Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

I'm the Stalion, but She's the Alpha Mare

This is a post about sexism. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I figure now’s the time to throw some thoughts out there for feedback. My first thought is this:

If you are a non-sexist male, you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. Now, don’t jump down my throat for claiming that anyone could be completely free of sexism in a sexist culture. I’m not claiming that and in fact I’ll touch on that subject in a little bit. The kind of male I’m describing here is one who legitimately respects women, doesn’t discriminate against women and is capable of understanding that men and women are different without judging one sex better than the other. I’m describing a male for whom traditional gender roles have little or no meaning. I’m trying to describe myself and I hope those who know me would agree with my assessment. Ok, the statement once more: If you are a non-sexist male (someone like myself), you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. Here’s a case study to illustrate my point.

Jeni, Andrew and I used to work at the same establishment. At that time I was a few years out of high school. Everyone else who worked there was either in high school or, like Jeni, had just graduated. The manager of the establishment was male and only a few years older than me. It became clear in just a few weeks that Andrew and I got treated better than anyone else at the store. We got paid more, got better shifts, and were treated with respect by the manager. The high school employees, including Jeni, got the exact opposite of what we did. Drew and I were aware of the discrepancy, but to be honest, most of the high school aged employees weren’t really doing their best to earn the manager’s respect and some of them had no business working there at all. If there was any discrimination it was age discrimination. There was weird sex related stuff going on too, but at the time none of it seemed like discrimination, it just seemed creepy. Being only a few miles from Chatsworth, we had some regulars in the adult entertainment industry and made no attempt to disguise that fact. We also had a male assistant manager who used to be a stripper and would ask the aforementioned customers if they could get him parts in movies, and we had a female assistant manager who did such nasty, suggestive stuff with our manager that it made me want to shower as soon as I got off shift. This sort of nasty, quasi sexual flirtation would also go on between the manager and the high school girls to a lesser degree. I didn’t see sexism in this. I saw a bunch of sexually messed up people interacting with each other in the only way they knew how. I assumed that if Andrew and I could stay out of all that stuff, Jeni could, too. Jeni left that job because of sexual harassment.

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve always viewed Jeni as an equal and a good match for me in terms of talent, strength, and personality even long before we were dating. I assumed that since I could avoid being a part of all the weird sexual stuff going on at this job that she could too. Of course, there is a difference between Jeni and me. If I don’t go after someone with lewd comments or wandering hands, no one comes after me. And if they do, I tell them to stop and it’s over. I see now that even though I view Jeni as an equal in ability and strength with me, because of where her gender places her in society she can’t act in the same way I do. I was blinded to sexism, and in many ways I still am. Jeni went out looking for a job the past few weeks and came back with stories of interactions with business owners and managers that I know would never have happened to me. I’ve decided to edit out some of my personal reactions that I had typed here which I will summarize as not being in the business owners’ favor.

If you are a non-sexist male, you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. If you aren’t acting in a sexist way towards anyone, no one will act in a sexist way towards you. When you witness sexism, you’ll attribute it to something else. You’ll tell yourself that reason a particular girl’s being treated poorly is not because she’s female, but is because she’s not a very good worker or not a very nice person, both of which may be true. If a girl and a guy are getting nasty with each other in a way that looks like it would be harassment if only both of them weren’t willing participants, you convince yourself that it’s just two people consensually choosing to act that way with each other. You don’t stop to think that this event will reinforce with both of them that that is how you treat the opposite sex. And if you’re me you think just because you can tell the nasty girl to stop when she tries to get nasty with you, that your female friends will be able to do the same thing when the nasty guy comes for them. And you’re blind.

P.S. I don’t want to make myself come off as someone with no sexual bias. Next post I’ll discuss my own sexism which takes a remarkably different form than that of my previous employer.

By the way, if you know anything about equine herd dynamics you'll know that the title of this post is not a sexist statement.

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