A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed a new member to our growing community here at this young blog: mashav.  I never met mashav before *he* started commenting on my post about the Olathe hate crime, but I knew that *he* was a friend of kevinmkr’s.

I consider kevinmkr to be the sort of kind, fair, and wise person who everybody should have in their lives and I figured that since he wouldn’t be the type to have an asshole in his circle of pals; anybody he was sending our way would likely be someone of equally good character and worth getting to know.

When I emailed mashav and introduced myself, I let *him* know how much I had enjoyed the quality of our discussions up to that point and mentioned that *he* was the “sort of guy we’d hoped to attract” to our site for *his* intellectual viewpoint and ability to handle some solid, drawn-out discussions.

Well, I was in for a surprise and I think you know what *it* was.

Mashav graciously thanked me for reaching out, but decided to clear the air by letting me know that *he* was a woman.  Most of you have already figured this out, I am sure, but I genuinely did not know this during the first few rounds of discussions we’d had up to that point.

She wasn’t offended by my mistake.  Mashav even told me that she had noticed me refer to her as a male in an earlier comment, and was considering ‘coming out.’ The reason that prospect gave her pause was twofold. She had been mistaken for a man in a different forum earlier that same week, so she wondered if that was an outlier or if she should expect it to keep happening when people read her words without a picture or a name attached. In addition, she had wondered if we would either pull our punches or dismiss her POV if we realized she was a woman.  She was curious to see what treatment she would receive in an online forum if people didn’t know she was a woman right from the start.  I could assure her that no, I did not know her gender, and like to think that I treat both the male and female members of our community with equal civility.

like to think that, but do I?  This is where it got uncomfortable for me.

She asked me directly, “What made you think I was a man?”  Did she have a “butch writing style” or was it just the subject matter?

“Well,” I replied.  “I could just tell you that I didn’t know we had any female commenters because I study the site’s Google Analytics each day and they’ve been telling me that 100% of our audience is male.  Obviously, that’s wrong.”

It would have been easy for me to stop there.  I could have legitimately left it at that and, whether she believed me or not, she would have had to take that at face value.  But I didn’t stop there.  I felt like she deserved to know the truth.  The ladies in attendance might want to hang onto themselves, because I’m going to say some things you’re not going to like, but I think you’ll appreciate me saying them for the sake of truth.

I explained to her that it just never crossed my mind that I wasn’t conversing with a man.  I said, “It really is just that rare that I encounter women in online political debate who I perceive as being as committed, informed, and (REALLY HATE TO SAY THIS) rational as you both are and present yourself.”

Note: Before I go any further, I want to say directly to pfluffy that I also used to think you were a man way back when you used the handle “flogg”.  So, I don’t want you thinking that I think you’re some tender bundle of nerves I feel like I have to treat gently.  Maybe this is a lesson I should have learned years ago.

Is that fair to say, gentlemen?  Do we see women as being over-emotional and do we feel like we have to “pull our punches” and make only the gentlest jabs with our most padded pillows instead of the bar stools we crack over each other’s heads?

I’m going to tell you that I felt ashamed of myself for feeling the way I did.  I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that mashav was a woman just because she could present a strong argument with facts and reason, but I was.  I can’t fake a lack of surprise any better than 35% of heterosexual women can fake orgasms.

“Now that you’ve questioned it, it troubles me that I believed this and I’m pondering it,” I said.  “My wife is an educated woman, superior education to me AND she’s gifted with more common sense.  We discuss politics, movies, philosophy, religion and it would never occur to me to talk down to her (not that she’d tolerate it).  My older sister is absolutely astonishing.  You know, Bachelors in PoliSci from KU, Phi Beta Kappa.  She’s also one of the three funniest people I’ve ever known (and she’s a FLAMING LIBERAL).  Then there’s all the various women I interact with in the corporate world who are senior to me.  I genuinely don’t think I treat them any differently than I would a male VP.”

I do respect women.  Don’t I?

“But then I did make an assumption about you and I’m wondering why I would do that,” I continued.  “It’s not the way I was raised and it’s not right that I should have done that.”

Mashav appreciated my candor and I, in turn, assured her that I was not the least bit upset with her nor did I feel like she had been dishonest in any way.  In fact, I was grateful–still am–for the opportunity to have some introspection.  And I have thought about it since then.  You know what I figured out?

I really do go easy on women and I had a recent example hiding right in plain sight.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the key components of my personal fitness program is to attend martial arts training once or twice a week.  Namely, it’s Krav Maga (no, not #MAGA, that’s different, you fool).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the style is very heavily focused on hitting and being hit.  There’s an emphasis on speed and aggression, but above all, it’s “contact combat” and you’re going to get knocked back on your heels periodically.

Every class I’ve ever attended since I started last October has always had at least two women in it.  I hate getting paired up with them.  You know why?  Because I’m not going to fight women.  I honestly cannot think of any scenario where I would be attacked by a woman, much less need to knock her out with a jab-cross-hook-uppercut-rear kick combo.  Women aren’t dangerous to me.  Men are.  We commit all the violent crime.  We are the aggressors in any society and always have been.  Violent women are a blip in the crime statistics, relatively speaking, compared to what we men deal out to our fellow humans day in and day out.

You know who I like getting paired up with?  This 6’5 police officer who’s been involved in the program for years.  He shows up on Tuesdays, my favorite days.  The dude’s a tank and I like knowing I can cut loose to my heart’s content.  I’m not going to be able to hurt that dude and when I can see that my application of those techniques work at stopping someone with his strength and commitment level, it feels victorious.

