Saturday, May 17, 2014

Language, Please

Hiyas, all. So, I now have meds that let me feel things. An unforseen side effect of this is that I can be pissed off again. Fortunately, this also means I can blog again. Yay!

My sister may yell at me for this one. Ah, well. Life.

My sister posted this earlier today. Now, I largely agree with the sentiment expressed: that use of the "not all men" statement to undermine a feminist argument is rude and sexist.

Here's where the yelling commences. Take a look at the "sample arguments":

A man is someone who pays his female employees less. 
A man is someone who interrupts a woman when she's in the middle of saying something. 
A man expects his wife to do all the cooking and cleaning.

Let's take a second here to clarify: these are problems common to men. These are not definitive male traits. Expressing these traits does not make a person a "man." These traits make a person a "douche bag."

Now then.

A feminist is a person who makes broad statements about men, generally in a derogatory context, without regard to sexist language.

What? Not all feminists do that? H-uh.

The problem I have with the majority of general statements is that I find general statements, more often than not, create false premises. Lets take a couple for a spin.

"Rape is a male problem. "

Well...that's statistically true. But the article says:

When a man (though, of course, not all men) butts into a conversation about a feminist issue to remind the speaker that "not all men" do something, they derail what could be a productive conversation. Instead of contributing to the dialogue, they become the center of it, excluding themselves from any responsibility or blame.
Ok. Generally correct. Problem: if the statement posited as the basis for the discussion creates a class that exhibits a behavior, a member of that class must (in this case) grant that premise as true to opt into that discussion.

So, in this instance, in order to have a "productive" conversation on women's rights, I have to agree that I create the problem, as a man?

That's productive? Capitulating a sexist argument to address a sexist problem = progress?

Here's a thought: no one likes microaggressions. So don't use them.

"The majority of rapists are male."

Heeeey...that's true! Also, it creates a distinction such that "not all men" is an unnecessary attack. Because in this case, the class is "rapists" and the section of that class being addressed is "male."

Point here? If it's sexist and unproductive for a man to make a sweeping general statement about women, it is conversely sexist and unproductive for a woman to make sweeping statements about men. No free passes on double standards.

The English language is wildly expressive and capable of infinite flexibility. There is no need or call for sexist language to be used by anyone in any productive discussion on sexism.

Use your words, all of you.

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