Need to find a gif or clip of 27:13-29:13 from Ep. 9 of Orange is the New Black.
It’s just. So. Fucking. Good.
If you have Netflix, go watch it now. doitdoitdoitdoit
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works.
Simone: where have we heard “don’t generalize” before? >(
Since I have almost certainly been guilty of telling others (of various genders) to avoid unnecessary generalization, this quote seemed directly relevant to my life. Below are my thoughts:
Here’s something I hadn’t thought of before: “This kind of semantic squabbling is a good way to get women to shut up.” Of course this is not my intention, but that doesn’t matter- the effect is what matters. This sentences is the most thought-provoking in the quote, and it is this sentence I will keep with me when deciding whether or not to chide others for generalizing. I imagine a good tactic would be to allow the other person to finish their point completely, understand what they were attempting to say, and then gently remind them that their point does not hold in the generality that they claimed- though it may still be a valid one.
As for the rest of the quote… There was a slight bait and switch. In the beginning it felt like we were talking about something all men should avoid saying, i.e. men shouldn’t tell women to overgeneralize. We imagine a conversation taking place in generalities, about something “all men do”, to which the man replies “well, not all men!” and so I thought the quote was meant to convince men in this scenario to avoid saying this. However, in the closing paragraph the writer paints a picture of a man unknowingly swayed by society towards sexist behavior, defending himself against what he felt were personal attacks on his character.
That’s a very different scenario: in that scenario, fuck that guy. He clearly needs to learn the extent to which society can influence a human being, and he can fuck his feelings because there’s no excuse for sexist behavior even if you’re “a good person.” The correct response for the man in this situation is to apologize and make a conscious effort to avoid doing it again. Good.
But this picture does not address the original picture. Suppose the conversation is *not* about the man present, but just about society in general. In this case it is a simple matter to change “all men…” to “men have a tendency to…” or “most men…” etc. It’s easy, it likely won’t change the strength of your argument much (and make it more accurate), and, more importantly, it will avoid hypocrisy. What’s the sense in fighting for an ideal of equality, and specific consideration of each persons uniqueness independent of their gender, if we don’t attempt to hold ourselves to this same standard?
I am in the privileged gender. I do not know subjugation, or discrimination (at least not gender-based). But for the moment let’s talk about being human, not being righteous: I imagine few women like to hear sentences that start with “Women…” or “the thing about women is…” or “when you’re talking to women it’s always…” Part of the distaste presumably comes from being human: we don’t like to surrender our individuality, especially if the next part of the above sentences is something negative. Even if the next part of the sentence is *statistically* true, it’s not always true. I imagine men feel the same way (I know I do) about statements involving all men.
I am not saying that no one should make general statements (what a hypocrite I’d be…) What I’m saying is that, like any rhetorical gadget or instrument in argument, it has a cost and you have to decide if that cost is necessary for your argument. If you know saying “all men…” might hurt the guy’s feelings (who cares?), say it only if you think that is deserved and necessary (maybe he *is* guilty of the thing you’re saying… even then, it’d be more accurate to say “Most men, including you, …”).
I suppose I have certain things that I’ve decided are important. Among them are truth and equality. Lots of the suffering and discrimination we see seems to stem from a laissez-faire attitude to the former, and a total neglect of the latter. Calling for the “equal treatment” of men is not something this post is about (because, obviously, there is an apparent and actual inequality placing us on top). On the other hand, if we can modify our language to live in this ideal, equal world we’re all striving towards, and still make the arguments we want to make… why wouldn’t we?
(I completely admit my ignorance in these matters- that question is not rhetorical.)