Well, shortly after I first started, I got paired up with this nice lady about my own age.  You know, forties.  She often brings her kids to class with her and they sit quietly and play on their electronics while mom gets her ass-whupping on.  When it was her turn to hold the pad and let me rain down some punches and kicks (and it does hurt sometimes even with the strike pads), I couldn’t see anyone in front of me but….a nice mom.

I didn’t want to hit her, even though I wasn’t going to hurt her, and she knew it.  After my first three strikes, she smiled broadly and said in a friendly way, “You can hit me harder than that!” Yeah.  I tried, but it was impossible to get past my own programming at the time.

Many of you who are more “traditional” men might agree with me on this.  I don’t think most of us ever expect to have a fistfight with a lady and I’ve even seen cases firsthand in which men were battered by their wives and they just wouldn’t defend themselves.  They couldn’t.

What I determined, after my conversation with mashav, was that every time I pull my punches with women in class, I am hurting them more and doing them wrong.  As it happens, they come to class because they want to learn how to protect themselves from me.  I’m tall, lean, fit, fast, aggressive, and I have this well-developed talent for projecting an air of menace and intimidation that multiple people have mentioned to me over the years, usually with a small urine stain on the front of their pants.  It’s probably why I don’t get invited to parties.

The women in class go there because they need to know how to stop attackers who are larger, stronger, faster, and crueler than they are.  I may want to be nice to them, but a rapist in the dark won’t be.  I’ll pull my punches, but an abusive boyfriend won’t.  They want me to hit hard for the same reason I want to spar with the gigantic badass cop and I’m a misguided prick for denying them that opportunity to compete as my equal, to grow, and to become better and stronger.

It’s no different in the rough-and-tumble world of online political discussion, is it?  I do believe that women deserve consideration as equal, rational, and intellectual combatants.  They deserve the opportunity to learn from the perspectives of men who might disagree with them and to be taken seriously when they present solid arguments.  They don’t want special treatment, just the same treatment, and our attempts to be chivalrous can come across as condescending.

I can understand why mashav, or any woman, would be reluctant to identify her sex on any online forum.  On one extreme, she doesn’t think she’ll be treated as serious or her arguments will simply be dismissed as hysterical gibberish by the nerdy, antisocial men like me who tend to dominate these things.  On the other extreme, outspoken women tend to get rape threats and insults on a lot of online forums.  That’s a whole other topic though.

For my part, I have fully reflected on what I’ve learned from this experience.  This is what I’ve learned: I do love and respect women and I appreciate our differences where they exist, rather than seeing women as weak or somehow “less than”.

It is my duty, as a man, to use my greater size and physical strength and natural aggression to protect women and children from other men or from acts of nature which could bring them harm.  Or just house spiders.  I believe that all men should adopt this mentality and the reason that the world is in such chaos is because so many young men either don’t apply this or have never had it explained to them.

I’ll never apologize for my belief that women should be protected.  You are different from us, due to hormones or upbringing or social mores or whatever, but you are not inferior to us.  I’ll continue to treat my female family members with full respect and demonstrate complete loyalty to the women who I am subordinate to in the corporate world, as I always have.

What I have learned and will apply changes in my life is recognizing that I must treat women with equal respect when we are in conflict, not just when they’re women who are “on my side”.  From now on, I’m going to ensure that I always hold women to the same standard of rigor that I would demand of any man who challenges me.  I won’t make the mistake of thinking that women need to be sheltered from the harsh realities of the world like children.  I learned what I needed to know, I think.

Some of the men reading this are probably rolling their eyes.  “Dear Lord,” they think.  “Thrill has turned into a guilty white liberal.  The metamorphosis is complete.  Can I get you a Midol?”

You’re certainly free to judge me.  Believe me, the women are probably going to judge me worse for some of the things I’ve said above.  But what I submit to you, my dear bros, is that it might be good for you to examine your own behavior toward the women in your life.  Ask your significant other.  There is a possibility that you speak to her in a certain way, that it affects the way she feels about you, and that society’s expectation of how women should behave makes her feel like it’s not okay for her tell you that what you do is affecting her self-worth.

I’ll tell you that I read this post to Mrs. Thrill before I published it and she did tell me about things I have said in the past that made her feel bad.  She changed me over time and I don’t do those things anymore.  Do know, however, that she’s an extremely rational and intelligent woman and thinks that my examination of this issue didn’t go far enough in terms of how women feel that men treat them.

How about a conversation on this?  This is a Discourses post.  Go into the discussion knowing that the objective isn’t to prove right or wrong.  It’s to read, question, and try to understand perspectives that are different from your own.

If you want to have a scientific discussion about how women are too weak to serve in the armed forces in combat roles and you have a whole bunch of links and charts to back that up, you should save them.  This discussion is more about how women in the military may perceive that they are treated differently than their male counterparts in the form of preferential treatment and perhaps kept from realizing their full potential because of it.

As always, I will offer up a few jumping-off questions.  You don’t have to answer any of them, but they can help us get started.

  1. Do you think men treat women the same way I acknowledged doing above, particularly in political discussions?
  2. Women: How do you feel when you are being told to smile more, “mansplained” to (I hate the fuck out of that term, but Mrs. Thrill did use it to describe how she is often spoken to by other men) or otherwise treated in a condescending manner by men?  Do you get mad or do you just sort of accept or do you tend to ignore it or downplay it?  Even better: do you assume it’s unintentional?
  3. Men: If you can acknowledge that you treat women more gently than men in situations such as those I’ve described; do you think it’s wrong to do so?  Why or why not?

