When researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Washington observed young people’s behavior in bars, they found that the man’s aggressiveness didn’t match his level of intoxication. There was no relationship.
Instead, men targeted women who were intoxicated. NPR: If He’s Sexually Aggressive in Bars, It’s Not Because He’s Drunk (via intlwomenshealth)
I am a fan of Matt Taibbi’s work and look forward to reading his stuff at First Look. In fact, pretty much everyone that’s been announced as part of the First Look team is a reporter I love and respect.
But this line is sitting hard with me this morning, and Twitter’s not really allowing me the space to say what I want to about it in a nuanced fashion.
See, I mostly agree with this line. Gallows humor is part of the gig when you dig up depressing, awful things for a living. You have to be willing to see the dark stuff, not look away, and be able to handle that and not crack. (Mostly.)
But what bothers me, I think, is that I’m watching more and more young(ish) mostly white male journalists be handed new media empires. So many of us are wondering where the women are, and it’s sentences like this that give us a clue as to the answer.
Those characteristics—dark, funny, mean—are rarely attributed to women. Women are supposed to be nice, sweet, caring. We’re not funny, according to major comedy outlets and news outlets alike. Mean? Good luck getting work ever again if, as a woman, you’re accused of being mean. (And even when you just set boundaries of what work you will and will not do, and how much you will and will not take in pay.)
I know lots of women who are brilliant, fierce reporters, who live in the dark and manage to be funny anyway.
A few of those women are even part of these new media endeavors, but they haven’t been the subject of the glowing profiles I’ve read.
This is hard for me to write. I too am a journalist who doesn’t want to burn bridges or anger people who might want to hire me and who’ve unfailingly supported my work.
But I’m writing it because this is a structural issue that goes way beyond whether or not women lean in. It’s an issue of how we perceive people based in gender and race (it is unsurprising too that few men of color get to be “mean”—as we know, even talking back briefly gets young men of color killed), and what that says about who gets to do this work that I’ve dedicated my life to, that I think matters deeply.
When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
— r.d. (via vonmoire)
this is all true and perfect and awful. and dudes, one of the worst things you can do in a situation where you witness “those guys” is say “not all guys are like that.” the last time a man screamed out his car window that i was a slut, an unknown man walking the other way turned to me and said, “i’m sorry that guy’s an asshole. have a good night, okay?”
if you feel you absolutely must comment on the situation, model yourself on that man. don’t make excuses for yourself or “guys” as a whole or, in fact, anyone. don’t center your concern on what this says about you or about what i might think of you in the face of your fellows’ abusive behavior. if you want to express concern or sympathy, center it around me and then shut up. any concern you have about what this says about you or about “guys” is valid, and you should probably think about it, but that is not my problem. i am not interested in affirming how good it is of you to have noticed that something bad happened or reassuring you that you’re not one of “them.” violence has just been done to me. either stay out of it or worry about me. keep your introspection to your damn self.
“Gender Bias in College Admissions Tests”, FairTest.org
And then people urge me everything is fine, of course it is, when you’re ignoring statistics that is.
Fun fact: SAT tests predict college performance pretty well for men, but they strongly underpredict college performance for women. http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/12/20/1948550612469038.abstract
I think I’ve reblogged this before, but that study needs to be shared.