Being made to feel it’s MFIF on MFIF

by

I found this awesome website recently where women can post stories of the day to day misogyny we experience. It’s everything from outright sexual assault right down to the little petty instances of male privilege – assumptions about how we’ll look or dress or behave, what might or might not be inside our wombs, generalisations about whether we can fix a car, the stuff every woman hears every day. It’s the internet equivalent of a wry smile on the tube with a stranger over a common experience.

Then in the comments I kept seeing a blanket statement from a man, “This isn’t sexist” followed by a brief paragraph where he gives some fatuous explanation of how it might not have been intended as sexism.

That’s the point. It might not be intended to be sexist – hell, some men think street harassment is flattery – but it all stems from a belief that women are in some way inferior.

A bit like, say, believing that only a man can come along and be the arbiter or what is and isn’t sexist. I thought women were in a better position to say how we feel about stuff, rather than waiting for a man to come and tell us how we should feel about stuff, but I guess that’s #OFWF.

Julian

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76 Responses to “Being made to feel it’s MFIF on MFIF”

  1. shinobi42 Says:

    Let me mansplain to you about how what you are experiencing here is not sexism either. Obviously men know better when they are being sexist than we do, after all, they’ve been being sexist for hundreds of years now, doesn’t that obviously make them the experts?

  2. LS Says:

    Apparently expressing your opinion of feminist issues is sexist if you’re a man, but accusing men of sexism over nothing is justified because you “feel” it’s sexist.

    MFIM I guess.

    • A Different Sam Says:

      A man expressing his opinion of feminist issues isn’t sexist. Unless, of course, the opinion being expressed is sexist, in which case it’s sexist regardless of whether the speaker is male or female.

      Would you care to specify exactly which MFIF posts consist of men expressing perfectly non-sexist opinions on feminist issues that somehow manage to make both the recipient and the majority of the commenters interpret it as being sexist? I’m dying to see some examples.

      • LS Says:

        I don’t see why you stipulate the majority of the commentators. The fact that there is a post here which seems to be calling out ALL men who post dissenting opinions on this website is reason enough for me to defend ANY dissenting comment posted by a man.

        And I can certainly give you an example of a man, myself, posting as the “arbiter of what is and isn’t sexist.”

        https://myfaultimfemale.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/unladylike-behaviour/#comments

        I’m not here to stir up controversy–I believe this site provides an important service for women to express the sexism they’ve faced, and for men to see that sexism is still something women have to deal with.

        It’s far too easy for men who treat women with the respect they deserve to come to resent the modern feminist movement. For many of us, our only contact with modern feminism is the misandry we’ve dealt with from feminists who take a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude towards men. This site helps men, like me, realize just how important modern feminism is.

        By the same token, there are a great many modern feminists who take that “guilty until proven innocent” attitude towards men. They are the minority, but they are a very vocal minority in the ways feminists interact with men. This site provides them reinforcement of their world views, and it would seem to me that Julian up there wants to take that further by running off any male voice who speaks up for his gender.

        We should be participating in a discussion on gender relations, here. The posts are from women who have experienced sexism, which helps men understand sexism. But the comments must be open to men who disagree or don’t understand. Some of these men are going to be holding on to sexist ideals and will hopefully let go of them when their flawed thinking is pointed out to them. And some of these women are going to feel there was sexism where there was none, and will hopefully be willing to listen to a male perspective on the story.

        Because “feeling” you’ve been the victim of sexism doesn’t mean you were.

        But maybe my entire comment stems from a belief that women are in some way inferior, as Julian suggests.

    • shinobi42 Says:

      This site, while obviously feminist, is hardly an erudite discussion of feminist issues. What it IS is a series of examples of actual sexism being experienced by actual women. Others coming on the site to tell the posters here that what they are experiencing isn’t sexism because the commenters have somehow found a way to rationalize away sexism so they can completely ignore its existence is not exactly a discussion of feminist issues. What it is is the diminishing of the experiences of women and giving more weight to the so called “intent” of the men these stories. And that sounds pretty sexist to me.

      • LS Says:

        I won’t try to defend every male commenter who comes here saying “this simply is not sexist.” You, and Julian, have a good point there.

        But intent is important. When someone gives me a gift I don’t like, it’s the thought that counts. When someone tries to do good and fails, it’s the thought that counts. When someone tries to do good and does bad, we reprimand them in light of their good intentions.

        Intent matters.

      • A Different Sam Says:

        LS, there’s a difference between giving someone a gift that they don’t like and being offensive. If I receive a gift and I don’t like it, no harm done. If someone says something offensive without realizing it, then they have both offended me (bad) AND betrayed an underlying sexist bias in their viewpoints (also bad).

        If a racist makes derogatory comments about the abilities of blacks, then they may not be trying to offend people – they might be speaking from what they believe to be a purely objective and factual standpoint because they really and truly believe that blacks are indeed inferior, and aren’t trying to insult anyone by saying so – but that doesn’t stop it from being racist.

        http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/intent-is-magic/

      • LS Says:

        I’m not saying intent excuses everything. Please direct your attention towards my third example:

        “When someone tries to do good, and does bad, we reprimand them in light of their good intentions.”

        Intent does not excuse everything. I was not trying to express that by any stretch of the imagination. But intent does matter.

        To return again to the topic of jokes, if someone says something sexist without actually holding any sexist beliefs or opinions, hoping to make you laugh at the sheer absurdity of such a sexist notion, and you take offense, the offense you take should be mitigated by their intent.

        Yes, they made a mistake in telling you a joke which was not appropriate. But that doesn’t automatically turn a good person into a sexist.

        Or as a more elaborate example, lets imagine the following scenario.

        A fellow is out with his wife, and goes to get her a drink. While gone, another man starts hitting on his wife in an aggressive manner, even going so far as to touch her shoulder or arm. The man’s wife is handling the situation, but her husband steps in, pushes the offending party away, and tells him to stay away from his wife.

