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Thursday, April 23, 2009


Since I'm kind of on a roll regarding incendiary issues after yesterday's foray into drunk driving, I thought we could all handle another dip into the pool of social issues by exploring a double-standard centering around negative, suspicious and hostile attitudes towards men.

It's called sexism.

Few people acknowledge its existence, and most who do are fond of calling it "reverse-sexism," but there's really no need to throw it in reverse, it's just sexism.

When a young man wants to become a pre-school teacher, what do we automatically think?

Well, he's either gay, or he's a pervert. Why else would he want to hang around children all day, right? A man, after all, isn't capable of being invested in the education and betterment of young children-- that's impossible.

Um... well, first of all, since when does wanting to be a teacher qualify you as gay and/or a pervert? Second of all, why are women automatically exempt from any type of suspicion when they want to be pre-school teachers? Or any kind of teachers for that matter? I suppose women aren't capable of molesting children.

The same way that women aren't capable of physically assaulting children.

Even if a man is allowed to become a pre-school teacher, we certainly have to have him co-teach-- you know, so a woman can... watch him, right? And, heaven forbid a child needs help in the bathroom-- well, a man certainly can't go help a female child out. Maybe he can help a boy out-- maybe... but he'll be watched very closely by that saintly female co-teacher.

Why is that? What is it about us men that makes us constantly suspected of doing the wrong thing? Must we all walk through this world with the letter A on our chest? Why? Why are we pre-judged simply for entering professions where there's a dearth of the male perspective and presence?

Male librarians? Gay.

Male speech therapists? Gay.

Male nurses? Gay-- this one is slowly changing, but there's still that perception.

Male department store clerks? Very, very gay.

Here's a curious question: why can a woman sell men's underwear in a department store and nobody bats an eyelash, but, if a man tried to sell women's underwear, he'd be burned at the stake?

Suspicion of men and their motives is deeply rooted in Western culture. With our sexual repression and our fucked up ideas about gender roles, stereotypes and paranoid delusions about protectionism and purity, we've created a world where men are pre-judged before they open their mouths and the hostility and ignorance projected against them has virtually barred them from entry into many occupations where many men would be perfectly suitable.

Back when I was on the street as an emergency medical technician, I had the misfortune of having a patient of mine fall. My partner and I had taken this woman by ambulance to a doctor's appointment, another example of a collossal waste of time and resources, but that's another blog topic. The patient was mildly obese and in her early fifties and was in rehab for a closed head injury. Because the doctor kept her (and us) waiting and waiting and waiting, she kept complaining that she had to go to the bathroom. I kept asking her if she could wait and she said that she could but, finally, she could wait no longer. Rather than bring her back outside to the ambulance, load her in, and have her use the bedpan, we decided to give her a little humanity and bring her to the bathroom at the doctor's office. It was a very small, cramped area and it was very difficult to move the stretcher around. Once we got her to the bathroom and undid the stretcher straps, we were faced with a dilemma.

See, as men, neither of us wanted to go into the bathroom alone with her. Not that either of us would have done anything, but we were afraid of being suspected of doing something. You know, because we have vile, filthy penises that whisper naughty things to our psyches.

"I'm not going in there with her," my partner said.

I expressed concern about her stability. But I wasn't going in there alone with her either. I asked her if she went to the bathroom by herself in rehab.

"Yes," she answered.

"Okay, well, we'll help you in, but do not get up from the toilet by yourself. Just call to us-- we'll be standing right outside the door, okay?"

"Okay," she said.

We left the door opened a crack and we stood outside and waited. Five minutes later, we were picking her up off the floor. Blood was everywhere. She tried to get off the toilet by herself and fell off, smacking her face against the cold, tile wall, slicing open her lip and bashing her nose. What was a simple trip to the doctor's office was now a lights-and-sirens adventure to the emergency room.


Because we were men.


  1. Amen. The are you being served pics are a nice touch.

  2. I disagree with:

    "Male librarians? Gay.
    Male speech therapists? Gay.
    Male nurses? Gay-- this one is slowly changing, but there's still that perception."

    Especially as I tend to think librarians are super cute! On the other hand, department store clerks, I might very well assume are gay, unless they're clearly still in high school. And I had never thought that about pre-school teachers until you brought it up.

  3. I like to think of myself as an enlightened person, gender-studies wise. I think if a guy wants to teach preschool, good on him, and better him than me. Someone has to do it. But I will say that the one time I felt uneasy and protective of my adorable younger brothers was when I realized a teenage boy at a family wedding was paying them an awful lot of attention.

    But: as a rule I don't distrust dudes in "women's" work. If there was never any crossover I'd still be wearing a corset and swooning on a sofa somewhere, rather than being a productive member of society and commenting on your blog.

    But: It's way more likely that a young man interested in being around little kids is a kid-toucher, more likely than if he were a young woman. And when you get that feeling, that "why is he looking at my brother like that" feeling, it's not sexism. We have instincts for a reason.

  4. You ask:

    "Why is that? What is it about us men that makes us constantly suspected of doing the wrong thing? Must we all walk through this world with the letter A on our chest? Why? Why are we pre-judged simply for entering professions where there's a dearth of the male perspective and presence?"

    When people are prejudiced against men in the ways you outline above, I blame the patriarchy. Not men, not women--but patriarchy, a system in which we are ALL complicit to some extent. It shapes how we are socialized and how we socialize one another, and by buying into patriarchal ideals, we as a culture insidiously promote the concept of sex roles, segregating countless spheres into "men's work" and "women's work"--which is unnecessary and limiting.

    So far, a major focus of feminist activism has been on opening up "masculine" fields to women. If more men understood feminism as a way of addressing patriarchal norms (rather than as a way to bash men, as is popularly assumed), then perhaps we'd have made more progress by now at opening up the "sensitive," "feminine" caregiving fields to men who would like to join in them--gay or not.

  5. great argument on the other side of feminism.. as a feminist, this kind of double standard with MEN as well is definitely part of the issue..

  6. Things are changing. Not fast enough, but they are changing.

    Sexism, no matter which gender is wronged, is still a big problem in this country.

    At least you don't get asked if you're going to get knocked up and stay at home every time you come up for promotion...

  7. I agree with verybadcat. Every time I put on my uniform, I'm still treated as a female officer, rather than just an officer. This is especially now, where I'm in a more predominantly male area than I was before. Because I'm used to having my motives and abilities constantly questioned (not to mention my sexuality!) I tend to be a little more forgiving of those in nontraditional roles than I think I would be otherwise. It's not fun, I don't like it, and it gets to be very trying - much as I'm sure it is for men in female-dominated fields.

  8. Hi, readers,

    Thank you all very much for your insightful, respectful, engaging and thought-provoking comments on this post. I don't mean to brag or nothin', but I've got the best fucking readers on the planet.

    Thank you for recognizing that this is a place where we can congregate to share ideals and ideas, and not just a place for me to be sophomoric and occasionally amusing.


    The Big Mason


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