For the record, one of my prejudices about mashav was validated.  I was right about her excellent character, if not her gender, and am happy that I’ve got another smart and passionate person out there to exchange ideas with on the big issues of the day.  I returned to blogging because I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to learn, and I wanted to persuade and be persuaded.  She has given me that and I’m glad to know her now.

To kevinmkr: SEND MORE LIBERALS.

P.S. Mashav would like to point out that she is not afraid of house spiders. She does, however, expect her man to open jars and reach stuff on the high shelf for her.

 

 

58 comments

  1. I do feel that I often unwittingly treat women differently in certain situations. I think a lot of it has to do with how we were raised, and the many conflicting messages we are sent as boys and young men about how to relate to women. On one hand, we are to be the stronger sex, sacrificing and bearing extra burdens for, and giving extra courtesies to women. On the other hand, we are taught about equality and sexism, that women can do everything a man can do. As a result, it can sometimes be unclear whether we are to be in “chivalrous” mode or in “equality” mode. I try my best, but there’s bound to be error involved that can hurt, and I find myself, for instance, apologizing to my wife because of poor choices of word.

    The talking down thing is another that I have trouble with sometimes, and while I think I do it to both sexes, I think I do it more with women. I don’t ever mean to talk down, I always think I am being helpful by explaining, but it can come across as arrogant. My wife deals with the brunt of this, and I credit her the world for her incredible forbearance. She’s far more patient with me than I deserve. But there’s also the flip-side of talking over someone, where I don’t explain with the assumption they know everything I do (or at least everything important), then it makes the other feel dumb for not knowing what I’m talking about. So sometimes I have to decide to take a risk of either one of these happening, or just keep my mouth shut.

    I too loathe the term ‘mansplaining’ because while I think it covers a concept that is really something, it is deployed in all manner of ways to simply shut men up or devalue their opinion.

    Another balance we men must deal with is how much to accommodate differences in communication style with women, and how much to stand up for ourselves, and its important to understand that many women expect men to do so. Call it an accepted gender norm.

    Of course, all this talk about ‘mansplaining’ seems to completely miss the widely-accepted, yet little-discussed concept of ‘womansplaining’. Yes it is a thing. How many times has a man been shut up by woman playing the “you can’t understand” card? How often are men made to feel guilty or ashamed of simply thinking or acting like a man? It’s important to acknowledge that women face discrimination based on their sex, but its ignorant to think there is not sexist discrimination going the other direction. Men face their own issues with gendered expectations, gender roles, sexist assumptions, and sexist stereotypes as well.

  2. As a result, it can sometimes be unclear whether we are to be in “chivalrous” mode or in “equality” mode.

    That’s EXACTLY what I was struggling with on this and I think we all do. There really is no reliable social cue to let us know when we’re supposed to treat women differently and when we’re not. It’s not even an individual woman thing; the SAME woman will sometimes expect different treatment at different times.

  3. It’s an interesting conundrum. I mentally assumed during our previous exchanges that mashav was a man. Not sure what that says about me.

    I had already previously decided to lay off mashav since I had seen some patterns in our exchanges that don’t help anything, and I’m trying to leave behind – I almost stopped coming to the blog because of it (my fault, not mashav’s, and I didn’t want to drag down the new blog as a result of my shortcomings). So I was already intending to not be so confrontational – it had nothing to do with her being a her, so if I seem less…assholeish in the future, it is not because of that.

  4. I think we can agree that last bout was equally unhelpful from both sides. FWIW, I was also intending to be less assholeish after that.

  5. I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to read this, Zurvan. All of it.

    I feel a lot better knowing I wasn’t the only one who made that assumption. Had she not told me directly, I still would have believed it.

    You’ve done much that’s good for the quality of discussion here and I want you to stick around. Not just for what you add, but also because I think you’ve been the closest to my own opinions on the various topics we’ve talked about so far. I don’t want EVERYBODY to disagree with me all the time, for God’s sake. I’ll end up blowing a gasket.

    The last thing I want is for anyone to think I don’t want them to speak their minds. No, I very much want that. We all get heated at times and a month from now, I’ll probably end up bitching mashav out for refusing to acknowledge something and we’ll go 100 rounds. I’m no saint.

    However, when all is said and done, the mutual respect will still exist. I don’t make it personal.

    I also don’t think either of you were assholes in any of your conversations. I saw two people having a rational, well-sourced argument and getting frustrated because neither of them felt that their points were landing. I’ve gotten frustrated with mashav a couple of times myself, whether you could tell or not, and I just had to back off and try a different approach when it started welling up.

    You can’t win ’em all and sometimes it’s perfectly okay to accept a draw if you know you’re going to get pissed off!

  6. I think I treated women differently when I was single and attracted to more of them. It wasn’t as much putting a mask on as trying to step it up and make the sale I was a great guy when I was dating. I’m sure it came off as every bit the condescending tone it was judging by how often I was rejected.

    In the political arena I don’t draw too many lines, and now that I’ve settled down I’m not really looking for anyone else so women get the equally glib treatment I give to men. If someone is anonymous and I meet them on a blog I don’t really think to ask gender very often.

    As a side note: the pussy hat wearing men making “why feminism is important to me” videos need to be tarred and feathered. It’s so humiliating to watch a guy do that to themselves I almost feel like a mercy killing is the only humane option.

