On speaking out, and carpooling
I recently had the pleasure of carpooling home with Lucy for spring break, and she said some things that got on my nerves. Many of them have nothing to do with this blog (though if I hear one more person refer to the DDoS attack on FBI.gov as “Anonymous hacked the FBI”, I will rip my own ears off), but her views on marriage and men popped up and, well, they’re repugnant. Very briefly:
Lan, a friend of Lucy’s from a relatively well-off Vietnamese family who was staying with Lucy for the break, said something to the effect of, “My mother says I should find a nice American guy and marry him, but I don’t want to do that. I’d rather make enough money for myself and marry somebody who I love.”
Lucy responds, “Yeah, I agree, but I don’t want to marry anyone who is too poor. My standards aren’t that high, but I do have them.” (emphasis mine, un-emphasized part is paraphrased)
First, props to Lan. I have no idea what Vietnamese culture is like, but I imagine that it’s at least no easier to say something like that over there than it is here in the States, and likely harder.
Second, I don’t know where to begin with Lucy’s comment. It suggests a belief that a woman cannot be the primary earner in a household, and, equally bad, that a man’s value is determined solely by how much money he makes. In the context of previous comments she has made, it continues to spread the narrative that women trade sex for financial security, which contributes to rape culture. I’m sure there are other problematic aspects of this (including the obvious classism), but that’s actually not what I wanted to make this post about. Despite her bass-ackwards views on gender and sexuality, I actually like Lucy. She’s been pretty accepting of others and my quirks and idiosyncracies, and is really sweet. I don’t want to make this any more about her than it already is.
What I wanted to talk about is how, despite the wrongness of what she was saying, I didn’t say anything.
Maybe I was tired. Maybe I’m just a weak person. Despite rejecting what she was saying with every fiber of my being, I made a choice to stay quiet, only texting AJ about what I was hearing. Was I right to do so?
I have no problem arguing abstracts with people, but when it gets personal, I don’t know what to say. Lucy was not explicitly saying that This Is How All Relationships Are, and yet from previous conversations I know that is how she feels. Would it have been appropriate to call her out on that? If I had, would it have made a difference?
I believe that talking about gender is the single most effective way to get people thinking about it, and getting people thinking about gender is the single most important thing we can do to promote equality. At the same time, kyriarchy is fucking everywhere, and if you point it out every time it comes up, you’re going to lose friends pretty quickly, or else your only friends will be fellow egalitarians (in which case, you’re not accomplishing anything when you point out kyriarchy).
Was I right to stay quiet? Was I at least not wrong to stay quiet? I don’t know. And that’s what bothers me.
As always, names are changed to protect the innocent