On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Whatever.

Last week, I was having a conversation with friend, when she made mention of a mutual friend, who has been generally very supportive of my writing about women. She shared with me that he saw my writing and advocacy on behalf of women as an “overreaction,” that I was overly emotional about it and that my views on what women really face in our culture is overblown.

As much as I may be frustrated by my friend’s opinion and angered that he is so dismissive of what women face, as a man, I don’t deal with the same kind of dismissal that women are subject to.

In their case it’s personal.

Women who attempt to address or discuss concerns they have with the men who claim to love them too often get a wave of the hand, and hear “Yeah yeah, women’s rights, it’s important, I know, whatever.”

The men who dismiss these women treat their desire for equality as if it were a hobby or a pet project. But in these moments, men are fundamentally dismissing the women they are speaking with.

While I wish my friend had the chutzpah to actually tell me his opinions himself, I understand, but don’t accept why he thinks my work is an overreaction.

For men to really understand the obstacles women face on an everyday basis, they are going to have to come out of their comfort zone in order to break the seemingly equitable surface between the genders.

I’ve written about men and their understanding of what it’s really like to be a woman in our culture before, in a piece entitled “Men Will Never Truly Understand A Day In the Life Of Women. But Shouldn’t We Try?” In the piece, I write about how men will never truly understand what it’s like to be a woman moving about in her day, but that we must make an effort to learn what it’s like in order to better understand what they face, in order to properly combat gender discrimination.

But, I have never really examined why it is that men don’t dig deeper into the gender inequality question.

Why is the discussion about gender inequality such an inconvenient and annoying bore to men, especially socially progressive men who would otherwise advocate on behalf of any other oppressed group or population?

What really frustrates me is my male friends’ willingness to stand up for women only if the situation involves rape or domestic violence–and even then, their support is at best tepid and never pro-active.

I am not discounting the efforts of men who do advocate for women who are facing, or have faced, sexual and physical abuse, but if we think that we’ve done our part to balance the gender scales and can go home after fighting for women on these critical matters, we’re fooling ourselves.

The same progressive male friends who accuse me of overreacting when it comes to advocating for women’s rights or who say things like (in jest…but not really in jest), “Oh god, here we go again” when I try to address an issue related to gender inequality, would not dare accuse me of overreaction if I were writing and talking about issues related to race or sexual orientation.

Why?

Because as much as we live in a racist, homophobic culture, gender inequity is a great equalizer in a way–the hatred for women is universal and knows no race, sexual orientation…or sometimes gender.

Some men seem to believe that gender issues are no longer relevant because most of us are looking at the man/woman balance in terms of statistics, anecdotes, and governmental change.

If we look only at statistics, there is lots of evidence that things are better for women (and lots of evidence that we’re still in the gutter), especially since the women’s movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. For example, the numbers show that in the United States, more women attend college than men. To be exact: 57 percent of women vs. 43 percent of men.

A recent TIME Magazine cover story outlined that over the past twenty years, the percentage of women who make more than their husbands has risen by 14 percent. This article also pointed out that since 1965, men have tripled their weekly domestic contributions. These are all positive numbers, despite both just being a start, but I fear cover stories such as this one will lead to a relaxation about the perception of gender imbalance.

So while we may have made a great deal of progress in those departments and many others, it doesn’t change the fact that women still face a massive amount of discrimination. Despite the recent and very public war on women in America, gender discrimination has been moving deeper and deeper underground, no longer as publicly visible as it was in the past. However, the intensity of that discrimination has not changed at all, it’s just become covert rather than overt.

We may look at the people near us as validation and proof that women no longer face any burdens beyond the big issues, but that’s all circumstantial. A man can point to his wife or sister and note that she is a company executive as proof that women face no glass ceiling in the corporate world. He can point to the fact that at work, he reports to a woman, or in his particular position, there happens to be a female colleague who is paid more than him. And some men will say, “Well my wife (or girlfriend) tells me what to do, she controls everything”

As if that anecdote, if actually true, speaks to the fact that gender discrimination doesn’t really exist.

Finally, and this is the biggest way in which men misjudge gender imbalance: we look at the issue of gender discrimination in terms of governmental change as a justification for pushing women’s issues into the fog. We can point to many laws that balance the gender scales: from equal pay laws to pregnancy discrimination laws. Over the past 30 years, a great deal of progress has indeed been made in the US and other countries. Besides the obvious, these laws are only useful when discrimination is reported and the laws are enforced.

