Women explain things to me – Shaming language and sexism

W

Someone named “Alanna Vagianos” (Stop the adolescent snickering back there! Right now!), the Women’s Editor at the Huffington Post, has an article supposedly doing a flip-the-gender on sexist insults and shaming language. From the beginning she displays her ignorance of gender issues.

She says:

Instead of a man telling a woman “Go make me a sandwich,” we watch a woman tell a man to “Go grill me a burger.” “No one takes the hot girl at work seriously,” becomes “No one takes the hot guy at work seriously.” And, “You would actually be pretty if you just put in some effort” turns into “You would actually be handsome if you just put in some effort.”

Rupert Myers at the Guardian, who presumably knows quite a bit more about the shit handsome men face than Allana Vagianos has any chance of ever knowing:

“According to a new study from University College London’s School of Management, men are more likely to be overlooked for competitive roles that rely upon individual talent – sales positions, for example – if they are perceived as handsome.”

The source he cites does corroborate some of Vagianos’ assertions:

“With her co-authors from the University of Maryland, London Business School, and INSEAD, Dr Lee didn’t find the same effect for pretty women as female attractiveness wasn’t associated with competence. She believes it’s because physical stereotypes interact with gender stereotypes.”

Ah, but Myers’ main point stands. He continues:

“However, in competitive workplaces such as sales departments, good looks signalling competence can make handsome men seem threatening to future colleagues. If decision makers expect to compete, they would rather discriminate against them.”

Let’s go back to this one, because it is the crux of her ignorance of men’s experience and of how the gender system works: “Instead of a man telling a woman “Go make me a sandwich,” we watch a woman tell a man to “Go grill me a burger.”

She presents this as a hypothetical, as if men don’t hear this all their lives, as if their manhood isn’t called into question if they fail to provide adequately for a woman or simply to fail to marry one and furnish her with a husband to slur with her friends, or fail to “keep her happy”.

What forms does this take? Well, do any of these sound familiar?

“Honey, the gutters need to be cleaned.” (And you’d better know whose that job is without being told.)

“This box – or my luggage, my tire that needs changing, this piece of furniture – is heavy. A big, strong man like you can move it for me, can’t you?

“I really can’t be interested in a man who makes less than me.”

“I’m afraid…. (…and no, I don’t have any responsibility to stay safe or protect and defend myself – that’s your job.)”

“Only men can stop rape.”

And this is just scratching the surface. It’s called male utility and there is no commensurate female utility in this culture. What would female utility look like in this culture? It would be the expectation that women stay home and keep it humming for when her man comes home, and that she produce children on a regular basis, and be castigated and called immature if she failed to do all this. Sound backward? It is. So is male utility.
That’s what the feminist movement was about – freeing women from their social roles. That didn’t mean men would be freed from their social roles, far from it. No, in fact men would still be liable for all their old responsibilities, which increased in some cases. A woman wants to sleep around and gets pregnant, whether they guy wanted her too or even knew about it? No problem – he’s on the hook anyway – too bad about his own decisions about becoming a parent, no marriage required because husbands are such a pain. And he’s scum if he doesn’t fall in line. And of course she has no responsibility to ensure that he gets to raise this child she milked out of him. A woman wants to walk around alone wherever her fancy takes her, even where men would only go in groups? No problem, – and society owes it to her to make the world completely safe for her, her own personal theme park.

And when it comes to shaming language, compare this list of anti-male shaming language with one you might compile of anti-female shaming language. By the way, anti-female shaming language absolutely does exist. Here’s the difference – it is not considered acceptable or progressive.

And when was the last time you heard a woman being “derided as a “pussy” for being timid or cautious? Just how scathing is an accusation of cowardice or of immaturity or of posing a threat or any of the other points on that list of shaming language when it’s aimed at a woman? Of course there are ways women come in for the same kind of shaming, but this shaming doesn’t defeminize them, doesn’t call their gender identity or any other identity into question

So it look like Alanna Viaganos has no idea of who gets shamed more or how severely. It looks to me like she is just mouthing platitudes she knows her readers will appreciate as their own private emotional wallow. If Alanna Viaganos doesn’t know how men are already told exactly everything she presents as merely hypothetical, how valid are any of the rest of her points?

If Alanna Viaganos is as good as it gets in feminist analysis and commentary on men and men’s lives and gender relations involving men, then feminists need to just stop and walk away from the discussion.

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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="153754 http://honeybadgerbrigade.com/?p=153754">3 comments</span>

  • “You would actually be handsome if you just put in some effort.”

    Gee, if a woman said that to me, I’d think it was very nice.

    • She’d be trying to make a fool of you in front of everybody — and she’d assume you didn’t realize it. We need a list of behaviors and statements requiring females be rejected.

  • Females still haven’t realized that men can alter their behavior based on how women treat them. They still think 1950s or at best 1960s behavior rules control men.

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