Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Patriarchal Call is Coming From Inside The House

*A version of this was posted on Facebook in late April.

I've been thinking, lately, about cis men's acceptance into — and often domination of — feminine-coded spaces. Mainly because I have this clawing, gut-wrenching resentment of it that's been building over the past few years. It's like acid reflux but less pleasant. I tried to flip it around. To interrogate it from a different perspective. "Suleikha, if someone was this resentful of your inclusion in an exclusively white space, what would you say?" But you know what...? That's not the same thing. Because in NO WAY would I be allowed to gain the kind of power and notoriety that men acquire amongst women's groups. I would not be ceded the floor at every opportunity. My word would not be treated as gospel. You can be the token minority, but you can never lead the pack. That is not the case when you're a dude surrounded by women.
Is there an element of misandry in what I'm feeling? Probably. I'm self-aware enough to acknowledge that. But I also know that it's a particular type of man who inspires this roiling in my gut. There are plenty of guys I don't mind having around when I'm with women friends or with fellow industry professionals. The ones that rankle are the sea lions, the mansplainers, the guys who have to jump up and down and go, "Look at me!" so that every eye in the room is now on them. Because it's disingenuous. It's disrespectful. It's claiming a space as yours, marking your territory and turning a collaborative space into your harem.


And, honestly, no matter how you identify gender-wise, that's annoying. Get a dog if you need that much validation. A couple of dogs. But don't expect women to be your bitches...unless, I guess, they're willing to be.

Because that IS part of the problem. How we shuffle to make room, step back down the ladder, put ourselves in a supplicant position to these kinds of men. So that when they give a shout-out, it builds us up. When they deign to talk to us, we blossom. We become the student to their teacher. Even when we're smarter, more accomplished, more well-informed on the subject matter, we fall into this trap of "A man said it, so now it MUST be true."


Our truth is our own. And yet we willingly relinquish the rights to that truth to men who come into our workplace, our personal lives, etc.

Why? Are we really so easily swayed? Do we really want men to speak for us? I can't believe that.

Why don't we see that the emperor has no clothes? More importantly, why don't we embrace our own wardrobe full of beautiful things?

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