We can’t legislate to protect a woman against many of the nearly invisible issues they face today and have no means of reporting.

We can’t make a law to protect women against horrible emotional abuse, we can’t make a law that requires parents to instill their daughters with a health body image, we can’t force a legislature to pass a law that demands husbands to support their wives during menopause.

While it’s important to look at the gender imbalance issue through these lenses, the most important and most often forgotten way is to see this issue through empathy. Empathy is about understanding, about being aware, about making attempts to feel what another person feels.

Men can selectively use the statistics, the laws, and stories around us to explain away the gender imbalance and deny the subtlety of sexism as a serious issue. But when we work to understand, to empathize, to learn what women face, to ask them how it feels to be a woman…we will soon learn the secret world in which they live in.

It’s not that men are less empathetic than women. It’s just that we are conditioned not to feel comfortable showing empathy. Being empathetic, taking the energy to emerge from our perfectly comfortable reality is an exercise in exhaustion. Obviously heeding the plight of women requires effort and expending of energy. Perhaps it’s just too much work for us.

Our looking at gender issues through governmental, statistical, or anecdotal lenses is just about logistics. So often discrimination, of any form, does not get borne through these means. Rather it’s about what is felt by the individual being discriminated against. And often with gender discrimination, women simply don’t share their feelings of frustration because their claims have been dismissed, “You’re just overreacting. You’re paranoid.”

One shouldn’t equate the empathy I speak of as related to pity or feeling sorry for women. Men aren’t here to save women from themselves, empathy is something that women practice with men everyday…all I’m saying is, it’s time for men to work to provide the same kind of empathy to women that they provide to us.

The question is, do we, as men, have to care about women enough to notice what they are facing, or do we first have to notice what they are dealing with in order to care about their burdens?

It’s hard to say which scenario comes first.

I am reminded of a seminal moment that sparked my own awareness of gender imbalances. I was 21 and out with two women friends at an electronics store. As I explored the DVD section, they were seeking to have their questions answered by a male salesperson. After two minutes, they found me and explained their frustration and demanded to leave.

When I asked my friends why they were frustrated, both of them explained that the salesman (this was a store that didn’t pay commissions to salespeople) was unhelpful, giving only short and clipped responses to their questions.

My friend Mychelle told me, “It’s a woman thing.”

I remarked that I was confused by what she meant.

“He doesn’t want to deal with two women, he hates women.”

To prove their point, they asked me to go up to the man and ask him the same questions they asked him. I did exactly as they suggested and found the man to be helpful and knowledgeable. He could have, seemingly, spent all day with me.

After that moment, I have been witness to many other similar subtle moments of discrimination, only because I was looking at the issue of discrimination through a new lens.

In the case of the salesman, he didn’t say to my friends “I don’t want to help you because you’re women.”

He just detached himself, he filtered their normal and pertinent questions through his conditioning and arrived at a point where he saw them as inconvenient, annoying women who knew nothing. But to him, I was a guy who wanted to learn more and make an informed decision.

These were moments that didn’t hit me over the head like rape or domestic violence, but they were the discriminatory equivalent of a paper cut: annoying, painful, and persistent.

Our underlying fear and hatred of female equality lives, so often, in private. This space of privacy is largely occupied by women and the only way we are going to solve this problem is if we crack the door open and attempt to join them.

So in my case, through the help of my friends, I noticed, and began to care…much more deeply. But then again, I cared enough about my two friends and for women in general, to not tell them that they are overreacting. I cared enough to explore their circumstance with them.

As much as some people want to portray the fight for gender equity/feminism as a niche issue, it’s not. Women and gender inequality refer to a reality in which half the world’s population faces a tremendous burden put upon them at birth.

And for those men who doubt the realities for women that I write about, I guess the question is, do you not believe your mother, your girlfriend, your sister, your wife, your women friends? If not, then you’ve got bigger problems.

I see one central problem as connected with the men who are fundamentally good, but who pretend as if there is no major gender imbalance. These men, like my friend, when asked if women deserve equality, resoundingly respond “yes.” But when they are put in a position to support the women in their lives or when they are put in a place where they can directly react to discrimination, they lack any sort of action or assertion, or worst yet, they only offer dismissal.

These men may see this dismissal as a matter of opinion–almost as if a political issue is being discussed. But in reality, in that moment, they are committing wholesale dismissal of these women. They are failing to show empathy for the unique experience of all women and for the women in their lives, in particular. They are deciding what is valid based on the lens that feels most comfortable to them: one of male comfort and privilege.

