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Author Topic: Another day, another sexist.
Heather
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Okay, so the Anonymous commentator over at the Reality Check column this week has stated he feels it's very important young people hear his perspectives.

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/03/04/get-real-i-dont-feel-ready-sex-should-i

As you'll note in one of my comments, in a way, I agree. Not in the way I think he'd like me to, mind you.

I really do think it's important women -- especially young women -- are aware that there really are still people out there who think this way about us and our abilities. Now and then, we'll hear people voice that we don't need to work for equality anymore, that we already have it, but statements like this man have made are the kind (and I see too much of this kind of thing every day) of evidence to the contrary I think we all need sometimes.

If you have recently eaten, I suggest letting your lunch settle first.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Some of my favorite (heavy emphasis on my sarcasm) quotes from this man, for the record are:

quote:
In other parts of life, women's emotions totally overwhelm IQ and all rationality and render them moot. She can be genuinely brilliant and in Phi Beta Kappa and, still, in some areas of life will 'emotionalize' instead of 'rationalize' and show less rational ability than an inebriated, half-witted cockroach.
quote:
...for a young woman to insist that she will be independent, autonomous, self-sufficient, 'equal', etc. as feminists such as Ms. Corinna do is taking on a relatively new and unproven but very heavy, dangerous, and possibly fatal load in life. My fervent advice is: Don't do it; don't try it; regard it as one of the worst dangers you face; don't even think about trying it.
quote:
When you are ready for marriage, diet and exercise to achieve your ideal weight; get a good hair style; do whatever is needed for you to have clear skin; get some attractive clothes; circulate where there are good candidate husbands (sadly, not in a college or university -- the men are too young).
I think the translation of that last line is that it's better to marry much-older men. Of course.

quote:
en are MUCH better at being alone, both economically and emotionally, than women are. The only advantage the women have is that women easily form 'herds' with other women. But the herds are mostly superficial and do not do much for the women.
(In other words, women's relationships with other women are meaningless. Only our relationships with men are of any value.)

quote:
I have a friend who does some simple arithmetic and concludes that the person who hurt or killed the most people in the 20th century was not Hitler, Stalin, or Mao but Gloria Steinum and her feminism.


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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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orca
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Hmm, wonder who his friend was. Bill O'Reilly perhaps? Or Rush Limbaugh? Just curious, this "Anonymous" dude, is it the same one that consistently makes idiotic, sexist, racist, rape-endorsing comments at RH?

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Heather
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There are an awful lot of assholic Anonymouses at RH, alas.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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orca
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I have to say, while I really adore our community here, I wonder if you don't have a point in saying that it's good to expose ourselves to those backwards, twisted views sometimes. I'm writting up a blog piece right now on facing those kinds of patriarchal views in person, but the experience it's based on has left me thinking about how to reach people like that. Is secluding ourselves with like-minds detrimental in some ways? Does it cut us off from healthy discussion that could move our society toward greater acceptance of diversity? (Is true diversity even possible? Or will people always gravitate towards others like them and separate from the rest?)

In the final chapter of Plato's Republic, Socrates says that the wise ones who have seen the light of truth must go back and help the others find their way, even knowing that s/he won't be believed and may even be harmed in the process. (Philosophy is totally not my thing, so I'm sorry if I butchered that.) So perhaps it's necessary that we expose ourselves, holding in our bile as possible, in order to achieve a better society.

The question is, how do we communicate with them? How do we work past the mental blocks people set up so they don't have to view another's position?

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Heather
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Just this morning, I had a phone meeting with a Christian man who is also very progressive, very pro-choice, very feminist. And this kind of stuff came up.

His response was that what we mostly need to do is marginalize these kinds of folks. They really are unlikely to change their minds, and if they do, are more likely to do so on their own steam than based in anything we say. So, I tend to agree with that approach.

Just FYI, I don't feel like not engaging with sexists is secluding myself, any more than I'd suggest that my friends of color who opt not to put themselves in the midsts of racists are. This is toxic stuff, these -isms, and when people are bigots, there really isn't often a chance FOR productive discussion. In a lot of ways, I see choosing not to be part of this stuff when I can help it as the same way I avoid walking into a knife. Know what I mean?

I should add that I think internalized sexism can sometimes make it feel like women need to do this, even when we'd easily see how for other oppressed people we absolutely would not see protection as seclusion or as withholding. Not saying that's what you say or feel, just something I have observed.

