Thursday, November 1, 2018

Microstory 964: Women

I was born a feminist, and cannot at all relate to people who aren’t. It’s unclear how much of my position on the matter is because of my parents, and other strong women in my life, and how much is due to my autism, but one thing that’s clear is that it’s not just one or the other. I know a lot of people say that they’re “colorblind” even though that’s not entirely accurate. We judge the people around us on the regular, and not all of that is bad. Judgment is an important evolutionary trait that is often vital to our survival, even today. A caveman that welcomed without question any rando who walked into his cave was at risk of being bonked in the head by a club. Judgment allows us to gauge how people might receive us, and how to interact with them the best way possible; so that it’s safest for everyone. The problem comes when we start making blanket statements about say, how black people generally act, or how women think. Fortunately, my autism has been known to prevent me from making those unhealthy judgments, because it’s difficult for me to adjust my behavior to social cues as a whole. I’m pretty good at sensing other people’s emotions, but not so good at anticipating their needs. So basically, I know what you’re feeling, but I don’t know how to help you. Not once have I encountered a woman, and thought, “there’s something—beyond biology—about her that’s different than me. She would do better doing such-and-such work, whereas I’m better at this other work.” When I meet someone, I simultaneously assume they know everything, and nothing. It sounds contradictory, but I believe it’s important to acknowledge from the beginning that you don’t know what this person has been through, or how they see the world. I was recently talking about mansplaining with my sister, and struggling to understand the difference between that, and just explaining things in an appropriate way. As a man, am I simply never allowed to be an authority on a subject if a woman is around? But that’s not really the point. Mansplaining occurs when a man presumes the woman he’s talking to doesn’t already know whatever it is they’re discussing, and/or condescends to her in a sexist manner. It would be great if feminism didn’t have to exist, but it does, because women have been treated as second-class citizens for thousands of years, and when I try to fathom the timeline, it’s obvious that progress has been sluggish, and we still have far to go. So the best way to avoid mansplaining to a woman is to open a dialog of equals, which is exactly the best way to engage with others anyway, so it works out. I love women, and not because they’re pretty, or because of their body parts. I love women because they kick ass. I’m so glad that we have some really good feminist movements going on right now, and that fiction is currently tackling the issues at a higher intensity than ever before. The Bold Type, the Charmed reboot, and well...pretty much anything on The CW are some of my favorite programs, because they’ve had enough of the patriarchal bullshit. So have I, and if you have too, then come these next two elections, #votethemout.

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