But things won’t be too comfortable for long, because as long as we leave half our population behind, things will continue to become more and more uncomfortable for all of us. We don’t need to do anything but turn on the TV to notice that over the past two months, Rome is burning, and that the position many men hold on gender equality is receding, rather than advancing.

So, until the day comes when things change on the gender equality front, it’s our responsibility, as men and human beings to care, and to care enough to ask. And wait and learn from the answer. And god forbid, try to understand what it’s like for the women we claim to love.

And that, my friend, is not an overreaction.

It’s just the right thing to do.

——————————————-
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33 Responses to “On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Whatever.”

  1. Avatar of Coleen
    Coleen April 6, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    The problem; certain people who claim to want equality seem to have great difficulty looking at both sides of the situation “equally”. Men=evil, abusive dimmwits; women=abused, misunderstood victims. Gosh, it seams as though the group which commits the majority of child abuse in this country is only concerned with the problems they face and never those they are responsible for. Domestic violence is perpetrated in greater levels by women, as is psychological abuse (just go to CDC studies, govn’t statistics, and 1000′s of other responsible, peer-reviewed research publications.) But, do most women ever look in the mirror and take responsibility…? Men, Men, Men, if only there were none, all our problems would go away.

  2. Avatar of Stalker
    Stalker March 27, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    I think its only fair that you also point out that women are often just as flippant when it comes to womens rights and discrimination….as much as they are if you are a man and you bring up how you might be feeling.
    How many women are flippant about such things with comments like – “oh why would you want to compete in a mans world,”. so this is not just about men.

    But even if it is just about men, why wouldn’t they be flippant even if they actually are all for equality. Equality means they loose power and opportunity, they might see examples whereby the reverse discimination occurs, whereby often they have to meet societies current norms as well as be ‘new age’ enough, or maybe they are really just not that interested. (as a similar thing, why is it animal rights activists give more rights to animals than humans sometimes – not a judgement – just an observation)
    Point is often they may believe in equality but are just not that interested in it. It happens in many areas of political/social life. I like to watch a particular sport team win, but I am not that interested in actively supporting them.

    On this point about equality also, there is an interesting question I often ask others – do you wish to be treated equally or do you wish just not to be discriminated against? (as there is always the opportunity for positive discrimination) and in this light, think about the times you are discriminated for and against as opposed to just being treated equally. It can be enlightening for both sexes.

  3. Avatar of yourspiritualtruth
    yourspiritualtruth March 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    My favorite “Blah Blah Blah” conversation was when I tried to express my displeasure over the inequitable distribution for women’s sports (financial, coaching, gym access, etc.) at our local high school. When I suggested that my daughter should be able to attend the boys’ summer basketball camp because their camp was decidedly better than the girls’ the answer I got was a defensive, “Now don’t go getting your feminist undies in a bundle.” Apparently my daughter didn’t deserve the BEST opportunities. Dang right I wanted to get my “feminist undies in a bundle” how else are our daughters going to get the same rights as their male counterparts? Just sayin!

  4. Avatar of Joe
    Joe March 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Why men, progressive or otherwise do not take “Women’s Rights” seriously ?? I dont and these are my arguments…..

    “Rights” – This is something that you are born with. This is not something anybody can take away from you or be given away unless you willingly surrender it to an individual, organization or institution. These Rights being, food, water, shelter, health care, access to knowledge, free will and an environment to flourish.

    My question : What % the population today enjoy these basic inalienable right? Those who dont, constitute only women ? and those who do constitute only men ? Can it be argued then that women who enjoy these rights are better off than the men who dont??? Any investigation or research on Who or What took away these rights ? Why ? Are we to believe and accept that these are rights to be earned or fought for? and if so who is the authority to give or not give this and who gave him or them the authority to decide?

    If the human race is to be split into “man”, “women” and “children”. It is an established fact that the most abused of the lot today are “children” Why is the sound on the “abuse of children” not as near as loud on the abuse of women ??? Don’t you think if this is sorted out it will have a positive impact on the treatment of women, as these well cared for children grow up to be carers of society.

    Was there ever an equitable (gender included) and egalitarian society ever in the history of mankind ? The answer is “yes” and had also had “matriarchal communities” for most of mankind’s existence. When did this change? Why? What were the tools used to effect this change ? Who are the ones responsible for this and what was their agenda, Do they still exist and what have they planned for the future ?