At the same time, when we do something like, say, publish public columns these folks can read, we are communicating. We're not withholding our opinions if they want to seek them out. And I also have to respect the fact that there is a difference between education and communication and shoving one's thoughts, ideas and beliefs down someone else's throat who doesn't want them. So, it's not like I'd think say, walking into Mars Hill Church in my neighborhood (a highly fundamentalist chruch, one that focuses a lot on how women should be subordinate) and dishing on feminism would be productive or respectful.

And truth be told? As a woman in a sexist world who literally has scars from things borne of patriarchy (through rape, through abuse, through other kinds of gender-based oppressions, as do you, as do many women), I think I've been harmed enough already.

[ 03-06-2009, 06:10 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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I also want to add that some people with divergent opinions are better than others, and DO want to have real discourse, and ARE willing to evaluate how they think.

This guy is an example of someone who obviously isn't: a person who says that someone of my gender can't think rationally is clearly closing the door from the start on having any kind of productive discussion, after all.

On the other hand, for the last few months, I have had some exchanges with a pro-life woman where we did have some areas we connected in on other things, and who clearly DID want to have (still does, we're still in it) some real discussion and where we each did want to consider each others' different ideas, experiences and feelings.

So, it's a case-by-case thing. Obviously, with any kind of activism, we're always going to be judging the good-to-harm ratio. In some cases, for sure, it may be worth risking harm, or even going into something knowing we will be harmed. (For instance, there have been a number of protests in history in which that was the case.) In others, not so much, and overall, that's going to depend on what the likely gain - if any -- may be.

[ 03-06-2009, 06:14 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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orca
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I understand what you mean, and I guess seclusion isn't the best word. I'm not dissing anyone for choosing to associate only with people who have similar beliefs, or even people who actually separate from mainstream society and form communities with others like them (or I don't mean to if my words seem to suggest otherwise). After all, it's nice to be able to just TALK with someone without having to argue for your standpoints at every instance. It seems, though, that people often tend to form groups, like the KKK (for a very scary example), arts communities, college campuses even, and sites like ourselves. So when we talk about diversity and achieving it, what exactly do we mean? Diversity in what sense? Won't people just drift back to their familiar groups? (I am partly playing devil's advocate here, but also trying to sort it out for myself.)

I know that there are people who just aren't and won't ever be open to new ideas. But that idealistic side of me hopes that there is always possibility, if not for a 180, at least a chance to learn a bit about the other side and perhaps let go of a few misconceptions. Though, I am a humanist, so I like to hope for these things. [Smile] (Then again, I had to explain feminism to yet another guy this week. Sometimes I wonder why I even try dating.)

[ 03-06-2009, 06:24 PM: Message edited by: orca ]

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Heather
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You know, I think Scarleteen is actually one of the most diverse communities I have known. The only area where it is not very diverse is per age, since it's mostly young people.

Yes, we have a set of agreements we ask people to sign on to and respect so that everyone feels and is as safe as possible, but those agreements are also so that we can have good communication. If I look around, I see a LOT of diverse identities, ways of thinking, ideas, beliefs.

Again, when I talk about diversity, myself, and having diverse communities, people being safe and respected in them is a given. So, I don't think it's undiverse for not wanting to include someone who may bash my head in when it is discovered I have had female partners, or who thinks of me as less than human or half a person for being a given gender, race, size, age, what have you.

Hate speech to me, is a TOTALLY different arena when we're talking about diversity. And some of what this guy has said is that or is perilously close.

I know that probably sounds defensive, likely in part because I feel like we're shifting topics very quickly -- I'm not sure how this wound up being about diversity -- and I suppose some part of me resents being asked about inclusion around someone saying things like this about myself and all women. It kind of makes me feel like it puts them first, if you get me, and like somehow, something is thought to be wrong or not in the spirit of working to reduce bigotry by refusing to accept it or be victim to it.

[ 03-06-2009, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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orca
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I'm sorry if I came off sounding like I was defending him (or hate speech in general) or saying hate speech should have a platform. I don't think hate speech should be give a platfom as it can be dangerous (as my countrymen showed over 70 years ago), at the very least nonproductive. I should say that this is coming from me feeling shocked and appalled when I encounter opposing views and not being able to manage as well with them as I'd like. When I encounter those forceful opinions, I have that initial reflex to make fun of them, which I don't think is fair. I know what it's like to be treated as stupid or lesser, so lately I worry that when I dismiss another's opinions as ignorant that I'm treating them that same way and not really doing anything productive, if that makes sense.

