Not reading Naomi Wolf »« Everyday sexism 2

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What’s the deal with people talking about sexism and someone asking “So is this only for women who experience sexism?”

The dialogue continues.

Someone: Women, then. I guess sexism doesn’t happen to men.

Replier: Always “What about the menz?”

Someone: No… always what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Well duh, but why does that mean we can’t talk about sexism without being jostled and chivvied and harried for talking about something that happens to women? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t include a coda saying nobody must ever talk about or resist violations of the rights of particular people.

Shut up about racism, because what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Shut up about xenophobia, because what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Shut up about human rights in Iran, because what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Shut up about rape in DR Congo, because what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Shut up about anything particular, because what about everyone. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

There is sexism. We can be against it. That doesn’t mean we want to take away your rights. Singling out one form of oppression doesn’t entail approving of all the others.

Isn’t this just a little obvious?

 

Comments

  1. Emu Sam says

    Yessina, isn’t that the thinking behind “Dear Muslima”? Wait, no, because you’re not trying to say that men shouldn’t talk about sexism related to men at all – it’s part of a discussion saying that no one should be shut down.

  2. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Yes, the answer is obvious.
    I’m still uncertain why some people think men will lose rights if women gain full equality.

  3. Stacy says

    Having this very argument on the other B&W with a man who offered this:

    Complaining about it happening to women only and ignoring what happens to men is part of the problem.

    *sigh*

  4. brittany992 says

    To Ophelia Benson:

    I don’t know if you’ll ever read this but people at “The Slyme Pit+” forums have a post about how they’re planning to “troll” you.

    I don’t support them but I lurk there and if you’re getting a lot of abuse lately, that’s why.

  5. Daniel Schealler says

    It feels a little bit like a game of pass-the-theologian.

    A believer can continue to list theologians and refuse to take us seriously until we have substantiated dealt with an infinite list before they will take us seriously – i.e. never.

    A sexism apologist can do something a little bit similar, by insisting that we resolve every other problem and issue on the planet before they will take us seriously – i.e. never.

    It’s the same kind of disingenuous dismissal sans engagement in both scenarios – and both kinds of objections can be justifiably dismissed in their own right for precisely that reason.

  6. Daniel Schealler says

    * A believer can continue to list theologians and refuse to take us seriously until we have substantiatively dealt with…

    Silly auto-correct. >.<

  7. says

    Mentioned what happened to Feminist Frequency (namely – that someone who didn’t like being banned from commenting on her YouTube channel coded a game where you could essentially beat her up.).

    Friend, “Hey, does she talk about male tropes?”

    Me, “No, she tends to focus on female ones. However, I suppose she would be discussing male tropes as they relate to the female ones.”

    Friends, “Well, at least that’s something.”

    .
    .
    .

    *sigh*

  8. says

    Sexism, like other -isms, is institutionalized. Men can certainly be the target of sex and gender discrimination, but because we have the priviledge in our society, this discrimination does not have sufficient pervasiveness to be called sexism.

    Likewise, in American society there is no such thing as “white racism” or “heterophobia.”

  9. StevoR says

    There is sexism. We can be against it. That doesn’t mean we want to take away your rights. Singling out one form of oppression doesn’t entail approving of all the others.
    Isn’t this just a little obvious?

    Well, you’d certainly think it would be!

    Also as noted on feminism 101 sites – Patriachy hurts and limits men too.

    Debunking the tired old “Butt what about teh Mennnnnnnnnnzzzzzzzzzzzz! (stamping of feet , spitting of dummies, toys thrown on floor) derailing tactic isn’t hard and shouldn’t take so long.

    Sadly that canard just keeps coming up, and up, and up and up ad nauseam even after its been answered already and by people who you’d think should really know better ..

  10. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Huh.
    Never heard of ‘heterophobia’ before.
    :::runs off to check:::

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    That’s on the same spectrum of FAIL as MRA.

  11. Beatrice says

    Isn’t this just a little obvious?