    “Women’s Rights” A phenomena that was only very recently established by the same source that abuse women. A very clever movement started with a self serving and evil agenda which was easily accepted and debated by a non-thinking society. What has been achieved with this? A gender divide and mistrust, totally disregarding abuse in general and other evils. women getting into the abusive labor market depriving them to care for children and society and contributing their income to these rulers by way of taxes. Strategy very easily achieved 1. More divisions and chaos amongst society 2. More income for themselves.

    Most arguments and articles such as yours on this issue very frequently seem to suggest directly or indirectly that the problem and the solutions lie in the hands of the common man. This may be partly true, however it should be a common effort of both genders to sincerely investigate however far it takes you, to identify the root source and causes and eliminate it. This awareness is what is very essential in society today.

    There will be some very uncomfortable and inconvenient truths you may discover in this journey which could even shake your traditions and belief systems. Facing it and dealing with it will require strength and character, and that’s how serious this issue needs to be dealt with.

    Anything lesser than this, will not only not solve any problems, but this constant lip service and shampooed articles is only causing a further drift in the genders.

    A gentle and spiritual being is gentle to all living beings irrespective of gender or species. Lets find out what is stopping us from being gentle and then create an environment for gentleness to flourish.

  5. Avatar of rokkwood
    rokkwood March 20, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I think when men begin realize that they should be as outraged about the raping, abuse and name calling of women as they are about the raping, abuse and name calling of children that only then they will finally get it. I challenge all men out there to champion women as fearlessly as they come to the aid of children.

    Further, think about the following words; whore, cunt, slut….this list goes on. These words are used for one purpose only today – to marginalize, threaten, degrade, manipulate and humiliate women. These words should be as taboo to use as using the “N” word is. Why is it that this language use has not developed in relation to men? How many men have this worry? Think about it….This should give you some insight as to what some of the root issues are regarding the discrimination towards us.

    I call on everyone, men and women alike, to put an end to the use of these words. Teach your children that it is totally unacceptable and they should never be used in any context – even joking.

    Also, to all women out there – please stop using this language against your female bretheren as well. When you do, you are only marginalizing yourselves and perpetuating the abuse against your own gender.

    • Avatar of rokkwood
      rokkwood March 20, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      PS Specifically, I meant (1st paragraph) that women do nothing to deserve rape or abuse – same as children. Children are protected during trials and are seen as totally innocent of these horrible crimes – women should be viewed the same exact way.

  6. Avatar of heidispeaks
    heidispeaks March 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Fish don’t notice that water is wet. Many men have no idea what we’re talking about in the conversation about gender inequality because they don’t experience the discrimination. They are swimming in a society of structures that are made by their brains to organize people, property and power. It’s totally understandable that most of the push back to posts on gender inequality is men saying “it isn’t real.” They are right. It isn’t real to them. Unfortunately…the water IS, in fact, wet. Keep beating the drum, my friend. Keep beating the drum.

  7. Avatar of hearthmoon
    hearthmoon March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Well written article.

  8. Avatar of cbell
    cbell March 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Thank you Yashar – you have pointed out a very important, and often overlooked, contradiction in people who call themselves progressive yet they will not act on bridging the gap between female and male opportunity to liberty. I recommend the book “The Macho Paradox” by Jackson Katz to any reader confused by the concept of so-called subtle sexism having real consequences for womens access to equal liberty. I also recommend buying the book “delusions of gender” by Dr Cordelia Fine to discover the effects of exposure to sexist storylines about women (for example, in when women are sexually objectified whilst being made to look child-like and subordinate on a cover of a men’s magazine or in an advertisement) affecting people’s implicit sexism. Research supports that even we can say “I know the difference between reality and fantasy”, we implicitly don’t – we are more likely to be sexist with exposure to sexism, even the most progressive of us. There are fantastic insights with plenty of research in Fine’s book. It’s only $12 on http://www.bookdepository.com with easy free delivery worldwide. Yashar, keep up the great work :)

  9. Avatar of JohnnoCox
    JohnnoCox March 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Let me chime in from the perspective of a man who thinks you are overly emotional and reactionary in your writing. I’ll start by giving a few examples of what I see, and what I’m sure your friend sees:

    “angered that he is so dismissive of what women face,”
    This may just be your fault for not mentioning a conversation you had with your friend where he dismissed the issue rather than criticize your writing, but from what you shared with us: Your friend who is generally very supportive of your writings, simply criticized your style as over-reactive and overly emotional.

