I don’t care if you finally got a man to say ‘lady’, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing
That’s one small step for womyn, three steps back for humankind
Yesterday the American Womyns Agency managed to kafkatrap a man into saying ‘lady’ the culmination of a ten year multi-disciplinary program, involving painting red with black spots a large polystyrene model of a beetle of the family Coccinellidae, and replaying a John Scalzi triumphal squee at top volume as the target got the second part of replying to the trap-question ‘What is that?’ which took very precise timing and high nausea tolerance. It was a powerful step forward for womyn and Womyn’s Studies alike. However, slightly before the big moment, coverage of the event reminded us how much progress remains to be accomplished back in the real world.
A number of the Womyn’s Studies graduates involved on this incredible project were interviewed in the hours leading to the kafkatrapping by the mainstream daily blah. One of those Womynists was Martha Tynker, who chose to dress, for this special occasion, in a bowling shirt covered in scantly clad caricatures of sexy men in provocative poses.
This is the sort of casual misandry than stops men entering certain arts fields. They see a womyn like that on TV and they don’t feel welcome. They see the bare-chested headless man with his top button of his fly undone on a ‘Romance’ cover in a colleague’s office and they know they aren’t respected. They hear comments about “MCPs” while out at a bar with fellow Womyn’s Studies students, and they decide to change majors. And those are the men who actually make it that far. Those are the few that persevered even when they were discouraged from pursuing degrees in drama, media studies, and whining throughout high school. These are the men who forged on despite the fact that they were told by elementary school classmates and the media at large that boys who like social ‘science’ are nerdy and unattractive. This is the climate that men who dream of working in HR or Government Equality Programs come up against, every single day. This shirt is representative of all of that.
The Pissific journalist Ross Adamwak brilliantly captures what that shirt represents in a community that continues to struggle, if not outright fail, to respect men.
‘No no men are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dudette in this shirt’ he twetted.
Reaction has been widespread after menists spread this across the twetterscape yesterday, a sample of which are replicated here:
‘You couldn’t even park a spaceship on a comet let alone trick a man into saying ‘lady’ by cutting off the bug part of what he says.’ – Wobbler.
‘If you can get a man to say ‘lady’, then you can wear what you like.’ — Moll
‘I mean it’s just silly, it’s not like the cartoon men on the shirt are doing something awful like landing a spaceship on a comet. They’re washing up the dishes and making sammiches.’ — Anne Elk
‘Look at any men’s magazine. You’ll see pictures by men for men of a lot sexier men in less clothes. And mostly they’re not doing liberating things.’ — Jo Mohr-Scati.
‘If you can’t cope with a shirt with cartoons of sexy men doing the dishes, you shouldn’t be doing womyn’s studies, go and do science or something.’ – A. Mary Kohn-Lefti.
‘Yergle bergle pumpkin. Your mother is a duck with fish-sperm. I’m looking for that little Asian chick I stalk. And I can do and say anything I please because I’m a SJW’ – Yamama Clamps.
Yes, it’s a ridiculous satire. Yet there are far, far less men in Womyn’s Studies –which, we are angrily assured, is every bit as (if not more) important to humankind as Engineering, Astrophysics and Mathematics put together – than there are women in Engineering or Astrophysics or Math. Do you think it’s because of the casual misandry? Maybe the shirts? Are they rejecting just under 50% of the human race?
I wait to hear what they’re going to do about that. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
I think landing on a comet is a great achievement, both for Homo sapiens and sf. My respect for the scientists who did it is vast. It’s a very elite club – but not one that wants to keep anyone who has the mental capacity and who loves the science out. I know these sort of folk: they want you to join them, desperately. They’ll help in any way they can. However dumb bunnies who look at this sort of achievement… and see a shirt as more important are not ever going to cut it, and that’s not because of their genitalia, or anything else irrelevant. It’s because they’re thick. Fantastic guys like Dr. Matt Taylor – who go out of their way to attract younger people into science, deserve our support and praise.
