happen because of the above, because people buy that the false rape accusations is the rule, not the exception, and a big part of that is because a LOT of people bring up, in threads about rape, "but what about the potential innocent convicts?" I'm not saying this is what you're doing here, or even assuming bad faith on the other guy you saw make this comment, but this is a derail, and a harmful one at that because it contributes to the rape culture.

            "Few things are more horrible than rape. I don't know if being sentenced to years in prison for a crime you didn't commit is better or worse than being raped, nor do I care to weigh which is worse. Ideally, they'd both never happen. But they do."

            I'm honestly not sure where you're going with this, but you're comparing apples to oranges here. Neither is ideal, but if we're going to play the importance card here, I'd say the injustice wrought on 200,000 people is significantly MORE injustice than that wrought on 185 people. More importantly because that injustice of 185 is NOT brought about as a result of a culture that encourages the injustice, it is largely the result of incompitencies in our justice system, rather than the result of a huge overarching societal problem. Moreover, you're also forgetting, or might not know, that often, what's considered a "false rape" allegation can be considered "false rape" if their rapist isn't convicted, which, 15 of 16 times is the case, if the police don't take their claim seriously, etc, etc, etc.

            "This is my second or third comment on a feminist blog, and I'd like to thank you for actually "speaking" to me rather than yelling at me. I didn't expect it and I appreciate it."

            If this is a compliment, I'll take it, but this has a lot of "thank you for not being like THOSE man-hating feminists" implications, which is hardly feminist, or progressive. I don't owe you an explanation, nobody does, for this time I merely FELT like giving one. You may not mean it, but this is akin to exceptionalizing, saying a woman is cool because she isn't like those OTHER women (because those other women are bad and boring and etc) which generally is an anti-feminist schtick. I'm glad you appreciated my conversation though, even though it WAS a derail, which I do apologize to Zuzka for perpetuating on her space.

            I do want to say that Zuzka's post here is great, if we can't count someone touching someone else's leg without question and without concern for consent AT WORK, as pretty egregious sexism, I'm not sure what pretty egregious sexism is.

        • Zuska says:

          Who is this Suzanne Franks? I thought this post was written by Zuska.

        • Zuska says:

          I am hereby inviting every man who is deeply concerned about the issue of false rape accusations to go start a blog dedicated to this topic and take up the discussion there. I am sure there are plenty of people in the blogosphere who will be happy to engage with them on this topic. This particular blog post and comment thread are not really about the topic of false rape accusations. They are about how, when women talk about sexism, they get shit dumped on their heads, and they have to say things like "really, I love all men" so as not to offend d00ds. Any man who is deeply concerned about the issue of false rape accusations and wants to start his own blog dedicated to discussing this topic - even if he wants to start this blog just for the purposes of putting up only one post, that explains why he cares so much about this topic and what all the issues are that people need to know about it - is welcome to come back to this thread and leave a link letting us know where we can find this information.

    • Meg Thornton says:

      Roberto, you appear to be somewhat mis-informed about what "mansplaining" is. Here's a quick precis:

      A mansplainer is someone who, after I (a woman) have articulated that I find something sexist, and explained my (generally logical, unemotional) reasons for this belief, tells me that no, I DON'T find it sexist, and here is their list of reasons why (and often said list tends to boil down to "BECAUSE I SAID SO, AND I AM A MAN WITH A DICK AND EVERYTHING SO PHEAR ME, BITCH!!!1!!1!"). In other words, not only is someone who mansplains ignoring what I just said, they are disregarding my autonomy, my lived experience, and my very humanity in order to do so, simply because I have said something uncomfortable to them.

      The important bit there is not that a man is disagreeing with a woman, it is that a man is, in the process of this disagreement, denying the woman in question any knowledge of her own mind, her own emotional processes, and her own opinions. He is dehumanising her, he is treating her as lesser, he is behaving in a paternalistic fashion, and he is being down and outright bloody rude!

  • Asphericity says:

    To me, the disclaimer "I like men, and enjoy their company" also reads as heteronormative: It's okay to listen to me because I'm not a lesbian. Not just fuckable, but someone who enjoys being fucked. Because you know you can't listen to anything those castrating man-haters say. They'd really just rather buy themselves an island and live in Paradise with no men at all.

  • becca says:

    @Zuska- "don't feel threatened" disclaimers are annoying, when you see the whole point as to threaten those invested in the oppressive status quo. I get that.
    When paired with the comments about "cynical feminism" it comes across as "look, I didn't want to side with THOSE feminist people, but the alternative is worse".

