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Apr 12 2013

I Get Male – A Response to Pitchguest

Someone posted a video on the comments section on a previous post on racism.

And Pitchguest responded with this.

Brilliant. A woman gets help stealing a bike and somehow this is a form of sexism. Somehow it’s an example of patriarchy. You’re rationalising it to fit with your world view. Amazing. But just to add a bit of balance, it’s not exactly sexist, is it? Unless she explicitly tells them not to help and they do it anyway, because–as you say–she could “chip a nail or summat.” That didn’t actually happen, though.

She is helped because of the following “ideas” in society

1. Women can’t be thieves

2. Pretty women? Even less so

3. Women are weak and cannot work with tools

4. Women need help to do mechanical work

They don’t think she is being serious that she is stealing the bike. They think she is joking. They aren’t going “Oh she is stealing, let’s help her”, they are going “Hah! Stealing! Classic Pretty White Lady humour! Give that bolt cutter her darling before you hurt yourself love. Can you just imagine if pretty people stole things? HO HO HO”

It’s sexist vs. men and vs. women because of the reasons why these tropes exist. It’s the same issue as “racial profiling”. Because she fits a non-typical profile, she is given the benefit of the doubt.

It’s not because women are allowed to commit crimes. It’s not because men cannot help themselves in helping her. It’s because people don’t think she is SERIOUS. She literally is saying “I am stealing this bike” and they are responding “Ho Ho Ho! Women stealing bikes? What next? Women doing mathematics!”.

Also, would it have helped the experiment if they had gotten a conventionally unattractive woman to aid them? Because once again you repeat this notion of a class system of patriarchy, that treats women based on their appearance and not on their gender as a whole, which is surprising to me because it’s not generally mentioned (if at all) in feminist circles that deals with the patriarchy narrative. (On FtB, A+ and especially on Skepchick.) Would it have strengthened the experiment if an unattractive woman had been chosen? Or better yet, an equally attractive “typical western model” black woman?

Are you seriously complaining about a TV “experiment”?

It wouldn’t matter if you expanded the experiment, the fact remains that in western society we STILL treat women worse than we treat men. It may not be “The Rape Culture of India” but it’s not good either. The entire thread was about how society was “racist” despite there being very few racists in it due to misconceptions and tropes and “thoughtless activity”.

Society is mainly sexist to women. More so than men. At some points the sexism affects men but it’s mainly due to traditional gender roles and assumptions about women. So in this case men are discriminated against not because “Men are thieves” but because “Women Cannot Be Thieves”. In the same way that many people still think “Men cannot care for children”.

People still tell me how to hold their babies despite me being the first person who HOLDS babies and who shows new mothers how to hold them. I am in fact the ultimate babysitter and yet I would never be regarded as a good choice for child care. It’s not because “men are fucking idiots who may sit on the baby if they lose concentration” it’s because “women care for children”.

Finally, and most importantly, they helped her to steal a fucking bike. Why did the others not get that? Why did the privileged white male not get that? I mean, I couldn’t help but notice the men offering to help her with the lock didn’t ask for anything in return, either during it or after. They just went on their merry way. It’s a running gag, but: some patriarchy.

Because they thought she was joking about stealing the bike because “Pretty White Ladies Do Not Steal Things”, they helped her out because they thought she was being sarcastic. They helped her out because “women cannot use tools”.

For the same reason men stop to help women who are changing car tyres. Because women “cannot” change car tyres. Or that they “should not” change them, not when there are big strapping men to do it.

At no point would anyone watching a woman struggle with car tyres think she is stealing them.

Honestly, Avicenna, how are we to understand patriarchy if it keeps getting redefined every five minutes?

It’s not redefined. It’s just that you cannot see why an action is done beyond the basic. Sexism cuts both ways. Women are weak and harmless = Women cannot be thieves, men can only be thieves. Women cannot use tools = Men have to. Women are weak and need physical help from men = Men who are not physically capable are inferior. Women should take care of children = Men cannot take care of children.

I still amaze Indians by the fact that as a man I cook. It is astonishing to them not because “cooking is hard” but because to most Indian men, cooking is mysterious because they never need to cook. If they lose their wives they usually end up starving or eating junk food. The system that forces women into the kitchen also forces men to not learn to cook.

The system is more biased against women but it’s effects harm men too.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    SallyStrange

    Try the experiment with a black woman. I doubt anyone would have trouble taking her seriously when she said she was stealing.

    For Pitchguest’s benefit: this is called “intersectionalty.”

  2. 2
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    SallyStrange:
    uh, he is still trying to understand sexism and patriarchy*.
    Pitchguest is not ready for Feminism 201.

    *actually, he seems to have reached a plateau in his level of understanding.

  3. 3
    Stacy

    Honestly, Avicenna, how are we to understand patriarchy if…

    Honestly, Pitchguest, if you were honestly interested in understanding patriarchy, Avicenna’s point here wouldn’t have been so difficult for you. Honestly, dude, you’re being a willful idiot.

  4. 4
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I guess Pitchguest has never ever heard the term “benevolent sexism”. That’s when you ascribe positive traits on somebody based on their gender without regarding the individual.
    So, yeah, women are good and honest (and, let’s face it, too stupid to commit actual crimes. Because we also admire some criminals, especially when it’s about property theft), therefore she cannot be stealing that bike.

    So in this case men are discriminated against not because “Men are thieves” but because “Women Cannot Be Thieves”. In the same way that many people still think “Men cannot care for children”.

