Greta Christina has written about the “Yes, but…” problem many of my fellow dudes have when listening to women talk about sexism and misogyny. I want to talk about a specific “Yes, but…” here: “Yes, but that’s not sexist because he/I/they don’t hate all women, just that one!” The argument is that since the person slinging gendered slurs doesn’t hate women as a class, they aren’t a misogynist, therefore they’re just a jerk and we we can shut up about this problem and go talk about how dumb Christians are again.
There are a few problems with this approach:
- Being a jerk is still a problem.
- People don’t know you don’t hate all women.
- Even if you really aren’t technically a misogynist, you’re definitely still a sexist.
Let me expand on #3 for a minute. See, way back in olden times racist and bigot were not considered to be as synonymous as they are now. Basically, a racist was someone who just “recognized” that black people and white people were different. They had their places in the world and needed to say there. A bigot was someone who was embarrassing about it. A racist would say “black folks are better at running and throwing, white guys are better at strategy.” A bigot would say “I hate niggers.”
I think the distinction, though doubtless preserved in dictionaries, was artificial. Racists said things no one challenged them on. Bigots were just crude and embarrassing. Not letting blacks vote and calling black men “boy” was fine, but forming a lynch mob to blow off some steam was just gauche. It’s the same way with gender, guys. When you disagree with what a woman says and you call her a cunt or a bitch or a whore, you’re being a sexist. You are being a misogynist. I doubt any of you would frame your disagreement with a Jewish blogger by calling them a stupid kike.
There are insults in our language that are used to apply to specific groups. One of those groups is women. Yes, people sometimes use those words to refer to people outside those those groups (“Mike, stop being a little bitch and do the shot!”), but you know what? That’s still shitty. Because what you’re saying is “I am removing the status you have as a straight white man by comparing you to this other group that society says is somehow inferior.” Wigger is racist. Calling a man a bitch is misogynist.
Also? Don’t try and tell me that because “people in England call their friends ‘cunt’ all the time” it somehow magically means that the
douche fuckerface* who called that female blogger a cunt didn’t mean it as an insult. A gendered, misogynist insult. You’re better than that, guys.
– Sasha Pixlee
* While it’s debated by feminists whether it’s sexist, I have been trying to remove douche, as an insult, from my vocabulary. Sorry for the slip up. And rather than this being taken as a way to undermine my point (“You did it too!”) I hope this serves as an example of the fact that we can all learn, we can all change, and we can all make the world a nicer and more awesome place for everyone.