Because we love so many men, respect so many men, work with so many men, know so many men, it’s hard to imagine or believe there is a systemic hatred of women in our culture. Unfortunately, it is not only men. Sometimes women, themselves, buy into the devaluation of women.
I am not covering any new territory here, just reminding us of the basics. Women are taught to believe themselves to be ‘less than’ rather than different. Weak rather than possessing strength that manifests in ways different from men. So much so that men displaying what are thought to be ‘female’ characteristics are also despised.
My good friend, Erin, a transgender woman, recently posited that real change will come the more broadly gender fluidity becomes the norm. Absolutely. Yes. But every time I step outside my milieu (whether physically or when reading the newspaper or watching television) I recognize that my reality isn’t completely in sync with the larger society. In other words, gender fluidity is likely the key to transformative change in how we value all gendered people but we can’t wait for the organic evolution before we act.
Our culture suffers from gynophobia: the fear, hatred, and distrust of that which is intrinsically female. Case in point: Hillary Clinton. I am still hurt and disappointed that a newsperson I respect, Chris Matthews, spoke so disparagingly about her. That and angry. He disrespected her in a way he would never have spoken about a man. The sustained Republican onslaught on her character from the moment she emerged in national politics is unlike that we have seen for ANY male candidate ever.
An old but still relevant fact: women make less than men for doing the same job.
One in four women is raped or sexually abused. I don’t have any facts on this, but I have yet to meet a woman who has not been subjected to unwanted verbal or sexual advances. I don’t know any woman who has not at some/many times had their opinions overlooked, devalued, or co-opted.
And if we thought it was bad before now we have the so-called ‘incels’. Involuntary celebates. The incel movement is growing. It is filled with angry men who bitterly hate women and believe they are entitled to women’s bodies and lives. Women are being murdered. This is one of the best posts I’ve seen about them and it is definitely worth a read: https://www.villainesse.com/no-filter/i-spent-evening-incel-forum-what-i-learnt
What will it take for the rest of the country to realize that sexism begets racism, religious rigidity, and homophobia? We must convince our culture that the hatred of women is real and address the systemic evil of misogyny, personally and culturally. Until women’s issues are seen as important and women are not seen as disposable, change will be incomplete. Every ‘ism’ we resist is hostage to the hatred of women.
It matters that we confront sexism not only for women, though it would be enough if it were. It matters because the hatred of women is a root cause of oppression. It matters that we challenge misogyny internally, socially, and politically. Every time someone devalues or dismisses women, jokes about rape, or treats women as disposable, we need to speak up. Each one of us male, female, or gender-fluid, must respond to systemic expressions of sexism in our personal and political lives. Not as an afterthought but with forethought. We have to speak up even when it is difficult, even when we are uneasy with the idea of speaking up. Because we who believe in the freedom must speak out to make elemental change at an elemental level.