Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A huge, over-emotional rant on Sexism

Sexism is Dead, They Said... Relax, They Said! Excuse me while I go to the bathroom and vomit. Today, Facebook reminded me, is International Day of the Girl Child, and everybody loves it, I'm sure. But this week, with whatever is going on, I have officially become weary of hearing people denounce sexism, its existence, its profoundness and its complete ongoing significance in every day life. Donald Trump, at least in his head, has a view of women that does not equal the view he has of a man, and we didn't find out about that this week. Him feeling entitled to grab "p***" because he's famous is a new low point in his career I thought was impossible to reach, yet that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Far worse than his disgusting comments, and the reflection it has on his personality, is that so many people, including many women, are excusing it or, even worse, probably agree. Whoever feels like not being called out on sexism today might as well stop reading now.

For me to claim I know what sexism looks like is a nobrainer. Two years in Egypt and one literally knows what being "grabbed by the p***" by an absolute stranger who isn't even a celebrity show host is like. I have thick skin (and a pretty tough fist) so I am fortunate I didn't take away any tremendous emotional scars from having to live like that. Feeling liberated to return to a society where I felt a bigger effort is made to treat women with the same amount of respect men receive I had to realize that political efforts for equality have not yet translated into social equality. Political efforts are equal pay, universal suffrage and a woman's quota; in society, however, I realize I'm a woman almost every day. People regard me as weak, limit me to my appearance and dismiss female qualities as inferior. And this happens every single day, whether people realize it or not.

Donald Trump's remarks are not shocking to me, and anyone who hasn't blatantly excused all of his mishaps in the last year as an effort to stop political correctness knows Donald Trump looks at women, minorities and many, many other people as not equal to his male, white persona. "Actions speak louder than words", they say, and I have to completely disagree. One does not only become a misogynist by raping or assaulting a woman; speaking or thinking about them as an inferior or objectified gender suffices. And that is exactly what that leaked tape shows us. And his interrupting in debates. And his comments on "fat" people Rosie O'Donell and Alicia Machado. Speaking of the latter, people seem to forgive him these comments because these women actually are or became "fat". Is this the world we live in, where women are subject to privileged white men calling them out on their looks without being labeled as crude themselves? Apparently we are.

My opinion on calling out Trump for this behavior appears to me to earn more criticism as the criticism he's getting, at least in my circles. For me to say this, I have many friends telling me to stop being so sensitive, and my consequent freak out over being told that in this context earns me my favorite accusation: "oh what a drama queen!" Awesome! Nothing I love more than people calling me a drama queen for not ignoring bullshit. I get called this by friends, partners and random tweeters for disagreeing so I'm sorry if I can't take it seriously. In this particular example they aren't even wrong; I fight a lot, I debate, I get really angry when challenged and my tolerance for people spreading hate, misogyny or other equally infuriating topics is tiny, yet I do not have to accept people calling me anything behind my back, even if it's true. Not as a woman, not as  human being. If that earns one the "crazy" badge I get why so many people seem to have it. All it is is a ridiculous attempt to bad mouth an emotional reaction by a woman, and I don't appreciate it.

So as soon as a woman disagrees, develops an uncomfortable opinion or simply stops buying bullshit they are labeled "crazy". Oh man, I have witnessed this so much. A guy I once hooked up with, who then ignored me for seven hours the next time I saw him before asking me if I could give him a ride home didn't just call me crazy when I laughed at him and told him he can go suck it, he also proceeded to tell all of his friends what a ridiculous bitch I was for telling him to off without "any reason". I have also been called crazy because I went quiet after I found out that some guy I was seeing had slept with another girl while talking to me. I also didn't find it too decent that a guy was texting me while on holiday with another girl. While these things aren't gender-related, my consequent reactions were made the actions of a "drama queen"; they have earned me criticism while I somehow feel they should have rather earned me an apology. But a strong reaction from a woman, for whatever reason, is better put off as some kind of insane female behavior.