    Fwiw I thought mashav was a guy too. I can’t put my finger on why I thought that but if I had to guess it might’ve been the way she came out swinging in the comment section. It had the same sort of confrontational style I’m accustomed to from dealing with other guys (and to thrill’s point I probably only think that way because 99 percent of political blogs are boring sausage parties, of which I am a statistic).

    You didn’t really touch on this but gaming community has almost the same ratio of male to female contribution. I’ve often been in coop games where guys will hear a girl on the mic and instantly ask her for nudes or “what that mouth do?” I will admit women have to put up with a lot if they decide they enjoy video games.

  7. You touch on an issue I’ve been thinking about a fair amount lately–differences between men and women and what each needs from the other. It’s been talked about many ways, but basically boils down to the idea that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected. I really do think these are fundamental needs that are, for the most part, pretty applicable to all, depending on their sex.

    I want to highlight the male side of that: respect. There’s a reason “pussyhat men” are so disdained and pitied by other men–they have lost all respect, from themselves as well as others. The feminization of many institutions and the culture overall has seen growth in their numbers. From what I’ve seen, it’s usually the presence of certain influential women in their life, who basically beat the masculinity out of them until they’ve thrown in the towel. Every man knows or has known another man like this, and it’s just gut-wrenching to see it.

    Men and women are different, and have different needs. There are forces in our culture that seek to destroy “traditional” (I would say natural) gender roles and identities as one front in a broader war. It’s one way the evil one sows division, conflict, and strife in his attempt to destroy all that is good.

    I think we have made great progress in affirming and supporting women and girls, but scant attention has been paid to men and boys, who are really the ones in crisis. The addiction, sloth, and aimlessness that plague men today are the result of this lack of attention. We need to do better to affirm and reinforce positive masculine virtues, so that men earn the respect they so desperately need.

  8. Speaking as a woman, I need respect as much as any man does.

    I am not sure why you think there is a difference between the genders in that regard, but that definitely colors how you view the pussyhat men.

    Look at the liberals’ new anti-Trump poster boy, Trudeau. He is an unabashed feminist, but I dare anyone to say that he’s lost respect for himself or that he lacks masculinity. In fact, I would postulate that it’s the men who have respect for themselves and are secure in their masculinity who are not threatened by pussyhats, gay pride parades or the erosion of traditional gender roles.

    As long as you think that men can only gain respect by performing traditionally masculine tasks, you are the one sowing discord. Because the rest of us are going to continue to arrange our lives in ways that work for us, with women as breadwinners, men who do the laundry and other gut-wrenching horrors. And if you assume that every stay at home dad has had his masculinity beaten out of him, you are the one maligning your fellow man and making him feel worse about himself (exactly the way women make other women feel insecure about their appearance, the call is coming from inside the house.)

    Yes, men have higher rates of substance abuse, but that’s always been the case, way before women’s suffrage. You cannot blame that on the progress we’ve made in supporting women. One of the issues where we have not made nearly enough progress is violence, domestic and otherwise. Talk of masculine virtues and natural gender roles contributes to that. I know that’s not what you meant, and I am in no way accusing you of supporting that, but you have to recognize that there is a relationship. And saying that only men are in crisis completely ignores the women who also suffer from addiction (albeit in lower numbers.)

    You mentioned in your first comment that you frequently don’t know when to be chivalrous and when to treat a woman as an equal. I get that. I agree that it’s hard. It’s definitely something that varies by age, geography and mood of individual woman.

    It’s equally as hard *as a woman* to know when I am supposed to be lady-like and when I am supposed to act equal to a man. It’s just as individual for men as it is for women, as well as variable depending on the man’s mood. When should I stand up for myself, when should I be deferential? When should I do something for myself and when should I flip my hair, giggle and pretend not to know the answer to flatter a man’s ego? Should I pick up the check or let the man pay? Am I being a ball-busting bitch or a scheming gold-digger?

    I don’t really want to get involved in a battle of who has it worse, communications-wise. I recognize that for every time I worried about leading a guy on by talking to him, you worried about appearing to hit on a woman when you just wanted directions. I would say that the consequences of a misunderstanding here are somewhat more dire for women, but again, I recognize that there is thin ice for both genders.

    I would say that there is an underlying assumption that the way men communicate is normal, the baseline and the way women communicate is less than. I refer you to an earlier comment when I was told that I “argue like woman.”

    Btw, lot of what you see as differences in communication is actually women reacting to societal pressure to be less butch. One of the points of this experiment for me was to write the way I naturally write and see what people assume about me. I cannot do that at work. I, and many women I know, go through each email and festoon it with phrases like ‘I believe’ and ‘I know’ before each declarative sentence. How many of you gentlemen do that? Every email. Every day. I did not just decide to do that one day. This is a result of multiple performance reviews where I was told that “there is nothing wrong with what you say, just the way you say it.”

    Look, I accept that there are physical differences between the genders and even differences in the way we process information, but that doesn’t make one gender smarter than the other or better able to defend an opinion or parent children. I am still cool with guys holding doors open and stuff. Just not with them asking me if my husband is home when I want to discuss my IRA. I think it’s fine to have stereotypes about the genders in general, but we need to start recognizing actual specific people as individuals with their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. I promise it will be easier to navigate this minefield if you stop assuming traits for people based on their gender and punishing them for deviating from the stereotypes.

  9. You mentioned in your first comment that you frequently don’t know when to be chivalrous and when to treat a woman as an equal. I get that. I agree that it’s hard. It’s definitely something that varies by age, geography and mood of individual woman.

    It’s definitely hard to find the line these days.

