This article has a tweet in it and I’ve seen the metaphor elsewhere “You have a bowl of M&Ms, five of them are poisoned, do you want to stick your hand in? Not all the M&Ms are poisoned.” If someone were about to reach into that bowl you would say wait, that bowl is poisoned. Do you really want to say that about men? Don’t reach in there, that gender is poisoned? That bowl of 5 billion individual human lives isn’t worth putting your hand in?
And the article wraps up with the trope of Not-all-men-sure-but-actually-all-men. He says mid-article that the discussion isn’t about men who aren’t the problem so saying not-all-men isn’t helpful but he’ll come back to that. And at the end he says men who aren’t the problem are part of the problem and we need to do better. So the point that men are derailing a women’s issue by making it a men’s issue wasn’t quite true because this is actually a men’s issue through and through. That’s still dangerously close to a gender-wars way of thinking for me but it’s not entirely wrong. We don’t expect black people to defeat racism and then get back to us, so defeating sexism is more about enlightened people creating opportunities to enlighten others than it is about feminists needing to be more feminist.
This one actually starts off with Yes All Men. All of them, you, me, all. And it has this wildlife field guide gem about if you’re alone with a woman let her know that you’re there, give her a wide berth and respect her space, because she’s afraid and may react. You’re walking by someone in a parking lot, not encountering a bear on hiking trail. But hey let’s see if this can be extrapolated to other problems in society. For example a black man should take it upon himself, in parking lots at night, to yell out -from a safe distance- that they are aware of their blackness and how that might scare you but they promise they aren’t the crack-selling, drive-by kind of black and you’ll be fine. Or on the off chance someone is schizophrenic I’ll make a habit of telling everyone I’m not a government agent to assuage their feelings of paranoia.
So one article that says we need to do better and one that says we need to be sorry-er. I’m going to get all Freudian here and say sometime when these guys were kids they heard a lamp break in another room then mom, reeking of gin I imagine, yelling “Look what you made me do!” because they left their toys on the floor.
The fact is if I’m walking through a parking lot and my presence makes someone uncomfortable that’s their problem not mine. If a woman scared because I’m a man, or a man scared because I have tattoos, or a schizophrenic scared because I’m a government agent, they can hide under a car for all I care and I’ll just keep walking minding my own business. These writers like to point out a woman doesn’t owe anybody anything, not even a smile. Okay if we’re all opting out of the polite social contract that’s fine but the two-way street of it is I don’t owe them anything either, certainly an apology for walking to my car.
A man in an elevator asks a woman if she’d like to have coffee with him and the world erupts. Sure, Dawkins chose a bad time for sarcasm but I agree with his point that the man did nothing wrong and the woman’s reaction is drastic. Then other people’s reaction to that, like comparing being invited for coffee to being called a cunt, is even more bizarre and drastic. If I have a thing to compare the woman’s experience to, in it’s drastic interpretation, it would be this: I was accosted by drunk on the train once who was screaming that he’d kill me for being a faggot. We were alone on the car, it was truly terrifying, and when I got off at the next stop so did he following me and still yelling but he fell over and I was able to walk away. I’ve been near people who looked, moved, and smelled like that since and been nervous. I don’t blame them for making me nervous though, it’s not their choice to have something in common with someone who scared me. I prefer to live in the world of actions and choices, and I’d like to live in a world where if you want to have coffee with someone you can ask. And not have people assume you are a rapist.
This post has two things that bug me. When a girl says to a guy that’s hitting on her that she has a boyfriend I don’t understand the interpretation that the guy goes away because he’s deferring to another man’s ownership of her. I’d say Occam would see it as a way of saying you’re applying for a position that’s already been filled so don’t waste both our time. That’s just a new trope I’m seeing that’s bugging me. The thing in the post that really bugs me is a story about seeing a woman approached in a bar by a “scary” guy and the woman pretends to listen and be nice while finishing her drink ASAP and getting away from him. The writer points out that some readers might want the approached woman to do the masculine thing and reject him outright but we just don’t understand how scared she is. I don’t think it’s a masculine trait to not want to be lied to, though. And the logic of not wanting someone around so I’ll be nice to them for a little while is stupid. Leading someone on out of fear is only going to make the situation worse when Scary Guy thinks she’s suddenly changed. I think it’s childish to say I acted irrationally out of fear more than once, after that one should have learned and grown and thought of better ways to handle things.