        This could easily be interpreted as sexist on the husband’s part, feeling that his wife needed him to intervene when she was handling the situation. She might even reprimand him, telling him to let her take care of it next time, and she would be in the right to do so I think. But she should be mindful that his intent was to stop someone from showing her disrespect, not to show her disrespect himself. That he took the initiative should not necessarily be construed as a lack of faith in her ability to handle herself.

        I also wrote a third scenario about a man not punching a lesbian who sexually assaulted his wife, but then realized I had totally gotten off message, so I deleted that one. It was really good though, you should be sad you don’t get to read it.

      • Holly Says:

        A Different Sam, I love you so much for posting the link to “Intent! It’s Fucking Magic”. Another good site certain posters would be well-advised to look at is Derailing for Dummies: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

        I’ve already seen some of the moves described there used here.

    • kly Says:

      LS,

      two points;

      You say “accusing men of sexism over nothing is justified because you “feel” it’s sexist.” – the point of this site is to describe incidents which we feel are sexist. “We”, here, being women; or men who want to describe incidents which THEY feel are sexist. The point is not to mansplain them away. And how we feel about them IS what matters – on THIS SITE. If you want to go explain things away on some other site, please do. This site is for describing incidents which the describer feels are sexist. That is what it’s for.

      You say “We should be participating in a discussion on gender relations, here.” No, HERE, on THIS SITE, we should primarily be describing and – to some extent – commenting on incidents which we feel are sexist. We can indulge in lengthy erudite discussions on gender on some other site. That’s not the function of this site.

      Please stop trying to dominate the discussion and tell us what we really should be talking about.

      • LS Says:

        We’re simply going to have to agree to disagree on this. I’m sorry if my comments somehow inhibit your ability to enjoy this blog, That is not my intent.

      • LS Says:

        I would also like to point out that any one-sided discussion, regardless of subject matter, only serves to isolate and–ultimately–stunt the growth of a group and their ideals. And these issues are too important to let that happen.

        It’s not an indulgence to engage in these discussion. It’s a necessity. And I will continue to do so as long as Ms. MFIF will have me.

        Also, I’m only “dominating the discussion” insofar that all but 2 or 3 comments here have not been in response to something I’ve already said. Outside of this post, I’ve commented maybe four or five times on this blog, despite having read every single post.

      • Luna_the_cat Says:

        LS, one of the other problems that feminists have — a lot — is men showing up to tell us how we’re Doing It Wrong; and how it would work ever so much better if we let men tell us how to do it better.

        Do you see, possibly, how that might really not work, when the issues in the first place are lack of respect, lack of autonomy and acceptance of women as equals in intelligence and know-how?

        Here’s the thing about respecting someone as an equal, and an autonomous adult human being. Even if you think they’re doing something wrong, you let THEM do it, you don’t step in to correct them. Also, and this is important, you hold in your mind the possibility that maybe there might be more to the situation than you are aware of, so you listen and learn and try to understand where they’re coming from before you decide to step in and take charge and tell them that they’re doing it all wrong.

        Now, this is what I think of as an Ally problem. There are people who definitely consider themselves Allies. They’re the Good Guys. They Respect women, honest. And their feelings get really hurt when they try to show they’re an Ally and they get snarled at. But here’s the thing — you can think of yourself as an Ally and a Good Guy, and still be doing and expressing sexist things, or things that just hit all the wrong buttons, and all that your good intent shows is that you don’t actually have the clue or the introspection yet to spot where your unconscious biases are still making life hard for those people you profess to respect.

        I’m an Ally when it comes to racism. I’m white. (Sort of Celtic-phosphorescent-fishbelly-white, really.) I do not face problems of racism. I have friends who are *not* white, who face problems that I will never have to face, and who live in situations which I have never had to deal with. So I accept that they have not only insight into what it feels like and looks like that I will never, ever have, and they have had experience that I cannot duplicate, and in light of this I also accept that, out of respect for them, it’s perfectly legitimate for them to tell me if I’m Doing It Wrong, but it is not my place to lecture them on how to combat racism.

        As a guy, that is where you really ought to be with sexism. And if you are busy lecturing on how we should be doing things, then you aren’t listening. And that is not being an Ally.

        Even if it hurts your feelings — this situation, it isn’t about you. When you learn that, you’ll “get it” a lot better.

      • IMTB Says:

        A man steps in to hep the struglling feminist movement. I like how tongue in cheek this is, it highlights that whole mansplaining thing LS is trying to do here.

        http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-finally-put-in-charge-of-struggling-feminist-m,2338/

    • Brittany-Ann Says:

      1. You feel threatened by this site. This site is for women to share their experiences of sexism. Sexism is often perpetuated by men. You’re a man. You feel like, even though you may know consciously it’s not an attack on you, that it’s an attack on you. It’s attacking your privilege, and that backs you into a corner.

      Because you feel like you’re a good, respectful man, and that you deserve respect. Any attack on your privilege is an attack on you. So you think this site, and the posters here are an attack on you. The conflict you feel on whether or not it is or it’s not makes you want to blame someone else–because you know who you are, and we don’t. We’re judging you.

      And now we’re telling you that you’re wrong. How silly. We obviously don’t want dialogue. Because we don’t want to listen to you, entertain your ideas about how wrong we are, accept them as Valid and True and Respect Your (Manly) Voice. And though sexism still exists and there are terrible men out there, YOU don’t, but we’re blaming you for other’s crimes.

      You think you’re not sexist. But you’re wrong. You’re not overt-you’re worse. You think you’re a Nice Guy ™, and that you’re an ally. Or that Feminism is hurting/misandristic, and you know better than women how women can fight sexism, how women can improve themselves so they don’t make bad things happen to them.

