“I Think I Lost It. Let Me Know When You Come Across It.”

I have to tell you, I’ve been burned out on politics before, but nothing like what I’m feeling lately. I think the thing is that I’ve lost the one belief that used to keep me going. I used to believe, about a lot of vile stuff, that the people promoting it just truly didn’t know or hadn’t thought things through. Especially because I know lots of thoughtful people who disagree with me about a lot of stuff and, whew dog, they have thought things through, mulled it over, wrestled with it.

But blogging at Pith and just existing on the internet has lead me to believe that a lot of “ignorance” is just a rhetorical stance designed to wear you down.  You can’t see the same people, for months, or years, even, just steadfastly refusing to understand what you’re saying and believe that it’s a.) just because you’re a shitty writer or b.) just because they’re stupid or c.) some combination of the two. They know exactly what you’re saying. They just pretend like they don’t, hoping you’ll burn out spinning your wheels.

And, frankly, it works.

The amount of stuff going on in this country right now, with this ignorant “forcible rape” crap and “go ahead and kill abortion providers” stuff and “if she didn’t want to be gang raped, why was she even in Egypt?” It’s just too much stupidity for me to feel like it’s not on purpose. It’s not a matter of “Oh, they’re just not thinking through what they’re saying.” They know what they’re saying. They liked it better when women’s lives were harder and more circumspect.


I just can’t always bang my head against that wall, you know?

It’s funny. I know people advise that, if you want to have a successful blog, you should pick a topic and just write about that–feminism, sci-fi, dogs, whatever. And I guess that’s true.

But if I had to write about all the ways I’ve been reminded by the people in my own country, this land that I love, that I don’t get final say over what happens to my own body, that by virtue of having a vagina, I’m not a whole person, I would break in two.

I can tell the stove is hot from here, you know? I can’t bring myself to put my hand on the burner.

I admire women who can. But I just can’t. It’s not even that I don’t give a shit. I just find the prospect of changing anyone’s mind so futile it’s like, what’s the point?

I’d rather be writing or gardening or eating good meals with my friends or watching bad TV with the Butcher.

I don’t know. Part of the problem is just that it’s February. I’ve been lucky. Usually November through February is a brutal slog for me and this year I was fortunate that it didn’t really become even bad until just this month. But part of it is that I want things to change, on a lot of levels, but I hate the feeling of things sliding beneath my feet.

Damn it. Usually when I write a post like this, I feel better at the end, clearer on what’s bothering me and why. Not today, though.

I did just watch the orange cat open the front door and let himself out, which is an argument for making sure it’s always deadbolted.

18 thoughts on ““I Think I Lost It. Let Me Know When You Come Across It.”

  1. I know how you feel on the overarching problems. I just want to hang my head in shame at the depths some of my fellow countrymen will sink to in order to try to control women and our messy, horrible bodies.

    I also cannot imagine how you can shrug off the level of willful ignorance and repulsive misogyny frequently on display at Pith comment threads. You are strong beyond words to be able to do it at all.

  2. I have never been under the illusion that the controllers-of-women weren’t aware (subconsciously, at the very least) of what they are trying to do. So I feel no disillusionment about it. But what disenheartens me is the silence of the men who claim to be our allies, and their insistence, even now, that other, more important things have to come first.

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  4. What you have so eloquently and heart-breakingly explained is not limited to control of our bodies. It’s a refusal to LISTEN to women, period. I cannot tell you how often, in the last five to six years, I have attempted to have business conversations with people, from the workplace to the grocery store, that devolve into them staring at me and repeating, over and over, their original statement as a response to something that I have just said. (Or twisting what I’ve said to sound like their statement.)

    Example: Boss wants 5 things posted on the website. Site design allows for 3. I tell him this and ask him to prioritize so I know which 3. “I want 5,” he says. “Site allows 3. Which 3?” say I. “I want 5,” he responds. “Site allows 3. Do you want me to ask IT to redesign site?” “I want 5.” Ad nauseum, until I finally say, “I am choosing 3. Tell me if you want different ones.” “I want 5.” “You get 3.” “I want 5.”

    At the grocery store, I ask a bag person to please put only 2 milk containers in each of 2 bag, not all 4 in one bag, because I can’t carry a bag that heavy. Person (male, neither hearing- nor learning-impaired) puts all 4 containers in one bag. I ask him again to put 2 in one bag and 2 in another. He stares at me. I ask, again. He stares at me, then says, “You want all 4 in one bag.” “No. 2 in one, 2 in another. All 4 are too heavy for me to carry.” “So, all 4 in one bag is what you want.” I physically take the too-full bag, take 2 containers out and put them in an empty bag. He says, “I thought you wanted them all in one bag.” I then find a manager, who says, “Well, if you wanted them all in one bag, why did you tell him you wanted 2 in one and 2 in the other?”

