Saturday, June 23, 2012

Men disempower women by teasing

Something I heard on the radio a year and a half ago has stayed with me.  It bothers me.  The local public radio station was having a fund drive.  Two men were on the air, asking for money.  A woman who worked for the radio station was also involved in the fund drive, on site with the two men, but not talking on the air.  One of the men said that the woman was giving them dirty looks because she was mad at them for not raising enough money.

Maybe it sounds harmless as I've described it, but when I heard it, it was wrong. It's the way men disempower women.  It reminded me of the way I've been teased by my father and brother.  Men disempower women by making fun of them.  They make fun of us for working hard on our appearance, on cleaning our house, on preparing food, and on organizing family occasions.  They make fun of us for working on these things, yet they also make fun of us for failing to excel in these areas.  We are supposed to excel in these areas without effort.  They make fun of us for being angry or annoyed with them.  And we can't get mad at them for doing so, because getting mad is what they are making fun of.  If we get mad, then we lower ourselves.

How can we respond then? If we can't be mad, maybe we can be cold.  We can say, "Don't be sexist," and turn our backs on them.

But why should we have to be the ones to figure out how to respond? They should not be treating us that way.  The burden should be on them to stop, not on us for figuring out how to respond.

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