      I suggest you take a breath, meditate, brace yourself for some criticism, and Google Nice Guy syndrome. Read up. And listen. You’re not a woman. You don’t experience the world as a woman. The world is set is to benefit you, so you cannot possibly understand the other side of it.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Women decide what is sexist towards women. Full fucking stop. How much sense does it make that men would get to decide what’s sexist against women, since they don’t have our experiences or difficulties? From now on when a woman tells you something is sexist, it is. We decide, because we’re the ones it affects.

      You do not control my -ism, ok? I decide if you’re being sexist, and as a bisexual woman, I decide if you’re being homophobic. People of Color decide if you’re being racist. You’re privileged so you just sit there and shut the fuck up.

      And seriously, you need to read that derailing for dummies article that was linked here. You hit every single one of them.

  3. A Different Sam Says:

    I believe you will find that, though any rational person might find those comments to be sexist, they really and truly are not. Allow me to spend the next ten paragraphs explaining why the men are all correct and you’re a silly little girl.

    Remember, intent is a magical force that supernaturally prevents anyone from being offended by sexist comments made by sexist people who were too sexist to even consider them sexist and that somehow stops those comments from being sexist. Somehow.

    The fact that you actually were offended by them might lead you to believe that those comments are indeed offensive, but you’re a woman so your opinions don’t count. Oh, and the opinions of men who were offended also don’t count, since men who are offended by sexism obviously aren’t real true manly men and are all gay.

  4. Sally Says:

    My story was one of those commented on in the way the OP describes. I admit, I did find the methodology of the challenge frustrating. Rather than ask a question, such as, ‘Was the situation this, this or this? Because if so, it might not be sexist,’ which would at least open up a discussion, the stories were just met with an absolute, ‘this isn’t sexist, because I’ve decided that my interpretation of the events is the correct one’.

    I also find the idea, repeated by some commenters here, that if sexist comments are made in jest, then it’s somehow magically not sexist, to be ridiculous. A joke which is based on a sexist premise is a sexist joke, people, and sexist jokes are … sexist. C’mon.

    And just because someone doesn’t mean to be sexist, or regard themselves as sexist doesn’t mean they’re not, in fact, sexist. After all, how many times have we heard, ‘I’m not a racist, but [something incredibly racist]’? It’s the same thing.

    I’m not being arsey here. Understanding oppression from the vantage point of privilege is not easy. I’m white – I cannot fully understand how racism affects black people and I don’t try to pretend that I do, because I think that would be pretty insulting.

    That said, I loathe the phrase ‘mansplaining’. Not saying others shouldn’t use it, but I feel that ‘unnecessarily patronising and blind to your own privilege’, although it’s longer, covers it nicely, without opening us up to accusations of ‘now you’re the ones being sexist!’

    • LS Says:

      I know this discussion is not primarily on sexist jokes, but I’d like to say something on that issue if you don’t mind.

      I firmly, and passionately, believe that it’s important for us, as a people, to be able to joke, and laugh, about any issue, no matter what.

      I also know, as a frequent teller of jokes, that a joke is only funny if your audience laughs at it. A joke about (for example) race might be hilarious to a casual group, but would be completely inappropriate in the workplace, or when dealing with people you don’t know very well, or when performing in front of an audience composed entirely of members of that race.

      But as a general rule, breaking social taboos is part of what makes things funny. As I once explained in a class about Masculinity in Asian American Literature, it would be unfunny, and even racist, of me to re-hash an unfunny stereotype by telling the Asian members of the class to stay away from my coke. It would potentially be very funny, though, if I made a joke about preferring to drink Dr. Pepper around Asians ‘just in case.’ I got some glares, but most of the class seemed to think the joke was pretty funny, and since I was one of maybe 2 or 3 white people in the class of 30-40, it’s not like there was much social pressure for them to agree with me.

      Sexism is the same deal. Rehashing tired old sexist nonsense isn’t funny. Attempting to make sexist jokes in the workplace, or on this website, is an inappropriate choice of audience.

      But sexism as a general rule? Potentially hilarious. Just like every other social issue that exists. It doesn’t automatically make the teller of the joke sexist.

      -$0.02

      • Sally Says:

        I don’t mind 😉

        Hmm. I think we may be talking at cross purposes here a bit, aren’t we?

        I said that jokes made from a sexist premise are sexist. And by saying that ‘sexism as a general rule’ can be hilarious, you don’t seem to be denying that.

        You said that jokes made from a sexist premise can be funny. And sure, some people will find them funny, and I’m not denying that.

        We can debate whether the teller of a sexist joke is ipso facto sexist until the cows come home. I think that sometimes, yes, it’s possible to make a joke that’s so laden with irony that people who know you well will be in no doubt that you’re not in any way serious. But people who don’t know you well may not get it. Which is where your point about audience comes in.

        All I’ll say is that if you tell sexist/racist jokes then you can’t really complain if some of the people who hear you think you’re sexist/racist.

        I’m not trying to censor people – if you want to tell off-colour jokes, that’s your prerogative. But if you tell people that they shouldn’t be offended, or that they shouldn’t think you’re sexist/racist, then we part company, because that is their prerogative. If you tell the jokes, you take the risk of negative reactions, is all.

      • LS Says:

        -Sally

        I think I can agree with everything you stated there.

        I mean, it’s hilarious to my ladyfriend and I when I tell her to get back in the kitchen, or that she can’t drive because she’s a woman.

        It’s hilarious because It’s MY goddamn kitchen, and she’s not supposed to go in there because she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

        It’s hilarious because I hate driving and prefer to let her take the wheel whenever we go somewhere together.

        Obviously, these things are context sensitive.

      • Luna_the_cat Says:

        Humour is most humour when it flows upwards — when it is a less dominant group taking a crack at a more dominant group. And people within a group can always take a crack at themselves — it’s an excellent way to keep perspective, when necessary. But when it is someone in a dominant or privileged position taking a crack at people who are disadvantaged byu comparison, then it’s not humour so much as it’s bullying. Jews can make fun of Jews, but given the long history we have of anti-Semitism, Gentiles mocking Jews is Not OK. Blacks can make fun of black culture, but given endemic racism, whites making fun of black culture is Not OK. And so on.

