Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dickheads, yes. Sexists, maybe.

A friend drew my attention to this article in The Guardian about "casual sexism" in British society. The author describes numerous occasions where men refer abusively to specific women they know:

Last month I graced the overground line's replacement bus service to Gospel Oak, north London. Sitting near some posh teens chatting about a party, I heard one boy snicker: "I have never so wanted to slap a girl as I did then." Everyone laughed and nodded.

Cut to a Starbucks in Holborn. Four sleek, Middle Eastern guys, the type who look like sophisticated, multilingual diplomats' kids. They're gossiping about their coursemates. One is laughing so hard he can barely speak: "That Saira, she is the fucking ugliest girl I have ever seen in my life!" Or how about a tube journey last winter. A group of tracksuited, pimply London "youths". One of them mentions a schoolmate and another replies: "Yeah, but she's a slag though isn't she?" All nod sagely.

The author concludes that this is evidence that these males are "woman-haters". Yet we know only that these males treat some women disrespectfully, not how they treat other males. I showed before that male violence against other males is common (men are far more likely to be murdered than women). And I have personally seen teenage boys bully, harrass and batter other boys: in school males were far more likely to be victims of male adolescent violence and insult than females.

So it could once again be that her experiences, rather than proving that these men are sexist, only prove that they are assholes who treat other individuals badly. Speaking of assholes:

Hags, dogs, whores, bitches. It's amazing how much hate you can pack into a few syllables. How do you spot a woman-hater? By the way they talk about women, treat women, react to women, represent women. Bitching about women, slagging off women – even the language used to describe such slander comes from misogyny.

Dickheads, wankers, pricks, assholes... we can't conclude that these men are motivated by sexism unless we know for sure that their aggression and rudeness is reserved only for one sex.

2 comments:

  1. It's amazing how fast people come to premature conclusions on various issues (including myself) . It's not that 'feminists' are prone to it. We all do it.

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  2. True enough David. We need to be wary of attaching ourselves to simple narratives to understand the world - but what else is there sometimes!

    These feminist arguments may come from their experience of being treated badly or of being objectified by men, an experience that most males won't share. So I'll try to see things from their perspective, which is difficult. Still, I also have experiences they lack and can add to their understanding of events too.

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