I have a theory, built on an observation, reinforced over the course of this past week, that women divide men up into two groups–dudes you need to keep an eye on and dudes that are some woman’s project (like, she’s working on transforming him into a “good” guy).
So, say you’re in a place. Let’s not mention any specific places, but a big open public place a woman thinks she should be able to go without issue. She steps off the elevator and turns to the right, to head toward the large room with seats and computers. Three men come out of the room to see who’s coming off the elevator. Two of the men dart back inside. The third man moves around in front of the doors she’d like to go in. She gets the sense they’re doing something in the room they’d rather her not see.
How many women do you think would go into that room? Past that third man? I don’t know. I’m going to say a little less than half. But I’ll also say that I think somewhere closer to 3/4 of women would immediately understand why the women who didn’t go in the room didn’t go in the room.
After all, you have to trust your gut and keep an eye on dudes.
But let’s say that one of those guys is the boyfriend of an acquaintance of yours. You don’t know him. You don’t really know her. You recognize him, but he obviously didn’t immediately recognize you.
Here’s the thing women don’t admit. Now more of us are inclined to go in the room. Not because we feel more safe, but because not going in the room means that we’re saying that this man our friend knows is one of the guys you have to keep an eye on.
And you don’t fucking disrespect some woman and her project that way.
The mistake I made this past week was not in misinterpreting what’s going on. But by the time I stumbled on the third fucking group of angry women talking shit about my “privilege” and how disappointed they are in me, it dawned on me: I’m in trouble because I shit on some women’s project. I saw men they’re “working on” as unsettling and their behavior as cause for caution. I impugned their (the women’s) ability to transform these men.
I have a lot of thoughts about how unhealthy it is for women to take it upon ourselves to try to transform men–just starting with how incredibly icky and disrespectful it is to the men and how women are not the civilizing force of society and it’s weird to assume that is your job AND WEIRDER YET to assume it’s your job and then suck so bad at it–but who cares?
The important thing is that I was complaining to the Butcher about all of this and how women are talking about sitting me down and talking to me about my privilege and he laughed and he said, “You should tell them, ‘Sure. Let’s meet in the 3rd Floor Reading Room at the Library some Saturday morning.'”
And then I laughed, too.
I believe you are overthinking this. The minute I saw your original well written and well reasoned post over at Pith I knew that you were in for a public thrashing.
The reason is that you dared to tell truth to power. Not a huge Kuhnian truth. Not an enormous amount of power. But you told an uncomfortable truth to people who presume to speak with authority and influence on issues related to how our society ought to function.
In this case, you honestly observed that you are uncomfortable with some of the homeless men who spend time in the Library. That you expressed your views for all to see challenged their assumptions about how we should regard and treat the homeless. Your comments could be seen as giving aid and comfort to those who would ban the homeless from the library and abandon them to their fate.
Basically you told a truth that could be used against the truth that they believe. That is more and more the greatest crime in our public debates.