I guess I’ve spent too much time on Facebook today. The sexism I’m seeing today is disturbing because it is so prevalent and so persistent.
If you follow George Takei’s page, you may recall the “Am I the A**Hole?” questions from Reddit that he sometimes reposts for his own followers to answer. I read two of them today that seemed to me like no-brainers.
In one, a man posted that his girlfriend had lost her home in a fire. (First red flag: he called her his “new” girlfriend, but then said they’d been dating for a year.) She and her two kids had nowhere else to go. Their landlord has other properties, but can’t get her into one until January. She asked the boyfriend if they could temporarily move in with him. He upset her by saying no, because they had been dating only been a year, and he didn’t think their relationship had progressed to the stage of living together. He was also ticked off at her for cancelling a date with him right after the fire, because, believe it or not, she had other things to deal with.
My thought was that yes, he is the AH. The girlfriend is not asking for a lifetime commitment, just a roof over her head. If he doesn’t step up, she and her kids will be homeless for three months. How can he not want to help?
Most of the people who commented seemed to agree with me. But a sizable minority did not, saying that women might claim they want to move in only temporary, but that when it comes time to leave, they refuse to move out. Most of these responders, not surprisingly, were men, but a few were women. What is wrong with them? She has nowhere to go! Presumably, this man cares about her. If he doesn’t trust her to keep her word, and thinks she’s someone who would trick him so she could move in permanently, why would he still be dating her after a year? In fact, the AH boyfriend did not actually say he was worried she would refuse to leave in January, yet many of the readers made that assumption. That’s even worse. The old stereotype of women as gold diggers who try to trick men into commitment is, apparently, still alive and well.
The other post was kind of creepy. A pregnant woman wrote to say that her husband is obsessed with her baby bump but is ignoring her completely. She says he walks into the room, goes straight to her abdomen, and will grope her baby bump and talk to the baby for a half-hour, without even greeting her. He says he’s bonding with the baby. And this happens almost every time he sees her. She’s hurt that he seldom even talks to her anymore, and she’s fed up with the unwanted touching. She asked if she’s the AH for expecting him to pay some attention to her and not feel he has the right to grope her whenever he wants.
Of course, she’s not the AH. It’s her body. Ignoring the woman you supposedly love, except for the part of her that has a baby inside, is out of line. Touching people without their permission is out of line. Again, this is a no-brainer. But apparently a lot of Takei’s followers have no brain, and thought it was the wife who was out of line. It was mostly men, but as in the other post, there were some women who thought so, too. Some said it was his baby, so he had every right to fondle her and talk to the baby, They argued that she shouldn’t be bothered by his ignoring her, because what happens when the baby gets older and the father wants to have a conversation with his kid; will she object to that too? Some said if she wanted to have a right to her own body, she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. And others chalked up her attitude to pregnancy hormones.
Will we ever move past the idea that women are overly emotionally needy, that getting pregnant warrants any punishment any man cares to inflict on us, and that women don’t have the right to control our own bodies, especially if we’re married?
Sometimes I am so discouraged for the human race.