I am forcibly reminded of the great hoo-ha that resulted in the SFWA magazine being killed and the editor fired because it had a curvaceous woman in a chainmail bikini – with a stonking great sword, and a dead, and plainly male monster-man, on the cover. It was sexist. It made the woman into a sex object (with a sword she just killed a monster-man with). Irrelevant the countless women in even more scanty bikinis on any sunny Western-civ beach, Kim Kardashian’s tail end all over the internet, and the usually very revealing outfits designed to enhance the… mind (ha ha) in fashion magazines (by women, for women to read… even the covers of romance novels, which are pretty well undeniable objectification (when you leave the body on the cover, but cut the face off, it’s a small clue that the person is being made into ‘an object’. Possibly you missed it /sarc off. I don’t give a toss, myself. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and vice versa.)) Oddly, I remember one of the chief fuss-budgets lusting after a leather bustier – intended to exaggerate the sexual characteristics of the wearer, and impractical for any other reason, undoubtedly damned uncomfortable, moments after condemning the sexist chainmail. The cognitive dissonance didn’t seem to register with her.
It’s not actually about ‘micro-aggression’. There probably isn’t any, unless you try terribly, terribly hard to find something to be offended at (and even then 99.9% it’s completely innocent, and a dozen examples of far worse exist that they ignore). It’s actually about systematic abuse by the accuser. It follows much the same recipe of cruel psychological manipulation which Synova described in the comments on my post last week – where the target does nothing they can see as wrong: “Imagine doing this to a child.
The kid is walking through a room doing nothing much and suddenly POW… and then you tell the kid… well that was YOUR fault. You screwed up. You stepped on that spot on the floor.
So the kid looks at the spot and it looks like every other spot. But the kid is told that, no, the fact that she can’t even SEE the spot is what the problem is. You can’t SEE the spot… that’s why it is YOUR fault. Also, a good child will try to learn. You’re a good child, aren’t you?
So the kid says, yes… it was my fault. I could not SEE the spot. Not seeing the spot makes this my fault.
Afterward, it’s still impossible to see the spots, and walking across the room becomes fraught with danger. Sitting down at the keyboard gives this very “good” person the shakes and panic attacks… where are the spots? She still can’t see the spots but she MUST agree and believe that those spots exist.”
They’re trying to please, to ‘be good’, but the perpetrator will find something to give them a beating about. So they will try even harder to second guess and oblige the perpetrator’s every whim. They are, de facto, entrapped slaves. It’s vile behavior, whether done by a man to his partner, or ‘Requires Hate’ or Rose Eveleth to an unsuspecting scientist (yes a week on, and SJW behavior has changed… not at all. See how they learn and fix). It’s remotely possible the abuser is unaware of their own behavior, but it is more likely that they enjoy it, and rationalize its acceptability – ‘he deserved it.’ ‘I only hit her because I love her’, ‘it’s because I want more women in science, he deserves it’ or ‘I’m punching up.’
I’m sick of it. I think covers like these are great. And if you don’t like ‘em, by all means get Jim Hines to pose for your next cover. In a niqab, if it pleases you. But don’t expect or demand I do so. I’d rather have covers that appeal to the sort of people who like to read my books.
For the record: I am not ‘micro aggressive’ – not in my covers, actions, writing or words. I kill animals to feed myself and my family, with my hands, knives, guns and spears. I am bluntly better at that kind of physical ‘aggression’ than most Western urban people. I was born and bred into it and I’ve had much more practice. If anything it makes me a very gentle individual in my dealings with people. I know how fragile they are, and I have a code I live and die by. I was an army NCO. I know what aggressive language actually means too, and I seldom use that on purpose, but when I do, I do it properly. If I actually want to swat you, it will not be ‘micro’. If it is ‘micro’, look into your own head, and get over it.
What we actually need is people writing books (and landing spacecraft on comets, but we are writers) that inspire ANYONE to take up a career in STEM. It’s a hard path, and not that rewarding, either in respect, fame, or money. Heinlein did that well. He made it accessible, promising and, yes, ‘cool’. Off-hand I can think of no rival since.
Oh, I’m at 124 pre-orders of Joy Cometh With The Mourning: A Reverend Joy Mystery
Thank you all. In the interests of honest advertizing I must remind you that it isn’t fantasy or sf, but a cozy murder-mystery.