Thursday, August 27, 2009

Expecting Men to Not Be Assholes Does Not Mean I Hate Them

I have to admit, I’ve kind of been floored by the response to my Dear Het Men post. I wrote that poem/letter from a place of extreme pain regarding recent events, and I never really expected it to resonate with as many people, women and men, as it did. But then this morning, a dear friend of mine emailed me a link to that post with a small rant attached to it. To her, the post was man-hating and “ascribing stereotypical and untrue characteristics” to all men. To her, the author of the post gives all feminists a bad name.

She was just joking right? I mean, she had to know that it was really me and she was just pulling my leg. I sent her back a quick email asking if she was serious. She was.

Oof. I think an actual punch to the gut would have hurt less.

Admittedly, a big part of my subsequent hurt came because those weren’t just anyone’s words she was attacking, they’re mine. And it wasn't just some random person on the internet saying these things, she's a friend who knows I don't hate men. But it also hurt because I chose my words carefully. From the time I first put pen to paper until I hit submit in blogger, I was crossing stuff out and deleting whole lines and tweaking words and phrases left and right. Because I know not all men are monsters. My letter wasn’t meant to condemn men, but to tell them that at least one person expects men to be responsible for their own actions, even if society doesn’t.

When I wrote several months ago that,
Doctors (once again) are trying to protect women from themselves, when the evidence clearly shows that we do not. need. protecting.

No one commented back to me that not all doctors are like that and I shouldn’t tar all doctors with the same brush. Instead the comments were along the lines of, “You’re right, doctors shouldn’t do that. We need to call out that doctors who do that and support the doctors who don’t.” So what the fuck is the difference now that the subject is men?

And you know what, Dear Het Men wasn’t even about me. Yes, I’ve experienced some of what I wrote about, but what woman hasn’t?
Dear Het Men was about:
The women killed or injured by Sodini.
The Amish girls killed in Pennsylvania.
The women who interact with these men.
The women of Polytechnique.
The 1 in 6 women who are raped.
These women and their families.
The girls and women attacked with acid just for going to school.
These missing women. And these. And these. And these.
Women and girls who are raped as a tactic of war.
Every Woman and girl who spoke up here.
The girls forced to be child brides.
And every woman and girl who sees their bodies treated as less than every day of their lives.


  1. It didn't come off to me as you hated men. It was a simple declaration of things that shouldn't need to be said. An expression of frustration at the world as it is.

  2. I like the doctor analogy a lot. Going to try to keep that and find a space for it in the cluttered filing system of my mind.

    Despite all the social networking and idea-sharing that the internet has enabled, you'd never know it from the number of people who have a kneejerk, solipsistic response when encountering anything that they can find a way to take as a personal affront. If I had one message to the whole internet (nay, society), it might be: NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU. Except when it is. Learn how to figure out the difference.

  3. i certainly didn't read it as you hate all men (i've linked to it more than once now). it's just a statement to men that they are responsible for their actions, and you expect more from them. given that men are most often hurt and raped by men, i don't think it's asking too much of men to rethink their attitudes and behaviors.

    try not to let your friends judgment get to you--yeah, it sucks when someone you actually know suddenly hates what you've said (i'm still dealing with future in-laws referring to me as toxic because of my blog), but you can't let that compromise your work or your highly appropriate message.

  4. Wow. I'm really sorry you copped that from your friend. That must be awful.

    Sometimes I want to tattoo, "If it's not about you, then IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!" on the back of people's eyelids.

  5. Naturally, no one ever expects women to be responsible for their actions, and if a man were to "tell women that more was expected of them"...

    You'd just call them misogynist.

    See how it works, now?

    Take all your words, and swap the gender on it. See if you'd like to read a post generalizing women in such a way.

  6. The issue here is that she's not generalizing heterosexual men. She's not saying "men are all awful" or "all men are doing these things."

    But it's like a memo at work:

    "To everyone in human resources: We would like to remind you that if you take the last cup of coffee, it is your responsibility to brew a new pot of coffee."

    Or signs posted in places of business:

    "We would like to remind you that smoking is prohibited in this area."

    Not everyone needs to be told, but you tell everyone because there's no way of knowing before hand who does need to be told.

    Do you get offended beer ads remind you to drink responsibly?

  7. Ben, that's a brilliant analogy. I'm almost glad that Mr. Anonymous came back out from under his rock just so you could lay it down like that.

    Filthy,I wish I had gone back over to your site before I posted this. Then I would have linked your recent post where you're saying a lot of the same thing I'm saying here (minus the clueless friend part, natch).

  8. It strikes me as one of those things that sometimes comes with the disclaimer:

    "If you don't recognise yourself, then it's not about you, so don't try to make it about you"

  9. Followed Filthy Grandeur's link to the original post, and from there to your blog and here.

    I don't see how that post read as anything but carefully considered and thoughtful. I'm not sure where Mr. Troll and your friend are digging up these generalities. It seems to me that he does feel entitled to women's bodies, and is going to do his damndest to keep us from thwarting him with our pesky autonomy.

    Your friend might know someone like Mr. Troll and have heard the kinds of things he's saying and taken it to heart. I have a 'friend' like this. She takes the side of men on any issue that involves women (like rape) in order to get cookies from men (most famously, she once told me that a law that allows women to withdraw consent once sex has begun, and counts it as rape if the man continues, was misandrist because "Some men physically cannot stop once they've started! It's impossible for them!").

    I try to spend as little time around her as possible, because she's truly the kind of person who isn't going to change.
    But maybe your friend really needs some help. Maybe her email to you was an subconscious cry for help on her part.