#YesAllWomen #NotAllMen

If I had a son, this is exactly what I would want to teach him. (http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/05/27/not_all_men_how_discussing_women_s_issues_gets_derailed.html)

#YesAllWomen

 The following article is a discussion about violence, violence against women, and the oppression women face every day. Have a care if these topics disturb you. Note too: I am a cisgender male, and the hashtags I discuss below deal with the issues in binary men/women terms, so I do as well. Trans and other folks may well have very different feelings about these issues, and I welcome their input.

On Friday, May 23, 2014, a man killed six people (and possibly himself). The manifesto he left behind stated he did it because women wouldn’t sleep with him. I won’t recount the details here; they can be found easily enough. I also won’t speculate on the controversies involving his mental health, or about the NRA, or the police involvement in this. I want to focus on a narrower point here, and that has to do with men and women, and their attitudes toward each other.

The murderer was active on men’s rights fora, where women are highly objectified, to say the very least. They are seen as nonhuman by many such groups, and at the very least lesser than men—sometimes nothing more than targets or things to acquire. What these men write puts them, to me, in the same category as White Power movements, or any other horribly bigoted group that “others” anyone else. While it may not be possible to blame the men’s rights groups for what happened, from the reports we’ve seen they certainly provided an atmosphere of support.

Of course, these loathsome people represent a very small percentage of men out there. Over the weekend, as the discussion across Twitter turned to these horrible events, a lot of men started tweeting this, saying “not all men are like that.” It’s not an unexpected response. However, it’s also not a helpful one.

Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them.

Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves. I watched this happen on Twitter, over and again.

Third, the people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it.The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. (Though, I’ll note, it can be. I’ll get back to that.) Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand, try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying.

Fourth—and this is important, so listen carefully—when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.

This is the reality women deal with all the time.

Before what I’m saying starts edging into mansplaining, let me note that also over the weekend, the hashtag #YesAllWomen started. It was a place for women to counter the #NotAllMen distraction, and to state clearly and concisely what they actually and for real have to deal with. All the time.

Reading them was jarring, unsettling. I have many friends who are vocal feminists, and it’s all too easy to see what they deal with for the crime of Being a Woman on the Internet. But this hashtag did more than deal with the rape threats, the predators, the violence.

It was the everyday sexism, the everyday misogyny, which struck home. The leering, the catcalls, the groping, the societal othering, the miasma of all this that women bear the brunt of every damn day.

Those tweets say it far better than I ever could, for many reasons. The most important is because I’m a man, so I haven’t lived through what they have. I can’t possibly understand it at the level they do, no matter how deeply disturbed I am by the situation and how sympathetic I may be to what they’ve gone through.

This is not a failing, or an admission of weakness. It’s a simple truth. I’m a white, middle-class male, so I can understand intellectually what black people have undergone, or what women have dealt with, or what Japanese-Americans suffered in America in World War II. As someone raised Jewish, I may have more of an understanding for what an oppressed people have withstood in general, but I’ve never really been oppressed myself. That puts me in a position of—yes—privilege.

All that means is that I can only speak from my own point of view, and try to understand others as best I can. When it comes to sexism, to my shame, that took me a long, long time to figure out. I had to have my head handed to me many times in many embarrassing situations to see how I was participating in that culture, that everyday sexism. It was like air, all around me, so pervasive that I didn’t see it, even when I was in it and a part of it.

What made that harder was coming to an understanding that I will never truly understand what women go through. I can’t. So I listen to what women say about it, try to understand as best I can, and try to modify my own behavior as needed to make things better.

I’ve done a lot of modifying over the years. And there’s still a long way to go.

Over the weekend, I retweeted a few of the #YesAllWomen tweets I thought were most important, or most powerful, and saw that again and again they were misunderstood. In almost all the cases I saw, the men commenting were reacting to it, being defensive about the hashtag instead of listening to what was being said.

Earlier, I mentioned that the conversation is about the men who are the problem, not the ones who aren’t. Well, at this point, a conversation needs to be had about them, too. Even though we may not be the direct problem, we still participate in the cultural problem. If we’re quiet, we’re part of the problem. If we don’t listen, if we don’t help, if we let things slide for whatever reason, then we’re part of the problem, too.

We men need to do better.

Part of this problem is the mislaying of blame, and the misdirection of what to do. When it comes to legal action, to the enforcement of rules, to societal pressure, it all comes down on the women and not the men.

Which leads me to the best tweet using this hashtag that a man put up.

That is exactly right. We need to change the way we talk to boys in our culture as well as change the way we treat women.

And one final word on this. As a man, having written this post I expect there will be comments insulting me, comments questioning my manhood (whatever twisted definition those people have of such a thing, if it even exists), and so on.

But you know what there won’t be? People threatening to stalk me and rape me and kill me for having the audacity to say that women are people, and that we should be listening to them instead of telling them how to feel. Yet that is precisely what every woman on the Internet would face if she were to write this.

And that is, sadly, why we so very much need the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

 

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Food Trends

http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/article/food-trends-david-sax

As someone who cares about food and food trends, this was interesting.

