My friend Dan — who is already awesome because he’s a scientist in the military who makes yarn as a hobby and names his dogs after Fraggles — wrote this. It was his status message and therefore kind of complicated to share, and since I want to share it far and wide, I’m putting it here. (With his permission, of course.)
I’ve been sitting on this for a while, watching friends pour out stories of microaggressions and not-so micro-aggressions. I believe my friends know I stand in solidarity with them, but it doesn’t feel like enough.
I try, mostly, to keep the majority of my politics off my unfiltered friends list (though I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes fail, and no one would ever mistake my opinion on things). But this recent event, these murders in CA, hit something that I hold a little too personally to not say something. I am “that guy” and I’m ok with that.
This post is not about gun control, though I believe in that. It’s not about better access to mental health care without stigma, though I believe in that as well. This is about something that, in some ways, I think we’re even poorer at talking about, that makes us even more uncomfortable. See, even here, on my own space I’m afraid to use the word for fear of scaring people off. The umbrella word is “misogyny”. Using that word scares people and makes people (erroneously) think of bra burning and such, but it’s the correct word.
But the problem I think most needs addressing is not what most people think of when they hear the word. As horrible as these murders were, they were the symptom, not the sickness. The problem is much smaller, and much bigger, and thus much harder to deal with. But, the saving grace is, I think that changing it, on a societal level, requires starting at the lowest, smallest, EASIEST point. On the day to day stuff so many people engage in. Which makes it both easy and hard.
I know that not all people agree with me on this. That’s why I’m “that guy” after all. It’s why I get rolled eyes when I call guys on it at the unit. I don’t really care. It’s the only thing an enlisted guy’s actually gotten angry and challenged me on, and I think that’s telling. Because I believe it IS that important. I believe that cat calls and wolf whistles, “women can’t drive” and “make me a sandwich” jokes do incalculable damage to women and men directly, and even more damage indirectly – by providing cover, by making people like this guy think his perceptions are normal, and making it hard for people to pull him aside and say, “Dude, get your head out of your goddamned ass.”
And to anyone that thinks these things don’t matter… you’re either not listening, or you’re at least presenting that you think those things are ok and thus you’re not safe to confide in.
I don’t say these things for kudos, or pats on the back. I say these things because I believe them in my heart of hearts. I believe that the world would be an infinitely better place if we could just manage that raised eyebrow, or that “Dude, really?” when we catch someone making *yet another* joke, less than 24 hours after sitting through a course on not doing that shit. It really just takes that little. Just expressing your disapproval makes that environment hostile to the assholes, instead of the victims. And know that there are a lot of us “that guys” out there, you’re not alone in thinking we can do better than that bullshit.
So, I have no idea who has actually made it through this thing. Or who’ll take it to heart. If you did, thank you. If you didn’t, maybe you can just go read this: Why It’s So Hard for Men to See Misogyny.
Thanks again, Dan. <3