Once again, I’d like to go into musing on things I’ve learned about recently, to see if there’s anyone who might have some light to shed on the topic.
These are solely my observations of what I’ve seen lately. I do not, cannot, and will not make any wider generalizations from them, as generalizing is part of the problem that feminists are trying to combat.
Trigger warnings – racism, spousal abuse, gendered slurs
I was driving with two friends of mine. Well, J was driving and K and I were passengers. Now I realize that their initials are like the guys from MiB and I may have confused everyone, so let me clarify it wasn’t Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. That would have been very different and much more fun than I’m used to.
Anyway, we’re rolling along to a stop light with the windows down, and this guy pulls up alongside us screaming at the guy in the truck behind us. “Go back to fucking Mexico if you can’t drive a truck” was among the horrible things this wonderful example of trash was saying. He then looked over at us and said “Jesus. Mexicans, eh? Send em all back!” And then drove off when his light was green. K started laughing, while J and I were like “what a racist asshole…” Then K started in that “no, it wasn’t racist, it was funny!” She further held that she would act the same way if she was angry at a bad driver.
I couldn’t get my head around that. She is a victim of verbal and physical abuse from her husband. What is it about that situation that made it different for her? Was it the lack of intimacy? After all, a guy randomly yelling at you from a truck is probably not as much of a threat as someone you’re forced to live with by circumstance. But it’s still cruel and hateful, and I can’t get how someone can excuse it. Yeah, it was kind of funny in that you just don’t expect such blatant idiocy right out in public, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was awful.
I was going to ask her about it, but then I realized there might be trigger issues involved in bringing up her husband’s abuse. That got me thinking in general about the supporting issues. How would I be any better, as a guy bringing up another guy who had been awful to her, as a way of bringing her around to my side? No one’s perfect, after all, so how can I expect someone to have a broader view just because they were subject to abuse once? How could I call myself an “ally” or whatever the term is if I wasn’t sensitive to that potential trigger issue?
Hell, I was raped, and I got mad when a friend tried to use my experience in being raped by a female as reasoning why the MRA movement is completely right. If I’d pushed, I’d have been a hypocrite, right?
Anyway, we changed the topic and were still driving around, discussing past experiences. I pointed out that I try not to use the term “bitch” because a guy saying it in relation to a woman is pretty awful. I pointed out I had to try rather than just never considering doing it, because I grew up in the same society as everyone else here and my habits of a lifetime are pretty ingrained. As an example, I mentioned a previous employer who was simply awful to me, and that I had to remind myself to just not call her a bitch, but that it was hard since she was absolutely fiendish.
K again chimed in and said “man, I’m a bitch, call whoever you want a bitch.”
Same issue as the first, just contextualized a little differently.
Not everyone who’s suffered is going to sympathise with efforts to moderate our language, to be more open and understanding and “safe.”
It’s complicated. There aren’t “Feminists/allies” and “patriarchs/apologists.” There are people who are the very ones that feminists and allies are trying to help by pointing out gender normative abuse and confrontational language, and these people needing help don’t identify with the struggle. Not everyone gets the metaphysics.