I applaud so much of this.
Elle Beau
41

Thank you for reading and taking the time to give me feedback! I realized when I reread it that I only had a single word that hinted that the effects I was talking about were as a result of socialization and environment rather than anything inherent to men. There is nothing inherent to men that makes them so prone to interrupting, nor to the underlying causes of that bad social habit. I added a more explicit qualifier that should hopefully make it more clear my stance on that.

I agree that sexism is unconscious; articles like this are my way of revealing them to men so they can be aware of what they are doing. And there are men that do have the capacity for vulnerability. For all the negative traits I mentioned, there are men do not (exactly) fit that mold. However, because sexism is unconscious, it is easy for men to think they are among the ‘good guys’ when they actually still have a lot of work to do. Men will defend themselves on reflex and say ‘not all men!’ before they even take stock of themselves. I know men in real life who, upon reading this (years ago when I was first going on about it) insisted they weren’t like that, but I knew from experience that they were. They just never considered they might still have work to do.

My target audience is men who are prepared to take an honest look inside themselves and sincerely ask: is my mind right? Are my habits and attitudes in line with my ideals? Do I treat women as I ought to? Of course if a man doesn’t fit the bill, if he never interrupts and always values women as equals, then he knows he’s not under the gun so to speak. It’s like if I were to say ‘men wear too many hats’, and a male reader never wears hats, then obviously what I say doesn’t apply to him. But it may still apply to many others, and a wise man understands that. He does need to actually check himself, though. It isn’t enough for him to think that because he self-identifies as a feminist or as a good man that he is above all criticism.

I am not except from this. I accuse myself, also. I try to be good, but I still interrupt, and my wife sometimes has to bring my attention to it. Partly it’s because of what remains of my learned sexism, my bad habits of reacting to women in ways that imply I do not completely respect them to the degree I respect men. The process of becoming a good man takes real time and effort. I’m not done, and I suspect most men aren’t. Sexism is not something you wake up one day and decide to turn off inside yourself like a light switch. Sexism is not a simple on/off thing, it’s a complex network of confused ideas and values and habits, one that must be untangled over the course of a lifetime. Even men who desperately want to be good must constantly check themselves and work to drain their minds and bodies of the sexism society put there.

I do understand that most men will be put off by my writing. I’m prepared for that. Most men will scan the headlines and decide I’m just a Man Hater and won’t even process what I’m saying. However, my hope is that they won’t be able to argue against it if they actually engage with what I’m saying. They’ll see there is something there, that they might even see some of themselves in it. I’m a man who struggles with all of this as well, so in a sense I’m inside their heads, speaking (hopefully) directly to them, if they have ears to hear. I do not feel I can leave any easy out for men. That must come by their moral character honestly and be tested honestly.

Sorry to ramble, but I really do want men to be better. To be better, though, we have to look inside ourselves and see what isn’t right. It hurts to do that, but it’s necessary. Good enough isn’t good enough for me, and I hope there are some men who agree with me and are ready to step up and take a high road of courageous compassion.

Thank you again for taking the time to read and respond to my writing, I appreciate it!