Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Women Being "Better" Than Men

To riff off of yesterday's post, I want to highlight again that common sexist trope that "women are [morally] better than men."

Here, I was reminded of my post from a few months ago on benevolent sexism, in which I referenced a study finding that those who expressed benevolent sexism also often held explicit, hostile attitudes toward women. In that post, I wrote:
 "...people who express benevolently sexist ideas are acknowledging that they view men and women as discrete, fundamentally different (or 'opposite') creatures and that they, accordingly, treat men and women very differently.  When this type of thinking about gender is therefore moved from one context to another, their beliefs about gender will necessarily be expressed in different, oftentimes less 'friendly' ways."
In yesterday's case, although the trope sounds "friendly" to women, it was used in service of keeping women in line, by shaming a woman who flipped off a male athlete. The issue seemed less to be that she was engaging in vulgarity, but that she was engaging in vulgarity while being a woman. A woman was purportedly not living up to the Platonic ideal of the category "woman" and so something very threatening was happening.

And that, really, is a big reason why I find these simple, binary "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" narratives so problematic. Not only are they dehumanizing, they simply aren't accurate ways to describe reality. Countless ways exist to be men and women. It doesn't even take a huge imagination to be able to understand that. In fact, it often takes willful effort to remain dedicated to believing that men and women are "opposites" or "complementary."

I'll also note that some men's rights activists take issue with the "women are [morally] better than men" thing.   They also seem to think that feminists single-handedly invented the stereotype, and that it's not at all a product of religious doctrine, gender traditionalist thinking, and essentialist thinking. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of shitstorms MRAs raise when non-feminists engage the trope (or engage in anything sexist toward men, actually).

Most MRAs seem too busy fixating on feminists and feminism as the root cause of all the suffering that happens to men ever. The disproportionate focus on feminism doesn't lend well to the image of the so-called "manosphere" as being anything other than a rabidly misogynistic venting space.

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