Condemnant quod non intellegunt

They condemn because they do not understand

As an eighth grader, I was in an advanced math class that consisted of me and six boys. When I mentioned one day that I’d been accepted to the local all-girls high school, one of these charming young men–let’s call him Kyle–snorted derisively and said I must be a lesbian. (This is what misogyny looks like in a tattered football jersey and dirty jeans.) He seemed to think this was an insult. I’m not, as it happens, but my choice of high school had absolutely nothing to do with my sexual orientation and had everything to do with the lure of sky-high SAT scores. I went home and appealed to my mother: why did Kyle think the two were related? She pursed her lips and told me what she thought of it. So when Kyle repeated his taunt the next day, I pursed my lips and told him, “I’d thank you to keep your misogynistic, antediluvian beliefs to yourself; if you can’t think of something courteous and nondiscriminatory to say, I don’t really want to hear it at all.” (This is what feminism looks like in braces.)

I thought of this incident when my sister called me a few days ago and told me about a party she’d gone to the night before. In the manner of college juniors everywhere, she’d found some sort of fête (I think on MeetUp?) with lots of alcohol and consequently lots of obnoxious guys. Case in point: while in line to get drinks, she heard two guys behind her in line discussing, of all things, feminism. Guy 1 said to Guy 2, “I just don’t get feminism. I mean, what are the arguments for it?” (This is what misogyny looks like when drunk. For what misogyny looks like in a suit, read this or this.)

My sister–champion of women everywhere–turns around and asks, “Well, what are the arguments against it?”

(This is what feminism looks like in a little black dress.)

Before I continue, I would like to point something out: feminism, as it happens, isn’t all about women being in charge just because they’re women, or about hating men, or about not wanting to shave, or about anything except the belief that all people are created equal; that women have the right to be leaders, that they have the right to dislike men, that they have the right to pilosity, that they have the right to say “no,” and it is their prerogative to exercise or not exercise these rights, not because of their gender or their sex but because women are people too.

 “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” 
― Cheris Kramarae

My sister had a really good point. Are there actually any arguments against feminism that are, in any way, reasonable and legitimate? History aside, how do people justify workplace discrimination? (Um, and even if you count historical precedent, where women stayed home and watched the babies while the men went to hunt mammoths–hello, it’s historical. It stopped being relevant around the time the Ice Age ended.) It’s kind of disgusting that a society so technologically and economically advanced makes women fight for a decade to substantiate their right to equal pay. (Seriously? That’s even in question in 21st Century America?) President Obama’s first legislative action as POTUS in 2009 was singing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act–good. (This is what feminism looks like in the Oval Office.) Women still earn less than 80% of what men earn for equal work–not good. (This is what misogyny looks like as a C.E.O.)

In what possible universe can humankind exculpate the disturbingly prevalent rape culture of the “modern” world? And I’m not just talking about in India, or Afghanistan, or Kenya or Zimbabwe or Mexico or the Philippines or or Ethiopia or Japan or Poland or South Africa, or some other far-off country that isn’t usAmerica is just as (if not more) guilty of indolence with regards to sexism and sexual violence. I don’t just mean in terms of sheer numbers– America’s #1 there, too–but the cavalier way we view the safety of women and girls, the victim blaming, the perpetuation of a sociological mindset which fundamentally supports rape myths. (Want an example? They’re everywhere. But try here for a start. This is what misogyny looks like on TV.)  One quarter of female college students experience, and one in twelve men admit to, acts that meet the legal definition of rape. But nobody hears about it, because 95% of rape incidents on college campuses go unreported. (This is what misogyny looks like residence halls.)

And let’s not forget the undeniably patriarchic paradigm that more or less blankets the world. Believing that men are in charge of their wives/sisters/daughters because they’re men? Misogyny at its finest. And yes, patriarchy (that great superset of misogyny) is alive and well in America, too: when a man wants to marry a woman, first he goes and asks the woman’s father for permission. If he’s really enlightened, he’ll ask the woman’s father for his blessing. (This is what misogyny looks like barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.)

“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” 
― George Carlin

That obnoxious guy my sister chastised? Yeah, he spent the rest of the night following her  around. And then he asked her out. In what kind of world is this actually socially acceptable behavior? Why, a misogynistic one, of course. (This is what misogyny looks like on a Saturday night.)


About Essie Horowitz

24, single, software engineer in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, I'm just that cool.
Aside | This entry was posted in Random Musings, Wisdom of the Ages and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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