I consider myself a staunch advocate of human rights.
Inasmuch as a straight person can fully support and advocate for the LGBTQ-community to receive full human rights, I feel I have done so. I have not shied away from stating my beliefs or defending the rights of many of my friends and acquaintances who are members of this group. I give money when I can, I give time when I can, I stand up where and when I can.
I am generally amazed by the fact that should I take a public stand as a feminist, the proverbial room grows quiet.
Tell a man, any man, that something they have said is sexist, and I am instantly Humorless, A Shrew, Too Uptight. The worst offenders, in my experience, are often gay men, who seem to think they *can’t* be sexist since they already don’t like women.
Two years ago I told a local artist (ostensibly gay, although I can’t imagine anyone that doesn’t find the guy repulsive), that I would no longer tolerate his sexist, harassing behavior towards me. I told him in writing, after numerous public encounters wherein he would say inappropriate things, culminating in him turning to my husband, mid-conversation, and saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said, I was staring at your wife’s breasts.” I found this embarrassing. Humiliating. It was the straw the broke the camel’s back, and I emailed and said so.
I’ve told that story to many people who want me to take up their causes. They say, “Well, so-and-so’s just like that, ha ha, he doesn’t mean it.”
Yes. Yes, he does mean it. Men who behave like that DO mean it.
Tonight he popped up on something a mutual friend shared with me on Facebook, saying something that, as usual, he considered clever. I said, “Wow, you never pass up an opportunity to be a sexist pig, do you?”
He said: Good grief, Margaret. I had hoped you’d become a little more diplomatic in the last two years. My comment has nothing to do with you whatsoever. And, I am about as far from being a “sexist pig” as anyone could be. Your comment is totally out of line, and I think you are better than that.
FB is just the sound of crickets right now; no one will wade into that, and while I wish I had myself a posse of staunch feminists (hell, just regular, moderate feminists would do) to tell that jackass to shut up, that’s not the world we live in. (Here’s another gift of feminism thus far, too—Straight Men also won’t speak up, since those hairy, humorless, ugly feminists also killed chivalry–now we are alone! Just like we wanted! Except still targeted…whoops!).
I’ve elected not to reply, although he is baiting me with that “more diplomatic in two years”—yes, maybe I’ve gotten to where I blush and giggle when a man sexually harasses me in public instead of calling him out on it–I know it’s a losing battle, after all, and I should feel flattered that he even things my old fun bags are worth looking at!
Being a girl often is a losing battle, after all. The odds are against you.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Twisty Faster, a much stronger feminist than I:
“I allude to the impossible femininity tightrope upon which all women are constrained to do the butt-dance 24/7. We are required to demonstrate our degree of patriarchy-compliance through our constant struggle for the feminine ideal. Every facet of our behavior must be balanced just so. We can’t be dumb, but neither can we be intellectuals. We have to be sexy, but we can’t be slutty. We have to be child-like, but we have to raise children. We should be fun, but we can’t seem easy. We have to be demure, but not frigid (i.e. we can’t say yes, but we can’t say no). We have to obsess about our appearance, but we have to make it look like we don’t, lest we seem vain or crazy or pathetic.
The joke’s on us, though. The sweet spot, where all these stupid attributes intersect at some apex of feminine perfection, it doesn’t exist! The standards change from one minute to the next. The struggle is merely a diversion, imposed by the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, the better to keep us under control.”
It’s one hell of a joke.