        Your situation with your girlfriend is a good example of context-dependant humour with a small audience, but in general, where women still have to deal with a great deal of bullshit that is actually seriously believed, then cracks based around the supposed inferiority of women as a group (which is still being kept in an “inferior” position) becomes decidedly unfunny in wider society and for any broader audience.

        When someone in a privileged group declares “humour” which targets a disadvantaged group to be “just a joke”, it’s really a way of saying “your concerns don’t matter; we think it’s funny, and since we set the standards, it’s therefore funny” — in other words, it is another way of reinforcing the disparity of power, and the fact that the privileged group is the normative one.

    • Matt G. Says:

      This is a great comment. I particularly agree with you about “mansplaining”. It is a handy shorthand for a troubling, recurring phenomenon, but it’s also inherently misandrist. Likewise, the word “mandals” bothers me. Do women wear “womandals”? No, men and women have been explaining things and wearing sandals for millennia. There’s no need to inject a sexist tone to existing, adequate language.

      Unfortunately, “patronize” is derived from the word for “father’, so that’s a bit of covert sexism. But at least it’s a word that can be applied to either sex. Now, “condescend” is probably the safest choice.

      • LS Says:

        …what are mandals? >.>

      • Sally Says:

        I think patronise is a good and useful word. I’m as big a fan of etymology as the next person (probably more so, as I make my living with words), but words change, meanings change. I’m not inclined to throw out half my vocabulary because there might be some long-defused bombs lying about. 🙂

        And after all, being ‘condescending’ was once thought to be a good thing – see Jane Austen, for example, where people praise the ‘condescension’ of others. 😉

        I’ve never heard of ‘mandals’. Which is just as well as it makes me feel a bit ill. I hate, loathe and detest ‘manny’ for a male nanny. Ugh. Wrong on so many different levels.

      • LS Says:

        I’m suddenly reminded of Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder.

        I had no idea people actually said this stuff. The English major in me weeps.

      • Alibelle Says:

        I’m going to have to completely disagree. I mean sure, women explain things all the time, sometimes they’re wrong and sometimes they’re condescending. However, the whole point of the word mansplain is that someone with a lot of privilege is explaining something to someone with much less privilege that that person already knows and understand better. There’s an assumption of woman= stupid, a man must explain things to her.

        I’m fine with the phrase whitesplaining too. These phrases refer to specific situations that are insulting and offensive, when they’re done by men, it makes sense to put the blame on men, when it’s by white people it makes sense to put the blame on them.

      • meh Says:

        Whitesplaining – is that like when someone asks you where you’re from and then proceeds to talk down to you about it as thought they know and understand the culture so much better than you do? Because you were not adventurous(rich/privileged) enough to see every nook and cranny of your own country in a three week luxury backpacking holiday?

      • Jessica Says:

        There are so many words that are inherantly sexist, even if they’re ‘accepted’ and allowed to be used for both sexes.

        I would never refer to humankind or ‘people’ as ‘man’ for example. As in, “neolithic man ate berries and seeds…”

        Neither would I say ‘he’ when I mean ‘a random person.’ For example “Were someone to burgle me, I would want to police to arrest him” I’d say ‘them’ or ‘they’ instead.

      • Ayla Says:

        The word mansplain IS NOT misandrist. Full stop.

        It is a word that a disadvantaged group has come up with to describe something bad that the dominant group does to them on a daily basis.

        The fact that you have a problem with the term says something about you.

      • Gail Says:

        You know I have never heard the word mandals before and I work in a shoe store

  5. Ayla Says:

    Telling someone they are wrong about whether something that happened to or was said to them was sexist or not is sexist IN AND OF ITSELF and reveals sexist attitudes whether the speaker thinks they are showing their ass or not.

    Those who refuse to see this are either willfully ignorant or simply using ignorance as a cover for their sexism.

    • Matt G. Says:

      I disagree completely, because you made your assertion so categorical. While it usually does reveal sexist attitudes, it does not inherently do so.

      If somebody describes an incident that really did not involve sexism, but claims it was sexist, and I retort that it wasn’t sexist, that doesn’t make me a sexist, it just makes me an outspoken stickler for the facts. This has not actually happened, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

      Just because somebody claims victimhood, doesn’t grant them a cloak of immunity from criticism. And the more people like you who are out there trying to impose such an immunity from criticism, the more tempting it is for a malevolent or insane person to claim victimhood in order to serve their ulterior motives.

    • LS Says:

      Prejudice is not in the eye of the beholder.

      Something is either prejudicial or it’s not. Just becomes someone feels they experienced prejudice, does not mean they did.

      When I was younger, I had a female boss who treated me like garbage for the three years I worked under her. For a long time I felt it was sexism on her part.

      I later came to realize she simply treated everyone like garbage.

      Does the fact that I felt I experienced sexism mean I did? No, it does not. If one of my female coworkers had told me I was not experiencing sexism while I believed I was, would she be ignorant or sexist? No, she would not.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Nope, it definitely is in the eye of the beholder. Seriously. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. It’s in the eye of the fucking person who it is hurting. Get over it.

      • Ayla Says:

        “Prejudice is not in the eye of the beholder. ”

        Right, dude. And the sky is red. OK. Whatever you need to believe to get you through the night.

    • B Says:

      Ayla Says:

      “Telling someone they are wrong about whether something that happened to or was said to them was sexist or not is sexist IN AND OF ITSELF and reveals sexist attitudes whether the speaker thinks they are showing their ass or not.

      Those who refuse to see this are either willfully ignorant or simply using ignorance as a cover for their sexism.”

