One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

August 20, 2009

A is for Angry

I don’t have much to say, but I thought I’d update just to keep in the habit.

I wore a skirt and heels today. Straightened my hair and wore mascara. It didn’t feel like a huge departure. I do all of those things sometimes, just hardly ever all on the same day. Still, I came home with the worst cramp in my lower back. Heels, you know. God, no matter how much time I spend angry about the cultural expectations of women to cripple themselves in order to conform to a pornulated ideal, I still swoon a little over the fascist authority that emanate from a set of clicking heels as they walk by. And then I think, “hey I want to emanate fascism as I click by.”

Unfortunately fascism is not a monster that I can control.

Hey, speaking of feminist tirades, why is the most common counterargument to feminism, “God. LIGHTEN UP.”

I just find it such a non-sequiter. So completely irrelevant to whatever you might have said. Like, “this movie’s normalization of date rape and stalking as a part of the natural romantic process contributes to a culture-wide perception that women are there to be won and they don’t know their own mind so therefore consent can only be won by force” “Oh my god, you ridiculous feminists. It’s just a movie. LIGHTEN UP AND DEVELOP A SENSE OF HUMOUR.”

Oh. Like, really what I should have been thinking is, “this movie’s normalization of date rape and stalking as a part of the natural romantic process is fucking hilarious.”

Also, you know what dudes (I make the sexist generalization that it is dudes who think women should lighten up about date rape jokes and movie scenes), but you know what dudes? I have tried the lighten up approach – until about the age of 25 I was a horrific perpetrator of misogynist jokes and “lighten up” rhetoric and also listening distractedly to feminist tirades and then thinking, “well you certainly won’t change anyone’s mind by ranting angrily while refusing to even take care of your appearance. We are all supposing now that you are really only angry because you feel like you don’t fit in with our culture. But you are not even trying.”

You see what a tool of the patriarchy I was? So what I’m saying is that I’ve tried both sides. You “lighten-up” dudes, probably have not.

Hey here is a slightly related anecdote.

Today someone said something odd and to him I said, “what was that?” And he said, “Oh nevermind. It was just a punchline from a blonde joke.”

“Tell it to her!” his friend urged him.

“Oh no,” I said, “let’s not do that.”

“But it’s hilarious!” his friend assured me.

“But what if I were offended by it. And then I wouldn’t see you the same?”

Which question was greeted with their bewilderment.

Blue Milk posted a link to this pretty great post at Shakesville, (which I ought to have read on my own because I ought to read more Shakesville). And I am probably too intellectually lazy to explain how I feel like this anecdote backs up the premise of this Shakesville post. Not from the “men make these jokes so casually” side – I thought that part was evident, but from the point of recognizing how far these persistent behaviours have eroded my ability to trust men to be decent. How jarring it is to have the men that you trust so casually whip out these behaviours.

Honestly, honestly, no woman (no matter how angry) wants to go through her day feeling like every man is an enemy. I need to be able to sit down with guys, brainstorm with them, offer suggestions, learn from them, correct errors, collaborate. I work in a male-dominated industry and I value teamwork. And if these exchanges are fraught with tension, then I am miserable at the end of the day. So I don’t look for tension. And so then, when someone offers to tell me a blonde joke or tosses of rape jokes (which also happens at work), I am knocked off-kilter.

Exchanges like this are so commonplace that a lot of people won’t even get what the fuss is. But I want to say, “how about before you tell me this blonde joke, you go upstairs and tell the guy from ghana a joke about black men. Make sure it is a joke that plays on negative African American stereotypes. If he acts offended, you can be confused because it is clearly not about black men like him. It is about African American thugs. You know, when they BEHAVE like that, it is okay to point out the hilarious aspects of their negative behaviour.

So what I’m saying is don’t tell me jokes that put down women but expect that because I’m not lumped in with the particular subset or behaviour then I can laugh, or even wink and nod and say, “hah, It’s SO true.” That’s what I have done in the past, because I needed to get along. But it’s hard on my principles. And I absolutely wouldn’t let your racist joke pass, so your sexist joke doesn’t get a pass either.

So anyhow, I was talking about my eroded trust. When I was telling Ian about the exchange I said, “this very much illustrates how my ability to trust social interaction with men has eroded. I’m not even willing to wait until they say something offensive. I think, ‘Oh? You has a funnee? I probably don’t want to hear it.'”

And Ian said, “I has a angree at unenlightened men.” And because this was over MSN and his avatar is the adorable angry cat from Sandra Boynton’s “A is for Angry” I was like, OMG AWWW!

I don’t know if that’s the reaction he intended, but the way to my heart might totally be adorable cartoon cats and angry feminism in lolspeak. I should start a website.

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