Wednesday, 26 February 2020

[ girl parts ]

Before we begin, let me just say #notallmen.

And #yeswomentoo. Also #mrm.

Actually, you know what, I can't even. That last one made me want to physically gag, so imma stop there. I can't even preface this piece with some tongue-in-cheekness to show I'm open and aware that there's another side to this discussion, whatever you think of it. Because, you know what, I don't actually fucking care today. I probably won't tomorrow either.


So here it is; men, we need to talk. I'd like to say that I'll be talking to certain men, those toxic specimens that are still living in the dark ages, the ones who need this message drilled into their heads with a power tool. But we already know they need to hear this. So sadly, this is aimed at the other ones. The nice ones. The seemingly lovely, gentlemanly ones. The ones I thought cared, the ones I thought were on our side.

Because you've shown me you're not. You've let me down. You've let women down, and dammit, you've let yourselves down. Again. And again. And again.

Y'all ready for this? That's ok, I don't care if you are either.


A few weeks back, I got mansplained to. This in and of itself is not news; I get mansplained to regularly (cue everyone being deeply unsurprised). I get it from bus drivers and baristas (you know that sort of milk isn't really good for you, right?), check-out operators and civil servants (love, if you read the form properly, you'll see it says exactly what to do). Most of the time now, I tune it out. 

To be honest, if I lost my cool every time some idiot thought they needed to tell me how to do pretty much anything, I'd be a constant, red-hot, molten volcano, cascading over all and sundry. Which, if nothing else, requires a level of energy I'm just not capable of, no matter how much caffeine I've got in me.

No, this was unusual because it came from a good friend. He was shortly going to introduce me to bunch of new people, people in his field, and he wanted to give me a little brief on what they were like, as I do tend to get somewhat shy in new groups until I get my bearings. Which would have been fine, except he explained it like this; 

So these guys are really smart, like all top of their class smart, and you just need to be careful, because I don't want you to be intimidated or anything. Like, I think you'll do fine, but just remember they are really pretty nerdy smart, ok? 

Sorry, what? I think I was so taken aback for a second that I was speechless (I know, shocking). When I did regain my vocal powers, I hesitantly asked exactly what he meant, and apparently, he really did mean I should be careful. And that I shouldn't be intimidated. Because they are quite smart. And I'm...not? 

It took a distressingly long time for the penny to drop, but when it did, unfortunately, things went from bad to worse; no, no, it's not that you're not smart too, it's just that they are really smart and that might be intimidating. However hard I pushed, no reason why this might be so was forthcoming. This led me to believe the simplest solution was probably the likeliest; he thinks I'm not as smart as his set, and can't seem to differentiate one skill set from another in terms of intelligence (which I half-heartedly tried to explain, but lost the will to live halfway through and gave up). 

To be honest, I wasn't angry, so much as hurt. This person is clever, reasonably emotionally intelligent, and we've known each other for a while. What gives? Would he have said this to someone else? Maybe, but I don't think so. Hold that thought...


A while back, la mama was in the gym doing her thing on the treadmill, when one of the young buck trainers came up to preen and show off a bit. Nice guy, but honestly thinks a bit much of himself. Before some of you cry foul, let me give you some background first; this trainer knew she came to the gym, he interacted with her on and off on a regular-ish basis, knew her strengths and abilities, has actual training in the area, and interacts with many other people of her age who work out in the gym - women and men. So, you'll bloody well forgive me if I call it what it was rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt in advance.

So there she is, happily beetling along, when he starts asking her what speed she's doing, what she's looking to achieve, etc. Fair enough to start, but not so much when she politely lets him know she's just working out and getting herself into the swing of it. For those of you who still can't see the issue here, let me spell it out;

So what speed are you doing *craning into her space to see the readout*

Oh, I'm just working my way up, thanks.

You could be going faster, you know. You could increase the incline. 

Yup, sure, but I'm good thanks. Thanks anyway. 

Yeah but that's doing nothing, you're wasting your time just doing that. 

