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Naamah makes a nice post here about misogyny (warning, it's kinda… - M'lisilinaath Thabana

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May 29th, 2008


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11:01 am
Naamah makes a nice post here about misogyny (warning, it's kinda sweary maybe NWS and your W). Anyway I wanted to pick up on a small part of it.

here's a widespread attitude that stuff on the individual, personal level doesn't count as misogyny -- one guy being an asshole to one woman does not count as misogyny. It absolutely does count. We are talking about a pattern, and a pattern is made up of individual incidents.


That's something I think is very true, but also very hard to *implement* as being part of how-you-live. Because, say, you have a friend and one day that friend says "please help me with my house moving", well, sure, that is a totally reasonable request from one friend to another and you say "sure, I'm capable of that and have free time so I will come and lift things". And that would be fine and normal - you might say "no, sorry, I'm busy/ill/a total wuss" or something and that would be fine and normal too!

So of course you never say "NO WAI, horrid demanding nasty-person that you are!" because that would be unreasonable.

But the next week maybe they say "please help me to mow my lawn" and the next week it's "I need someone to drive me over to the hardware store to pick up this wood" and then "I need someone to come and help with my shelving" and so on and so forth. And each and every one of these examples (and many hundreds of other requests) are things that I put in the "sure, I have the time, effort and tuits for this task" box (well, actually, I'm shit at driving but I do have a licence; I should be your last choice but in an emergency I can do it) and also in the "friends do things for friends" box. None of these many things are *individually* unreasonable.

But at what point do you say "actually, no, I've done lots of things to help you and this is simply asking too much?". That's very hard to define really - and it depends on lots of things (such as how many of *your* DIY projects this friends has assisted with). Do you just say "oh, sorry, I have to go and do made-up-important-thing" or do you tell them "no, my computer game is much more important" or do you shout at them about how mean they are?

And it's the same with lots of sexist crap. Any *individual* incident could simply be part of a normal polite interaction, any *individual* job you didn't get, or promotion you were passed over for and so on could simply be part of the normal give-and-take win-some-lose-some of normal life. You don't want to scream obscenities at every man who holds a door open; you don't want to take every company that doesn't hire you to court - but at some point, some extremely poorly defined point, you realise that it's not just a series of isolated incidents but rather a pattern of people behaving badly towards you.

And then if you go on to complain about *one* incident - because people like to give examples when they talk about things, or at least *I* like to give examples - then people say "oh, well, obviously that could just have been..." and they sound of course very reasonable, because it *could*, and obviously since you have been brought to complete breaking point by the heaps of crap because otherwise you WOULD NOT HAVE BROUGHT IT UP you are probably not in the best position to sound reasonable! And then of course it's all about how "women are so emotional" and "you should think clearly rather than emotionally" which is all just so much shit.

And that leads me to digress slightly. I really fucking hate it when people say "oh, you shouldn't bottle it all up, you should talk about it" especially when these are the EXACT SAME PEOPLE who complain about the "drama" and say "oh, but when you complain about what I do I don't like it" or who say "fuck this shit, I don't want to put up with you daring to expect me to listen to your opinion, if you don't want to just sit there and take everything I throw at you, well then, I'm not going to talk to you any more". It's disgusting. Don't force people to talk about their problems to you unless you are actually prepared to listen, and preferably to attempt to do something actively useful to help.

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Comments:


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From:emperor
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:47 am (UTC)

unrelated trivia

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What's wrong with "arsehole", damnit?
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)

Re: unrelated trivia

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I would say 'nothing' but I suspect that somepeople would find some reason to complain about it anyway. But I'm out of effort to figure out what.
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
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And then if you go on to complain about *one* incident - because people like to give examples when they talk about things, or at least *I* like to give examples - then people say "oh, well, obviously that could just have been..." and they sound of course very reasonable,

Those are the occasions that always stump me. And I often go away and crawl back under my rock. But you are right. They are not isolated incidents.

"you should think clearly rather than emotionally"
And yet, in many many situations, thinking emotionally is the clearest thinking of all. It is the thinking related to how one feels, how one can function optimally. Thinking without feeling is reducing the human experience to that of pure calculation. And while that in itself can be very useful for abstract concepts, it is not the best method to use when dealing with the human experience.

Think of this scene in the form of an XKCD cartoon: Chap and girl walking along. Girl trips over and falls flat on face and hurts self. Girl cries out in pain. Chap does nothing. Girl wails 'please help me up!'. Chap says well if you stop being emotional about it and try to sound reasonable, maybe I'll help you up. Girl checks emotions and rationally says 'Oh dear, I seem to have fallen, would you be so kind as to reach down and lend my your hand'. He then helps. Or sometimes, even worse, he could say 'well you don't seem very distressed, you seem to be making a fuss about nothing. I'm sure you can get up by yourself'.

Very simplistic I know but I think it does point out the absurdities that can sometimes occur when people believe that de-emotionalising all the time is the only valid form of expression.

As to your last para, I would avoid spending time with those kind of people. They lack emotional intelligence and are not self-aware enough to appreciate the kind of hurt they can cause. However I would say, that sometimes I don't always want practical help with my problems. Sometimes the 'help' I need is to be listened to, to have a sounding board (pref with a heart and soul) to confide in. Because it stops the feeling of isolation and just knowing another person cares enough to give you their gift of paying attention and have compassion for you, is all that you need to make you feel better.

But often if you are talking to chaps, the best thing to do is to signal 'I'm unhappy, I need your friendship and for you to listen, I don't want you to fix stuff'. Which is right back to the XKCD lass having to indicate in a reasonable manner that she needs a hand...

