I’ve put up with more than my share of douchebags in my life. Especially douchebags who assume I’m too emotional/shallow/stupid to hold up my end of an argument for no other reason than because I’m a woman.
I didn’t used to call them out on it because I wanted to be a cool girl. But I don’t care about that anymore. Most women get stuck deprogramming a bunch of conditioning that’s been foisted on us long before we were old enough to understand it. By the time we see what’s happened, we already believe that we’re less smart, less funny, and less capable in general than men. That kind of thinking takes a lot of conscious effort to correct.
I think most guys don’t know when they’re talking down to us. But some do. And I think it’s about time we collectively assert that we’re a.) aware of it and b.) not going to put up with it any longer. Here are some obnoxious comments you’ve probably endured, in ascending order of bullshit:
Oddly specific comments about your body.
We tell each other that men don’t notice small details. But they do. A lot of guys will tell you all about your pockmarks and the cellulite on the back of your thighs. Usually only when they’re mad at you. But some guys just feel like they’re entitled to someone who looks better than they do. Why do men get to be fat sloppy bastards while they can’t tolerate seven pounds on us? In my experience, the dumpiest-looking guys are the most critical. A perfect-looking guy can just be with a perfect-looking girl. He doesn’t have to keep you on your toes like that.
“You care too much about what your friends think.”
This applies to lots of people. But some men tell each other that all women are lemmings and can’t avoid groupthink. Which is crap. Especially in relationships. From what I’ve seen, women have a monopoly on risking it all for relationships.
We don’t care if people like our man. We don’t care if he’s rich or hot or even that smart. We just want him to make us feel like it’s us against the world. (Which isn’t always practical, mind you. But when that risk is taken, we’re usually the ones taking it.) Men are worried about what their moms will think or their friends will think or if we’re going to say things that annoy them thirty years down the road. But women: we’re mad romantics.
I know a guy who turned down a girl he’s known forever because she’s fat. He likes her, but he says his friends would think he’s a loser. Well. I think he’s a coward. Which is a million times worse.
“You have daddy issues.”
Of course. And you have mommy issues. I can’t even tell you how many studs I know who have mommy issues. They’re dismissive of their mothers, calling them selfish and illogical while praising the aloof asshole that’s usually the dad. And these guys are bitter too. More so than most daddy-issues chicks.
On that note, “men’s rights activists” are far more hostile than feminists. Aside from a few outliers like Andrea Dworkin I’m just not seeing that rage come out of us. I’m sure some guys are going to complain that political correctness is our covert way of asserting control. I’m not for PC culture any more than you are, and believe me many of us girls feel the same way. But I do think there are wider reasons for its existence that are coming from an honest place.
For the most part, feminists seem to go out of their way to consider men’s feelings. I said something on Facebook about how I don’t like men who avoid conflict. The men just kind of chuckled. But the women immediately came to men’s defense. They said society’s belief that men have to be strong makes it harder for them to talk about trauma. Which is very sad and very true.
If you think your guy has mommy issues, point it out. And not in an accusatory way. His mom may very well have been crappy. But I’ve seen a lot of bad marriages and I know the woman tends to get the blame from everybody. Even though there’s a very good chance she doesn’t deserve it.
And I’m sure you’ve heard this, but you watch how he treats his mother. Because that’s how he’s going to treat you.
“You’re a slut.”
Out of all the godawful things in the world you could be, a slut is pretty low on the list don’t you think?
People have different reasons for it too. Maybe they’ve been in a relationship for a long time and they want to enjoy their freedom after it ends. Maybe they have a shitty family or a mental illness and they feel like that’s the only thing they have to offer. Or maybe they just have the DRD4 gene. Motives matter.
Look, if you’re running around having sex with everyone you know and then demanding to know why you’re not in a relationship the next day, you are not to be trusted. Neither is a guy who does the same thing. If you’re spreading your legs to feed your empty soul then you’ve got issues. Those are maturity problems though.
I think “slut” as a concept is outdated. And you have to consider who you’re dating. If a guy is proud of his low number, then he obviously has a specific set of values. He’s more compatible with someone who sees sex the same way. But if some dirty dick uses the lock/key metaphor as his reason for not going out with you then you’re better off without him.
In my experience though, most men aren’t hypocrites about this. This slut has had plenty of relationships with other sluts.
“You’re just saying that because you’re a woman.”
It’s insanely reductive to chalk up every thought, every feeling, every experience you’ve ever had to your crotch. Individuality should trump group membership by default. But unfortunately, proving ourselves an “exception to the rule” is what women (and racial minorities, and sexual minorities, and anyone else who isn’t a straight white guy) have to go through every day of our lives. I want straight white guys to imagine for a minute about how it might feel to walk around every day knowing exactly what people in power are thinking about you and why you, yes you in particular, must be kept away from it.
I was talking to a guy about relationship problems I’d had (after he brought them up) and he told me that everything I was complaining about was just a “condition of being a woman.” And this guy liked me. I’m sure he didn’t mean to offend me unless that was his idea of a neg. But I’m not going to sit around teaching someone how not to be condescending.
Not taking your point of view seriously.
When a woman talks about “Big Ideas,” a lot of men do one of two things:
1. Nitpick you more than he’d nitpick any man, because he thinks you don’t know your place.
Some men think women are a bunch of dilettantes who stick our nose into men’s spaces even though we don’t actually want to be there. They think we’re control freaks. And I’m just not seeing it. Whenever I see a woman on, say, a philosophy forum, she either knows her shit or she’s trying to learn it. It’s also pretty clear from research that women are LESS comfortable than men are about talking about things we don’t think we’re good at.
2.) Act like it’s the most brilliant thing anyone’s ever said, because he’s set the bar.
Which is just as bad, although it’s usually less intentional. You don’t want people’s standards to be lower for you while your brain is developing. Guys will gape in awe at a cute 20-year-old who knows anything about anything. But when she’s forty, she’s going to have to compete with men for real if she wants to get respect for her opinions.
Your man should challenge you. It’s sexist not to. He shouldn’t expect less from you, but he shouldn’t go out of his way to expect more either.
If you feel the need to change some smug asshole’s opinions about women, then you have to think the way he thinks. He assumes all women are irrational. He wants all women to be irrational. You have to fight him wit for wit, logic vs. logic. Not only will that prove him wrong, but you’ll get the enormous satisfaction of pissing him off.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing either. One time this guy was bragging on Facebook about how he lets women win petty arguments because he read a book that says you’re supposed to back down from a stronger opponent. I couldn’t counter him directly, because that point isn’t inherently sexist. But I knew what he thought about women because he’d made plenty of sexist comments before. So I just typed “Sun-Tzu?”
I bet he was shocked that I read that book.