    “Men Will Never Truly Understand A Day In the Life Of Women. But Shouldn’t We Try?”
    This is a giant guilt trap. You need to understand this, but no matter what “you will never understand it.” This is a pre-disvalidation of any insight a man may ever have on women’s issues. If the women in my life took such a stand, then no there would be no sense in trying to understand, because it would avail nothing, any glimpse of understanding I had would be immediately undermined by their immediate refusal of it. A man can not be a woman, but he can understand and empathize with one just as well as he can understand and empathize with another man.

    “would not dare accuse me of overreaction if I were writing and talking about issues related to race or sexual orientation.”
    Actually if I read an article by you written in this way about race or sexual orientation, or religious belief, or political standing, or anything else for that matter I would accuse you of overreaction just as easily as I am doing now.

    “he hates women”
    I know these were the words of your women friends, but you did nothing to counter them after including them in your paper, which in essence makes you adopt them as your own. I don’t know if you were really do believe that that man hates women, but this is the emotion your writing indicates. In truth, the man might not have the respect he ought to for women, and surely he does not understand and is not completely comfortable around them. But these things do not equate to hate. Perhaps this store attendant is just very nervous around women, because he (like many young men) is intimidated by their presence. In other words he is shy. You give no indication that he was mean to your friends and he was certainly polite to you. To villainize him in such a way, because his actions for which you do not know the cause were inconvenient is certainly over-emotional and an overreaction.
    —-
    “Our underlying fear and hatred of female equality”
    When you use our in a paper you are speaking for yourself as well as which ever group you’ve identified with in your paper. (This is why many English teachers try to discourage the use of the word). The group you identified yourself with in this paper was men. So what you are saying here is that men fear and hate female equality, again I don’t know if this was your intent, but this is what you are conveying. If you can’t understand why such a blanket statement of condemnation is overblown, then you sir have “bigger problems.”
    —-
    “half the world’s population faces a tremendous burden put upon them at birth.”
    This statement more than any other exemplafies your overdramatizing of the situation. You paint a picture as if women are born into slavery to cruel male taskmasters. That said let me correct some things for you. Women actually make up more than half the worlds population. With that statistic in mind, there is a very significant number of women who have not had the misfortune to be a victim of sexual discrimination, though it is still very real and while there is sexual discrimination of women there is also sexual discrimination of men. Just as real and just as great a burden. And while this sexual discrimination may exist very much for both sexes it is only in extreme cases where this discrimination presents itself upon birth. Babies and even children are not victims of sexual discrimination except for in the most extreme of circumstances.
    —-
    “I guess the question is, do you not believe your mother, your girlfriend, your sister, your wife, your women friends?”
    I’ve shown them your article, and they agree with me.
    —-
    Please I mean no disrespect, but next time someone criticizes your writting, instead of writting a paper about how unprogressed they are for feeling that way; instead of looking for the problem in them, examine your work and see what the problem is in you that makes you come off in a way differant than you intended.
    And if you haven’t had the chutzpah to talk to your friend and ask why he felt the way he did about your writting, I’d suggest you do.

    • Avatar of cbell
      cbell March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Actually the friend was in the wrong for calling it an overreaction and through labelling it an overreaction he dismissed the cause Yashar is writing about as a whole – the subtle emotional abuse and manipulation women endure in a culture that pressures them to put their needs last and define everything as in relation to the male paradigm. Why couldn’t the friend have brought this issue up to Yashar first? I recommend the following books: “The Macho Paradox” by Jackson Katz, “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine, “Liquid Fear” by Zygmunt Bauman, “Body Politics” by Nancy
      Henley. I’d recommend hundreds of genius academic books, but these are the best ones to understand Yashar’s frustrations with both his friend and a patriarchal culture. You have a good day :)

  10. Avatar of Jimbo
    Jimbo March 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Wow. Not so sure there is much here beyond “men are animals who just don’t get women and what they need”. Lots of words to express that truth, in my opinion. My experience too has been that the great majority of men who just don’t get it are pretty much neanderthals who are interested mostly in having their own “needs” met. Most are “Type A” individuals who are very selfish and competitive in all aspects of their lives, never learning the joy and satisfaction that can be experienced by becoming more cognizant of beauty, contentment, peace, and the surprising nuances to be discovered in the thoughts and aspirations of any other human being, certainly including (especially) women. My wife (sexist title?) is the most amazing human being I know. She is the best person I know and she hears that from me regularly. She and I are equal partners in our relationship and it has never entered my mind to treat her the way I have read some of you have been treated. The men in your lives are missing out on more than half of the fun, education, spirituality and fulfillment available to them.