    Those are two ridiculous examples in light of the deadly serious nature of your examples, but they are indicative of the increasingly pervasive mindset of too many males: If you are a woman or another perceived Less-Than, I can simply stare at you or repeat my demands like a robot, because I am a man and I don’t have to listen to you. If I repeat myself enough, or stare at you long enough, you will do what I want.

    Lest y’all think I’m crazy (-ier), I actually have some of these “conversations” on tape.

    I think the problem started a couple of decades ago, with these idiot talking heads on the “news” programs who simply shout the same thing repeatedly over anyone who disagrees with them until the other person just gives up or the moderator finally changes the subject. The result: If I am loudest/get the last word/make everyone forget you, I win. And that has changed our daily discourse to the point where we can’t even have a conversation anymore; it’s just an exercise in seeing how long it takes a woman (or some other perceived Less-Than) to fold.

    Like you, B, I am just flat worn out with it. And that, I suspect, is the intent.

  5. I don’t want “them” to win. I don’t but I’m with everyone here. I’m plum worn out too.

    I am hoping that all of us can get a second wind. It’s hard to fight what you cannot see or touch. Sometimes I have to just go back to fighting one small battle at a time.

  6. > steadfastly refusing to understand what you’re saying

    Bob Altermeyer addresses this disconnect pretty well in “The Authoritarians”:

    It’s easy to see why authoritarian followers would be dogmatic, isn’t it? When you haven’t figured out your beliefs, but instead absorbed them from other people, you’re really in no position to defend them from attack. Simply put, you don’t know why the things you believe are true. Somebody else decided they were, and you’re taking their word for it. So what do you do when challenged?

    Well first of all you avoid challenges by sticking with your own kind as much as possible, because they’re hardly likely to ask pointed questions about your beliefs. But if you meet someone who does, you’ll probably defend your ideas as best you can,
    parrying thrusts with whatever answers your authorities have pre-loaded into your head. If these defenses crumble, you may go back to the trusted sources. They probably don’t have to give you a convincing refutation of the anxiety-producing
    argument that breached your defenses, just the assurance that you nonetheless are right. But if the arguments against you become overwhelming and persistent, you either concede the point–which may put the whole lot at risk–or you simply insist you are right and walk away, clutching your beliefs more tightly than ever.

    That’s what authoritarian followers tend to do. And let’s face it, it’s an awfully easy stand to take. You have to know a lot nowadays to stake out an intelligent, defendable position on many issues. But you don’t have to know anything to insist you’re right, no matter what. Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. It’s also a dead give-away that the person doesn’t know why he believes what he believes.


  7. I’m going to have to mull over some how what grandfille and indifferent children are saying fit together. I think there’s something important here, but I can’t quite articulate it yet.

  8. Perhaps grandfille’s comment is more on-the-mark than mine. I took a bit of a mental leap when I read your “They know exactly what you’re saying. They just pretend like they don’t”. I mistook that to mean that your frustration came from others not being able to be influenced by your statements.

    OMG! I’m one of them! :-)

  9. No, I really feel like there’s something really crucial in the space between your two’s points, I just can’t quite bring it into focus. You might not have intended it, but I feel like the light bulb is above my head. I just can’t quite get it to click on.

    But there’s something there, for sure.

  10. Seriously though, a lot of it is stupidity. In fact most of those who are authoritarian followers are that way because of a lack of intelligence. As much as we might want to have a constructive discussion, it is pointless because they don’t have the intelligence of knowledge base to participate. The genius of the conservative movement is that they include disdain of intellectualism and freedom of thought as fundamental tenats of their authoritarian worldview, and it makes for one hell of a fail safe.

  11. Seems to em the space between those two well-thought out comments is the space where the people are on a script, and they dang well stick to it, because it’s too scary not too–and we do see a lot more of those under the pressure of hard times. There’s undeniably some o that directed at women and e women’s issues right now ; Aunt B’s own current political examples lay that out there clearly enough if anybody;s missed it. But do notice in the grand/indiff story examples, the problem could be exacerbated by the person on the ignored end being a woman, but the same “won’t/probably can’t ” get off the locked script behavior could be dropped on any one. And it is.

