Who you callin’ man-hater, hater?
Today, I haz a rant. To begin, I’ll start with what got me started on this rant. ….even if my thought processes has progressed quite a bit since this and it isn’t exactly something that keeps me up at night.
I’d like to draw your attention to a few comments on a previous post (and of all the posts, it was a Tree Hugger). For the full, fun-filled run-through, please check them out here.
Now. I don’t really want to pick apart this particular example. Really. I don’t.. And, Social Kenny? If you come back (for some reason), and read this? Please, please understand that this post is not, actually, about you. This post is about making a larger point.
On the one hand, it is quite clear to me that there is something in the way in which women discuss their rights that can cause confusion and conflict. Sure, part of the problem is we’re also up against a lot of narrative and privilege and crap that isn’t our fault – and we should not make excuses or allowance for that bullcrap.
But. I believe we do need to be paying attention to how we converse, how we explain, how we express our worries, our frustration, our anger, our tears. For instance, you could easily point out the language I used and assumptions I made here that would derail a conversation with Kenny (even though I didn’t really want to have a conversation with Kenny, so…).
See. I, and anyone else wanting to engage on issues like feminism that can be polarizing, need to be very, very self-aware. I need to be very mindful about the language I use, the words I choose. In addition, I need to think about who I am talking to, I need to consider their POV to the best of my ability. Now, I probably won’t be very good at that right off the bat, so, more importantly, I need to be listening.
Not because I am trying to downplay my own worries, my own frustration, my own anger and tears. Not because I am trying to pretend things are better than they are, that I am upholding my end of gender performance as an accommodating and affirming female. Not because I want to excuse or allow for another’s misogyny.
No. Not for those reasons – but because I want to engage and be heard and move forward and I know yelling from a soapbox gets nowhere. Because I know the power of words, the weight and the history of the things I have to say. Because I understand things like privilege and narrative.
Because it allows me to see how privilege and narrative translate, so I can better comprehend and change them.
And, frankly, because if I am having a conversation with you, I think you deserve it. Because I would prefer to figure out how to talk with you, than to talk at you.
And now we come to the other hand.
If I am going to spend my own energy and time, if I am going to actively work at being self-aware, if I am going to weigh my words carefully, if I am going to consider your thoughts and your feelings, if I am going to try and learn from you, if I am going to evaluate, listen, consider, re-consider, and try again, if I am willing to allow someone else to be naïve, to say the wrong thing, and to not get offended or overreact, if I am going to do all of that to try and forward conversation? Then I damn well expect the same in fucking return. Or at least some fucking semblance of the same respect and ability to see beyond my own fucking nose.
I expect you to actually listen to what I have to say. I expect you to actually pay attention to my anger and my frustration as valid emotions. I expect you to believe I am worthy of respect and compassion. I expect you to treat me as I treat you.
I expect you to gather some goddamn good fucking evidence, and a lot of it, before you call me a man-hater. Before you call me a bigot and a cunt. Before you stereotype and degrade me, and invalidate anything I have to say with insults. Before you attempt to undercut my worth by calling me names.
Yes, as women, we need to consider the reactions to our anger and our frustration and our tears. We need to look, really look, at why people have these reactions. Not because it excuses them, but because it makes us better communicators, and because it makes the conversation more likely to move forward, and because it can actually help us learn about privilege and misogyny. Because it is how we will find common ground.
But, for fuckitty-fuck’s sake, I’m done pretending anyone has the right to call me a man-hating bitch. I am done with those who don’t believe I have a right to be angry, or frustrated, or upset. That those emotions are not ones I am allowed to claim without being crazy or just generally hating on all men (insert any privileged class here).
I am done with allowing for hateful people (both men and women) who choose to call me or anyone else names over listening or actually engaging in conversation. Who would rather generalize and compartmentalize anyone who doesn’t say exactly what they want to hear, and would rather spit bullshit and insults than pay fucking attention. Who could not possibly fathom the fact that they might be insulting in their naivete, and instead of wanting to listen, to learn, to educate themselves, they’d rather decide everyone else who even remotely looks like THIS or used THESE WORDS, regardless of context or meaning, is not only wrong, they must be bigoted, angry, crazy, and hateful.
Who cannot, for one second, take a step back and look inward. Who cannot, for even a moment, care to fully grip the reality of the world we live in or the weight of the words they throw about. Who cannot treat others as they themselves explicitly ask to be treated.
Clearly, this is not about Mr. Social Kenny. Obvi.
*** Quick update/note (which is, actually, a bit more about Social Kenny): In the comments below, note Kenny would like to point out that he never called me a “man-hater” (even though this, ahem, wasn’t about him calling me a hater) but that instead I have “misandrious tendencies” that are “all good“. Herein is the problem. If I do indeed have “misandrious” (read: anti-men, that is the ugly twin of misogyny) tendencies, FOR THE LOVE don’t just say that, explain to me what they are. I actually WANT TO KNOW because if that is true? It’s actually NOT “all good” and I’d like to make some changes.
But that, of course, would be the difference here, wouldn’t it. Between throwing around words and actually meaning them, and between paying attention and just being insulting because you don’t want to truly engage – you just want to be right.
PS If this rant was entertaining to you, I highly recommend another from Daily Kos here.