Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Cry Like a Bitch

“I’m tougher than nails.

I can promise you that.

Step out of line

and you get bitch-slapped back”

Those are the lyrics to one of Godsmack’s latest singles.  It’s a kickass song.  I’m sure you won’t be shocked to know it’s played on mainstream rock radio.

“You throw like a girl.”

“Don’t be gay.”

“You’re such a pussy.”

Talk has finally begun to open up about the default of Western society being male.  In advertising, text books, basic instructions and everyday conversation, male as the norm is in places you’d never expect and rarely think about.  Check out that link to The Society Pages above.  You’ll be shocked in the ways male as default is so standardized that until it is pointed out to you, you probably never even thought about it.  Recognizing that the other half of the population is female and that there’s as likely a chance that society is communicating to a women as a man is an important step in realizing gender equality.

There’s another observation we aren’t yet discussing outside of the social science community.  Is female the default insult?  Well, yah, it is.  One of the first things boys learn is to rib each other by calling out their weaknesses and connecting those weaknesses to gender.  It’s an important skill to effectively chastise other boys to establish hierarchy in groups.   If one boy or a group of boys can label another boy as fragile, effeminate and small, that boy automatically will become a follower, not a leader.

As the mother of a boy and also a pretty staunch feminist, I gotta tell ya, it’s really difficult to navigate this issue.   My son, like all our sons, was a beautiful baby…too “pretty” to be a boy.  His hair took a while to come in, so I shied away from cutting it.  He was often referred to as a girl, but I rarely corrected folks, making a concerted effort to break my own habit of recognizing female as the default negative.  What’s wrong with people thinking you’re a gender different than your own?  Why are we so insulted?  What’s more, what the hell is so wrong with being a female that we insult each other based on no other characteristics than gender? (I’d really love for a member of the Good Ol’ Boys Club to come here and answer any of these…)

I feel irritated when I hear the neighborhood kids calling each other gay (which, of course, comes with the implication that you are weak, feminine) or getting their boxers in a wad over being called a girl.  I feel like I’m in a never ending battle over acceptable ways of joshing each other.  I also feel like I’m being categorized as a bitch for taking it so personally.  I find others don’t see the big deal.  Another example of the normalization of misogyny.

It is unacceptable that we allow, encourage or ignore the way our boys maintain the status quo.  So, with a big le sigh, I guess I’ll keep fighting the little battles in my own life and hope that other strong women and, just as important, strong men will fight them with me in their own lives.

Written by thelittlepecan

October 9, 2010 at 12:33 am

Posted in atheism

14 Responses

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  1. I'm sure it is more widespread. I'm also sure that many women who give into that pressure don't want to. "Keeping up with the Joneses" or the Stepfords, as it were, is a really detrimental habit.


    October 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

  2. I have a similar problem as Marie…except she actually seems to be better at the social interaction I've always wanted than I am. When I'm at a gathering, I always stay away from the women. Their conversations annoy the shit out of me, and the way they spend hours dressing themselves up makes me want to puke (and, of course, makes me feel like an outsider). I don't, however, have any male friends either, besides my fiance. I think its because I WANT to be part of their group so bad, that I put too much weight on what they're going to think of me, and I'm just too afraid of them. Guys also tend to feel like they have to hold back when a woman is around too, so they don't seem as comfortable around me as they would if I was gone. You just can't get it into their heads that I don't care what they talk about! So my friends end up being women anyway…even though I would prefer guys. I actually had a friend at work who before I got laid off who is a lesbian. She dresses like a guy, she doesn't wear makeup, she doesn't care how she looks at work, she talks like a guy, and prefers hanging out with guys…only difference between us is that she is attracted to women! I definitely agree on the "crossed-wires" theory, as Marie said, and I think it is more widespread than we see, its just that most women who feel more tom-boyish are rejected for it and end up having to dress girly anyway in order to have friends. And, of course, guys who are more effeminate have to completely hide it or risk even worse than rejection.


    October 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm

  3. In my opinion, misogyny has little to do with personal preference and more to do with systematic discrimination. You obviously let your kids be who they are and you are who you are. I'm not going to light into you for that, LOL


    October 10, 2010 at 1:36 am

  4. Alana, I hate females in general, I always have. In regard to female people I am really, truly comfortable touching me in any capacity, the percentage is, well, Meg (and her sisters, who are, of course, Feline-American.) If a female DJ comes on the radio, I will turn it off. I would never, ever see a female doctor. Over all, I don't like their interests, I don't like their voices, I don't like their touch; I have very little use for them at all. Almost all of my stuffed animals were/are boys, if I am anthropomorphizing something, I say he/him/his. There have been randomly occasional female people I have had close- well, what passes for close for me — friendships with, but the comfort level with much of that is only marginally better. My closest friends offline have always been guys. I relate better to them. Then there is the autistic extreme male brain thing. But had I actually been born male, I would just be a gay male, because I just cannot fathom even remotely being attracted to females. Now before you get somewhat bent at my "attacking" our gender like you do if I attack your south (:o)) the internet has leveled that playing field a great deal for me…but I think that is because in essence the internet is truly genderless, and people are just people who also happen to be male and female in a more secondary manner. And because it's like a giant living book, and that is how I process things best.