    I was raised to open doors and always offer my seat to women. I don’t call that chivalrous, just polite. It grates on my nerves when I see a guy fail to do either, and I have tried to instill that same view into my boys…to varying degrees of success.

  10. I am fairly neutral on men opening doors for women specifically.
    I hold doors for people of both genders, because, as you say, that’s just polite.
    I personally would not be offended if someone offered me a seat, but I don’t expect it from a stranger.
    I do know women who would be offended by the offer, and while I get where they are coming from (the assumption that women are more delicate than men and can’t stand as long makes them angry,) I think that’s, well, silly. Also, I am lazy and I want the seat. I offer seats to old people and some of them are in way better shape than I am. To me, it’s more a gesture of respect than a comment on someone’s infirmity.
    OTOH, I know women who get pissed off if men don’t open the car door for them. Which, to me, is just as crazy. Trump-leaves-Melania-behind level of bs aside, I don’t expect someone to jog over to my side of the car while I sit there waiting. It’s cute when it happens on a date sometimes, but not when we need to get kids out of both sides of the minivan and walk into Costco.

  11. Pussyhat guys don’t threaten me or warp my myopic view of gender roles. I just think that 80 percent of them are disingenuous eunuchs that don the pussyhat because they think there’s vagina at the end of the march and lack the courage to simply ask for Netflix and chill.

    I’m a guy. I think I know how guys work. I’m sure lots are sincere and showing solidarity for a daughter or partner but I don’t believe most are.

    As far as not being able to hack it in a diverse world, I live in Los Angeles, home of the pride parade which I do attend. My doctor, dentist, veterinarian, even my personal trainer are female. I don’t believe I’ve ever chosen o hire someone for any other reason than results driven performance.

    I just thought I’d make those distinctions when I say I think pussyhat guys are pathetic weenies for the most part.

  12. I was mostly addressing zoom and his ‘natural gender roles’ when I mentioned the diverse world.
    I am sure the pussyhat men are a varied bunch, from true believers to the outliers who really have had the masculinity beaten out of them to these guys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTMow_7H47Q
    I happen to believe that most of them are sincere, but I guess there isn’t any way to know for sure. I am not going to claim to know how all(any?) guys work, but most of the ones I saw were there with their partners, so, presumably, already had vagina access without having to ask for Netflix and chill.

  13. I do know women who would be offended by the offer, and while I get where they are coming from (the assumption that women are more delicate than men and can’t stand as long makes them angry,) I think that’s, well, silly.

    My father ran into one such woman on a subway when I was quite young. She berated him for thinking her weaker than him, etc, etc. After her tirade went on for a minute or two, my dad said, “I’m sorry, I thought I was offering my seat to a lady. Apparently I was mistaken.” and sat back down.

    That’s one of the reasons it’s so ingrained into my brain to always do it, regardless of the risk of the woman being a feminist or not. I would say roughly 25% of the time the women decline the offer of my seat, but that’s it. I’ve yet to be accosted for it.

  14. I for one will me far more vicious to a male commenter, in a political discussion, than to a woman. Up to the point they turn nasty, then is all fair game.

    I generally am the one that holds open doors for strangers, ladies, men, family, and by this example so do my sons. Its really cute to see them fallback and hold open a door for a couple or family, ushering them in.. and waiting till they are all in…before he closes the door or holds it for the next person to hold. basic civility.

  15. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever seen you act viciously toward anyone in the eleven or so years we’ve been chatting online. You’re definitely the Civility Master, regardless of the gender you’re addressing. Can’t say I’ve ever seen you be condescending either, but I’m not a good judge of that. I’m the Condescending Master.

  16. oh you missed some of my FB posts then, and well there was my usenetdays…… by the time it hit RTftLC, i had mellowed a bit, but i do have flare ups…

  17. People are absolutely free to live their lives as they see fit. And it could very well be the case that in a given individual situation, a reversal of natural gender roles doesn’t necessarily mean the guy is an emasculated wimp. Nobody’s ignoring the wide variation in individual experiences here.
    But on the whole, there can be no doubt, men are in crisis. In ways far more widespread and damaging than issues facing women, particularly when there’s so much more attention given to women’s issues. Men may have always struggled with addiction more than women, but it is getting far worse. The number of men not working is the highest it’s ever been. Because of the natural gender roles and expectations that you want to deny exist, these factors impact far more than individual men–whole families are broken because of these trends.
    Your casual dismissal of this is part of the problem. Taking some extra time and effort to focus on men and boys does not in any way ignore (let alone “completely”) women. Were we to start raising better men, that would be a massive benefit to women as well, and do far more than some awareness campaign to address things like domestic violence. Instead, most of our educational and cultural institutions have mocked, degraded, trolled, and ignored how men think, act, learn, and grow. We make boys sit on their hands in a classroom for hours on end while we cut recess. We tell them they can’t play war because it promotes violence. We destroy the Boy Scouts because they are exclusionary to girls and won’t pretend they are boys. I could go on and on.
    Better men is the solution. And if you want better men, you can’t ignore what makes men who they are.

  18. mashav has done a great job of presenting the woman’s perspective.

    I have a few quibbles with some of the comments starting with women seemingly not needing respect (and men not needing love?). My husband would divorce me on the spot if I said “I don’t love you but I really really respect you.” “I really really love you but I don’t respect you.” would garner the same response from me. We all need both in more or less equal measure but my gut tells me that over time respect is more enduring. I don’t know, have to think about that one.

