So I've been thinking what topic has bumped into me most often in the past few days. You'll be surprised to learn it wasn't vaginas, but feminism. And in particular, the part men play in those issues that concern feminists. And in particular, what men can do about it.
The first incident that stands out is one that happened on Facebook. A friend, fellow writer, and former colleague at the university where I used to teach posted something about a female writer he admires. He said she's a great writer and that she's sexy as hell ... and then he wrote a parenthetical disclaimer for his feminist friends to indicate he wasn't trying to offend.
Offend? Listen, if a guy -- or a woman, for that matter -- wants to tell me I'm a great writer and then follows that with I'm sexy as hell, I'm going to be anything but offended. And I am a feminist, but there's nothing wrong with thinking and saying somebody is sexy. Not one damn thing. My friend obviously admired several of the writer's qualities, and her sexiness was only one of them.
Who wouldn't appreciate that? I would. In fact, I'd say "great writer" and "sexy" are on my top 10 compliments a man can give me. Or a woman. Yes, it would make me blush, but in a good way.
I can see why men get confused though. Because some people -- feminists included -- have been known to confuse a genuine compliment with sexual objectification or harassment. Although I can't speak for all feminists (and certainly many feminists would argue that my status as a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler of many years would deny me the privilege of speaking for any feminists), I offer these examples to distinguish the difference.
Imagine man #1 posted something about me on Facebook: "Reticula's a great writer. I read every one of her blog posts at least 5 times. And she's sexy as hell too. She kicks my ass on the bike trail though."
As far as I'm concerned, man #1 can continue on in that vein indefinitely. Hell, take out a fucking billboard. Too bad he's probably married.
Now imagine man #2 posted about me on Facebook: "Reticula writes a lot about vaginas on her blog. Hee. Hee. Now that's one vagina I'd like to ...."
Doesn't matter what the rest of the sentence is. Much as I love vaginas, this dickhead gets a
One more example.
Man #1 says: "I love boobs."
|Batman loves boobs too.|
Man #2 says: "Did you see that pair of tits that just walked by. Man, I wish she'd come closer so I could make like a motorboat and ...."
|Simon loves boobs. He hates man #2.|
I'm going to write more about objectifying women as body parts in a couple of days. These are actually mild examples, but man #2 is still going to make the average feminist's head spin and spew pea soup. He needs to pipe the fuck down.
If anybody doesn't get my point with these 2 examples, just ask. I can come up with dozens.
Like I said, this issue bumped into me several times this week. And the prevailing idea is that it's time for men to stop making this a women's problem and start kicking some ass from within their own tribe. Or army.
For example, watch Lieutenant General David Morrison, Chief of (the Australian) Army, dress down his own troops. It takes him 3 minutes to kick the bar back up where it belongs.
Salute! This speech will make a difference, because General Morrison means it, soldier. I believe he will follow through. I haven't seen a high-ranking US military officer make a similar statement though, despite an epidemic of rape among our troops. Too bad it had to be an Aussie who kicked some soldier ass.
And he's sexy. Mmm. Love a man in uniform.
This next video is longer, but it won't seem long when you watch it. If you're a man, please watch it. Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your stories.
If you're a woman, watch it because it's time we taught this to our sons and held them to a higher standard, damn it. They need to battle something besides video game zombies if they're going to change the world. And, yes, I already taught my son this stuff.
Only a man could give this message: Men's violence against women is not a women's issue. It's a men's issue that cruelly affects women and other men. Men are the ones who can stop it. Women have had to call it out, and take the heat for doing so, but men have to stop it.
Thank you, Dr. Jackson Katz, for a lesson in gender-relations common sense. You are my hero. And OMG, you are so sexy. If you ever lose that gold band on your left hand, you know where to find me.
Seriously though, neither General Morrison's nor Dr. Katz's videos would have gone viral this week if more men stood up to other men when they're verbally or physically abusing a woman. Or when they're talking about women in a way that is verbally abusive. Women can't fix that shit alone. It's too easy to make us either the victims or the ball-busting bullies, and then say we're PMSing bitches or man-haters.
I will attest that a lot of men stand by and watch other men behave terribly for reasons I don't understand. If I had to guess, maybe it's that they don't want to rock the boat or they don't want to seem like pussies or they don't want to lose a friend. Or maybe they just aren't the white knights a lot of them think they are. Yeah, that's a challenge, boys.
I'd like to hear your thoughts. Any experiences you'd like to share?