Saturday, 20 March 2021

Speaking up

"It's time for men to speak up" is the plea from many women after the murder of Sarah Everard. Okay, so I'll speak up.

I like to think that in general I've always treated women fairly well, unlike the large number of men who see women as second-class citizens to be exploited and abused. I never ever saw women as second-class but always as my equals.

I guess that whether you treat women well or badly largely depends on what sort of boys and men you've happened to mix with in your life, something that's pretty unpredictable.

Looking back over the years, I remember very few boys or men who've voiced consistently derogatory attitudes towards women. Nothing more than the odd sexist remark from some pig-headed male, which was easily squashed.

Even at my single-sex boarding school, there was never any misogynistic culture. In fact women were barely mentioned. The latest Beatles or Elvis record were much hotter topics.

Fortunately I've been in workplaces where women were treated as equals and given the same opportunities as men - like newspaper offices, bookshops and charities. It was never suggested women should do the shitty jobs while men cornered the enjoyable ones.

There have been times when I've treated women carelessly, like the way I abruptly split up with a girlfriend in my early twenties. But that's a rare occurrence.

I thank my lucky stars I've never been swept into the sort of virulently women-hating culture that produces men like Sarah Everard's killer. Men who think it's normal to harass, stalk and generally prey on vulnerable women.

Yes, it's time for men to speak up. It's also time for boys' education and upbringing to make it clear that treating women as a lesser species is simply unacceptable in the 21st century.

24 comments:

  1. The problem begins at home. When you have parents who are abusive or neglectful, or you don’t have a father figure, you don’t respect others. Women are just easier targets than other men.

    Telling men to speak up is not going to solve that problem. They’re just preaching to the choir.

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    1. Bijoux: Well, if men speak up to say male culture is rotten and men need to behave like civilised human beings, that's a good contribution.

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  2. I am in total agreement with your last paragraph.

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    1. Ramana: Teachers have a lot to answer for if boys leave school thinking it's normal to harass women.

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  3. In an ideal world, they would speak up but listening to my brothers in our weekly zoom meetings, it's not so much what you write of but in sorting family ancestry they blame women for "deserting" families in the past (for various reasons). Men get a free pass.

    We have a long way to go, Nick. Misogyny is really, really entrenched.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. www: Men can desert families as much as they like, that's just "one of those things".

      Misogyny is indeed really entrenched. It's so intricately woven into our collective culture and our daily lives that uprooting it is a Herculean task.

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  4. I've heard of the Sarah Everard murder but not followed it in that we are rocking on this side of the Atlantic with out own criminals and injustice.

    That said, I don't think you blame society for an individual's sadism and cruelty. Their actions are due to the fact they want to do them. Criminals choose victims they can subdue because they are essentially cowards and cheats.

    As a woman, I will tell you it is a man's world and things may improve. But you know, the battle of the sexes has nothing to do with misogyny.

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    1. Ann: Interesting comments. But personally I think attacks on women are only partly to do with the man's personality. There's a well-established male culture of mistreating and undermining women.

      If the battle of the sexes isn't based on misogyny, then what else is it based on?

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    2. Battle of the sexes in my mind is the perspective we have due to different hormones and their effect on the brain. I also see battle of the sexes sort of like you can have two individuals and three or four opinions floating about.

      Misogyny is an individual characteristic. Not all men are misogynist. I'm 65 and two men I know who are about ten years older than me give me the impression that they disapprove of how I handle things. It's a man's job in their opinion. But they are not misogynists. They are just men of their times.

      I've met a few men who just disliked women. Unfortunately, one was a boss who really created a huge problem for me.

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    3. Ann: Just as there's institutional sexism in the police and other organisations, I think there's cultural sexism among men in general. For example (as you may know), there are thousands of "incels", men who resent and hate women on the grounds that women keep rejecting them.

      Hormones may come into it, but I don't think they're as significant as people make out. Am I ruled by my testosterone? I don't see any sign of it.

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  5. Thankfully I've only come into contact with a couple of men that acted bad towards me. For the most part the men that I've encountered have been very nice. Ken was a gem and I'm so glad I met him and spent 30 years with him.

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    1. Mary: Yes, it sounds like Ken was one of the good guys. I think you were lucky to have avoided a lot of the not-so-good ones.

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  6. Schools have a lot to do in this respect and governments must finally put down easy access to pornography.

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    1. Fly: Indeed, pornography is really pernicious and gives men a totally twisted model of how they should relate to women.

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  7. I had a female boss that treated me as less competent than I was. I suspect that, because she had my job before she got hers, she was afraid I would take hers. It is not unusual for women to treat other women poorly just as some men do. Do men do this because they fear competition?

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    1. Linda: Sure, some women can be very nasty to other women. I can't speak for men in general but certainly some men are fiercely competitive both with men and women.

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  8. Sometimes sexism is about the subtle nuance. I've witnessed a lot of subtle nuances - and a fair bit of the not so subtle.
    Kind of odd that women were barely mentioned at your school - did nobody talk about their mothers, or sisters, their aunts? Or even Florence Nightingale? Or Suffragettes? Were women really that insignificant that they weren't worth mentioning at all?
    Sx

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    1. Ms Scarlet: Yes, believe it or not, I don't recall any conversations about women. There was very little personal conversation and certainly nothing about family members. Sport, rock music and the dinner menu were more likely topics.

      And history lessons never mentioned Florence Nightingale or the Suffragettes or feminism. Kings, queens and the British empire were the approved subjects.

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  9. Thankfully I've never experienced misogyny in it's full meaning of hatred for women. Over 50 years ago as a newlywed my husband didn't like me working, he wanted a nice quiet wife who stayed at home.

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    1. Polly: Same in our family. My father strongly objected to my mother working. She fought tooth and nail to qualify as a teacher despite my father's objections.

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    2. My father insisted my mother stay at home. Until she divorced him and had to find a job after 19 years as a housewife.

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    3. Linda: After 19 years as a housewife, finding a job must have been difficult.

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    4. Finding a job was relatively easy but finding one that paid enough to support you and two teenagers was hard.

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    5. Linda: I guess it would be even harder today, since wage levels have been squeezed right down over the last decade.

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