In the past week - I was told I was a slut who didn't get laid enough. And I witnessed people complaining about women they don''t like - but referring to them in - sexually dismissive terms.
And yes- people dismiss men and label them jerks, aholes and other things too. We humans find all sorts of reasons to justify not listening to other people regardless of gender or skin color. If we can label the other person - evil or insane - in some way - we can justify not listening to them. This is our tribal brains at work.
Part of my practice as a Humanist is to - push past my tribal brain and bring that person into my circle of humanity. Is it easy to do? Of course not. Sometimes people really are divorced from reality and sometimes they really are behaving like aholes.
And sometimes - you are best off - ignoring them and not paying what they have to say - any mind.
The problem is - sometimes the people we are dismissing - shouldn't be dismissed because they have something to say- and just because we don't like what they have to say - doesn't mean - that what their are saying is bad or that they shouldn't be saying it. That is one of many ways we humans deal with the experience of cognitive dissonance - which is when information makes us feel uncomfortable because it contradicts what we think we know to be true.
People who take critical thinking seriously - understand that IF you dismiss people - who have something important to say - you are making a mistake.
Which brings us back to the "reasons" we dismiss other people and what they have to say and why the reasons we use to dismiss other people's view points matter.
And marginalized people (whether it is for gender or skin color or education level or economic status or whatever) tend to get dismissed in very specific ways that have nothing to do with whether what they are saying is valid or not.
Honestly - most white men - get dismissed when they behave badly. And even then - they have to behave REALLY badly before they will be dismissed as - an ahole or jerk or delusional. And even then - they might still not get dismissed if they have enough political or social status that we forgive them their tresspasses.
Women, on the other hand, are often dismissed, not because we have behaved badly - but rather - because - we are nasty or disgusting or some variation on the - sexually unpure theme. In other words, it's not that what we said was so horrendous, it's because we are sluts that need to get laid.
What brought this up was that an honorable member of the House of Representatives - verbally assaulted another honorable member of the House of Representative - on the steps of the capital - by saying - they are disgusting.
And - here - we need to be honest with ourselves. A congressman calling another congressman disgusting - conjures different images when it's a man calling another man disgusting - than when the situation is a man calling a woman disgusting or when it's a woman calling a man disgusting.
- A man calling a man disgusting - is probably referring to his hygiene or something he has done that was disgusting.
- A woman calling a man disgusting probably means he did something sexually disgusting.
- A man calling a woman disgusting - is dismissing her as some sort of sexual deviant who is not worth his time to take seriously.
Again - be honest - these - reactions we have and the images of the stereotypes we have in our heads - when a man is called disgusting vs. when a woman is - is - what are known as implicit biases.
It's the same reason why white men may be brutish - but black men are thugs. Implicit bias.
The demeaning and dehumanizing people - to win arguments - is - as old as time. But - it's a mistake to dismiss people we disagree with - by denigrating - not their ideas - but them as human beings.
Which is why I wanted to say - can we all stop being sexist for a little bit. In a discussion board on the male congressman calling a young female congresswoman - disgusting - another white male - go figure - said - yes - he's an ahole - but she's a performance artist - so - it was a perfect storm.
And then - he played dumb that anyone - would consider - describing an honorable congresswoman - as a performance artist - as being sexist.
Again- we are all adults here - what do you imagine when you imagine a female performance artist? .... I rest my case.
If you find yourself dismissing any marginalized person by suggesting they adhere to a sexist or racist or otherist trope - - just stop already. This is getting old.
And - when people call you out - don't get defensive - just say - my bad and try to improve in the future. Especially if you view yourself as an ally.
No - this is not tone policing. Not it's not language censoring. No - this doesn't stifle legitimate debate. It's just a request - from people who get called these stupid sexist names all the time to dismiss us as unworthy of speaking in a public forum - that - you please - stop.
Because seriously - if you weren't aware of how common this is - understand - many women - most days get called these names and dismissed in this way. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
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