  11. Avatar of smibbo
    smibbo March 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Essentially, most men don’t want to spend attention or energy on the more subtle forms of sexism because it isn’t a discussion they can frame. It requires accepting what women tell them without qualification and frankly, that’s the essential problem with sexism in the first place. Gawd forbid a man ever ever EVER just accept what a woman tells him without arguing, checking it out, asking someone else (usually another man)or at best thinking on it for a while then deciding that whatever she said is now HIS idea because he’s reframed it in terms that are more comfortable for him. If I want to impart knowledge to a male friend about giving birth, he’ll listen politely and be itching to get away within seconds. Why? Because he cannot frame that experience AT ALL. Yet men come and talk to me about their burning interests that they know I have absolutely no reference or interest in and I am expected to be lapping up every fascinating tidbit this generous male is sharing with me.

    The essentially is that men whether through conditioning or biology simply cannot accept women as being foremost in anything of importance to them. Therefore, if a female approaches that status, they must post haste knock her down somehow through dismissal, diminishing her relevance or just good ole ignoring her.

    When you bring this up with men, they will not accept that premise as a possibility. THey could have every female they love in their life tell them that and – because of the very problem I am outlining – there is no way they will accept it as a problem. If a man decides that something is not a problem then there is no problem, end of story. Even if the problem is someone elses.

  12. sshan March 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I find it really ironic that in you’re criticizing one and only one gender for making a distinction between genders… as a women i find this regressive.. Yes women do suffer injustices, and its too bad that more people don’t take part in fighting against this discrimination. However generalizing and attacking men is not a way to get women “on an even playing field”. I feel this article is more sexist than the men you discuss in it. You have identified women as victims of men, whom you generalize as sexist, unsympathetic and unappreciative of females, and frankly i find it offensive. You have reinforced the stereotype that women are weak, and that they let men limit them. This attitude does not help women in any way, shape or form. Stop attacking men, and learn to celebrate and empower women instead of basically describing them as victims of their gender. Very unimpressed.

    • Avatar of Jimbo
      Jimbo March 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      shannons..I agree, at least in part with your comments. Refreshing.

  13. Avatar of Evamarie
    Evamarie March 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I was thinking about the unhelpful salesman and another form of discrimination I face is at my job. I work in a swimming pool supply store and every time a customer needs advice they don’t believe me. They will “Double-check” with men on duty. Send me to go check with the men that I have the right answer. Even when I explain sometimes that I’ve been with the store 4 years now and sometimes the male they want me to ask is brand new, they still feel more comfortable if I check. Often, they will disregard what I say in favour of other male customers! Other male employees I could sort of understand, but sometimes it’s just some guy off the street. Mostly my male coworkers are saints about it. If I walk up to them and say “They need me to double check my advice with a man” my coworker will nod and agree with me. Why don’t I just tell the customer that I may be a woman but I know what I’m talking about? They take GREAT OFFENSE to that and since I’m the worker, I’m the unreasonable one with bad service and they LOVE to report me.

    I do want to note that it’s not all the men’s fault. We get a lot of “wives” in the store. I use the quotes on purpose because constantly we face these women who come in, not knowing what chemical/technical issue/whatever they need and ask us the most vague questions and only have half the information. When pressed about it they respond “oh my husband usually does this”. It’s infuriating. Doesn’t let me do my job and just adds to the “Women can’t do technical” things idea. I can’t imagine if I worked in a computer store.

    • Avatar of saeraisartsy
      saeraisartsy March 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      I agree and can sympathize, and its almost an invisible thing, what you point out is rampant, I’ve experienced that too, its a silent thing. I notice more and more when women post on yhoutube or forums or news, they get called the C word more and more. I find that unless a man is totally different, the majority, including the man I have been with for years, cares little or nothing for a woman’s rights or feelings but is the supposed epitomy of the ‘Good Guy’. I am so disillusioned, not that old yet, and though it sounds extreme, if I had it to do all over again at 19, i would have nothing to do with males, no I am not gay. I am that disillusioned from all my experiences, though limited, it’s enough. Finite for me, Im happier without some controlling denigrating man that has no care for my feelings at all. I rather be alone.