Sigh.
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From:wildeabandon
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:58 am (UTC)
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Ooh. If you don't mind, I'll use that example of emotional/rational communication next time someone starts on at me with the tone argument.
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:58 am (UTC)
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Go for it! :)
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
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Oh, listening can certainly constitute "practical help" but it has to be *proper* listening and not involve telling the talker that they are clearly wrong/stupid and nothing is bad or drifting off into pointless digressions about, oh, some other trivial thing that makes good smalltalk.
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC)
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Absolutely.

Invalidating someone's feelings by saying that they are wrong or stupid is completely callous and bloody insensitive and deserves verbal slap-age. (And even in a rare case of someone actually being wrong, telling them that they are is STILL callous and bang out of order.)

Drifting off into digressions also comes under bloody insensitive.

Grr. Angry on your behalf now.
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
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I should have said, if they are wrong, then being told sensitively and kindly is a good thing if it is relevant to that persons distress and if it will help them become less distressed. If it won't then you have to wait until they are feeling much better before you correct them.
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
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That's true of course. But there are better ways and worse ways to say it.

And also "but that guy was just being nice" doesn't really solve the problem of the 200 other guys who possibly weren't but that I didn't complain about because I was in "stiff upper lip" mode.
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From:auntysarah
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:40 am (UTC)
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there are better ways and worse ways to say it.

Yeah. Compare, "You're wrong because..." and "I disagree because...". The first one can come over ad an attack on the other person's viewpoint, and carries all sorts of baggage along the lines of "my viewpoint is more valid than yours", etc.

The second one indicates disagreement, with a recognition that we have different points of view, rather than them being "wrong" for not knowing the supposedly objective truth.
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)
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Oh, but "you're wrong" always comes with a "because" which always at least *looks* rational enough that "SHUT THE FUCK UP" is too rude (it's often too rude) but that is un-rational enough that an actual rational rebuttal with subtle slapage and great wit... is too hard to find under "SHUT THE FUCK UP".

Obviously were I some great wit I would manage amusing yet put-downy rebuttals for every event! But, er, I'm *not* and I don't think that that should cause me to forever have to loose.

(It also comes in the form of people saying "are you sure, sure you're sure? really certain?" if I say "I think I want to get a tattoo" (random example, I don't want one) but somehow the same people never *ever* going through the whole "sure you're sure" shit when it comes to me failing to fight against being talked into doing something).
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
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I think people are fond of saying 'you're wrong because... or logically, you shouldn't be feeling that' because they forget that they cannot see the full picture. Or more accurately, they assume that they are seeing the full picture and of course that is impossible. The only logical equivalent I can use to explain what is going on here is to say that it would be rather like approaching a game of pool or snooker and forgetting the existence of chalk motes that make balls kick unexpectedly. No one expects the player the predict the whereabouts of the chalk dust but everyone accepts that it happens. By the same token, when someone has a subjective or triggery reaction to a discussion, the other participants will not have been able to see what caused it, the individual themselves may not even know consciously why it was triggery, but the personal and often complex reason for the reaction still exists. The difference here is the lack of acceptance for the individual reaction. If one could see or predict the reasons for a personal reaction, one might even have found one's self saying 'ah logically, I can see why that had that an effect on you'.

A chaos theory for feelings if you will (although I don't like putting the word 'chaos' next to feelings because of the risk of diminishing the value of feeling).

The advantage we have as humans is that as we get to know each other (and understand ourselves better), we may even be begin to spot the bits of chalk.
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
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That does make sense, yes.
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From:1ngi
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
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I will admit that I give people who have no interest in spotting the chalk motes a VERY wide berth. If someone is trying to see them, then I forgive them an awful lot. IYSWIM.

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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
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Oh yeah, your example is FTW. I might have to steal it.
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From:auntysarah
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
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As to your last para, I would avoid spending time with those kind of people. They lack emotional intelligence and are not self-aware enough to appreciate the kind of hurt they can cause

Yes. That.
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From:wildeabandon
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)

Re: unrelated trivia

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Yes.
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From:dreamfracture
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
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All very true. One question: What's wrong with someone holding a door open for you?
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
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There's nothing wrong with holding doors. Especially for people who are carrying heaps of stuff.

There's a lot wrong with people who always hold doors for women because women can't open doors... I can open a damn door! And also there's a lot wrong with people who claim that door-holding (and other 'chivalry') makes up for all the really bad sides of sexism.

And of course I don't yell at people who hold doors, because there's no way to know what *this* door-holder is thinking.
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From:emperor
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
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I hold the door open for people, regardless of gender, because I think it's polite to do so.
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From:naath
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
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Yes, lots of people do that. *I* do that.

But then again I've had men stare at me when I hold a door for them; or dash ahead of me to grab the door when I'm not holding anything - so I think some people aren't just being nice.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 29th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
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Well said, I know exactly what you mean.

I think if I complain about, say, someone cutting me up in traffic, there's an implicit "and it might not have been their fault, but it made me feel really awful" or "as an example of what people do to me all the time, believe me".

And if you know me well, or have shared experiences, you know what I probably mean. But if you don't know me well, you may not know, and it's so easy not to think about it, and assume I'm specifically criticizing said person.

I try, when making complaints of an incident to say specifically what I mean, and when reading complaints, to infer what is meant. But it seems like a finger in the dam, it seems to inevitably happen every time someone talks to someone not in the group that experiences the behaviour.
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From:feanelwa
Date:May 29th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
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If people are going to complain about people reacting emotionally they should give up using our emotions to manipulate us, by for example taking a conversation to shouting volume, laughing in a manner that indicates ridicule and using aggressive terms when they want to win a point. It works both ways, assholes. Or as Fiona Apple puts it:
You feed the beast I have within me
You wave the red flag baby you make it run
Standing on the sidelines waving and grinning
You fondle my trigger then you blame my gun
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From:pavanne
Date:May 29th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
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I see where you are coming from.

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