    The pussy hat men are as interesting as fight club men. There is little doubt that men have been encouraged away from the Andrew Dice Clay male stereotype (admittedly, a caricature). I can understand why men get defensive about exhibiting traits that have been tailored out, but suggesting that some of these are “normal” male behavior is concerning. Whacking a woman on the ass as she walks by is only missed by the female equivalent of an emasculated man. Yes, some women took it too far and bitched about holding doors open (curiously, buying drinks for us was never an issue) and made the movement look silly. Movement politics always takes things too far until the pendulum swings back. I am not going to apologize for enjoying the results. Early in my career a man actually asked me if I was pregnant when I announced that I was getting married. Nope, not gonna miss that.

    As for pussy hat men, they are likely as diverse as any other group. There is nothing wrong with showing solidarity with your woman but I must admit, I am not going to whack a stranger on the ass and grab my junk to show solidarity with men ( may tell a few dirty jokes and go to the gun range, though). I find the vagina hats to be pretty silly on both men and women. Surely we can get this done without inviting ridicule.

    As to Thrill’s original question, I do hear condescension (some in these very comments) from men, but I assume that is unintentional and rooted in upbringing and fairly deep seated. I still have vestiges of biases from my childhood that resist fixing no matter how hard I try. A good exercise in detecting the feeling is a read of “A Brave New World”. I can never wrap my mind around the reversals in morality. No, watching “Demolition Man” is not the same :).

  19. Look, I agree with you that we are off track.
    But girls also have to sit on their hands instead of having recess and it’s just as detrimental to them. I don’t think every issue needs to be gendered. Even domestic violence and rape, while they affect predominantly women, there is a surprising amount of male victims, partly gay, partly straight (due to the issue Thrill mentioned fighting back against a woman.)
    I guess what I am saying, instead of fighting over which side is more oppressed, why can’t we agree that the issues affect all of us?
    Look at addiction – yes, it affects more men, but surely you are not suggesting offering treatment for men only? The underlying causes (poverty, hopelessness​) are the same and, if you fix them, both genders benefit. I get that a man feels the extra shame of failing in his manly duty as breadwinner when he sees his wife and kids struggle in poverty. But do you get that a woman feels the same amount of extra shame for failing in her womanly duty as the nurturer and caregiver when she sees her family struggle in the same circumstances? The rates of addiction might be higher in men, but the rates of depression and other mental illness are higher in women. The symptoms might be different, but the underlying cause is the same. In the above example, both the a man and the woman suffer the same amount, if in different ways, because traditional gender roles are complimentary and have the goal of ensuring a good outcome for the offspring. If I work and my husband stays home, our offspring are just as cared for (possibly more so) as they would have been if we switched. As long as you keep fighting trans boys in the Boy Scouts or women breadwinner families instead of the real issues, like poverty and piss-poor education, we’ll both waste time and effort which could be channeled somewhere positive.

  20. As to Mashav and spiders….if I say she is braver than most men, does that emasculate men or belittle women (by assuming in the comparison to men that most women are not as brave or that being braver than most men she has usurped their physical dominance)? Being a white, Christian, libertarian male – from the south no less, I am not sure I can even talk about this. Or most anything else.

  21. But girls also have to sit on their hands instead of having recess and it’s just as detrimental to them.

    That is simply not true. Boys are hurt by reductions in recess, while girls are at least mostly unaffected. To wit:

    “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” says psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.”

    This is what I am trying to get at–that boys and girls are different. Men and women are different. In ignoring these fundamental, natural differences, you are part of the problem.
    It’s obviously not an either/or proposition. We can and should work to solve issues facing women and girls in ways that are appropriate for their circumstances.
    And yeah, accepting pretend-boys into the Scouts is a small issue that won’t solve these bigger problems. But it is clear that such acceptance decreases the ability to have a safe space for men to teach boys how to become men. My point is that there are a huge number of these small ways in which we are marginalizing men and boys, which is a big factor in driving the sorts of broader societal issues we face.

  22. I’m starting to wonder if I’m communicating in a masculine way, because I am being really misunderstood by the women on the respect-love point. It’s a pretty well-known idea, I thought, but like many of its ilk, it’s a wholly imprecise thought, but one that has an underlying truth to it. This article provides some more interesting nuance. Obviously both men and women need both respect and love, all I am saying is that respect is more important to men than women, and that this is one example of where there are fundamental difference between men and women that need to be recognized and respected if we’re to be more effective in tackling societal problems that emerge from familial dysfunction.

  23. I can understand why men get defensive about exhibiting traits that have been tailored out, but suggesting that some of these are “normal” male behavior is concerning. Whacking a woman on the ass as she walks by…

    Slapping a woman on the ass is actually the opposite of what I am talking about. That is disrespectful to a woman and a gentleman would never do such a thing. Scaling back societal repression of masculinity does not mean making behavior like this more acceptable. It means understanding what makes boys and men tick, and developing masculine values and virtues in them that take this into account.

  24. You might be surprised at the number of times I have been smacked and groped. You would also be surprised at how many times I have heard that “women want real men that take charge in the bedroom”. I have to inform them that few women actually want caveman treatment at home. I have had men actually say that they don’t care if I am married. Presumably, they want leave to just clock me on the head and drag me to bed. I am not really kidding. We are called “feminazi” for objecting to disrespect.

    You have known me a long time. I am prone to hyperbole and sarcasm, but sometimes the ridiculous does happen. Many of these shaved apes may be gentlemen in the cave but I will wallow in my ignorance on that one.

  25. I am a modern woman that will simply not deal with live bugs when there are others around that will. These other can be male or female. I do know that my husband dislikes this chore and probably just feels duty bound to rescue me from them. My son doesn’t care and will happily dispatch whatever it is.