    Should be, but unfortunately some people can’t hear it over their ego screaming “What about meeeeeee?”.

  12. bjartefoshaug says

    Tracie Harris of Godless Bitches/The Atheist Experience gets about as close to perfection as anything I have ever heard in this glorious rant about feminism vs. egalitarianism. If doesn’t sounds than way to you, it’s entirely the fault of my lousy transcript:

    I am not prepared to piss on some guy who says “I look at myself as an egalitarian”, because I think that’s fair based on where he’s coming from. But at the same time I don’t expect him to piss on somebody for using a gender-equity label when they are clearly in a situation where that’s going to matter to them, more than overall egalitarianism. And it’s not that I’m not egalitarian. It’s not as if I don’t want racial equality, it doesn’t mean I don’t want religious persecution to stop. I don’t want people persecuted for their gender, I don’t want them persecuted for their race. And so yes, I agree that overall egalitarianism is the goal, but you got to understand that within that overall umbrella of equity there are many different slices of areas of inequity that have to be addressed, and its ok to identify those areas and say “Ok, we’re dealing with gender-issues of inequity over here, we’re dealing with racist issues of inequity over here, we’re dealing with religious discrimination over here”. There’s all these different areas, and it’s fine to say “I’m anti-theistic. I think that religion is harming, and so I want to stop this harm that religion is causing, and this persecution that’s coming from religion”. You can do that, and it’s ok to say “I’m anti-theistic and I’m also egalitarian, but my focus is on religious harm, my focus is on gender-harm, my focus is on racial harm”. I don’t see a problem with that. [...] I think people can reasonably agree that this is not a big problem. We have these different areas, pick your focus. There’s plenty of prejudice to go around. If you’re fighting prejudice anywhere on the planet, thank you! Thank you for whatever area you’re involved in, whether it’s all of it, whether it’s a piece of it, I don’t care. You’re doing a good thing. But if all you have to contribute is pissing on someone else for a label that you don’t agree with, and that’s your contribution to the movement, then just please shut up, because you’re not contributing, you’re just making a problem. And I don’t want to argue with men who think I should be equal just because of a label. As far as I’m, concerned reasonable men who agree in egalitarianism are on my side, and they are my allies. And if you’re pissing on a label, you’re not those guys. I want the guy who really is egalitarian, not the guy who uses the label so that he can then be a dick to me for saying that I’m interested in gender-equity.

  13. says

    Well, it’s partly understandable:
    Those guys are used to women dropping whatever they’re doing the moment they need something.
    For many of them, it isn’t even malicious, it’s just privilege and entitlement, this is how the world works.
    Mummy did it, and their girlfirend, wife is supposed to do it, too. And given that men are often in a position of authority over women at work, it works there, too.
    And now you tell them that no, in fact, they have to wait five minutes.
    I remember that my own husband looked shocked, and hurt and all puzzled when I told him what he was effectively doing.
    Oh, and he also honestly believed that since he would often call me to ask me some stupid question like where to put the towels it meant that I was actually the one doing the ordering…

  14. dirigible says

    “I’m still uncertain why some people think men will lose rights if women gain full equality.”

    Men will lose the rights they have over women.

    So…

  15. Bruce Gorton says

    @Tony •King of the Hellmouth•

    It is a basic win-lose mentality.

    A lot of people seem to think like this: “If women win equality and independence, than I must be losing” – pretty much the same way they think about gay rights, or racial equality or anything else.

    That is the central wickedness to social injustice, the injustice doesn’t need to strictly benefit anyone, just so long as it harms at least one group more so the other/s can feel like they are winning.

  16. =8)-DX says

    I thought the “what about the menz” argument is concerning “what about sexism vs the menz”.

    I mean unlike feminism (which has a specific focus), sexism is a problem of (and for) both the menz and the womenz.