  12. This is a fascinating discussion, and I don’t know that I have anything relevant to add, except that the whole misogyny thing really gets my fucking goat. Maybe because for 24 hours at a time I work in an environment where misogyny replaces the nitrogen in the air. I’ve been there almost 14 years and it still bugs me when I think about it. If I have a point here, it’s that the older I get and the longer I’m in this environment, the less I feel worn down by it. I know that’s counterintuitive, but I feel more and more that I have the need and the desire to fight against it. Perhaps because it is so atmospheric, and fighting against it helps me keep myself inoculated against it.

    It probably helps that I’m not only male, but African-American and kind of from the ‘minister’s child’ mold that B. talks about in another post today. I have this exaggerated sense of right and wrong and justice and what-not, and yet I look upon the context in which I was given that sense with a sort of dismissive skepticism and cynicism; like, I know it was all bullshit, God, but thanks anyway for the moral foundation.

    So with this realm that I’m in, with all these men walking around spouting lady-hatred all over the spectrum (from casual to vile to violent), it’s not in my nature to get fatigued by it. I either let it roll off me or I speak up about it in some way. And the older I get and the longer I’m there, the more I’m deciding to battle it openly. I’m not suggesting that this description will be actively useful to anyone else here, or that it will even make sense, but it came to mind and I felt like sharing.

  13. I can’t give away my entire project here online for free before it’s even done, but I will try one thing.

    indifferent children presents an account of closed minds, deaf audiences, even providing a reason why (because people don’t have reasons for their beliefs but only have beliefs). This is Mill’s fear, that even if we are nearly certain that we are right, if we close ourselves off to other possibilities then we are no longer exercising beliefs but holding dogma.

    grandfille provides a specific instance of the way that the closure, the deafness, is more likely and more intensely (not exclusively) experienced, with more harmful repercussions, by those people who already lack social power, whose bodies actually mark untrustworthiness in dialogue.

    being able to participate in one’s communities requires, in part, being treated as a fellow contributor to the pools and knowledge and experience and such informing that community. So we all get to talk, and we all have to listen. (okay, there are limits to having to listen, but they are few and particular.)

  14. What you have so eloquently and heart-breakingly explained is not limited to control of our bodies. It’s a refusal to LISTEN to women, period.

    I believe there is much truth to this.

    Having spent most of my life on the other side of the chromosome, and only just a very short time over here, I’m already seeing marked differences in the way some people in some forums react to what I say, just by virute of having changed the name by which I sign.

    Intellectually I knew it would be the case, I’d seen it done to other women — but to actually experince it has been both infuriating and humbling.

    Perhaps even more telling, it sometimes seems to shift back once they find out what sort of woman I am. There’s almost an audible “whew”, as in “whew, I guess it’s ok to actually hear what this girl is saying, since she isn’t *really* a girl”.

    I don’t know, I could be imagining it, but I don’t think so.

  15. Re Jennifer’s comment:

    I haven’t thought to ask an old college buddy, who recently completed gender-reassignment surgery, if she noticed a change in others’ treatment of her once she started living as a woman several years ago. I do know she used to express frustration at some folks’ willful ignorance/refusal to listen to her when we were in school (and she was a biological guy), but she also used to blame that on being a biological Iowan living in Tennessee. She’s been so respected and so prominent in her field for so long that it would be a very interesting sociological study to find out how others’ behavior toward her has changed now that she’s officially one of us gals.

    May I also add that *most* of the men I know are more like the distinguished Mr. Holloway than the two examples I cited earlier. I just wish more of the ones who lack his good sense and decency could understand how much they hurt themselves — and others — with their actions.

  16. Jennifer, that’s really interesting. I mean, I assumed going from presenting as male to presenting as female would be a crash course in the subtle differences in how men and women are treated, things that people who have always presented as women might not even pick up on any more.

    But I’m really intrigued by the idea that some men are anxious to confer a level of male-privilege to you if they have an excuse. That’s weird and sucks for you, but, man, it’s interesting behavior on their part.

  17. The times when I’ve felt it have been in arguments with guys who weren’t exactly the brightest bulbs in the box, and the mismatch in the battle of wits was readily apparent. So it’s probably not so much that they were exactly anxious to confer male privilege, more like they were grudingly willing to do so in order to sooth their own ego — “well, OK I can accept a man (even, maybe especially, some freak of nature) being smarter than me, but not a woman”.

    It’s like it helps resolve the cognitive dissonance that keeps them from hearing the woman in the first place as a way of protecting that ego.

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