      Ayla Says:
      “The word mansplain IS NOT misandrist. Full stop.

      It is a word that a disadvantaged group has come up with to describe something bad that the dominant group does to them on a daily basis.

      The fact that you have a problem with the term says something about you.”

      There seems to be a disconnect here :(. I know men are the privileged group, but still.

      • Ayla Says:

        If you know that “men are the privileged group” then it’s really not much more of a leap to understand why mansplain is not sexist. I really, really believe you can understand it if you try hard enough.

      • B Says:

        I’m not talking about whether or not the term mansplaining is sexist or not. I’m making no claims there.

        I’m talking about you saying that (paraphrasing) “you should never tell someone they’re wrong about whether something that happened to them was sexist”, but then turning telling someone that something that upset them was not sexist.

      • Ayla Says:

        Being that pedantic and ridiculous just points to you being a troll, but sure, I’ll bite.

        Just change that to “you should never tell someone in the oppressed sex group that something that happened to them was or wasn’t sexist.”

        Those in the oppressed sex group are EXTREMELY RARELY able to perpetrate actual sexism on those ABOVE them on the patriarchal scale of power. And they are DEFINITELY qualified to say what is or isn’t sexist because they are subjected to sexism DAILY.

        Those NOT A PART of the oppressed sex group wishing to understand sexism would do well to STFU and listen instead of trying to figure out ways to turn the oppressed sex group into the oppressors.

      • B Says:

        Thanks for explaining.

  6. Sally Says:

    LS – I for one am happy for people who disagree or don’t understand, be they men or women, to comment, seek clarification, ask questions, challenge assumptions. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    But saying, ‘that isn’t sexism’ is not the same thing as saying, ‘I think this might not have been sexist, because…’

    If you look at the comments, it’s those in the former style that have attracted hostility – the ones in the latter style, although there might not be agreement, are engaged with more sympathetically, I think.

    Bear in mind that the women who post their experiences on this site have done so because they feel have felt that someone has tried to belittle and dismiss them. So they may not be willing to be too patient with someone who acts (or appears to act) in a belittling or dismissive way, by, for example, telling them that they’re oversensitive or they need to learn to take a joke.

    • LS Says:

      I may have overreacted with my initial post here, I suppose. I personally have not seen too many instances of men on this site making blanket statements “informing” women that they have not been the victims of sexism. I’ve seen a few, of course, but most of what I’ve seen from men on this website has been pretty reasonable I think. I’ve easily seen as much sexism from women on this site as I’ve seen from men.

      But my anecdotal evidence is not evidence, it’s experience. I’ve only read the comments on maybe 5% of the posts here. It’s difficult to read something like this and not feel that it’s directed towards you, or others like you.

      If I’ve dissented too forcefully to this post, I apologize. Obviously discussions about gender issues are ones where emotions run pretty high.

      Still, I feel that many of the points I’ve made are good and valid ones, even if they don’t necessarily apply towards what Julian was attempting to say.

      • Matt G. Says:

        Well I, for one, have read almost all the comments. And there are a lot of comments from men asserting that the perceived sexism was a figment of the woman’s imagination. Look through the archives and read anything with more than 10 comments–that should be an eye-opener.

        Yes, there have been comments from women displaying misandry. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

  7. Ryan Says:

    I’m glad you made this post. I wanted to make a sarcastic or rude reply in some of the comments, but this is much better.

    I find the whole “it was just a joke” argument to be a particularly frustrating dismissal of sexism.

  8. I Says:

    “It’s far too easy for men who treat women with the respect they deserve to come to resent the modern feminist movement. For many of us, our only contact with modern feminism is the misandry we’ve dealt with from feminists who take a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude towards men. This site helps men, like me, realize just how important modern feminism is.”

  9. I Says:

    “It’s far too easy for men who treat women with the respect they deserve to come to resent the modern feminist movement. For many of us, our only contact with modern feminism is the misandry we’ve dealt with from feminists who take a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude towards men. This site helps men, like me, realize just how important modern feminism is.”
    – DIDDUMS. Seriously though, what contact is this exactly? I only ask because 99% of the time I’ve heard this and asked, “Oh, what feminist(s) have you met who were like that?” it turns out the person in question hasn’t actually met any, but “well everybody KNOWS feminists hate men/are lesbian” etc etc.

    • LS Says:

      I think the largest perpetrator of the “guilty until proven innocent” attitude are younger feminists. Younger people tend to get incredibly passionate about their chosen issues, and can take things much too far without realizing it. I know I certainly did it when I was 14, 15, 16, 17.

      I’ve also encountered it in the workforce, and in academia, though even every woman I spoke with at the university I attended agreed that the women’s studies program at that particular school was over-zealous.

  10. CM Says:

    LS, there’s a tenet in modern activism called “Shut Up And Listen”.

    This is a safe space for women, and for men to come in an dominate the conversation because THEIR feelings are hurt…well, whether you realize it or not, that’s all part and parcel of your privilege.

    Plus, your accusations of misandrists versus “I’ll engage with feminists when they’re NICE to me” harks right back to the Tone Argument women get hit with. Therefore: angry women = bad/not worth listening to; quiet/nice/non-disruptive women = the way men control the tone/course of discussion.

    You know what? We’re sick of being told to “be nice”. We’ve been nice for MILLIENIA. We’re allowed to own our anger, and this is one site set up to do just that. An angry woman is not a misandrist, just one you’ve never learned to deal with because you’ve been socialized to expect that all women are “sugar and spice”.

    This is OUR place for discussion, OUR safe space. Men have the entire world to be safe in. We love and respect our men (though that shouldn’t have be said), but it is OUR time to be heard.

    If you’re a “nice guy” who finds it hard to be told to “shut up and listen”, how about taking a page out the woman’s play book – it’s what we’ve had to do for so long. You want to learn about feminism? Then listen to what women have to say.

