Noah Brand unpacks some of the truths, and the misapprehensions, behind a popular Twitter meme about gender stereotypes.
Yesterday, half of Twitter lit up with a hashtag called #thingspeopledontsayaboutmen. It was about inverting all the weird, creepy, or inappropriate things that people too often say to or about women, and point out how strange they’d sound if the genders were reversed.
The results were illuminating, in a few different ways.
Obviously, this meme is about microaggressions, those little bits of dehumanization, of mockery, the tiny little stereotypes and assumptions that add up over a day, whose damage isn’t measured in dramatic breakdowns but in a kind of endless emotional erosion. And it unpacks a lot of them that women deal with, but men fortunately avoid.
The simplest and the best. Being female is still, in most circles, a specific marker of being not-normal. People will ask what it’s like for a company to have a woman as CEO; nobody will ever ask what it’s like to have a man as CEO, because that’s just normal, right?
This is another one us guys usually get to escape: the idea that our sexuality is our defining characteristic, and we can’t be taken seriously because of that. Yeah, I’m okay with missing out on that one.
Men do juggle these things… they just don’t get asked about them as though it’s supposed to be the centerpiece of their existence.
However, there’s some of these that betray a blinkered or confused idea of what men’s lives are like. Some of these are things people say about men, and it’s dismaying that too many women don’t know that.
This one… yeah, men get that sometimes. It’s more common that we’ll have our masculinity questioned if we DO order a salad, but sometimes when a guy’s fat, he’ll get the same concern-trolling bullshit that fat women know all too well.
I don’t even know what to say to this one. I’d suggest that the author Google the word “bandom” but I think it would actually be simpler to Google the words “Elvis Presley”. Among many others.
I’ve actually heard this one personally. Indeed, there’s too many situations where sexual aggression by women is ignored or laughed off, even when it’s egregious and inappropriate, because hey, that couldn’t possibly be what it looks like, everyone knows women just don’t do that kind of thing, right?
I’d also suggest, and have suggested before, that there’s a wealth of microaggressions men experience that women get to miss out on. Nobody says “Turn in your woman card” or “Woman up” or “”You don’t make enough money to be dating right now” or too many other lousy little things. I’ve got no interest in trying to keep score or argue over whose microaggressions are biggest or worst; that’s unproductive and misses the point. Nobody should have to be ground down by all these little things, and arguing about how many or how little doesn’t move us toward that goal.
The one that got me, though, was this one:
Yeah. People don’t say that a lot. And I think a lot of us wish they would, because it’d be nice to hear once in a while.