I have had many really good guy friends and I do know their "locker room talk". Contrary to popular belief, I am in fact not very sensitive. My best friend from college who I used to live with would come home from a night out and tell me in detail in which horrendous way he got some sorority chicks to sleep with him. I don't even blame him because these girls were okay with their objectification and could have called him out on it any day, but they didn't. The fact he would tell me though, speak about them like they were just some sort of tool to get pleasure out of, is fundamentally wrong. We were friends, I knew he didn't mean disrespect, and I have equally seen him treat women wonderfully, including me. But this is the reality: this locker room talk is where the issue is expressed, where women are described as something that cannot be regarded as respectful. To assume that these thoughts would find expression in actions is a foregone conclusion. and even if they don't, viewing women like that in one's mind to me is already a proof of a problem.

Only today I was told that men in Egypt weren't nice to me because I was actually nice but because I was blonde and foreign and men there just wanted to sleep with me. Beautiful, they got that one right. Knowing that myself, please tell me why I should have been nice? Yet the vast majority of girls there were pretty happy to accept this kind of interest, and I'm the last one who judges that. Turns out that was the kind of interest that was up for grabs, and other parts of the world aren't different. Funnily enough, more and more of these girls decided to ignore their friends' warnings that certain guys were not in fact genuinely interested, but when they actually got burned being taken advantage of by the guy they liked it wasn't the guys' fault but the other girls who he clearly liked more from day one. I don't know where this lack of self-respect comes from, but I sure know that locker room attitudes don't help. I dare say that said girl probably would have decided otherwise without the willingness of that guy to take advantage of her inability to make the right decision for herself.

Now we live in a world where guys have told me some girls they slept with were "stupid" or "easy", and swimmers get three months in jail for rape while others serve five year sentences for burning an illegal CD. The argument that something is not as equal as it should be is groundless. There can be no argument. Where are the equal workplaces that employ the same amount of women than men? Where is equal pay? And where is the attitude that I am more than a nice hair cut and a moving pair of boobs when I am out? Having people look at my boobs in public is the least of my problems. I have lost out to jobs I was perfect for because I was a woman. I have had to listen to people accusing me of coming to Egypt only to "fuck Egyptians". And worst of all, I have had to watch people roll their eyes when I expressed disappointment over that. Even some people who just read this have done exactly that. Three guesses who these people are...

What's most disappointing is that a large amount of women who have not realized that they are disadvantaged and excuse patriarchal behavior. Do you know how many women believe that a girl "was asking for it" if she dressed promiscuously, shouldn't flip out when a man disrespects her or wasn't really harmed by Donald Trump's comments? Any man talking, thinking or subconsciously acting without ill-intent like a woman is a property, a less respectable human being or inferior and weak is harming me, even if I don't bleed after. In a public fight, I dare you to think that the guy started it, because the girls are usually the ones seeking the drama. A hot, rich, successful chick being married to an average Joe would shock you more than a hot, rich, successful dude doing the same, that's a fact. And that's not the fault of a woman, it's the result of a society who does not believe that this attitude needs revision but the people who call for revision.

When I see what women endure and don't even realize that they are being compromised by a medieval world view, I feel sorry, that's all. Truth is that many women are unaware of their disadvantage, and they will probably not feel too bad about it as a result. Worse even are those who do not identify with feminism because they believe it does not coincide with their traditional values. Many women want to be a housewife, cook and clean for a living, and believe their place is the home. Denouncing feminism, however, has nothing to do with that. We are talking about the option of living such a life as opposed to being expected to live that life. Therefore, every single person, male or female, not identifying as a feminist, namely believing that women and men are created equal, is sexist, or at the very least an idiot or asshole. We need more people to accept than we need people to fight for feminism. But as long as conversations like the one happening on a bus in 2005 are excused as not a problem, we sure do have one... at least if "we" means women!

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