  26. Sigh. I am fully aware that boys and girls are different. And I get that boys with ADD are really just boys who want to play. So girls in one small study in Finland where girls were under represented were still able to learn to read. But what were their health outcomes, for example? Since taking away recess affects not just learning, but other things, how can you say it’s a boys issue? Obesity is a problem for both genders, and healthcare is one area where women get completely shafted. All the drugs we take were studied on men, all the dosages are meant for men. The same way that boys are not unruly girls, women are not miniature men.
    Again, I am not saying we don’t have issues. And I am not saying we need to make everything gender blind. I am just saying that you need to stop acting like men specifically are under attack. Men have been centered in society for so long, that I understand that taking any focus away from them feels like a diminution. But the issues you are seeing as affecting you, affect me, too. And I don’t want us to go forward solving them only with you in mind, the way we cure heart desease with only men in the clinical studies.
    As for trans boys, they are not pretending. They are boys, they want to fish and tie knots and whatever other boy things you do in your safe space. They don’t want to put on a skirt and go sell cookies. Look at that wrestler in TX. Is that really better for all involved? These are kids, many with weird intersex chromosomal abnormalities and really difficult childhoods because of all the gender stuff piled on top of the normal childhood angst. The rate of depression and suicide amongst trans people is some of the highest of all. I would think that Christianity and the Scout code would advocate compassion towards these kids.

  27. I think that you have a point here. I am detecting a lot of different people’s perspectives and experiences. I have spent my adult life in the south and I know that it is a big influence. When you get much outside of Metro Atlanta things can radically change. The term “conservative” in this world can easily mean women as second class citizens and that probably isn’t the case everywhere one might go. A “modern” type woman is sometimes a target for men that think that infers slutty behavior. At best the woman is accused of sending “mixed messages” for things as innocuous as going to lunch.

  28. Did you actually read the linked article? She says that in her sample women needed respect as much as the men in the original book and that the gender difference in the book is bs. We both need love and respect, with respect being the more important one of the two.

  29. I can also lift relatively heavy things and do my own taxes. Honestly, I wonder most days how I am not a spinster. Usurping male traits left and right.

  30. Is it compassionate to indulge the mentally ill in their delusions? Aside from genetic abnormalities (which are really rare, and not the case when it comes to the scout-trans issue), boys are boys and girls are girls. It’s child abuse to do this to these kids. A debate for another day, perhaps.

  31. I’ll trade you. When I announced I was pregnant, someone asked if I knew who the father was. We had been living together for 3 years at that point and they had met him at several work functions.

  32. My husband’s reward for taking care of dead animals and bugs that wind up in the house is that I take care of the taxes and will contribute to the heavy lifting. I have been in IT my entire career and to get one of my past jobs I had to prove I could lift one of those old HP laser printers.

  33. Uh yeah, that’s why I said it’s a more nuanced view on the topic. O-B-V-I-O-U-S-L-Y both men and women need both love and respect. Perhaps women, like men, also need respect more than love. Nonetheless, I think respect is more important to men than women. We don’t have to agree on this point, but what I’d hope we’d agree on is that women and men are different, and that recognizing and tailoring how we address problems in the context of those differences will be beneficial to actually solving them, rather than assuming men and women are the same.

    Assuming you’d agree with that, I would say we’ve done a piss poor job of handling the men and boys side of that equation when compared with how we address women and girl’s issues.

  34. I do all the laundry, wash dishes every day, make the bed, and cook maybe two or three times per week. I am the spider police (I catch and release), but that has more to do with Mrs Thrill being a true arachnophobe rather than a scared girl.

    She does the taxes and pays the bills. Given the level of care I put into my posts, I think it’s obvious to most why this is the case. I make way more money though.

    The teamwork approach is definitely better for everyone’s quality of life as opposed to slavishly following unproductive gender roles.

  35. Oooh! Target Acquired. Yeah, thanks for putting a pin in this one, guys. That’s definitely a future Discourse topic.

  36. My wife is irrationally afraid of cockroaches. They terrify her. She has little problem with spiders or things that can actually cause pain, but cockroaches freak her the hell out. They also freak out my 6’4″ son, so maybe it’s genetic. It’s definitely not a gender thing. Nevertheless, I am the spider/cockroach/whatever killer in the house. What I don’t get is why mosquitoes seem to love me, but almost never bite her – we can be sitting right next to each other outside, and I’ll get 10 bites to her none. Now that’s sexist!

  37. I agree on the former, but not the latter. We handle both sides poorly.
    I have one of each kid and I worry about both of them for different reasons. Being a girl, I worry about the girl more, I think, because I know exactly what she is in for and because a lot of the threats are more obvious and physical.
    I assume you have the same perspective where you are closer to men’s issues.

  38. To kevinmkr: SEND MORE LIBERALS.

    I can’t help but think of the scene from Nightmare On Elm Street 4 where Freddy grabs Alice by the head and says, “Bring me more!”

    Now regarding the post, itself, I’ve been trying to find good examples from my past (or current) where I indiscriminately treat women differently than men. I treat *some* women differently. But I also treat *some* men differently. Some people act the same around everybody. Me? Once I get to know somebody, I do tend to set up a unique filter that I apply to them. Even my wife gets a filter, based on her own wishes. There are certain things that I find funny that she does not and she appreciates it if I save those things for other people. But it’s probably also true that I treat a *new* woman, by default, differently than I treat a *new* man.