    • Avatar of SidneyDesignerSnake
      SidneyDesignerSnake September 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      As a woman working in a technical field, I find that I get very good service when I go to a computer store. Although sometimes, it’s fun to see the shock on the salespeople’s faces when I begin talking hardware specs in great detail. Going in knowing specs and having a firm idea of what I want means they can’t bull sh*t me, and in fact, I’ve had salespeople (mostly men working there; not sure if that varies elsewhere, but this is a highly gender-segregated small city) tell me things like, “To be honest, your plan to upgrade and refurbish your current computer is more economically sound than anything we could sell you.” So if women don’t want to get run roughshod in a hardware or technical store, going in knowing your specs is something I’d strongly recommend.

      That said, there are women who don’t have time to learn specs, don’t need to, don’t want to, or whose talents like elsewhere – just like men. I have managed male interface designers, for example, who don’t know a terabyte from tertiary routing, and that’s fine too. My request is for technical/hardware sales professionals to treat all customers who don’t know their specs inside and out equally. If you want to make a sale, and especially, if you want your prospective customer to leave the store with a good impression of you and your brand, friendly customer service is key, and should be gender-blind (as well as color-blind and everything else). Besides, it’s just the right thing to do. Likewise, within my profession, we need to stop assuming that all women are defined by their biology, that they’re not promotable past 30, that they’ll all leave the profession to take care of children, and for those who do become mothers, that they’re incapable of balancing work life and home life.

      The first computer programmers were women, and history proves that we’re as talented and capable of succeeding in the technical professions as men. It’s only in the past 50-60 years that economic forces and male-dominated power structures have colluded to keep us off of the playing field. My calls to level it are not requests to “dumb down” information science or programming or web development curriculums – CSS3 and C# are what they are, and you can’t work in my field if your code doesn’t validate or your network configuration is askew. My calls to level it are calls to rid the technical professions (and academia) of the harmful assumptions that women are simply not cut out for STEM, are inherently deficient in the skills necessary to succeed, and are bereft of the inborn talents like logic and spatial rotation needed to climb the ladder in these professions. Women also need to be trained to negotiate for higher wages and to take and accept criticism with grace. The feminists who relegate me to the role of passive victim anger me almost as much as conservatives and MRAs, because they’re basically saying I’m too weak and stunted to reach my full potential without dumbing things down or changing the rules completely to benefit me at the expense of male colleagues.

  14. Avatar of JustSeeking
    JustSeeking March 19, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    I was talking to a male friend of mine a few week ago about how much worse I have been treated in society since divorce from my husband than I was before the divorce. My friend reminded me that our society regards women who don’t have a man to provide for them as a burden.

    Oh yeah. How could I have forgotten that? Must have been those statistics.

    Not that I have been able to qualify for social things like food stamps when I couldn’t make enough money to buy sufficient food, or medical care when fillings started falling out of my teeth. I made just enough money to allow “the government of the people” to whom I have been paying taxes to since I was 14 years old, say, “You don’t qualify.” Of course my children were all grown, so they didn’t need anything, and that’s what counts. After all, they are productive, tax paying citizens, yes? What’s my problem?

    That’s what I get for doing the “right” thing and spending most of my adult life being a homemaker and mom, with part time jobs while the kids were in school to keep my skills current and help out my husband when he couldn’t bring in the money we needed to get by.

    Trust me. I get it. When you are a woman and you are finished raising your kids, you are only worth something if your husband wants to keep you. Plain and simple. I have felt like I am nothing more than a wet slit that’s gone dry, and that in my married life I was really just a glorified whore, putting out to earn my keep.

    And any man (or woman) that says I am overreacting can kiss my you-know-what.

    • Avatar of SidneyDesignerSnake
      SidneyDesignerSnake September 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      While I’ve seen divorce from the other side, as the daughter of an absent-minded working mother who didn’t have the time or desire to raise kids, and a father who fought for custody in an era when fathers simply never got custody, end of story (I was a pariah in high school for living with my dad, which should tell you something about the time period), I have also watched female peers struggle to make it past the ranks of the working poor, especially single mothers who’ve been abandoned by their male partners.

      It’s also true that women without children are not seen as any more deserving of government benefits than men. Conservatives operate from the popular misconception that any working-class woman can easily qualify for Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, and more, and it’s simply not so. When I was a poor new grad, and hadn’t yet switched to working in STEM, I was ineligible for any form of government assistance, both when I was single and when I met my husband but had not yet married him or mingled our finances. It seems that I’m not worthy of help to get to the middle class unless I’ve produced future tax-payers, who are ranked above me.