If you think I'm kidding with that last line folks, I'm afraid not. And if you'd like me to take a breath, suspend my doubt for even a fraction of a second, let me add this; both la mama and I have watched this lad approach other people of similar and varying ages to us, and not once has he spoken that way. Oh wait, hang on, he did. And you know what that person had in common with us? Put a pin in that one for a sec too...


One last example, just so we're crystal-cut clear. Years ago, I went on holidays to see a festival and a bit of the city I was staying in. I'd been to the city once before and loved it, but not the festival and was super excited. I had a few friends also coming to town, staying in various places, and we were going to get the coach together to the festival. 

While I was waiting for my flight from Sydney, I was texting one of the group, talking about what I was going to do when I got there, where we were going to meet, where we were going to eat, etc. There was some discussion around about how I was getting from the airport to the hotel, but I didn't think too much about it, and boarded my plane with my phone now in flight mode like a good little traveller. 

Imagine my surprise when upon hitting the tarmac and switching my phone back on, I've got a text saying there'll be a shuttle to pick me up at the front of the airport and they know I'm coming. 

Er. Come again? On this occasion, I saw white-hot red and made myself clear in no uncertain terms. Under what circumstances anyone just does something for someone, including giving out their personal details, without prior consent - and thinks it's appropriate - is utterly beyond me. And we should all think this way. 

But you know what? This doesn't get done to just anyone. It doesn't happen under varying circumstances. And blame can't equitably be shared out among varying people. Because a woman didn't do this; a man did. And if the circumstances were reversed, I would bet anything you can ask that a woman would have done the one thing a man didn't; Fucking Ask. 


Here's the conclusion I've come to from forensically examining each of the above and many, many other occasions like these; the lowest common denominator is a simple matter of gender. 

Because it's not that these situations are uncommon. They are not extraordinary circumstances, and we are not unusually difficult people (ok, most of the time I'm not, shut up). And the offender in these scenarios is not generally an asshole. They're really not. Which I know is hard to believe, especially when portrayed by these single examples, but that's the kicker.

These are pretty decent guys. Ok, I say that with varying levels of sincerity, but I mean it. Each man has more merits than faults, or at least I thought so. But that's the problem, isn't it? We're letting genuinely good guys get away with bullshit behaviour because most of the time they are good guys. 

Guess what? That's not enough anymore. It's just not. This is the 21st century, and you've had decades of education. Your genuine inability to see the fact that you revert to some sort of caveman when threatened with an independent woman is rubbish. Your lack of awareness that a woman wants to be asked her opinion, whether you're aware of her knowledge or not, is openly appalling. And your hurt and disappointment that we just don't want to be taken care of shows such a depth of misapprehension, it's breathtaking.

Women spend so much time padding men's egos, it's ludicrous. When you say no, it means no. When we say no, we've hurt your feelings, damaged your sense of self, and generally eaten into the very fabric of your being that feels it still needs to be the hunter/gatherer and take care of everything while we sit at home and keep the fire going.

Let me explain something very carefully; men want to control women. I won't hear otherwise, so don't even bother trying, because you know it's true. Men want us to do what they say, when they say, and agree with everything they think. We've spent years and years and years fighting this, scrabbling our way up from the ground just so we can even have an opinion, and still we soothe your egos when you tell us those opinions and thoughts and feelings are wrong. You know why? Because men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. And as horrifying as that is, it's the truth. So is it any wonder we are scared, and we sometimes choose the path of least confrontation?

That being the case, you know our reasons for doing what we do, good guys. What's your fucking excuse?  


And so, gentleman - my more lovely, informed ones - I, for one, am no longer letting this behaviour fly. 

Because, you're meant to be on our side. You're meant to be helping us fight the good fight. You're meant to be there with us; educating, enlightening; encouraging. But I'm tired of holding your hand when you get it wrong, and I'm sick of hearing how hard it is for you sometimes. 

Don't mistake me; I'm still here for you. I still care about your life, your happiness, your health. Sort of.

It's just, after a few thousand years of ancestral memory finally kicking in, I no longer give a fuck whether the women in your life are doing enough to 'understand and support you'. 

Tell you what; you meet us even halfway as far as we've met you in the last 100 years, and I'll start letting you open doors for me again and stop saying fuck in front of your nerdy friends.