Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sexist Problems

The #YesAllWomen movement is still getting posts on twitter, though it's calmed down from last week's furor. The movement was about sexism and the fear of violence all women experience. It was spurred on by the accusations some gits made that the Santa Barbara shooting was the fault of the women who didn't date Elliot Rodgers--that lives could've been spared if they'd just slept with him.

Like I said, accusations voiced by gits.

There was some great discussion from a lot of different viewpoints. I came away with four key things from this airing of sexist issues:

1. Yes, all women experience a threat of violence that men simply do not. Reading through the tweets (here are some highlights) really brought home to me how different an experience I live for being a woman. I walk to my car clutching my keys as a weapon all the time. It never occurred to me to challenge that, to consider that men don't have the same fears, or to wonder if the world could be different.

2. A lot of men feel strongly on this issue but have never had a chance to say so before. Men spoke up as vehemently as women did. I think that's powerful. Those who consider women to be inferior certainly won't listen if a woman tells them to shut it. But they might just listen when another man speaks up for the dignity of women. (For more on this, read Bree Ervin's #YesAllWomen, But What Do We DO About It?) Men, your voices make a difference.

3. Though airing women's issues rarely turns into a man-hating party, it's often viewed that way. Good men often feel lumped into the sexist category with bad men. The #NotAllMen argument is legitimate and important, but also can derail the conversation, keeping us from talking about very real injustice against women. Not all men disrespect women and many men respect women, but that doesn't make women immune to misogyny. Saying that not all men are responsible does not eradicate what other men have done, nor does it help in any way to stem the continuing tide of sexism women fight against. At the same time, I don't want to hurt any man's feelings by ignoring the upstanding way many men treat women. It's a tough to have a dialogue in the middle of all that, but we need to. When we can converse about women's rights without men feeling hurt by women, good things can result.

4. Good men don't see women mistreated. So often it happens outside of their line of sight; men don't disrespect women in front of other men where they might be called out. This means two things: first, men need to listen to what women are saying, because they're not going to see it themselves. Secondly, men who want to speak up can't wait for an opportunity where they see a woman being disrespected. They'll be waiting a long time and we need your voice now.

That's my takeaway from this hashtag party. If you don't have a twitter account, you can still see the #YesAllWomen tweets here. Also, I recommend all the links in this post. Each article has a unique thing to say about the issue (and they're brief).

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