I know there is diversity here at ST. When I'm here, though, around so many people who are intelligent, thoughtful, caring, and accepting of others, I forget that much of the world is not like that. In some ways, that's a great thing and can be very empowering. But then, when I do encounter people in person who are not like that, I'm sort of at a loss as to how to talk to them. They don't think teens should be sexual in any way, they scorn people who have multiple partners, they demonize anyone who has an STI. I hate hearing people speak like that and I want to talk to them in ways that can help them let go of some of that hatred and be more open and accepting of people. But I don't know how to do that. So instead, I talk to people that I know feel the same way as I do and complain about how backwards people can be, but I don't feel I'm being fair to them or furthering equality by shutting them out of discussion. It seems it only furthers the divide. But perhaps I just haven't figured out yet which battles are winnable or worth fighting for. Maybe this is still just me trying to find a voice?

(Just a note that this is all criticism of myself and only myself, not anyone else, and certainly not you. That guy was definitely a jerk, and obviously not someone open for new ideas or any kind of conversation other than to tell women to stay pregnant and in the home in oder to have a "happy and fulfilled" life. I can't say I've met someone in-person who was so...stubborn, so it's a little difficult to even believe people like that are real. Maybe that's also part of my desire to look for ways of communicating with people of opposing views, because I can't believe someone could really be that closed off, or at least that unpleasant.)

(Sorry for derailing!)

[ 03-06-2009, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: orca ]

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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StrangePudding
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yuck [Razz] I suppose I was warned...
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Stephanie_1
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I find it funny that this poster replying back on your reply to the question states that scarleteen classes itself as inclusive (which I find it strange to see someone say that we're not - when it's so not true) and then he starts his reply to the poster with "My remarks will be for girls (and their boyfriends) considering heterosexual relationships." Is it not obvious that he's classing ST as not inclusive then begind a reply by disincluding so many people right off the bat? Makes me think he may like the anonymous title, so that friends and family don't have to notice what he's really like and really thinks. Not to mention, I couldn't get passed the comment on how he's made such large sacrafices for his wife to continue schooling ... somehow I don't see that as being so true, or at least not in anyone's mind but his and people that may agree with his ideas.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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Ecofem
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I'm sorry to see the original poster's comments. I find them so off, when not just downright disgusting. I think previous posters here have hit the nail on the head so well as to how to deal with such blatant sexists seeking to state their opinion but not foster true dialogue.

At first while reading his comments, I found myself making snarky and sarcastic comments; however, I decided that it was not worth my energy, emotions or intellect. I have dealt with a few people like that in my life -- fortunately, they have been few and far between as I truly believe that most people may have their strong views but are more open and willing to actually listen respectfully than the aforementioned person, at least in person.

I have found that most people also find them so repulsive that they save their energy. I will state a short opinion and leave it at that -- and physically leave, when possible -- because, as people said, their stubbornness isn't going to change and it's better to focus on the people who are ready to really talk.

However, those who are willing to engage them in discussion and debate, such as Heather in her reply there, I respect and appreciate. To me, the bottom line is that if he feels so strongly about views, he should create his own forum. Then again, that would be more revolutionary than reactionary, and I think he obviously gets off on putting others' down in their own spaces. When you think about it, that's really not too wise because he'll/they'll never have the upper hand, something so important to him.

Additionally, Heather, I think your response to the poser of the original question is fantastic advice!

(And I'll use this opportunity, since this anonymous poster brought it up as a benchmark, to say that I *am* a member of Phi Beta Kappa. [Wink] While I am proud to say I have accomplished this, I also believe that such accolades or IQ points are hardly a measure of anyone's overall ability or worth as a human, male, female or beyond. )

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Heather
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Orca: I think the trick to it is just identifying who actually wants to HAVE a discussion, and who simply wants to harass or have a one-way conversation. And usually, in my experience, it's fairly easy to tell the difference. If someone talking to (or at) you, is voicing bigotry about you, they are very unlikely to want a discussion with you. And if someone doesn't want a discussion, they aren't going to be able to have one.

I do think, though -- and again -- it can be really easy for people not to see sexism where it exists and not to see misogyny. If you go back to that link and read that person's comments and replace "women" with, say "blacks" or "hispanics," and "men" with "whites," you might find you react differently, probably much more strongly to what is being said. I know that even as someone I tend to think is highly in touch with sexism, and very aware of it, I probably would, despite the fact that it is no more okay or less offensive to be sexist than racist, and no less bigoted.