    It’s something my husband frequently runs into when being alone outside with the kids. Especially old ladies will happily tell him what he’s doing wrong.
    Oh, and it’s not something feminists and feminist men haven’t been discussing for long. If he had any honesty and integrity he’d admit that. Pitchguest, that is, not my husband. There’s several excellent posts by Lousy Cannuck and Crommunist on the topic and contrary to Pitchguest and his friends, we actually do understand the concept of toxic masculinity as well.

  5. 5
    leni

    There is also a sort of low cunning ascribed to women. I tend to think when a person is in a situation in which they have no power, manipulation is pretty much the only resource you have.

    Pitchguest, if you’ve never heard of the blog Love, Joy, Feminism I’dd suggest reading this post.

    This post is a series of responses to a book called “Created to Be His Helpmeet” by Debi Perl. The um, I dunno, leading wife of America’s Patriarchy movement.

    In brief:

    Debi argues that men are fixed types and that women’s role is to fit themselves to the types of their husbands. Men are like rock, and women are like water (Debi does admit that most men have one dominant type but also some aspects of one or both of the other two types). In fact, Debi has even said that, before they marry, women shape themselves into complements of their ideal of what a husband ought to be like. In other words, even women who are not married still fit themselves as complements of male types.

    I’m not suggesting that the Christian Patriarchy people are the norm, they aren’t. But the patriarchy is so concentrated, so utterly deranged, that it becomes much easier to grasp than the relatively milder version of it most of us are accustomed to. The parallels to to our larger society become hard not to see.

    While the stupidity of it is jaw-dropping, nothing there should surprise you. They haven’t said much that we haven’t heard before.

  6. 6
    Hunt

    What’s the difference between benevolent sexism and gender privilege?

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    *actually, he seems to have reached a plateau in his level of understanding.

    I’ve never heard a deficit referred to as a “plateau” before.

  8. 8
    oolon

    PitchGuest has had years of railing against straw patriarchy and is an expert at it. No amount of explanation is likely to have an effect, but hopefully for the people he is presumably commenting for, the undecided/ignorant about the subject, this post is a good un in that it exposes his supposed ignorance. I say supposed as its hard to believe someone can have these 101 level issues explained over and over and not get it without some wilful ignorance.

    Like Giliel above I have my own experience of how society views male childrearing as when my daughter was a baby I’d often get compliments on how I did my share of nappy changing and getting up in the night. Strangely my wife got no such compliment as its just expected of her. In that situation its quite easy for me to think I’m doing my wife a favour or going above and beyond just by doing my *fair* share. (Or actually even less than that!)

    On the surface this seems like a good way of changing attitudes and getting men to be more involved, in reality it reinforces the dynamic that its women’s work and men are entitled to praise for just doing the minimum. So imo another bad aspect of benevolent sexism since the idea that women are inherently child rearers sets up a counter stereotype that men who do some of this are somehow great dads. Its easy to see how this won’t work too well given someone doing a favour or *more* than is expected might well start to resent that and not see it as fair. I often see this attitude in fellow dads who refuse to help out with the baby or use it as a bargaining chip rather than seeing it as their role. Stereotypes and expectations like this mess relationships up for men and women and are an aspect of toxic masculinity — in that its societies expectation or pressures on men to be *real* men that set up damaging attitudes and behaviours.

    All of us are susceptible to these influences, like it or not. Trying to reduce the feminist position down to patriarchy is consistently against women and pro-men is a massive strawman. In the example above being praised for changing a few nappies and not having to do much looks on the surface to be good for men and bad for women. When it fucks relationships up then its not particularly good for either.

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    Pitchguest’s avatar looks like a cross between Batman and Mickey Mouse. I find that strangely appropriate.

  10. 10
    Lou Doench

    @Leni… Nice try, but I can’t imagine even someone as generous and patient as Libby Anne putting up with Pitchguest’s routine for very long.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    leni

    @Lou Doench- well, maybe not. But she’s about as patient and as articulate on the subject as they come. If there was hope for anyone to get the point across, I’d put my money on her.

    @ Hunt- Maybe it would be helpful (maybe not) to think about it in terms of net gains and losses. Some examples:

    Does getting of out the draft make up for a lifetime of lost wages due to job and wage discrimination? Did it make up for not being able to vote, when that was the case?

    Disclaimer: I’m ok with women getting drafted, by the way. That’s a benefit of sexism I’d be willing to lose, especially if I thought the net gains would eventually add up. For example:

    1) equality in pay and rank in the military
    2) the social recognition that women can be competent in a wider variety of roles
    3) if it would shut up a certain portion of the population and
    4) less capable or less willing men could then be bypassed, thus improving the quality of our military and fairness of the system, particularly for men.

    But the assumption is that even an unwilling, possibly hostile, and less capable male is still a better choice than any female. It hurts all of us and we should let it go without some compelling reason not to, even if the circumstantial benefit is mine.

    Anyway, I digress. That’s just one example. I’d like to lose that circumstantial benefit because I see greater benefits (not just for me!) down the road.

    As I’m sure black men would mostly be happy drop the “awesome athlete, huge penis, great dancer” assumption of benevolent racism in order to live without being singled out by law enforcement and bypassed for jobs or promotions. That benefits us all by having fewer people in jail for for petty crimes. More employable people, better competition on the job market, blah blah bah.

    Net benefit to all > circumstantial benefit to a few.

  13. 13
    leni

    PS I should say that if there is going to be a draft, then we all should pretty much all be in the lottery. I’m not really that crazy about the draft. It’s not like I’m all pro-draft. It’s just if we have to have it, then gender shouldn’t be the primary deciding factors about who goes.

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