Monday, February 23, 2009

Listening to Fear

So I was discussing things with my Ferret yesterday. Mainly guy culture, and why I get so sick of it. Most of dude culture annoys me- things like (1)the glorification of bodily functions- except when women's bodies are involved; (2) the ritual of "bullshitting"- i.e., lying for the the hell of it/to make yourself sound 'cooler'; and (3) the building of trust not by talking or sharing or anything that makes sense, but by doing (1) and (2) while hanging out with each other forever until somehow you just know your compatriot's an "ok guy". The thing I really hate though, is (4) "bros before hos"- that huge part of dude culture dedicated to "keeping the wimminz in their place". You've heard it- make me a sammich, give me a blowjob, iron my shirt, don't talk, hur hur threesomes, blah blah blah I'm an asshole.
And even the guys that aren't, individually, so bad, become like this when a bunch of them get together. It's like the small amount of entitlement that lurks in the hearts of otherwise decent dudes grows in direct proportion to how many (hetero, generally) men you get in one place.

Ferret, of course, takes my tirade rather personally and jumps to the defense of her dudely brethren, which is totally depressing. "Sure, there are some assholes out there. But how many girls only want a guy for his money... blah backstabbing catty wenches, blah blah psycho chicks, blah blah, upshot: women are just as bad as men."

I disagree. Not that I am excusing the members of my sex/gender from being assholes- anybody can be an asshole. But I point out to Ferret that, while it can happen, I am wildly less likely to be physically or sexually assaulted (axe-murdered, raped, jumped on the street, et cetera) by someone with lady-parts. In other words, I am not afraid of women. Freaked out by, confused by, amazed by, afraid for, and often proud of, yeah. But I'm not afraid of women. Men, on the other hand? Allow me at this juncture to chuckle and look away uneasily.

There are reasons. It's my personal life experiences, it's the statistics and stories in the news. It's the things we are shown in the media. We are called hysterical, bitches, and dysfunctional for saying it, but it's true. Women are still the sex class, second-class, not considered "real people", still oppressed. And the pervading feeling of the underclass is always fear. Fear when I walk to my car alone at night, when I'm around a strange group of men, when I'm alone anywhere. It's not a huge! obtrusive! fear!, but a low-level wariness in my brain, and it's always there. And I don't think I'm the only woman who lives her life like this.

And...I hate this. I try never to admit it. I don't want to be that woman. I don't want the fear to run me. I don't want that to be the reason for my feminism, and I don't think it is- otherwise my blog would probably resemble IBTP a lot more. (I mean in a separatist sense- I'm not implying Twisty fears the dudez.)

But here's the thing: we have a group of teenage boys in our house on a regular basis (please don't ask me how that happened). They're good kids, they really are. But I tend to be a bit of a control freak when they're there, because I'm used to being ignored/talked over/dismissed by guys, and I'm not letting it happen this time. I'm the boss, dammit! Me! And I'm worried about getting the respect I think I deserve- keeping in mind that respect for teenagers is relative. I worry about control. Also, what I always think about with dudes is: how do they talk about women when women aren't around?.
And Ferret asked me: "Do you really think any of those boys are abusive rapist bastards? Really, Lemur?"
"No! But I'm afraid one day they might be, and it freaks me out, and I don't know how to fix it." 
I don't know how to fix them, or me, or whether any of us actually need fixing at all.

And I get so damn angry when I think about the fear.