Why should a woman care about a man’s opinion if they refuse to respect women?
The “#QuestionsforMen” query started out as a feminist’s response to hateful, vile responses to Daily Life writer Clementine Ford‘s column. She began asking questions relating to what she assumed were “sexist double standards.” Such as “#questionsformen: Do you ever worry about being raped if you drink too much?” I think it is time to say enough already. Why should a woman care about a man’s opinion if they refuse to respect women and their opinion?
Over just the last few years men have offered their opinion on a host of women’s issues. There was the hearing from the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on birth control access for women which hosted an all-male panel offering their opinion on what women needed when it came to birth control. At issue was the Obama administration’s regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. The male-dominated House Republicans opposed the administration’s rule and have sponsored legislation that would allow employers to limit the availability of birth control to women.
Then there are the thousands of bills regarding access to birth control and abortion winding through male-dominated, Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. There is the fact that we are the only developed nation not to have an equal rights amendment in our constitution due to the overwhelming male majority in the U.S. House. We can’t even get a simple bill that guarantees equal pay passed.
The effects of the male dominated opinion are everywhere. Up until the 1980’s women were considered their husband’s property here in Michigan. The diagnosis of “hysteria” was strictly created by men for women, because in their opinion only women went crazy and it was due to their “female parts.” Men throughout history were convinced a woman was too frail to make decisions for herself.
Men opined on how women weren’t capable of obtaining a higher education, or being smart enough to handle the right to vote. Men were sure that women made decisions based on emotion and didn’t need to worry about things like education or property ownership because soon enough a man would be taking care of her, unless of course she was too ugly or too fat to marry.
Personally, I rarely experience a day without a man opining on my decisions. I have had men yell at me while out for a run. From asking me “if I was looking to get raped” to wanting to know “if I wanted some of this.” Although I have never really been sure what “this” is, I am pretty sure I don’t want some. I have had men give me their opinion regarding how much I smile. Their opinion on my choice of profession: “Why would a woman choose that field?” I have been given their opinion on my hair, “Why on earth would I want my hair short? Men might think I’m a lesbian or something.” Men have an opinion on the way I dress, “You should wear skirts more often.”
I can rarely go into the gym without a guy showing me “the right way to lift weights” or “the right way to use a machine.” I have been asked by men “how long I would be using a weight” while a man right next to me using the same weight wasn’t even approached. I have had men wait for me to move out of their way rather than expect them to move, trying to use their size to intimidate me. There is my personal favorite male opinion “you shouldn’t lift weights because it will bulk you up like a man,” and “it’s not ladylike to lift weights.”
I have written opinion pieces that, in return, have produced hateful, threatening responses from men. If I responded to these threats the men would write back to me, in their opinion, and let me know that “I wouldn’t write a piece like that if I wasn’t wanting that type of response.”
I guess once again I forgot where men thought “my place in the world” should be. Just like I should not jog alone if I “didn’t want to get raped” or I should not dress like that “if I didn’t want men to pay attention to me in that way.” In a man’s twisted logic, they have reasoned that if a woman is hurt by a man “it is her fault and she made him do it.”
So, I am not going to ask for forgiveness from men anymore for what I think. I am not sorry. I do not hate men, but I also do not like what I see out of some men right now. I do not care what you think about me. I do not care about what you think about my access to birth control or my access to abortion.
I do not want to know what you think about my choice of outfits. I do not want your opinion on my safety when I go out alone. I do not want your opinion on what it means to be a feminist. Everything you have an opinion on when it comes to women is not your concern. Sorry to damage your fragile ego, but really it is time to mind your own damn business and shut up already.
If feminists want men to ‘mind their own business’ then feminsts should probably do the same, and but out of mens issues instead of trying to pain non-feminists as misogynist haters and offering their opinions on everything from our fashion, to our sexual identity: we’re not interested in your opinions unless you are willing to listen to ours as well. Life is a two way street.
I hope you don’t consider this an “opinion piece.” It’s not. It’s a rant. And, it’s an immature rant that paints men with as wide a brush as you could apparently find at Lowe’s and contains statements that weren’t really thought through very well.
You might be surprised at just how many men understand the sexist issues you raise—be they located historically or presently. The words “many” or “too many” would have made room for those of us who at least consider ourselves—perhaps, given your rant, wrongly—reasonably non-sexist.
Quite frankly, I’m a professional and I’m around professional men and women all the time and, while there are the obvious exceptions, most of us are too damned busy with our own concerns to care how you dress or how you cut your hair or what your “place in the world should be.” Most of us are typically not interested in where you jog, whether you jog or whether you jog with someone or by yourself—excepting those instances when either a man or a woman might tell a newcomer that it might not be a good idea to jog out at the far reaches of Assembly Street near the stadium after the sun goes down (and that goes of men as well as women). Most of us don’t give a damn about where you go after work or what you do after work unless you’ve chosen to bring it up yourself. And, if you do talk about it, most of my colleagues assume that you’re old enough to make your own decisions so, hey, good for you.
I’ve been in weight rooms since I was a college freshman 47 years ago. I am at the gym six to seven nights a week. Most guys I know are glad to answer questions a woman—or, man—might ask about a particular lift, but very few of us are either interested in or willing to intrude on a woman’s workout or a man’s workout—again, we’re far less interested in what you’re doing than what we’re doing. And gym “etiquette” is strict—if someone else is using a piece of equipment, you find something else to do until they’re done. The most you ever might do is ask—with all courtesies—how long a person (woman or man) expects to be on that piece of equipment so that you can revamp your own workout per time involved. You’re not telling them to get off the bench or implying that they should hurry up and get off the bench. You’re trying to get a sense of things so you can adjust your own workout. I’ve been asked that a hundred times and never been offended by it.
I’m not stupid enough to think that women don’t go through what you apparently go through at your gym. But I’m smart enough to know that it’s not that way everywhere. You make your own choices as to what you’re wiling to put up with and we have a lot of women members who decided to join my gym because they didn’t want to put up with what they had to deal with elsewhere.
Is it right that they had to deal with it? No. But they were mature enough to know that there are other contexts wherein they wouldn’t have to. In other words, as my significant other (also a lawyer) puts it: “Some men are dogs. Some men aren’t. So I just don’t go to the kennel to work out.”
The immaturity of your rant is also seen in your statement that “I don’t care what you think about my access to birth control or my access to abortion.” Men carry at least as much weight in the political and social world as women and I’ve never imagined it hurt women to have men fighting on behalf of their freedom to exercise control over their own bodies. I personally don’t give a damn what you think and wouldn’t consider it my place to ask for an apology for it. But, if you put a rant out for the rest of us to read, I consider it my right to honestly respond to it.
Walls are painted with wide brushes and anybody can paint a wall. Pieces of art—and a good column is a piece of art—typically take shape at the point of a right thin brush, which carefully, patiently and with concentrated effort, makes room for nuance and diversity and truth.
I Don’t disagree with the sentiment, however by that measure then women have no right to have an opinion on anything when it comes to men. THAT is also twisted logic.