    • LS Says:

      I guess I should go through this point by point, though it seems like more of an attempt to draw me into an adversarial discussion than anything else. I will try to be as polite and amicable as I can.

      -Being a tenet of modern activism does not automatically make it correct. That’s an appeal to authority, and it’s a fallacious way to lay out an argument.

      -I don’t understand what you mean by my “privilege.” Any privilege I have here is given me by Ms. MFIF, who has opened these posts to comments, and not asked that I (or anyone else) refrain from commenting in certain ways. If she asks that I adhere to certain guidelines when posting, I will do my best to adhere to her wishes, or leave the community if I feel I cannot.

      -Could you perhaps point out to me where I claimed I would only engage with feminists when they’re nice to me? Because I in no way intended to make that assertion.

      What I did intend to say is that this site is important because it helps men realize why some feminists are angry, and why they have a right to be angry. (though I didn’t use the term anger, because I find it a generally unproductive emotion, regardless of gender.)

      -I’ll thank you not to make accusations regarding what I’ve learned to deal with, and what I expect of women. I believe that’s precisely the issue that this post was originally meant to confront–simply with the genders reversed. You’re making a blanket statement regarding all my experiences with sexism.

      -That you divide the world into “safe places for men” and “safe places for women” is worrying for me. If we’re ever going to enter (forgive my use of buzzwords) a post-sexism society, we need to abandon the notion of men and women being at odds and be open to talking with one another in the hopes of making real progress towards everywhere being safe for everyone.

      -I do find it hard to be told to “shut up and listen.” The same way women for millenia found it hard to do that for so long. I don’t think the answer to past wrongs is to press those same wrongs upon the group which has succeeded the oppressors.

      I don’t think that to be pro-feminist, I should have to accept that I’m not allowed to have a voice in the discussions I’m supporting.

      • Luna_the_cat Says:

        See my comment above, please.

        Also, to understand privilege — no, privilege is not something you are granted by Ms. MFIF. It is something you are granted by all of culture, and you don’t perceive it because it is more part of your environment than even air. My suggestion to you — please, seriously — read Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack,
        http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf .

        Finally, you don’t get to determine whether or not anger is “unproductive.” We have the right to vote, and the right to higher education, even the right to hold property in our own names, simply because women got angry. You think that being polite and friendly and well-spoken so that we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings will change people’s attitudes? On what planet has that ever worked?

      • Sally Says:

        Ah, LS – if you’re not familiar with the concept of male privilege, then it’s no wonder that you’re a bit nonplussed by some of the reactions you’ve got here. I’m going to extend the benefit of the doubt and say that I actually don’t think you’re a bad person, or a troll, or a hideous sexist. I do think that you intend well – but as a previous poster pointed out, intent is *not* everything and well intended actions can have damaging consequences.

        But if you don’t get that you’re looking at feminism from a position of privilege then your interactions with feminists on a site like this are going to be a bit bruising. And however much you think of yourself as an ally, or a ‘good guy’, until you grasp the concept of privilege then really, you’re going to piss people off.

        Grasping the concept of privilege if you’re in the privileged group isn’t easy, so I have some sympathy with you. I find some discussions about race difficult because my instinct is sometimes to feel attacked, to feel I’m being ‘lumped in’ with bad people, to think, ‘Oh, but that might not be meant that way…’ but those feelings are *part of my white privilege*. I don’t get to tell black activists how to combat racism. I get to shut up and listen and learn about how racism affects them so I can modify my behaviour, or at least understand what reaction I’ll get if I don’t.

        If you want to discuss feminism, then I think it’s been established that this is not the place. Whether you realise it or not, the points you make are not new, and most feminists have been through discussions like this more times than they’ve had hot dinners. It can get wearing. But I suggest that you do look at the link Luna the Cat provided, and if you want more resources, ping me via my blog and I’ll do my best to help.

      • Ayla Says:

        “-I don’t understand what you mean by my “privilege.” ”

        We know you don’t, LS. Oh, how well we know.

  11. Holly Says:

    As much as I enjoy some of the comments on here, I’d rather see the ability for people to comment disabled than to read any more rationalizations of why some of the incidents posted to this site aren’t REALLY sexist or any further derailments of discussions as people try to show LS and posters of his ilk the folly of their opinions. It’s not the job of the other readers of this site to explain male privilege, feminism, or sexism to them. If they want to learn, they need to, as CM says, shut up and listen. They might also want looking into other sites about feminism and some books.

    • LS Says:

      I guess the general consensus–despite a few agreeable people–is that my opinion is not welcome here. So rather than cause resentment, I will simply refrain from participating in this blog any longer.

      I do think a group which faces prejudice does more harm than good to itself by rejecting dissenting voices from outside sources on general principal, but there are feminist communities out there which are less combative towards my thoughts, so I’ll stick to those.

      I know it probably will not be taken seriously, because I’m acting more than a little bitter at the moment, but I do honestly apologize if I’ve detracted from the focus of this community. I want to do my part to make things better for my daughter, but perhaps I’m sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong in posting here.

      Again, I’m sorry. Feeling a little bitter about the whole thing.

      All the success in the world to you.

      • Me Says:

        While you may have come off a bit too negative in your initial post you don’t seem to be one of the bad guys. I read your posts objectivly – as every comment here – and they do have their points (I’m thinking about the story of the woman who was upset because she was told the device she was going to buy was easy to dust).

        I’m also torn because I know how it feels to be frustrated and just wanting to get it out.

        If anything, people should probably be discussing (with) Phil, the poster who starts each of his posts with “This isn’t sexist” and goes on to explain why that is the case. There could be other particular comments I’ve missed but overall, with some exceptions, I’m rather pleased with the male posters here – JMHO.

      • Brittany-Ann Says:

        I agree tat you should refrain from commenting. You think you have all the answers, but you don’t. You come in here, and tell women what to feel, what to think, what to do. You get defensive, act like you’re concerned for our well-being, and play victim.

