March 5, 2014

An Open Letter To Men In Women’s Studies Classes

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What is the issue?

As interesting as the reading is for my Women’s Studies class is, lately I’ve become more of an observer and less of an active participant. Sometimes my morning coffee hasn’t really sunk in yet, sometimes it’s because I fell asleep before finishing the reading, and sometimes it’s because I literally cannot get a damn word in edgewise. 

And this is where you come in, boys. The few of you who feel not just the desire, but the privilege to speak all. the. time. No comment is too innocuous to sit on for a few minutes. No idea is too dim, no thought too dull, no analysis too self-evident to even consider not bestowing upon the rest of us. If it wasn’t enraging it could almost be endearing, the fact that you don’t even realize how you’re setting yourselves up as prime examples of the flaws in our system that feminism seeks to address.

Put simply, I’d put good money on the fact that not one of you boys has ever had the stomach twisting, pulse racing thought that maybe what you’re saying isn’t worth sharing. None of you have been told to shut up because what you’re saying is boring or not intelligent, none of you have ever stopped mid-thought to hastily explain to your audience, “never mind, I’m not even really sure”, or “this is probably stupid, but…” or even, “I’m probably wrong about this, but…”.

This culture of self-doubt, of sitting down and shutting up, has not been taught to you year after year, in classrooms and on playgrounds, in the workplace and in bars. Each class you monopolize precious minutes to your groundbreaking, fascinating inner monologue as the girls in the class raise their hands timidly, arms shaking in the air because they’ve been holding them up for like five goddamn minutes, waiting their turn, quietly. They expel their thoughts quickly and appropriately, like a time-sensitive faucet in a public bathroom. The boys take their time, a leisurely hot shower in the morning, or after sex, unaware and uncaring that time is flying by outside of their steamy little ecosystem.

It must be nice to take your time, to not grow anxious as you feel dozens of pairs of eyes bore into you as more words fall out of your mouth, and instead to feel empowered and encouraged by the attention. I wonder what it must feel like to not assume you’re wasting anyone’s time, but instead doing them a favor, a service, by sharing your knowledge.

But you do not wonder what that is like, and to that end you are not my ally. You do not question the significance of your presence in a classroom dedicated to understanding the plight of women in the history of the world. If you cannot recognize the irony of your contribution to a discussion about the ways in which men have systematically devalued women by, say, creating a society that does not appreciate or value anything a woman thinks says screams whispers mutters or dreams then you are not my ally. You are not my ally. You are not my ally. TC mark

image – Velkr0

Annie Zegers

Annie. Near college graduate, but forever learning. On Tumblr.

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