    I, for one, would like to go on record as stating I would totes read a halfway decent skeptical/atheist ball busting bulldyke blog. Greta Christina and her 'lets get you laid, bois!' is just not cutting it.

    On the other hand, when paired with the comments about 'this is changeable behavior', I think the "I like men" comment comes across as a bit more "you are redeemable, so this is totally worth working on", which is itself a useful enough message to actually change hearts/minds in the atheist/skeptical community. Not the only useful type of message (brooksphd, in that sense I totally disagree the disclaimer is 'necessary'), but certainly a good one.

    @Asphericity- yes! Heaven forbid we align ourselves with the castrating man-haters! HIDE THE GARBAGE DISPOSALS!

    • Zuska says:

      I get what you are saying, becca. It just drives me insane that in order to bring allies on board - especially men in the friggin' skeptical community, who ought to know better already to begin with - one has to do the little non-threatening displays, roll on our backs, show our bellies, profess our love of men. I certainly don't expect people of color to tell me how much they love white people, or my GLBT friends to tell me how much they simply adore straight folks, in order for me to care about their issues. Should people with disabilities have to remind us that they really, truly love able-bodied people with no health challenges for us to care about accessibility, respect, equality in the workplace? How ridiculous that all sounds to me. It's as if the world will stop spinning unless powered by the constant, unrelenting, totalizing love of all women for all men at all times no matter what.

      In response to the d00ds who think I am a misandrist: it cracks me up that when I say I want to hold men to a high standard, that I believe men are capable of being good and decent human beings and that I expect this kind of behavior from them, I am accused of being a man hater. If I said, "oh well, men rape and beat women, harass them in the workplace and discriminate against them, verbally abuse them and regularly mock, belittle, and make fun of them for their own amusement, and if anyone points any of this out, they unleash all the fury of hell on them, but you know what? None of that matters, because I love men, they are just so amazing!" I would not be considered a man hater.

      I don't hate men as a group, I don't love men as a group. There are individual men who have earned my respect and affection. I wish to hold all men to high standards, precisely because I believe, as human beings, they are capable of it. I refuse to concede that the limited range of craptastic sexist behavior displayed by many of them, that the patriarchy rewards and encourages, is all they can manage. That despairing notion would lead to a truly man-hating state of mind. It's because I believe men are capable of being good people that I hold them accountable, and when they refuse to choose that path, I withhold my affection and respect.

  • Rev Matt says:

    I can't improve on what's already been said, so I'll restrict myself to "YAY, ZUSKA IS BACK!!!"

  • Zee says:

    Rev Matt, I second your opinion. Yeah Zuska! I missed you and your eloquent awesomeness.

  • JustAnotherGuy says:

    "But then...it makes me gnash my teeth in despair that in the middle of her excellent post, Ouellette has to stop and write this: 'Let me be clear: I like men, and enjoy their company.' Because OMG, their wittle feewings might be hurt if they weren't absolutely sure and reassured all the time that every woman on the planet likes them! "

    My first reaction was this: So what??? A single seemingly innocuous sentence in the midst of an otherwise excellent post makes you gnash your teeth in despair?

    Then I thought about it. Let me be clear: I don't like women, or enjoy their company, for the most part. And I don't give a rip whether they like me. I don't have to, because I'm in the privileged class. Whereas women, being the non-privileged class, DO have to care about whether men like them. You are projecting your need to be accepted and liked onto men, and it just isn't there. Protecting men's "wittle feewings" is not why Ouelette said what she did. Men are simply not vulnerable in this way, the same way women are, and it's completely useless to pretend we are.

    So perhaps what you really meant was, the fact Ouellette thought it necessary to say this, shows that she has, herself, not completely divested herself of patriarchal modes of thinking?

    • Zuska says:

      You, personally, may not care one way or the other whether women in general or any woman in particular withholds or expresses affection for you. But let me assure you: Dude Nation in general, while woman-hating at its core, absolutely depends upon women placing d00ds at the center of their universe, constantly reminding d00ds how d00dly awesome they are, how much they are loved, and how important they are to all women. If even one woman hints that d00ds are not at the center of everything at all times, this constitutes a deadly threat to Dude Nation and must be immediately countered and wiped out. See: every comment thread ever in the entire history of the internet where a woman points out something sexist.

  • Kea says:

    If even one woman hints that d00ds are not at the center of everything at all times, this constitutes a deadly threat to Dude Nation and must be immediately countered and wiped out.