And bigotry IS stubborn. It's often learned in early childhood, and if it's enabled and nurtured, it gets deeper and deeper. If it goes perpetually unchallenged -- this guy, for instance, will not STFU about the evils of feminism, but also has clearly read exactly no feminist theory at all to even know what that means -- it gets even more deeply rooted and unshakeable.

[ 03-08-2009, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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broadwaybound
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Reading this guys comments and reading that ocra had to explain feminism to her date I wonder sometimes how men in general are raised that a significant portion of them can be so bigoted/clueless.(Not that women can't too but for these purposes I'll focus on men). I'm doing a class in college about nationalism and one of the issues we talked about was how male children can have such reverance for their mothers - (to the point that most colonized countries were known as mother - mother India , mother Ireland etc..- ) yet treat women as a group like crap. I know that not all women are progressive or feminist but most children are raised primarily by their mother who in most cases do a great job and yet people grow up with no respect for women. I know it's off topic a little but I guess you always wonder how opinions like that form , I can't imagine how I'd feel if that guy was my son.
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not_a_hobgoblin
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Reading this was disheartening... but reading all of the responses, there and here, changed that pretty quick. ^.^ Through the process, though, I came up with one question. Orca was talking earlier in the thread about trying to communicate outside of our insular group of persons who share ideas quite opposite to Mr. Anonymous:
quote:
In the final chapter of Plato's Republic, Socrates says that the wise ones who have seen the light of truth must go back and help the others find their way, even knowing that s/he won't be believed and may even be harmed in the process. (Philosophy is totally not my thing, so I'm sorry if I butchered that.) So perhaps it's necessary that we expose ourselves, holding in our bile as possible, in order to achieve a better society.
The response from Heather is rational, and makes good sense:
quote:
what we mostly need to do is marginalize these kinds of folks. They really are unlikely to change their minds, and if they do, are more likely to do so on their own steam than based in anything we say.
and
quote:
I also want to add that some people with divergent opinions are better than others, and DO want to have real discourse, and ARE willing to evaluate how they think.
My problem stands here: I have a person who is closely, deeply affecting my life right now (in ways that are far too long to go into in this post) whose rather antiquated views on gender roles, human sexuality, etc. are negatively impacting our relationship and the people between us. She's not of the second type Heather mentions, that's willing (or, I rather think) capable of self-analyzing and accepting my point of view- not because I'm an inebriated cockroach, but because I'm young and therefore terribly foolish and idiotic. And I can't marginalize her, at least not permanently- she's going to be a more or less permanent fixture of my life unless some rather painful and definitive disowning goes on. How, exactly, do I prepare myself to deal with this on a more permanent basis when I find myself becoming inevitably (physical-distance-wise and family-relationship-wise) closer to her?

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"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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Heather
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Are we talking about the family member of a partner?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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ladylady
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I notice that the vast majority of that man's post had nothing to do with the question at hand, and seemed to just be a way for him to air his grievances with feminism. In other words, it's all about him.
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not_a_hobgoblin
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We are indeed. :-(

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"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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Idir
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"A More Traditional Answer"
Hmm... Well, I don't wanna know what "traditions" he's based his comment on.

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I know there is an over the rainbow for me.

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Heather
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Sorry to have lapsed with this not_a_hobgobin.

As you can perhaps imagine, given what I do for my living, what my background is like and what my politics are, I have often found myself in disagreement with the parents of partners of mine. hack, given I'm queer, just by virtue of being a same-sex partner sometimes that, all by itself, has been a serious source of friction.

The way I personally tend to handle that is by addressing what myself and a partner's family have in common: we both love that person, that person loves all of us. Sometimes, when there has been friction, I've verbally said that very clearly, and also said that we clearly have some disagreements and places we don't intersect. I have then sometimes asked if we could work together to find ways to have mutual respect for one another, and to try to be sensitive to each other's issues, especially since a lot of friction between a partner and family can be so hard on everyone. Sometimes I'll also point out that it may be we all have things to learn from one another, and that interpersonal relationships tend to foster change and growth.

