There’s a tumblr post I see periodically that says something to the effect of “misogyny kills. misandry hurts feelings.” I posted a screencap of another tumblr post that showed bits of news articles about misogyny and violence/treats of violence and captioned it with corresponding comments I’ve read/heard/been told. (I’ll put it under the cut in a sec with my added commentary) and a friend of mine (who, despite the fact that I was being honest when I told him I felt sick to my stomach and incredibly anxious whenever I post about feminism because of the dread I feel about his* comments, he is someone who I like and enjoy being friends with in general) commented with what could (and I’m sure, is, by him and others) be seen as a totally reasonable response. I’m gonna go into this all behind the cut. Before I do, though, I want to thank said friend for respecting me when I asked him to stop commenting. I very strongly appreciate it.
*he is not the only person who evokes this visceral reaction in me with facebook comments, I should also point out, though this reaction is almost exclusively evoked by male friends commenting on feminism/feminism-adjacent posts.
This is the image I posted, on the right,
“I hate when girls give you a fake number. Just say ‘no,’ I can handle it.”
“Video games are for dudes, that’s why there aren’t any women in the business. It’s not because we don’t want them there.”
“I hate it when a girl crosses the street when she sees me walking toward her. I’m not going to hurt her!”
While this stuff still happens on the regular, women don’t know who to trust and in order to protect themselves must assume that any man they don’t know might be capable of this sort of thing.
My friend’s response was, as I said, something that at first blush sounds like a reasonable response suggesting that this is the wrong attitude to take. He asked “why is it OK to actively avoid a man because “you don’t know who to trust” but wrong to actively avoid an arab/african/what have you.” And put like that, it does seem like I’m discriminating against men for being strangers. Here’s why I’m not, though. Society, as it is/has been during my lifetime and, from what I’ve read, for a long time before my lifetime, has raised most everyone in it to believe that men are entitled to women’s bodies. It doesn’t teach us that black people are entitled to others’ wallets, or that Arabs are entitled to…do whatever it is people are afraid they’re going to do to us non-Arabs. It doesn’t teach us that everyone is the same. Society pays lip service to the idea, certainly. My mom spent a ton of my childhood telling me that I specifically and women in general do not need men to help them do anything. She still expects that I will someday get married (to be fair, I hope to) and takes the glue traps (I know, I know, I can’t convince her to ditch them) to the neighbor when there’s a mouse to be killed and Dad isn’t home. And that is just one of billions of examples of how society doesn’t really teach us that all humanity is equal. I read an article about a young man who was raped (both in the statutory sense and in the “didn’t want it but it was forced on him” sense) by a teacher. The overwhelming response from other men in his life (and in the comments on the article) was that he should have wanted it and enjoyed it, because society has conditioned us to expect men to want sex all the time, with anyone. Society also has conditioned us to believe that men deserve sex. Most men are taught, if not by their parents than by peers, magazines, television and movies, etc. that if they just do the right things they will win sex with the person with whom they wish to have sex. Black people are not taught that when they walk down the street they will deserve someone else’s money. They’re taught that when they walk down the street they should do so with only one other black person in case they’re perceived as a mob, and that if they are a victim of violent crime committed by a white person, they will be cast as a thug in the news in order to justify the crime. Recent court cases have shown that our society values both whiteness and maleness over other attributes. Stand Your Ground laws in Florida protect white males, not people of color or women. (Though I am happy to note that in Marissa Alexander’s case, there will be a retrial.) White males who shoot up school campuses and blow up buildings are not called terrorists in the media. Women who want to make decisions about their own bodies and healthcare are vilified as sluts and murderers. So no, me protecting myself from the people society holds above all others is not discriminatory; you feeling entitled to do whatever you want without consequences but not only not allowing others the same privilege (if you can even call it that) but punishing them significantly more severely than anyone who is white and/or male would be punished in the same situation is.
Here’s the whole comment thread, with names redacted.