I am so tired. I’m tired of being told that I’m talking about the wrong thing. I’m tired of being told that I’m talking about it in the wrong way. I’m tired of having the subject changed.
Remember how #YesAllWomen got #NotAllMen-ed? Because we couldn’t talk about what happens to us, and our perceptions of society and the world, without people insisting that their point of view was the one we really should be talking about. Well, that happens a lot, and it’s not limited to one topic.
Earlier this week, I participated in an online discussion about female genital mutilation. Ten people participated. Three of us were women. One woman made a single comment; another made three or four. The discussion went on for more than 12 hours, and I was the only woman participating throughout. On its surface, it was for the most part a civil discussion.
Only it wasn’t always about FGM. As seems to happen again and again in discussions about FGM, the topic of male circumcision was brought up, and once it was introduced, it refused to leave. When I had the temerity to suggest that maybe a new thread could be started for that, I was accused of acting like the discussion police. Because we wouldn’t want to miss the chance to stop talking about women.
Yesterday, I came across an article about a new crowdfunding initiative for Miss Possible, a series of dolls “modeled after real women who’ve had path-breaking success in science, technology, space and information technology.”
Nice idea, right? Sure, unless you consider, as one commenter did, “Why no emphasis on the lack of boys and men in HR environments, then? Where’s the effort to recruit boys to HR and other female dominated fields?” He then went on to say that this project will accomplish nothing, because society deems women to be successful when they marry (or partner, presumably), not when they are recognized in their careers of choice.
You know how you get more men in HR? Pay HR more. Raise the salaries, and the men will come. That’s easy. But the idea that there might be value in getting more girls involved in STEM and related subjects? No. We will talk about men, and that is how it is.
But I don’t want that to be how it is. I don’t want to keep people from talking about men and their issues. I just want not to be cut off when I talk about women’s issues. I just want not to be told that I should be accepting of that interruption.
I don’t even want to include a link to #YesAllWomen, as I was planning to. I just went and did a search, and the hashtag is in use. But now it’s being used in ugly misogynist jokes, and I’m not going to help them get more traffic.
Think about that for a minute. We can’t even have a hashtag. We’re not supposed to realize that if we’re being silenced, the discussion is inherently uncivil. We’re not supposed to talk in the first place. And we’re supposed to be fine with that.
I’m not. I’m not.