    I’m a bit confused by your post. Surely with the recent sexual harassment at conference thing it was always taken to include sexual harrassment of and by *both* men and women (and despite the predominance of male harassment I remember multiple people brought this up, included it and some people came out with stories of sexual harassment by women at after-conference parties or even during the convos). Although I could see the focus on women with sexual harassment as crucial, sexism in general is a much broader problem.

    Yes I’m definitely confused, re-reading the whole thing again – it’s as if you’re implying sexism was something that only happens to women (and since sexism is an attitude or set of predjudices, I’m baffled to see how it could “happen” to anyone).

    I’ve never seen sexism defined as “something that happens to women” – how absurd.

  17. =8)-DX says

    Reading the comments, I think I’ve got what you’re on about, it’s not obvious in the dialogue who is talking to who, and who asked the first question, I don’t think I’ve met anyone like that IRL, but I guess it’s just never occurred to me to discuss sexism as a “women’s” issue and of course the MRAs’ constant “what about the men” in any discussion is annoying and most often missing the point.

  18. says

    I think it’s obvious to most people, but the other people are shouty. Very shouty. And they sometimes produce straw-men which convince bystanders for a while.

  19. says

    @Tony •King of the Hellmouth #15 – Yeah, “heterophobia” has a lot of fail.

    @=8)-DX #23 – By definition, sexism is institutionalized sex-based discrimination. That is to say, it is a socially pervasive set of views and attitudes which serve to maintain existing priviledge. Discrimination by those who do not have priviledge against those who do does exist, and is problematic, yes, but it does not meet the definition of “sexism.”

    A nearly identical definition exists for racism, homophobia and religionism.

  20. jose says

    - Evolution.
    - But what about physics? Isn’t physics at least as interesting as evolution? Aren’t the problems of physics as important? Why not to talk about physics too?
    - Because evolution is what we’re talking about now.
    - No. You’re going to talk about evolution AND physics, or about science in general. Otherwise you’re being biased and discriminatory and you’re just showing your misphysicsandry.

  21. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    It’s like someone going into a Japanese restaurant complaining that there’s no PIZZA on the menu. This customer should simply leave and look for a place that already includes pizza on its menu. That would be the rational choice, but if the customer is more interested in making a scene than in having a satisfying meal, their preferred solution is going to be to force the restaurant they’re in to start making pizza. Right now. For them. There’s not much the staff can do to satisfy this customer. They are not obliged to do so.

  22. johnthedrunkard says

    “Likewise, in American society there is no such thing as “white racism” or “heterophobia.””

    Hmm… I assume you mean ‘anti-white racisem,’ which would go with anti-male sexism etc. etc.

    Of course these things DO exist. Its just that in real life they have a vanishingly small effect on white people, men, heterosexuals etc.

    As a heterosexual white man, I really don’t expect to be targetted with an avalanche of threats and abuse for anything I post here. I HAVE had the experience of stalking, abuse, sock-puppetry, lock-outs from web fora etc. when the issue was opposition to quackery and woo. (Oddly, many of the perps were women but in these instances gender didn’t seem to be any particular fuel for resentment)

    It is perfectly natural to discuss fairness, equality, social justice et al with a focus on those who are most obviously victimized. So yes, talking about egalitarianism in the Atheist community will naturally focus on the status of women. Talking about the same issue on a world-wide basis will probably tend more toward the status of women under Islamist theocracy.

    The more we can address specific evils and persons on the immediate facts, the more effective we are. High-school essays about ‘male privilidge’ and ‘othering’ just generate a cloud of meta-verbiage. It is in this cloud that the ‘what about my pet cause X?’ distractions are most harmful.

    PS: just had to re-register in order to log-in. Is there some mischief afoot?

  23. Stacy says

    Stacy, Horace, with whom you’re arguing on the other site, is a long-time MRA troll

    Thanks. I had the impression he was young and ignorant, and educable.

  24. PatrickG says

    @ Stacy: Yeah, he’s a more effective troll than most. It’s not until you see him spout the same tired material over and over and over and … that you realize he’s not listening at all, and just using you as a foil to cloud discussion.

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