Sunday, June 10, 2007

Labels- Part 1: Gender Bashing

Where I grew up in Montana- male bashing was the norm. It wasn't specific to an individual man, "My husband is so forgetful he would lose his ass if it wasn't firmly attached". In Montana, the male bashing was alway done in general terms. When a mistake, accident, or misjudgment occured, it was because he was "just a man".

For example- "Bubba screwed up the planning of X. He didn't plan for enough Y when he should have known Z."

I could live with that assessment. Bubba screwed up. But it didn't stop there.

Someone would say, as their cronies nodded in agreement, "Men just can't plan anything because they don't have a woman's abilities". or "He's such a man, it's no wonder he can't ...." or "No wonder you are having trouble with your boss, he's a man."

The most shameful result of it was hearing Papa Ewok begin to say, "I'm just a man." or "You know, men just can't do that sort of thing."

I felt really sad the first time I heard my dad say that, and now I try and disagree with a reason whenever he says, "Well, I'm just a man, I can't do that sort of thing". He usually just shakes his head and mutters he's still just a man. *sigh*

The male bashing had become an excuse, a reason, an enabling device for some men to feel incompetent, unable, and unwilling to attempt tasks "better suited" for women.

It was quite the shock to me, then, to move to Minnesota and find that here, woman bashing is the norm. "All women need a man's guiding hand. Women need a strong husband to lay down the law. Women are too emotional." These were actually said to me, in all seriousness. Let me tell you how well that went over with me! (Unfortunately living up to the "too emotional" aspect.)

I was playing Skip-bo with my fundy neighbor and his cousin, when the cousin's brother, Cro-Magnon walks in hairy knuckles dragging and says "You aren't letting a woman beat you, are you?" *Teeth grinding* as fundy and his cousin chuckle a bit and the game continues.

Later after Cro-Magnon leaves, we were playing a second game and the fundy's cousin says something about me being "just like a woman".

(Now remember we are at the fundy's house and I didn't pick Fiery because I like cook-outs.)

I looked at fundy's cousin and said softly with growing volume, "Fuck you and that woman bashing shit, what the hell is up with that? Where I come from in Montana it was all 'He's just a man' and now I get here and it's the same thing for women! What the hell is the matter with you guys?"

I don't think anyone ever called them on woman bashing before. Not like that. Not with an absence of tears or submission and pleading. They just exchanged a raised eyebrow, coughed, and kept playing.

I guess because I grew up a tomboy and rarely did typical girl things that I just assumed everyone was an individual. The guy was an idiot because he made a bad decision, not because he was a man. I didn't take part in male bashing and I sure as hell wasn't going to take part in female bashing.

Individuals are stupid. Individuals make idiotic decisions. Individuals can look at a situation and miss what is completely obvious to everyone else on the planet. It's not because they are male or female that these things happen.

So why the labels? Why generic bashing of genders?

Life doesn't come with a rule book. I think people like to put labels on other people because then they know how to deal with them. "She's being emotional because she's just a woman. He can't possibly understand this, he's just a man. He'll know how to jump the car, he's a man. It's her job to stay home with the baby, she's a woman."

Labels help make life manageable. They put people in categories so we know how to respond to them. The problem arises when the labels become over-generalized or don't fit the person labeled.

Men can be emotional too. Some of them even cry: at girlie movies, when bad things happen, when they are upset, or when they are hurt. Men can be understanding and very sympathetic and can provide a wonderful shoulder to cry on.

Labels work the other direction too. Some men don't know one end of a power drill from another, while some women can jump a car, change the oil, and put on the spare tire.

Some men can put together a fabulous meal or say their best memories were taking care of their infant son, while some women have the nurturing capabilities of sea turtles.


Stinkbait Boucher said...

We have a saying in my family that's been around for thirty years at least.

"Mmmm. Just like Mom used to make!"

Invariably this phrase is in response to a disastrous meal or surprise bit of roadkill.

My dad - factory-working union president - was the cook in my home. I sometimes wonder if my mom didn't crash her motorcycle in to the hapless octogenarian's car just to make sure that would always be the case.

You could try the labels where I grew up but my mom would kick your ass if you did. If she missed, my dad would pick up where she left off.

Jacob said...

I'm nodding along to everything here in this post. I hate how a lot of women have turned the "feminist" movement completely around, so that instead of absolute gender equality, you have a system that's even worse than the one before.

For some reason, there are lots of people who seem to think that women can "multitask" and men can't. I hate this because it doesn't really mean anything. Of course people can do multiple things at a time. Where they get this weird idea from completely eludes me.

I also hate sexist themes on television, where the man is the dumb one and the woman is there to teach him stuff. It's surprisingly common on ads, for some reason.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

I cry at Girlie movies, but only when noones looking ;)

I can multitask - very helpful when cooking actually. It all comes down to exposure and what you are prepared to put time and effort in to.

BigTex71 said...

I can multitask - very helpful when cooking actually.

An absolute requirement for good cooking.

I find that I cry at movies a lot more often now that I have kids. Usually its when the movie involves children or family. I don't care what other people think if I cry at movies- it isn't often, only when strong characters are affected.

Fiery Ewok said...

I love the fact that all 4 of you are totally good with being yourselves. That even though it is here on the internet, you don't give a rat's glutes if people know that you have a tender side.

I love that stinkbait's mom sounds like a spit-fire.

I agree with Jacob that a lot of women have turned the "feminist movement" into an excuse to hate men.

I detest sitcoms where the man is an idiot and the wife is a bitch [everybody "loves" raymond, et al] *gag*

I totally dig that Sean and BigTex both cook.

Fiery Ewok said...

I also want to add-

Thank you for sharing your stories with me. It's because of you guys, coming here and commenting, that makes me love my blog.

*hugs* or *big silly grin* or both whichever you would prefer.


Sean the Blogonaut said...

I really have no complaints about my life with my other half. Sure we argue and disagree and give each other the shits - but we never comment that all men are bastards/ women are bitches.

I think people who do are unhappy at some level and its just a way of venting feelings or scapegoating.

Now before you think I am too good to be true while I do:

Cook 5-6 nights a week
Do all the clothes washing

I also

Leave the toilet seat up
Tend to leave books all around the house.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

Oh and I'll take the "big silly grin" being married and all ;)

Fiery Ewok said...

My mate and I don't participate in gender bashing either. We get frustrated with each other, sure, but it's never because "he's such a man" or "I'm just a woman".

It's because it's his fault.


Sean if your worst habbits are the toilet seat and some books. You are a dream come true.

My only concern about the toilet seat would be your aim and splashiness.

As for books, as long as you didn't move my marker, I wouldn't move yours. :-) I love books. The more the merrier.