In my last post I talked about the excesses of male privilege. It might have come across that I’m averse to affection. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m a hugger. I like to give hugs and get hugs – appropriate hugs. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.
The trouble is casual sexism and misogyny often go overlooked. Women look the other way when there are catcalls on the street. Or when they’re told to, “smile, it’ll get better.” Or when the joke is at the expense of their gender. All because they don’t want to appear as though they don’t have a sense of humor, or can’t take a joke, or a compliment, for that matter.
A compliment is: “That’s a nice dress”. A man who works here in the office with me told me one day that I always dress so classy. I didn’t take that as a pass. He wasn’t looking me up and down. I didn’t get the impression he was undressing me with his eyes. I didn’t think it sexist or misogynist. I politely smiled and said thank you. Because, yes, I can take a compliment.
Not only can women take compliments, but we do, indeed, appreciate appropriate affection. Appropriate affection can be a touch on the shoulder – not a massage. Touch and move on. It’s nice to know a person cares about you. An affectionate greeting with a small, friendly, hug is appropriate. Sliding your hands below the waist down to the small of a woman’s back and not letting go is not a friendly greeting.
I know that what a person looks like is the first thing we notice as human beings, but don’t rate us solely on that score alone. We’re tired of comparing ourselves to airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models and trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. We look in the mirror everyday and instead of seeing beauty we see flaws.
To the men out there, you no longer need to wield a club and drag a woman by her hair to your cave. We aren’t pieces of meat on display at the market. We aren’t property to be claimed. Think about the scenarios in which you are involved. If it were happening in the reverse would it be uncomfortable? Creepy? Inappropriate? If it would be then it’s uncomfortable, creepy and inappropriate. Period.
To the women out there, it’s time for us to stop glossing over misogyny and laughing along with sexist jokes. When we do that we’re only sending the message that it’s okay; that it doesn’t bother us; that we accept unequal treatment. We perpetuate misogyny and sexism when we seek to profit from it. We need to send the clear message that inequality is a problem and we’re not going to take it anymore.
Casual sexism and misogyny may not seem ‘that bad’. It doesn’t have to be ‘that bad’ to be wrong. Isn’t inequality a good enough reason to address these issues and make them better? It is the only way we’ll ever climb out of the pot of boiling water.
I do see progress over where we were even twenty years ago. It is slow, but it is progress. Sometimes, though, it seems like two steps forward and one step back. Thank you to all the male readers who expressed concern and compassion over these issues. Perhaps there is hope after all.
Well, this sermon hasn’t been three points and a prayer, but how about a poll(thanks for the idea, Roughseasinthemed) and a song?
I also want to open up the comment section, not only to discussion about the content of the post, but to any woman who would like to share her story. Not to make any men uncomfortable, but sometimes it helps just to be able to share it, even anonymously.