        Clearly you don’t understand the concept of “safe space.” It’s not a separatist idea, but I suspect you know that. You know that we’re trying to build communities that want nothing to do with people like you, and that is rather threatening to you, isn’t it?

        Guess what: I’m not reading your posts. Just the first few lines. Your type is so predictable. I’ve come into contact with many just like you. Concern troll. Go play somewhere else.

      • J Says:

        I’m very sorry that you have been driven away from the discussion, LS. I was appreciating your intelligent contributions. (I would say more but don’t want to spark further controversy as it’s very late at night where I am.)

      • Ayla Says:

        “ather than cause resentment, I will simply refrain from participating in this blog any longer. ”

        Yay! Don’t let the door hit ya!

      • Eve Says:

        I am one woman. This is how I feel. I’m upset, and I want to say why. This is my experience. I’m not claiming it is anyone else’s, and I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to feel. And honestly, I get so tired sometimes I could cry (and I do). I doubt this will do any good, but I’m desperate, so I’ll give it a try. I’ll likely be dismissed like so many others expressing the same sentiment, but nevertheless, I’d like my turn to speak.

        Honestly, I’ve understood what LS was getting at here the whole time. I did not feel like it was mansplaining. I appreciated reading his comments, which I felt were well-thought-out and earnest, just as I appreciate the many other well-thought-out and earnest comments here.

        As a woman who has been a feminist since before she had a word for feminism, I get really tired of seeing people get told their thoughts or experiences are invalid because [insert shit reason here]–usually because of some intrinsic quality, typically being a member of a dominant group. I’ve quit posting in many “progressive” places because I get fucking depressed at how hostile the comments are toward people making an honest attempt at open discourse. I get sick of there being an Approved Set of Opinions, from which anyone is allowed only a negligible amount of deviation. If they deviate too much, they get told essentially that they don’t belong in [insert forum here], and that they should go elsewhere. But WHERE is the safe place for talking about the issues, where you don’t get jumped on, provided you’re being respectful and making a genuine attempt to engage? Because I can’t find it.

        And fuck it, maybe I’m being too much of a damn idealist in thinking that these kinds of open discussions can happen. I haven’t wanted to give up on it, though. I would love to find some hope.

        But so much preaching to the choir goes on that I can’t take it. I want to see us making actual progress. And this isn’t some man telling you all how to do feminism. It’s me, one woman, and maybe that’s not enough, but I want to do feminism in a way that reaches out to other groups, in a way that allows for the exchange of thoughts, without needless hostility, in a way that has a chance in hell of *changing someone’s mind* about important things. Can’t I have that opinion? “Ain’t I a woman?” I would like to feel that I still count, even if I don’t agree with The Established Opinions. And this doesn’t just go for feminism–it goes for all kinds of movements, not even just -isms.

        Seriously, can someone offer me a shred of hope that we can have civilized discourse? Because I’m drowning.

      • Eve Says:

        You know what I guess I’m really trying to get at?

        I, for one, DON’T feel like this is a safe space. It’s only a safe space for people who think exactly what you want them to think. And that’s bullshit. If that’s the kind of “safe space” you’re trying to make, then fine. But don’t pretend it’s a safe space for feminists or a safe space for women, because it’s not. I’m a feminist and a woman, and I really don’t feel like a human being here.

        And I probably sound angry and frustrated, because I AM angry and frustrated. And I’m not going to apologize for it.

      • Luna_the_cat Says:

        Eve:

        http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

        There are safe spaces for venting; and there are safe spaces for discussing how feminism should be discussed, and for explaining things patiently to men who show up and tell people how things “must” be done, and who don’t get some of the basic issues, and for men and women to discuss different approaches. This is the former. Finallyfeminism101 is the latter.

        Nobody likes getting what they think is a place to simply unload, finally, and then instead of getting sympathy they get a discussion about how they are probably wrong about their own experiences. That reaction in itself is kind of a silencing tactic: “you’re wrong about how you feel.” It seems you resent that yourself. So how does it feel, if you come in with a story of a rankling injustice which had been festering with you for years, share it, and the first few responses are “well, that event wasn’t really unjust, it isn’t what you think it is, you should be seeing it different.”

        What you want would ensure that people would have to face that all the time, here. That (quite specifically) isn’t what this is for, and I can’t see how that could possibly have been more plainly expressed. So, let me ask you: what makes it more legitimate for you to force other women to conform to your expectation of what should happen here, than for you to be forced to conform to others’ expectations of what should happen here? You didn’t set this place up or define its function up front, after all.

        “Horses for courses”, as they say in the UK. This is not the horse for the course you want to run. Finallyfeminism101 might be. If not, why not set up another venue?

      • Robert Says:

        I just want to thank Luna for posting that link to Finallyfeminism101. This is a brilliant website and exactly what I was looking for.

      • Luna_the_cat Says:

        If it IS what you were looking for, that is excellent. Seriously.

  12. annabel Says:

    I got these kind of comments on the story I posted about being fired from my job for complaining to the management of being sexually harrassed by a group of customers. A few cared to point out that because I worked behind a bar and was female I should have tolerated customers asking whether I had any knickers on as perks of the job…. Nevermind that it wasn’t in my job discription.

    I do actually understand the point about people not intending to be sexist. But it can be difficult when 9/10 times that this occurs the perpetrators ARE being sexist. It can be difficult not to tar that one occasion with the same brush and maybe that is wrong, but when it happens daily it can be difficult to separate them.

    For example, I have reached the point with street harrassment where i get just as angry at the person on the street who tells me that my dress looks hot on me as i do with the stranger who calls me a slag and then tells me that if i sit on their cock, i might cheer up. (true story!) because this kind of stuff happens EVERY DAY, I think a lot of my frustration is because I am exhausted of this kind of behaviour. I am 20 years old and I’ve been getting it since I was 12 years old, and if i think i have another 20 or so years until i deemed worthless enough to be ignored (and i can’t wait!)