I don’t know if I agree with this definition of food trends, it seems too strict: “There’s a fine line between a trend and a fad. Trends are longer-lasting and more impactful. They stay on even after it stops being the thing that Bon Appétit and every other food publication writes about. Think about extra virgin olive oil—with the gourmands it hit big in the late ’70s, early ’80s, and it trickled down to everyone else in the ’90s. It became the “thing.” Now it’s not a trend, nobody really talks about it. But it’s the default oil. It becomes a part of your eating culture. Trends do that. Fads don’t. Fads are the Cronut of the season.”

This is definitely interesting: “The difference now is that the 21st-century food media is an unprecedented food creature in its breadth and its scope and its speed. The Cronut is the most beautiful example. It went from an item to a food trend—or fad—instantly, and it was entirely because of the media. The speed of trends, the cycle of trends, and the volume of their impact is exacerbated by the food media.”

And this is so true: “How closely tied is health with food trends?
The line bleeds again—you can get chia-seed cupcakes and burgers with kale on them. But health trends are the most powerful food trends. When you see the mania around health and food in North America—”What should we eat? What’s the best thing to be eating? I only eat goji berries, I only eat chia seeds, I put it in this. You want as many antioxidants as possible. You want as few antioxidants as possible. Eat as much butter as you can. Eat no butter. Eat only natural fats”—it drives people crazy, but it drives sales. The power of someone like Dr. Oz to say something like, “Eat blueberries, you’ll live longer,” is going to sell a shitload of blueberries. Then people are going to take note of that and put blueberries in whatever the hell they can. Blueberry Doritos. Blueberry-flavored 7-Up. There was a product called Cherry 7-Up Antioxidant. They put a little bit of cherry juice in there and yeah, legally it has antioxidants. But it’s a can of diabetes. It’s not going to save you.”

Thoughts upon graduating

I loved this (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lexi-herrick/20-things-you-need-to-accept-about-your-20s_b_5326281.html?&ir=Style&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000035) because it addresses a lot of the thoughts I’ve begun having as graduation approaches.

    1. You’re going to be broke for a very long time. Stock up on Ramen and make the best of it.

 

    1. The first time you fall in love probably won’t be the last. There are different kinds of love and people that will come into your life for different reasons.

 

 

    1. You will undeniably grow apart from your friends in some ways. You’re going to move and get into relationships and careers that take up a lot of your time and rather than resent each other for that, cherish the time that you do have to spend together.

 

 

    1. Nothing in your life is permanent. That’s horrifying and invigorating all at the same time. You have to embrace change and accept that it is 100 percent necessary.

 

 

    1. You’re never going to look “perfect,” but you’re beautiful the way you are. Accept what you see in the mirror and stop trying to change it. You’re young and vibrant. Own it.

 

 

    1. You’re going to feel alone sometimes. It’s going to seem like everyone has their own lives and you are floating in the ocean all by your lonesome. That’s OK. In the end, you can only really count on yourself, and you will become stronger from the moments you felt abandoned.

 

 

    1. There’s never going to be a time that you will not need your parents in many ways.

 

 

    1. You’re going to feel unappreciated, defeated and disappointed at times.

 

 

    1. You’re going to change your mind about things. You can’t feel guilty about leaving a relationship, city or career if it’s what’s best for you. Changing your mind is what you’re supposed to do.

 

 

    1. The job market isn’t what it used to be. Your college degree or work history isn’t an easy ticket to success anymore. You are going to have to constantly prove yourself. Hard work is good.

 

 

    1. The past is over. You have to let go of every “what could have been” and go forward.

 

 

    1. It’s not always going to be easy to be a good person. You’re going to have to fight for what you believe is right and sometimes, no one will seemingly agree with you.

 

 

    1. Not everyone is going to like you and if you think that it’s possible to be universally liked, you will kill yourself trying.

 

 

    1. You’re going to misjudge people. Don’t beat yourself up over trying to see the good in someone.

 

 

    1. When you do find your person, they aren’t going to be perfect. Your relationship or marriage will be hard sometimes. It isn’t about thinking someone is perfect; it’s about knowing that they are perfect for you. You need to marry your best friend, not your “dream” man or woman.

 

 

    1. Your body is going to change. Whether its due to having children or not having enough money for a gym membership, you’re not always going to look 20. I repeat from #4, you’re beautiful. Your body is supposed to change, just like everything else in life does.

 

 

    1. You’re going to fall on your face multiple times. This could be from a relationship or job or really anything, but it will happen. You have to brush yourself off and learn from your mistakes.

 

 

    1. Not everything will be like you imagine it now. You may not want to dish out the money you’d need to have your Pinterest Wedding or have the job you imagined for yourself, and that’s OK.

 

 

    1. Your core values will not always align with those of the people around you. But you need to stand by them.

 

  1. You’re going to feel like a different person after these years and probably know a heck of a lot more than you do now. It’s most important that you remember who you are in your heart. Love freely. Move towards your dreams. Accept imperfection and realize that life will get messy, but it’s a beautiful mess and it’s all yours.