End Evil

2/02/03 - Sexism

By Marc Carlton

You know what bugs me? Sexism. Sexism bugs me. A lot. Because it's far from gone, and in devious little ways I still see it creeping into people's lives and causing a fuss, at the social level, at the family level, and even still (and most obviously) at a level where it is just criminal. Most of it is, thankfully, used as an element of humour, and yeah it is funny... but as with all passive comments, you never know what some people are taking to heart, and it can still be damaging.

One of my favourite musicians once said of slavery: "Actually, slavery was not abolished: it just sacked the overseers and set up legal departments", meaning we never really solved the problem, we just gave it another name. Similarly, sexism probably can't be abolished, we just made the whole thing a big joke and are letting it live on. Let me be fair here, a lot has changed in governmental terms, and the days of open lack of equality in the workplace and within a family, for instance, are now past. But it's in the little things...

This is from an actual conversation I had with a friend on the phone today, regarding a bit of a fight she had with her boyfriend on a recent holiday (she'll be called Jemma to protect the guilty)

Jemma: It was so annoying... I was just sort of blanking him because of what happened, but he never even asked what was wrong with me.
Me: Well when I spoke to him he said he did ask you, but you told him you just didn't feel well...
Jemma: Well, yeah, he did ask... but I was still fuming, and I didn't want to say, y'know?
Me: Ok, but you act like he didn't care, he was worried about you.
Jemma: I know. But he should have kept asking me! (laughs) Men should know we're just being stubborn. It's a girl thing.
Me: Oh, come on, whatever happened to just being honest about it? Don't play games with each other. You gave out signals that said 'leave me be'.
Jemma: Oh - you're a man! (laughs). You wouldn't understand.

I laughed with her, but my laugh was a little subdued. I hear this kind of thing too much. I just don't think she was entirely kidding. The number of times I've heard stuff like 'grrr... MEN!' or 'women are just crazy' or 'all men are the same' etc even just in the past few months is pretty incredible. Do people really think there are two separate sets of rules just because one person is a man and the other person is a woman? I think it's complete and utter garbage. 'Women are from Venus and men are from Mars'... what total nonsense. We're both from the same smegging rock, and we are just the damn same! We just have a few different 'bits'... But behaviourally, in terms of our minds, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest either sex is entitled to any special rules. If there truly are sets of unwritten rules, you can rest assured it is society and social structure that brings them about. There's nothing objective about that, it's just something we bring about ourselves when we let things play out on their own inertia.

Our responsibilities as people to ourselves and to others are exactly the same; what we've got in between our legs or anywhere else doesn't change that one bit. I like to think people can understand each other beyond any such social veneers, and I know for sure it can be done. For me, men and women are the same, I just happen to find women attractive in a physical way, too. I can't help this (why would I want to?), there's nothing wrong with it, and it leads to great things, but it doesn't automatically mean everyone starts getting treated differently. Friendship and understanding are paramount to the point of towering over all of this crap and glaring at it with an angry eye, and these things should never ever ever be sex-discriminant. It has nothing to do with gender.

What I just pointed out there was what I'd say is the objective -potential- outlay of things; the way things should and could be. But of course, it's not like this at all. Men ARE idiots. And so are women. To put this in another way, here's a nice quote from a comic by Leunig: "All men are bastards. We will fight for equality until all women are bastards too". And we can be terrible to each other. We do have our little pockets of ideas about each other stemming from those cursed social circles and the screwed up mating rituals that in turn stem from them. It's tiring to think about how messed up it is.

I'm glad to say that my friends are for the most part only joking when they make lots of comments on men/women, but it's also a fact that we've all experienced a number of absolute crazies in our life, lol, or at least people that hurt us deeply because of the way they may have behaved in a relationship or whatever. But it doesn't run through and through. I would be (and am) offended when I am pigeonholed as someone who just has some 'male disposition' to act in a certain way in a situation, and I would consider it an insult to someone if I said the same of them. If someone acts in a bad way and we have to condemn them, maybe we should try condemning them because of their flaws as a human instead of condemning them as part of a certain sex.

I know of guys who have done really stupid things while they were driving... but I also know of girls who have done the same. I know of guys who have messed up their relationships because they wouldn't make the effort to communicate properly... but I also know of girls who have done the same. I know there are men who have committed terrible crimes against many people, not just against women... but just the other week I found out that a distant acqaintance had been falsely accused by his wife of sexually abusing their children, and though he was found innocent, he'll never see his children again except under strict supervision. His life was destroyed, and she got a lot of money - this, out of a seemingly happy marriage. Dangerous things can happen. Arguing about men and women just goes on and on along a road to nowhere, and in the end it's just about 'people' I guess. We have enough problems as a whole without separation like that.

Looking at and hearing everday things with all this in mind today... it was interesting, to say the least. Sexism isn't just about a fat sweaty boss feeling up his secretary.

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