      While my husband did not complete university until his early 30s, and had it far worse than I did in his youth (including having nowhere to live for nearly a year), he did initially have access to higher-paying jobs in the trades, where he was trained and worked his way up, which I was not welcome to take. Those jobs were in single-gender environments, and if a woman worked there, she was the receptionist, and had no opportunities to earn a higher wage or build onto her skill-set. Now that I’m in STEM, I’ve noticed that every single long-term unemployed professional in my LinkedIn network is female. Men with identical titles, and far lesser work histories and track records never go more than a few months without a job, unless their education stops at high school. Their female peers, meanwhile, are finding that sometimes even master’s degrees (earned WHILE working) aren’t enough to stave off unemployment.

      It’s telling. And it makes me very, very angry.

  15. Avatar of Siv-Ingvild
    Siv-Ingvild March 19, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I got a mesage on FB the other day, from an american man. He apologised because he had been answering and discussed against me, in a posting about religion. Aparently he didn`t understand that Siv is womens name… but he also pointed out that the mistake was partly my fault, since I had entered the debate like a man???!!!!!
    In his narrow little mind, it is not right for a man to take women seriously, and discuss important matters with them?
    When I told him how I feel about being made so little, he got very angry that I could think he is male chauvinist. Because he admire his mother, and the mother of his childern! WOW So, we are worth taking seriously as mothers… It is just like someone denying he is a racist, by saying he know some people from other colours. And it is what you said, one anectdote or one example, to prove there is no discrimination.

    • Avatar of SidneyDesignerSnake
      SidneyDesignerSnake September 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      It’s funny you mention this, because when I first joined a forum exclusive to my city, all the other posters, male and female, assumed I was a man. Then, as now, I participated in the threads about music, science, technology, and politics. While I was occasionally subjected to some friendly ribbing or light-hearted jokes, that was the extent of the teasing. People listened to what I had to say.

      Several years ago, that ended. I was found out as a woman when people from the forum met me in real life. It was terrible enough that I’m a woman, but being a conventionally attractive woman, who is intelligent, works in a STEM field, has an attractive husband, and refuses to submit to the popular regional male-dominated interests (sports, sports, sports) as the other women do (some to fit in, some because they do actually like sports), is deserving of the nastiest treatment possible.

      This is how bad it got: Earlier this year, they were discussing their dating deal-breakers. I named a few of mine, like abuse, alcoholism, ignoring me 24/7 to watch sports, demanding I have kids or a white wedding, and demanding I stop taking vital medications like my migraine and anxiety meds because the partner views Western medicine as hokum. Well, THE FIT HIT THE SHAN. Just under a dozen people, male and female, ganged up on me to tear me down. The ringleader, an arrogant male in his mid-30s who, since I was found out as female, has followed me around the politics threads to bully me and put words in my mouth despite us agreeing on 95% or more of the issues, told me I needed to learn to COMPROMISE. On BEING ABUSED, and being IN PAIN, and being pregnant which has a very high chance of KILLING ME. And despite being MARRIED TO SOMEONE WHOSE QUALITIES MATCHED MY DESIRES!

      His puppets joined in with the mockery. The women, fine examples of handmaidens, wrote about my callousness and lack of human qualities for not wanting kids. The men bashed my lack of interest in being abused or ignored for buddies and sports, as my ex had done to me. All, in unison, mocked my husband’s ethnicity and called him a “loser” – especially the single men with beer guts, who pretend to be good little liberals, but whose masks fall off when surrounded by attractive, intelligent ex-male models.

      It’s clear why this happened. Unlike the other women on the forum, and hell, in this backwater, which I’m leaving for good in several weeks, I did not know my place – which is sticking to the fashion, Brazilian waxing, cooking and home canning, rape, and sports threads, and only popping up in “men’s threads” to cheer the men on and say “I agree.” I blame men for this misogyny, but let’s be clear: Many women are equally responsible for perpetuating it. When women as a group stop bashing their female counterparts for not marching lock-step in tune with their idea of a “model woman” we will have made progress.

  16. Avatar of JeanD
    JeanD March 19, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Well written as always Yashar! I was a child in the years of Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, bra burning and equal pay for women. Sometimes it seems women have made great strides, other times it’s as if we are stuck in 1950. I don’t care if you have a vagina or a penis, fat or thin, black or white, gay or straight, educated or uneducated…I care how you treat me. Too bad your friend and most men can’t see past someone’s physical self and see the real person. Many of our kind (women) are quite amazing and intelligent even though we are treated as if we aren’t.

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