After reading this article on Jezebel (worth a read if you feel like getting angry about how men design the messages women get and then blame women for listening to them…but that was the topic of my last post) and a frustrating conversation with some friends, I continued my morning browsing of social reading. Sometimes reading more about social issues makes me even more overwhelmed, but many times it makes me feel like I’m not alone in this. There are at least a handful of smart, intelligent women (and some men as well) who are active in this fight.
When I read this article by Abigail Collazo on Fem 2.0, it immediately resonated with me. I always knew that it bothered me when I said I wanted to pay for my meal, or drink, or whatever it might be, and men ignored that, but I never was able to communicate exactly why. They would say, “just let me do this,” “it’s what my mom raised me to do,” and so on. I usually would give in at that point, because what am I supposed to say?
“Well, your mom internalized the sexism around her and while she thought she was raising you to be respectful, she was actually raising you to be the exact opposite.” That would go over well. But I always had this lingering feeling that there was something wrong with this exchange. I knew it had something to do with wanting to be treated like an equal, but I could never take my argument to a logical conclusion. Which is why I was so grateful when I read Collazo’s article. The way she articulates why this is a problem, why this always left me feeling frustrated, is artful.
The issue isn’t who actually pays for the drink or the meal-or at least the issue at hand-it’s the dismissing of what the woman is saying she wants, or doesn’t want. When a man offers to buy me a drink, that of course comes with its own considerations, and I might accept or decline, but when a man insists he pay for a drink I wanted to buy for myself, after I protest, that’s dismissive and disrespectful. In Collazo’s words, “This tells me that you don’t respect me, that you don’t value my decisionmaking ability, and that you don’t acknowledge, appreciate, or respect my agency.”
Read the rest here at Fem 2.0.