    Ah, yes, how familiar. These days they stop short of actually burning us at the stake, but other methods of deadly torture are still effective. For example, one can actually TELL a dood (one who is supposedly on your side in the war) that one is starving to death and otherwise afflicted with bad health, and they will laugh it off and carry on ignoring you, because they really, really wish you WERE dead.

  • usagi says:

    Welcome back.

  • FrauTech says:

    Welcome back Z, you have been missed!

    I really like this quote from you: "Men who are worthy of my respect." I want to box that, put a bow on it, and open it for my birthday.

    Let's flip this around...can you imagine if Dawkins in his insensitive comments had said, "Don't get me wrong, I like women. I have a healthy relationship with my wife/girlfriend/robot." Can you imagine if every time a dude dismissed any sort of claim from a woman he had to insert that little caveat on there?

  • Kea says:

    Men who are worthy of my respect? Hmmmm, interesting hypothetical, that.

  • BBBShrewHarpy says:

    I find myself surprised to be a little unsympathetic to Ms. Henneman's claims of sexism. The items she dismisses - the footsies, flirting, things she attributes to social awkwardness - those are clearly sexist. But her main complaint - that of not being considered 'one of us' among the research scientists - is probably one a man in her position would also level at the CERN scientists. She is not 'one of us'; she is an educator among scientists, somewhat exotic for that reason. Because she has already accepted scientists are socially awkward, is it that difficult to see that they just don't know how to deal with her as a not-quite-peer, and that yes, they probably don't see her as much of a heavyweight as their fellow scientists? It's not very pretty, but we scientists can be fairly driven and narrow-minded, and whilst we can deal with civilians in the pub, dealing with them in the lab is a bit awkward. I wish we were better at this aspect of life, but our failure may not be because of sexism.

  • thebewilderness says:

    I went through a rough patch with my oldest son over this. He had to work at it but he did come to the realization that if he didn't behave like a sexist asshat then when I was railing against sexist asshattery I prolly was not talking about him.

    What he finally concluded was that when he felt that I might be talking about him he need to examine his behavior and make the necessary adjustments toward achieving the minimum standards of decent human being.

    I too grit my teeth when I come across that sort of "I like men" disclaimer in the midst or a reasonable explanation of why there is no earthly reason to like men in general at all. If they feel threatened by someone pointing out the obvious then so much the better.

    • Dunc says:

      Part of the problem with Dude Nation is that they just can't imagine that anyone isn't talking about them, ever. They're the centre of the universe, after all - how could you possibly talk about anyone else?

  • Pharm Sci Grad says:

    I had a moment like yours with "The Social Network", Zuska, when I first realized it was correct to say "I'm not here for your viewing pleasure." It took me a while to realize how my sense of discontent arose from being treated as less of a person. I'm going to remember that quote too, as I struggle with establishing an authentic identity in the P.

    It really makes me wonder when I realize how often women minimize the damage done to them by dOOds and yet are still attacked so vehemently for it. Perhaps this will backfire by ensuring those of us who speak do so without worrying about whose feelings we hurt. It has certainly pushed me away from a "moderate feminist position" to one where I expect ALL people I voluntarily associate with to "meet these MINIMAL expectations of decent human behavior" period.

    Please keep fighting the good fight, because with every post and comment you give me the ammunition I need to articulate not only what is wrong but why. I'm glad to see you back, and hope life continues to allow you time to do the things you enjoy. Thanks and *hugs* if you want 'em! :)

  • [...] Some people have written some exceptionally eloquent calls to action on how to fix the pervasive privilege problem, and believe it or not, they do not involve quotas, nor do they involve shunning or even castrating men! There’s nothing misandrist in asking men to shoulder some of the burden in rape avoidance and in helping keep women who were once attacked from having a traumatic flashback every time they see someone walking toward them rapidly. There’s nothing misandrist in pointing out that the vast majority of rapes happen by men, of women. There’s nothing misandrist about suggesting that men are capable of better behaviour than this. [...]

  • Jenna says:

    So what is the solution? We talk and argue and dissect. We complain about the patriarchy and call for its dismantlement. But it seems to me that's all we do, and how can we change things if we don't take action? Direct action. Stop the patriarchy. The time for analysing is or should be over, and the time for actual action should be here. I'm at a loss as to how to get this started, but I'm hoping to see a revolution take place before I die.

  • Tlazolteotl says:

    Oh my goodness is it good to have you back!

    And thanks all for the excellent comments.

  • [...] now for something completely different: Zuska goes on an ElevatorGate-inspired tangent in What Constitutes Blatant Sexism of the Most Egregious Sort? Zuska doesn’t post very often (I should talk), so enjoy it when it [...]

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