    So i’m sorry to the person who merely intended to compliment me or whatever and felt short changed when I told them to leave me alone, but they need to really walk a mile in my shoes to understand why I get so frustrated with men in general and it’s not fair and I know it isn’t. I really think there are some great men out there, I was raised by my dad in a single parent family and experienced the discrimination men can get in the context of family.

    But when it comes to people telling me that I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or upset because a group of customers at my work place asked me if i was wearing any underwear amongst other things, because i was asking for it by being paid £5 an hour to pour drinks, even if they were just offering a neutral opinion, I have to disagree. It was that kind of attitude that led me to have to that experience in the first place.

    • IMTB Says:

      I totally sympathise with the way you feel. My first real job was behind a bar and the horrible after-work suits would take bets on what colour my underwear was — I was reprimanded for complaining and told it was just ‘a bit of fun’ — what the customers like. And guess what? I got fired for not acquiescing to wearing more revealing clothing and heels (8 hour shift, in heels? You must be joking/a sadist). This was in a central London location when the minimum wage for an 18 year old was 3.45 an hour. One of girls was 17 and the employer knew, but it helped to attract those lecherous thugs. I lasted 3 days (!!). The worst thing is that despite being horribly, overtly sexist, people don’t acknowledge that because it’s so heavily normalised, especially for younger girls. For the whole of my teens until my mid twnties my body ws objectified in the same manner you described, and as a younger teen, older men in public places took advantage of their authority as older figures and my youth and reprimanded and guilt tripped with authority me for not giving them attention — or more access to my body. Which I can just say made me terribly angry — or ‘hysterical/irrational/emotional’. However, what is the most frustrating about these situations is the lack of sympathy or respect that one gathers when trying to find an ally, most people imply that you must have provoked, or consider it a triviality.
      And if this isn’t sexist, I don’t know what is.

  13. Dude Says:

    Please stop posting stories like this. Most of the people replying are trolls. When you react to them like this, it just makes them want to post more.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
    Please, please, please, please, PLEASE stop feeding the trolls?

  14. H Says:

    I don’t know why i just read all these comments because the whole thread made me angry. Some great posts too (I like your most recent one, CS.) I guess we’ll have to get used to more trolls on our safe space as the site gets more well-known, it’s something feminists have always had to deal with.

    I hate it so much when men play the ‘ok, you’re getting a bit hysterical so I’ll explain it point by point for you to cope with’. None of the people here are stupid, and if you want to look at it this way, a lot of the women posting stories about sexism are professionals at the top of their game, university students, and generally pretty smart people. I dislike people coming on here and thinking they can patronise us, because being angry doesn’t make us dumb or irrational. Of course, men have always asserted their authority over women through claiming to be ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’, so it’s no surprise they continue to do it here.

  15. H Says:

    Obviously I should add that women can be sexist too – though I don’t think I’ve seen any sexist comments on here from women yet – and that not all men are sexist, even if my post sounds a bit essentialising. Clearly I wouldn’t say that, my boyfriend reads this blog and the f word obsessively.

  16. ryan Says:

    okay after my girlfriend started reading these posts out loud to me and my blood pressure started rising – i went from “well, maybe LS can be reasoned with” as a “nice guy” my self – – then the comments being read out loud continued and now i just have this
    – you can go eat a basket of baby dicks for what it’s worth – your not a nice guy your some douche who’s clearly was scorned by women and you’ve taken it upon your self to start shit and be sand in their vagina’s- let me give you a

    hint: this isnt helping you or any of us guys to get laid.
    -cease and desist- please and thank you

  17. I Says:

    “you can go eat a basket of baby dicks for what it’s worth” – now now, he’s been holding forth about yoof not babies…

  18. Julian Says:

    Wow, a girl goes away for a few days and comes back to find a billion comments. Thank you to everyone who’s commented.

    @LS – if you’re still around – I’m sorry you got butthurt on behalf of all men evah, but my OP wasn’t actually about you. It was about another guy who someone else has correctly identified above with his “This is not sexist” stamped on every post he could find like a teenager with a marker pen in a toilet, and less specifically about how this tends to happen in feminist space. Women say something and immediately get corrected by guys – you have no idea how frustrating that is, because you don’t live with it every day of every year. I’m sure some of the guys actually mean well. That’s not the point. It’s the expectation that a group of women will be subservient to male opinion and not only that, but will express gratitude for his helpful explanations!

  19. EmilyBites Says:

    I’d like to second all the great feminists on here and say a hearty bog off to the trolls. Immediately after I posted my story someone commented ‘omg you totally overreacted that’s not even sexist you are imagining things what is up with you oversensitive women. p.s. I bet you’re beautiful’
    yack.

    I absolutely agree that all the posts, including this one, are evidence of sexism, but sexism is not in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t need anyone to ‘believe’ in it to exist. If something is sexist, it is an act of discrimination, prejudice – the act of treating a woman differently than a man.

    So whether a man thinks something is sexist or not doesn’t matter (as shown on this thread!). A woman’s opinion isn’t ipso facto the decisive factor either – because I know plenty of women who say that sexual assault, catcalls, rape jokes and being patronised at work aren’t sexism, just the result of rude individuals or coincidence.

    But if it’s sexist, it’s sexist. Women can see this (lots of practice), even if some deny it because they’re invested in the P, which is why womens’ opinions that sexism is present and the presence of sexism are pretty much the same thing anyway! Women know it when they see it, but even if a woman or man denies it, it’s obviously still there!

    That’s why I know that even if my non-feminist friend doesn’t think that male customers refusing to let her serve them in a hardware store because of her gender is sexist, it is indeed sexist. They don’t think so, she doesn’t think so, but sacre bleu, it’s still sexist!

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