have you tried something like that yet?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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not_a_hobgoblin
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Not in exactly so many words... I have in at least one instance clearly, verbally, and repetitively stated the fact that I know she loves her daughter and I know we have different viewpoints on a *lot* of things and that I want to get along with her better, but we're currently at an "avoiding each other point" because she feels like I don't respect her... which is kind of true. She honestly *believes* some of these things? She honestly thinks that the way she treats other people (including my partner and I) because of these beliefs is okay? I'm working on it, but it's not exactly something I can just turn on because my parter asks me to. And I think if I tried to ask her to be sensitive to my issues, she'd stare at me like I sprouted tentacles: she believes that anyone under, say, 30 is incapable of making good decisions without heavy parental supervision (mostly because she did some really stupid things as a young adult). Anything I say that she doesn't agree with gets dismissed under the clause of "You're too young and stupid to understand this" or even better, "You are unspeakably rude for even suggesting that and I'm going to have a minor fit now and then give you the cold shoulder for a while."

Another standing point as to why I suspect that she may not be so sensitive to my issues? Every time my parter comes to her upset about something bigoted she's said to or about either herself, me, or one of our friends, it's my parter that ends up trying to console her mother, because of course, we're all victimizing her. It's not that we don't feel comfortable spending extended amounts of time with someone who obviously isn't comfortable with our life choices, it's that we're rude and we don't like her.

I can try... I just need to get up the courage to try getting past polite small talk and hurried exits again.

Edit to add: Sorry about the ranting, and the derailing of the topic. :-P it's been on my mind a bit.

[ 03-26-2009, 09:39 PM: Message edited by: not_a_hobgoblin ]

--------------------
"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

Posts: 174 | From: Indiana, USA | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
QuantumInc
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This isn't hate speech, no it is much more insidious than that. He's trying to help, but ultimately has some really horrendous beliefs and attitudes, which in themselves do harm.

He claims he thinks of men and women as equal, but still (and in a fairly insulting way) says that women are irrational and unthinking. That women need others to be happy, but not just friends and families but specifically husbands.

"Fulfilling one's traditional role is the only way to be happy! Why? Because it's what women from 40,000 years ago did!" How the f*** does he know what society was like 40,000 years ago? Sure, there are hunter-gatherers in modern times, but a lot of them rely on an elder matriarch for guidance, and on women for most of the food gathering and economy. Though either way, the key to happiness is NOT just doing whatever evolution tells you to do. This guy seems to have a major focus on evolution as the guide to the way society should be run, which to me is idiocy. As being aware of ourselves, our origins, and our future, shouldn't we try to move past simple biological impulses, rather than using them as a model?

It is implied that women are valuable for their warmth, nurturer, and interpersonal skills, yet if he values women for these qualities they don't apply to friendships for some reason. No female-female cliques are just "herds". I'm sure he fondly remembers competing with other guys in a 1001 idiotic little ways without realizing it's the same thing. Friendships that only exist to help you "fit in" are inevitably superficial, more of a herd than friends, regardless of gender.

I especially, er..."like" the part where he basically says that women have more power in a relationship because good men will never let them cry. So what? You can get your man to do whatever you want by threatening to cry? So the woman's power lies in emotionally manipulating the man she is supposed to love!?!

I read it, it's long, it isn't related to the original article. Overall it isn't really hateful, the parts that don't pertain to women are correct. He doesn't hate women, he just doesn't trust them to make decisions for themselves, because he sees them as unthinking beings. He's calm and rational and wants to help, but his attitudes are just so...wrong, not just wrong but ultimately dangerous. I dare not think about the number of people who failed to reach their potential because they were female in the wrong era, or even the number of relationships and marriages ruined by being forced into that mold.

Unfortunately trying to rid this man of these horrific attitudes would be impossible for any of us. Only close family, friends, and mentors even have the capability of really doing so, the rest of us can only make sure no third person is listening to these beliefs, and then move on with our lives.

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The Loser
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I always wondered that too, Broadwaybound.

I'm not sure how I would be like if I wasn't a trans guy, living most of my life as a female before transitioning.
I'd like to hope that I would have the same amount of respect for women as I do right now, but who knows.
My parents are pretty equal I guess, my mom brings in the dough, but is still bossed around by my dad which is lame.

I just feel like these guys who are so bigotted (like the commentor)... I just don't understand how you can fully appreciate a woman.. or women in general, if you don't have respect for them.

Right now I've been dealing with this issue with my two friends. They're both sexist, but one is much worse than the other. I guess maybe it's their culture. My friend is from Jordan in the Middle East, and some of the things he says makes me feel really sick, to the point I just don't want to discuss women with him.

I feel really bad for girls... [those of whom are into men] in their quest for lovers. :|

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