    October 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

  5. Mother Phoenix, by the time my son was two, he was heavily into doll house miniatures, My Little Pony, and The Wizard of Oz. He loved his toy kitchen and the color pink. He was interested in dolls, but I think that was partially because I was pregnant during part of that time. By the time he was school-aged, he had more Barbie stuff than some girls that age, because, well, Barbie sucks but she's got some freaking cool stuff. During his childhood (including toddlerhood) he was also obsessed with the MGM monsters, Ancient Egypt, the Titanic, among many things. I agree on the hard-wiring, except I don't think it is gender-based wiring. I think it is people-based and "crossed wires" are more common than people see, but some children are more predisposed to pick up on even the most subtle of gender "rules" and cues.


    October 10, 2010 at 12:30 am

  6. My kid is an expert in stilettos and really wants sparkle Sketchers in pink.He also told me the other day that he couldn't wear pink.I was a little devastated.


    October 9, 2010 at 3:50 am

  7. I remember when our first son was just a few months old, we got one of those Carter's packets of sleepers. One was green, one was blue, one was pink. I dressed him in each one, irregardless of color. Out in public, a woman said my daughter was so pretty, and I smiled and said "Thank you! But he's a boy!" and she got all insulted, and said I should expect people to be confused if I dressed my son in pink. I smiled politely, but I really just wanted my son healthy and happy, and while I did enjoy dressing him up fancy like a big boy, we also slummed it, and Carters was cheap! Oh, and no matter how hard I tried, none of my boys had any idea what to do with a doll, and preferred their cars. Perhaps there's some hard-wiring going on. But I think children should be allowed to explore all kinds of toys, and shouldn't be so severely separated in what they're supposed to play with and wear. Good grief, just look at toy stores. Practically segregated. Boys stuff. Girls stuff. Ugh.

    Mother Phoenix

    October 9, 2010 at 3:27 am

  8. You keep saying you're a misogynist and after like three years(?) I still don't see it. If anything, that post is evidence that gender seems to mean very little to you?


    October 9, 2010 at 2:42 am

  9. Oh, yeah, and what Becky said. Again.


    October 9, 2010 at 2:37 am

  10. Sorry, you are going to have to fight me, too. :o) I've said before you won't find a bigger misogynist than me. I did correct with both kids, not because I felt offended, but because it was factually incorrect, and, well, I am just that way. I had one person (out of dozens) say "what a pretty girl" about Ryan (who was seriously all boyed-out that day) and when I said "no, he's a boy" she actually asked me if I was sure. Wha–? Boy's at least 7 months old, no lady, I never thought to make sure. And I cannot count the times Meg would actually be wearing nauseatingly pink, ruffly girly stuff and people would say something about my handsome boy. Idiots. I mean, this is the south.However, Ryan did have lavender and pink rosebud sleepers and I did put them on him (much to satan's horror) and Meg wore most of his clothes as hand-me-downs. And I did raise them both as people first, gender further down on the list and only where actually applicable. They were raised to like what they like, stereotypical gendering be damned.


    October 9, 2010 at 2:36 am

  11. I don't know the answer to that, but I whole heartedly agree with your assessment. I'm a girly girl, but I don't think anyone should HAVE to be that in order to be accepted by society. The double standard for men and appearance is definitely a problem, one my mom is constantly lamenting because it is so completely unfair.


    October 9, 2010 at 1:38 am

  12. Honestly, the only problem I have ever had with all this was that I always WANTED to be "one of the guys", but can't, because I'm not. I have always been a tom-boy, I have always hated anything feminine and hated how my family tried to make me girly. When someone treats me like a guy, I am happy LOL. I hate how women are expected to make ourselves up and dress in extremely uncomfortable clothes and shoes (or even worse, do terrible things like surgery to ourselves) to be seen as attractive….and guys can just go around with dirty Tshirt and jeans and women are still all over them. That's what I hate about the gender differences. It completely unacceptable for a woman to just wear comfortable clothes and no makeup…I know, because I don't wear makeup and I don't dress up, and I have NEVER….no, not even ONCE in my life had a guy approach me of their own free will. It sucks because, although I am taking a stand against this idea that women are not pretty naturally, all it is doing is proving that women are not seen as attractive if they don't change themselves. Its not fair that guys get to just be themselves and we have to feel ashamed of it. I don't want to have to tell my daughter that she has to do up her hair for an hour and put on makeup and wear high-heels in order to be acceptable to society…but if I don't, I'm worried she will be rejected like me. So what do you do?


    October 9, 2010 at 1:31 am

  13. It's a constant struggle. So many people really don't understand what the big deal is. People-men AND women.


    October 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

  14. In the medical and science world, male is also the default. If you study an organism, it is, without fail, a male. Unless you decide to branch out and study a less popular version of that organism, the female. This has always annoyed me.As for the gender politics issue. How can we raise our boys to not equate female with weak and inferior? I like to think I set a good example for my boys, but who can know? We've worked on helping girls become empowered, shown them how much they could do, if they wanted. But how do we get the other side of it? How do we raise our boys to respect girls, to see them as equally human and not "other, lesser"?You parents of Alpha boys—–listen up. If you hear your son calling another boy a girl, with a mean curl of his lip, smack him up the side of the head and tell him to cut it out. Or gently tell him not to do it, whatever you Alpha dads and moms do to raise Alpha kids. That'll be a good start.

    Mother Phoenix

    October 9, 2010 at 1:09 am

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