    Down below in this post, people started touching on gender roles and I found my experience with my wife to be interesting in that regard. My wife and I started out with us each assuming 65% or less of what I would consider traditional roles. Instead, we both gravitated towards what we enjoyed most of the time. At others, we gravitated towards things that the other person *disliked* more, to ensure that the roles were being filled. However, over time (especially as we brought our first child into the world), that number has inched higher and higher and probably sits around 85%. This is mostly because she started caring about certain things that were not important or enjoyable before and, at the same time, started having less and less time to handle roles that she had previously enjoyed handling.

  39. I can’t help but think of the scene from Nightmare On Elm Street 4 where Freddy grabs Alice by the head and says, “Bring me more!”

    That’s, um, apt. Let’s go with that.

  40. Well, Mashav, if you can do all of that it leaves little else for us males to do but inappropriate scratching.

    I do all the laundry, dishes and grocery shopping. I also am the breadwinner, but we (insert liberal gasp) homeschool our kids and my wife is outstanding at this. She has a 4 year science degree, but she stays at home (OUR decision, not solo mine and frankly it was her idea).

    We’re fortunate that my whiteness has allowed me the privilege to earn enough to have the life we want.

    On a serious note, the pastor who married us told me – “The husband should support his wife, and the opposite is also true. Marriage is not 50-50. It is 100-100 to truly work.” In other words, again, find out what needs to be done and who can/enjoys or will do it. Gender roles are based on old ideas.

    I am in tech as well, and have seen amazing and disappointing things from both sexes, but disappointingly I have seen poor treatment of females by jerks. I’ve stood up to them too, along with, to my joy, other males. Hopefully more women will feel empowered to support each other in the workplace.

  41. ha.
    I used to not be allergic to mosquito bites. They still bite, but there is no itchy red spot, so you don’t notice.
    One of the changes motherhood brought is that I am no longer immune. Mr. mashav could not be happier about me ‘becoming human.’ It’s been years and he still lights up when this comes up.

  42. I blame 50 Shades for this ‘women want real men’ whatever bs. I don’t actually know too much about what they do in the book because the writing is too awful for me to ever even skim it. But it seems to be giving all kinds of assholes insight into “what women really want.”
    I don’t get smacked much, but I’ve been told that’s only on account of my RBF and my general air of “don’t fuck with me.” (I’ve also never been mugged.) The same ‘men’ who grope you tell me to smile more and put the book down, because then they would feel more comfortable approaching me. I am also reliably informed that I would be so pretty if I smiled.

  43. Careful, Thrill is gonna do a homeschooling post next if you give him the impression that it upsets liberals.

  44. No, that’s a topic I can’t touch. It drives my wife nuts and I’m trying to keep her off of here for as long as possible.

  45. Hitch: Now, on the one hand, it is very difficult for a man to even speak to someone who looks like you. But, on the other hand, should that be your problem?

    Sara: So life’s kind of hard all around.

    Hitch: Not if you pay attention. I mean, you’re sending all the right signals – no earrings, heels under two inches, your hair is pulled back, you’re wearing reading glasses with no book, drinking a Grey Goose martini, which means you had a hell of a week and a beer just wouldn’t do it. And if that wasn’t clear enough, there’s always the “fuck off” sign that you have stamped on your forehead.

  46. I was trying to trigger him. In reality have quite a few on the left that homeschool as well. I hear since Trump has DeVos over education that we can expect more if they don’t move to Canada.

    Thrill, tell your wife that we don’t expect our kids to read and write and we spend 50% of our school day reciting Bible verses. That should put her on another planet.

  47. This makes me very sad. Very. I hate this. I have a little girl and I treat my wife with respect and love so she can learn what she deserves as well. But, I can’t control the idiots she will meet. Unfortunately, she is quite beautiful. So, she takes jiu-jitsu. BTW, I also treat my wife this way so my BOYS can learn how to be a man. It isn’t being a jerk, or using your intimidation to get what you want.

    Regardless, I do so hate to hear what women go through. The fact that just walking down the street, at an airport or even at work – you know you are being viewed physically and this is upsetting. I am sorry to hear of your experiences.

  48. Well, sure, I assumed all that.
    But do you also not vaccinate and treat every illness with essential oils?

  49. I read some of it. I was curious about the hype and took a survey of my FB friends. Most of them were quite enthusiastic so I got it and dove in. Believe it or not, it is a trilogy. I did not get through the whole thing but I persevered through the first book. It is as bad as people say. It is mostly an internal monologue a young woman has as she meets a billionaire. Her internal monologue is an idiot and convinces her to let the billionaire beat the shit out of her. She gets pissed that he beat her at her request and breaks up with him. Honestly, it was a very stupid book, but you already knew that.

    I suppose that men could get the impression that women like that treatment by the popularity of the book, but it is just fantasy. Fantasy is almost always better than reality. This was even bad fantasy.

  50. Oh, yeah, my objection is solely to the writing. Consenting adults can do whatever they want to each other, especially imaginary ones.
    But I saw a excerpt of ‘the good parts’ and it included the line “Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves” among oh, so many others. I just can’t. it would be too distracting.

  51. Argh, masha beat me to the anti-vaxxer line.

    In all seriousness, I would have done much better as a kid if homeschooling had been available. I’d definitely consider it for my kids if not for my NEA loyalist spouse.

  52. Essential oils cured my cancer, ALS and an amputation. My left leg grew back and at the proper looking skin age and color so one can’t even notice. BTW, I am a supplier – it’s so good I can’t just keep it all to myself! Let me know your email, cell and home address and I’ll send you the information.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: