Facebook and casual sexism
First, an image:
As you can probably guess, I made this after seeing one too many of the “As’ rules for Bs'” Facebook memes, and figured I’d share it in hopes that someone will find it useful. This phenomena deserves more than just a 92 word response, though, so I figured I’d comment on it here in a more extended manner. But first, some source material:
…and you get the gist. (content copy/pased after the jump for non-Facebookers and in case links break)
This stuff is pretty obviously sexist, but for the sake of completeness, I’ll go over why:
1) It makes a hugely general claims about classes of people (men and women) that vary widely; many of these claims don’t even apply to a majority of people in the given class. Example: It’s pretty hard to get statistics on “sports fans”, since the term is so loosely defined, but Super Bowl XLV had 111.3 million viewers. Given that the United States currently has 310 million people, less than 72% of US men watched the most-watched game of the year, even if we assume that literally every person watching is a US male. More realistically, the figure is something like 48%, which is what it is if 2/3 of the viewers are male. Sunday is not sports day for me, or, apparently, for the majority of men, and claiming that it is universally so erases the existence of a huge swath of the population. This particular example is relatively benign, but some of the claims made by these memes, like “all women are unapologetically horrendous while on their period” and “all men are cheating pigs” are genuinely harmful, because they encourage such poor behavior as a means of gender performance. These ideas also make it easier to make excuses for poor behavior, i.e. “Boys will be boys.”
2) It erases homosexual and transgender people. These are universally voiced as one cisgendered individual addressing another cisgendered individual of the other gender. It’s easy to say, “well, yeah, these are specifically about cisgender, straight relationships, so of course they’re going to be cis and straight-centric. You don’t hear people complaining about how the Women’s rules for Men don’t directly address women, do you?”, but such an argument is flawed, because there are no (no widely shared, at least) “Men’s rules for Men”, or “Women’s rules for Women”. Sure, you can say they’re not widely shared because they don’t apply to as many people, but I for one have seen plenty of men sharing the women’s rules, and vice versa, even among people who I know have never been in a relationship. These memes aren’t about actual experiences in relationships, they’re about the kinds of relationships we see in TV and movies, which are almost universally cis and straight.
Casual sexism sucks, because it often feels like there isn’t much you can do about it. You don’t want to be labeled a “humorless feminist”, but at the same time you don’t want to just do nothing while people you know contribute to a shitty, sexist culture. What’s one to do?
Fight bad jokes with good ones, is what I’ve concluded. If someone is engaging in casual sexism, they’re probably not going to respond well to Shakesville links or Naomi Wolf quotes; direct confrontation without social backup is typically a losing proposition. An obviously fake laugh and some well-done sarcasm, on the other hand, provides negative feedback and expresses that you don’t find the joke funny, but does so without making you into a Captain Ahab, unable to see anything but the White Whale of sexism (even if, in reality, sexism is more like the matrix: the only reason people don’t see it is because it’s everywhere). Unless you’re literally surrounded by sexists, it’s pretty easy to come out of such an encounter ahead, which will teach the casual sexist that “hur hur sexism hur” is not going to make them any friends.
…and that’s pretty much the gist of it. The question of how best to engage a sexist world is a difficult one, but if the response I’ve gotten on Facebook is any indication, stuff like this seems to be pretty effective.
Rules for Men/Rules for Women Facebook page
RULES FOR WOMEN
The female makes the rules.
The female is never wrong.
The rules are subject to change by the female at any time without prior notification
No male can possibly know all the rules. Attempts to document the rules are not permitted
If the female suspects that the male may know some or all of the rules, she has the right to immediately change some or all of the rules.
If the female is wrong, it is because of an egregarious misunderstanding which was the direct result of vagrant misunderstanding which was a direct result of something the male said or did wrong.
The male must must always apologize immediately for having been the cause of the misunderstanding without any clues from the female as to what he did to have caused the misunderstanding. See above rule.
The female may change her mind at any time for any reason or no reason at all
The male is never permitted to change his mind or under circumstances without the express written consent of the female which is given only in cases where the female wanted him to change his mind but gave no indication of that wish
The female has the right to be angry or upset for any reason, real or imagined, at any time and under any circumstance which in her sole judgement she deems appropriate. The male is not to be given any sign of the root cause of the female’s being angry or upset. The female may, however, give false or misleading reasons to see if the male is paying attention
The male must remain calm at all times, unless the female wants him to be angry or upset. Under no circumstances may the female give the male any clue or indication whether or why she wants him to be angry or upset
The male is expected to read the mind of the female at all times. Failure to do so will result in punishments and penalties imposed at the sole discretion of the female
The female may, at any time and for any reason, resurrect any past incident without regard to temporal or spacial distance, and modify, enlarge, embellish, of wholly reconstruct it in order to demonstrate to the male that he is now or has in the past been wrong, insensitive, pig-headed, dense, deceitful, and/or oafish
The female may use her interpretation of any past occurrence to illustrate the ways in which the male has failed to accord her the consideration, respect, devotion, or material possessions, he has bestowed on other females, domestic pets or barnyard animals, sports teams, automobiles, motorcycles, boats, aircraft, or coworkers. Such illustrations are non-rebuttable
If the female is experiencing PMS, Post-PMS, or Pre-PMS, the female is permitted to exhibit any manner of behavior she wishes without regard to logical consistency or accepted norms of human behavior
Any act, deed, word, expression, statement, utterance, thought, opinion, or belief by the male is subject to the sole, subjective interpretation of the female, other external factors not-withstanding. Alibis, excuses, explanations, defenses, reasons, extenuations, or rationalizations will not be entertained. Begging the female for mercy and forgiveness are acceptable under some circumstances, especially when accompanied by tangible evidence of contrition.
PLEASE NOTE: These rules are subject to change as the female sees fit. All rules are null and void under the PMS Exception Law. New rules apply during different stages of a women’s life.
RULES FOR MEN
We always hear about “the rules” from the female side.
Now here are the rules from the male side.
These are our rules!
Please note: These are all numbered “1” on purpose!
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You are a big girl. If it is up, put it down. We need it up. You need it down. You do not hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday equals sports. It is like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
1. Shopping is not a sport — and no, we are never going to think of it that way.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That is what we do. Look to your girlfriends for a sympathetic ear.
1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
1. Anything we said six months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after seven days.
1. If you will not dress like the Victoria’s Secret girls, do not expect us to act like soap opera guys.
1. If you think you are fat, you probably are. Do not ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done — not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions. Neither do we.
1. All men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” we will act like nothing is wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question to which you do not want an answer, expect an answer you do not want to hear.
1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine — really.
1. Do not ask us about what we are thinking unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.
1. You have enough clothes.
1. You have too many shoes.
1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.
1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight. But did you know men really do not mind that? It is like camping.
Other assorted images