For most of my life I identified as a man, as a non-binary person I still often pass as male. This undeniably comes with a lot of privileges, but it also means I’m sometimes exposed to the conversations some men choose to have when there are no women around. (I also used to get the Straight Chats (TM) but I am much less likely to pass as straight these days). For some reason some guys think that sexism is fine and hilarious as long as there are only men in the room. Clearly it was women who were the issue the whole time -_-
So, for your reading pleasure, I’ve put together a few of the signs that the conversation is about to veer down a misogynist alley.
1) “Women are great, just can’t talk to them like men though … ”
Translation – I don’t think of woman as real people/yay I don’t have to put the effort into not being a sexist dick
- “It’s great not having to police what i say“
- “great to hang out with just the lads”
Most commonly seen in:
- Guys who “totally respect women” because they have a mother
- “it’s just biological fact”ers
- “I’m not sexist, but …” guys
- Humour – often leads to a flurry of sexist comedy and rape jokes, because women are JUST TOO SENSITIVE to laugh at their own dehumanisation.
- Sports – because women can’t comprehend physical activity?! I don’t know why they think this is a men only topic and personally don’t really get why this is seen as an interesting topic of conversation at all.
- BANTER – because clearly emotional intimacy or displaying affection is some awful thing that women do, much better to repress these feelings, what problems could this possibly cause?
2) “So what do you think of … [insert name here]?”
Translation: Women are meat I want to stick my dick in/insult
- “have you seen … [insert name here]”
- “my girlfriend’s crazy …”
Most commonly seen in:
- Guys who’ve internalised that “boys will be boys”
- Shitty boyfriends
- Sexual objectification – not the fun consensual kind. Yes there are genuinely guys who think it’s ok to rate womens physical appearance. Yes I have to reign in my urge to punch these people.
- Rants which TOTALLY AREN’T SEXIST – honestly they just hate them as a person, it’s completely not related to them being a woman. For bonus points note the heavy reliance on gendered language and sexist stereotypes to explain how this woman is the worst.
- Banter – Because treating women as sex objects or insulting them is just a bit of fun, right?
3) “I really need a wife/girlfriend …”
Translation: This one is a little tricky, on the face of it, it seems like they just want a relationship. But it often actually means “I view women as an object to serve my needs.”
- “I’m so done with being single”
- “Me and my girlfriend/wife have a very traditional relationship”
Most commonly seen in:
- “Nice guy really”/incels
- People coping poorly with their own issues
- Sexual Objectification – treating a woman as an object to acquire, not as a person to share a relationship or experience with.
- Emotional labour – expectations that a female romantic partner will “fix” you, and provide the emotional support in a relationship. Treating women as a tool to fulfil your emotional needs.
- Housework – Relationships between men and women often still have a very uneven split of household labour. Some men still see cooking, cleaning, and childcare as part of a girlfriend or wife’s duties.
So who says these things? Does an absence of women in the room cause Awful Misogynists (TM) to materialise from thin air? No, these are ordinary men. Men with mothers, girlfriends, daughters of their own. Men with female friends who may never kno the awful things they say when they are amongst men.
So what can men do in these situations? All too often in the past I have taken the easy route of staying silent, this is not behaviour I can accept from myself anymore. So here are a few alternatives (note, not all of these are entirely serious):
- Walk away. If you don’t feel safe or able to confront people you can at least refuse to take part in it
- Screech like an owl, they will think a predator is nearby and scatter (note, I might be thinking of rabbits …)
- Say no. Say you are not comfortable with the conversation and don’t think it’s appropriate (note, this may give you a reputation as a killjoy)
- Stare unblinkingly into their eyes, stare until they can feel your disappointment, stare until their soul withers in their body (note, this doesn’t work on groups very well)
- Ask questions. Ask why that joke is supposed to be funny. Ask what they are basing their vague assertions on. Don’t let them hide behind vague language. (note, this can genuinely work, but may lead to lengthy, draining arguments.)
- Start a small fire, this will disrupt the conversation (note, if you do this too often you will get banned from Costa)