Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Invisible Woman

There are several different types of sexist guys. Yeah, yeah, there are sexist women too. Lots of them. And that sucks. But the root problem with sexism isn't a lack of sisterhood. After all, it's still the men who are running the show, even if some of us are helping them out.

There's the old letch, not uncommonly found pinching your ass in nursing home hallways.

There's the Old Boys Club, commonly found eating steak or playing golf places you can't visit.

There's the porn-loving fella often found in the bedroom trying to convince his girlfriend of why she should enjoy letting him film "the money shot" while he calls her a nasty slut.

There's Larry The Cable Guy.

There are the chivalrous gentlemen who always buy lunch and open doors for the ladies and are quick to point out that women really are the better sex.

There are the Promise Keepers and other conservative religious folk, talking a great game about nuclear families and men taking responsibility for themselves and their actions, all the while underscoring the biological necessity of men and women having different natures and different roles.

There are the liberal men who don't see why it's wrong to call other men "pussies" as an insult.

And there are the men who don't see women, don't hear us. This is an interesting group. Sometimes they're the guys who don't hear a good idea or a funny joke when you share it, but praise the idea or laugh at the joke when another man says it, as if he'd never heard it before. And some guys take it even further than that.

When I first met my husband's best friend from high school, I was a little nervous. I was serious about my then-boyfriend and I wanted this friend of his, this guy who had been so important to him as a kid, to like me. I took some care with my hair and makeup, thought of witty things to say, questions to ask.

He didn't even notice me. I expected him to smile, shake my hand, ask me how I was enjoying my first trip out to Wyoming, but his eyes slid past me as he looked around the room. He only talked to Paul. Eventually I wandered away. I checked the mirror for any errant pieces of spinach or other flaws that might have caused him to be too embarrassed to look at me, but there was nothing untoward. Every time I've met him it's been pretty much the same deal. And it's not a jealousy thing - "he's just a guy's guy." Like that makes it OK.

Several years ago I played in a men's inline hockey league. Somehow I ended up captain of my team for a while - though I was far from the best player, I was competent with the administration of the team and I wasn't the worst player either. I was energetic, enthusiastic, and dependable. But I got a really bad vibe from one of the guys. He didn't ever really acknowledge me. He talked around me, over me, asked other players for confirmation after I'd said something to him. Most of the guys liked him, they didn't see this because he wasn't ignoring them. It made me feel incredibly small.

Recently I found his blog. Hey, I thought, I like this guy better in his blog than I did in real life. Maybe I was wrong about him, or maybe he changed. Then I read on.
  • Strike One: because the "guys" will do a far better job than that chick at HP did, of course
  • Strike Two: what, no mention of the justice who actually wrote the dissenting argument?
He's the same guy, all right. Another "guy's guy."

Your favorite types?


ccw said...

I, too, love the "guy's guy" kind of man. I am always amazed that these men can find women to marry them and reproduce with them. How you have managed not to tell of your husband's friend is beyond me.

I also like, the "elderly biggot" man who gets away with sexist and racist comments b/c they are of "that generation".

Or the "I'm a man b/c I can get someone pregnant" guy who seems so proud of his sperm, but is unwilling to actually do any hands-on parenting.

purple goddess said...

I've met guys like that, and one of them recently. He is the husband of a woman I like very much. I am used to when we get together with other couples, being in the room with both of them and talking amongst the four of us. But with this guy, both in his own home and in ours, he wants to tak my husband off to the side so they can do "guy stuff" rather than hang out with the women. And it just SO rubs me the wrong way!

Cjara said...

Ugh. I grew up in country where women are still considered second best, dowry is still a common word there, so yes, I know these kind of guys and a few more! :-/

Where I live now is a bit better, but I think the (women´s) movement still has a long way to go and it´s not as obsolete as some people try to convince us!

Jessica said...

I just love it when men call me "honey" or "sweetie" in a manner that suggests it should appeal to me. Another favorite of mine are the men who feel entitled to women sexually (CCW recently wrote about this).

On a little bit of a side note - I really can't stand receiving mail that reads "Mr. and Mrs. Scott Prince" - hello! I did take my husband's last name but I'm still me, people..."Jessica" hasn't died or fallen off the face of the earth.

trisha said...

Oh, my favorite---the men who think they are being "cute" with waitresses. Instead they are annoying, condescending louts.

trisha said...

And, Jessica, YES! I hate that, too! I am sooo not Mrs. Chris.

Gosling said...

Ooh! Ooh! My favorite is the "Progressive Man." He is so cool on his "issue areas" he thinks that gives him immunity on gender politics. "Why, I CAN'T be sexist! How can you SUGGEST that! I have devoted my life to (environmentalism / Palestinian right of return / Haiti / media reform / everything but sexism)! I can't POSSIBLY be sexist!" Yeah. Your hard work on behalf of OTHER MEN (and mostly yourself) definitely gets you a pass on gender, bud. Pfft.

Wow. I guess I have strong feelings about this. :p

Orange said...

Cancer, Baby recently wrote about what she calls Mood Oglers—the guys who say, "Smile, honey! Don't look so sad!"

One of my least favorite men of the last five years was the old guy who asked me in a restaurant if I was breastfeeding. (I wasn't breastfeeding, for some very compelling and personally upsetting reasons.) What the hell? How is that his business? (He was unusual in that it's usually a woman who asks that question.)

brooke said...

the liberal peace and justice activists who think they are so evolved and call themselves feminists, but don't understand the privilage they carry with them as males. the ones who are the public voice for a movement that is largely moved by women. the ones who think say they get it and think they carry it, but constantly have it pointed out how they are forever taking on patriarchial traditional male roles. yes. those are the ones i love the most, because they think they are so evolved that in the peace and justice community equality between the genders is no longer an issue.

Ms. Polkadot said...

A lot of the old-fashioned, obvious ones don't bug me any more- the ones I either ignore or laugh at. They're usually a lot older, or silly, or both. The pseudo progressive ones piss me off, but I don't know many of them in real life.

I HATE the ones who just ignore your existence. Usually they ignore you if they don't think you're hot, otherwise you might be worth a bit of attention until they lose interest. I have met so.many guys like that through my spouse. A lot of times I thought it was just a lack of manners, which it is, but a lot of it is just being invisible to them.

ben vierck said...

re: Strike One
In this context "guys" is non-gender specific and no more sexist than "Hey guys. Come here!".

re: Strike Two
From the source I copied from ", filed a concurring opinion. O'Connor, J., filed a dissenting opinion,". I was reading and blogging too quickly and accidentally associated O'Connor's name with concurrance rather than dissent. It was an error of oversight. Not an intentional omission.

You are quick to judge.

How you describe the lockerroom dynamic is not how I remember it. I believe you've mischaracterized it. Nonetheless, I sincerely apologize for being a source of discomfort for you. It was unintentional.