March 8, 2006


(My entry for Blog Against Sexism Day, first discovered through this blog).

First, in the interests of full disclose, I am a white, heterosexual male, henceforth known as "the enemy." (I also possess a sense of humor more commonly known as "sarcasm", and possess a substance that helps remove facial hair more commonly known as "shaving cream.") These points are made to only preface my further comments, and to admit that the fact of my blogging about sexism may seem ironic.

Sure, I have to admit, I try to not be sexist, and to keep an open mind -I'll read the occassional book on feminist thought, I rarely (if ever) refer to female friends as "sweetcheeks", and generally try to treat women with respect. But all in all, when it comes to dealing with sexism in an appropriate way, I am entirely clueless.

For example: talking with a male coworker several years ago about the atmosphere of disrespect in our office. He chalked it up to the staff being predominantly female (of course, in my experience, social services are predominantly female), and therefore gossip and cattiness reigned. I, however, took what I thought was the high road - that the tone of disrespect was a top-down issue, and that even if it were male, the behavior was still wrong.

Which one of us - if either - was being sexist?

John Gray - a man I have absolute and utter contempt for - managed to parlay legitimate gender differences into a cheap soundbite. "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". In other words, men are jerks and women are love objects. (That's why I have contempt for the man - men and women are different, but basically sticking to stereotypes?). Yet many people swear by this guy. Is he sexist, or just telling the truth?

At another job, a female supervisor prevailed upon me to perform tons of manual labor - carrying things, lifting and toting, and often to the detriment of my job duties. The male heads of the agency basically said, "Shut up and deal with it," even to the point where I ended up hobbling on a sprained ankle. So, was she being sexist, or was I?

I have to admit, when it comes to gender relations, it is very frustrating, especially growing up in the post-sexual revolution 70s, transitioning between the free love of the 1960s and the hyperabstinence of the 1980s. I'm sure many young men of my generation were (and are) confused - realizing that the "real man" didn't exist, but also dealing with the implications that "real men" don't eat quiche. With making jokes about "beer and chicks" and dealing with those who believe you misogynistic for saying it.

Yes, I have issues, why do you ask?

But I'm learning - learning that sexism is, at its core, about power. It's not about trying to create a level playing field, but being able to see behind the biases and looking at my behavior. It's about trying to understand the ever-shifting roles and rules, and moving forward from there.

I realize that this may not be the most coherent, and that much of what I have said is chock full of bias. If you need to call me out, please feel free to do so in the comments. In short, I'm just a guy trying to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Thanks for reading.

No comments: