Ingrid was just telling me Swedish feminists have started a SheForHe movement, arguing that because men are socialised to not show emotions, they therefore end up lonely and addicted to porn, making their lives severely limited, and pointing out that feminism helps everyone.
At the same time another friend of mine just got into an text message fight with this dude who is giving her unsolicited advice on how she must change a job application, and accusing her of being ‘prickly’ for not accepting his advice. This is kind of interesting, because the two are related.
Here is my friend’s response to the unsolicited advice, and the provocation for the fight:
Dudes often tell girls that they are being hysterical/angry/irrational when they are not, perceiving an argument that was not there. This in turn provokes an argument. I’ve been there – you’re all like, what? How come you’re accusing me of some emotion I don’t have? Where did this come from? What a silly thing that we are now arguing, but I actually am angry now, and am now telling you I am angry.
What’s happened here, I think, is that you have offered some sort of disagreement or criticism, and rather than accept your criticism or differing point of view, the dude is defensively projecting it back onto you. He’s also mansplaining your emotions to you. Not cool, dude.
The thing is, you actually almost can’t avoid men like this. This reaction is systemic. Lots of guys do it. They don’t do it on purpose, lots of them, but they’ve been trained/socialised to believe that women are irrational and not to trust things that women say. Also, most people suck at receiving criticism. It takes real effort to do that well. These things combine together to create this feedback loop, where female criticism is doubly not believed, and then the dude thinks, why is she being critical? it obviously isn’t me. it must be her. she’s hysterical. And you’re like, what? Why are you calling me hysterical? Then you protest you are not hysterical. which sounds hysterical. Suddenly we’re having a fight about how you are/aren’t angry/bitchy/passive-aggressive/hysterical. Wtf.
Often, it’s so easy to get derailed by a comment like this, that you don’t even realise how the fight took this turn, or what provoked it. The dude is telling you why you are reacting in a certain way, and you are protesting that you are not, and the actual reason for the fight (whatever comment hurt his feelings) is not addressed. You might even question, am I overreacting here? Am I being a psycho? In fact, both participants in this fight are socialised to believe that a dude’s opinion is more valid than a girl’s, so his line of inquiry is followed.
When it’s me, I feel frustration. Sexist socialisation caused this non-fight that escalated into a huge fight. My dude couldn’t take a little bit of perceived criticism, or couldn’t show that his feelings were hurt, deflected it onto me, and I’m left feeling that my original thought or complaint or whatever is unheard and angry that he won’t believe me that I was not angry. At the same time, my dude’s perception of women as emotional tending to hysterical and therefore unreliable is confirmed.
Nasty feedback loop. yuk.
Written by Courtnay.