Questions for men

Day 37. 86 pages, 41,460 words.

The other day, I was amused by a new Twitter hashtag share-rage social activist trigger. Hey, what can I tell you. I’m easily distracted and the Internet rarely disappoints me.

Now I think some of these “questions for men” are entirely valid, and need to be addressed. And there’s plenty going on that is not getting talked about in this post.

But some of them? Idiotic.

It’s probably counterproductive to say so, though, because it invites discarding of the entire line of thought. And that’s definitely not right. So I decided to sit down and give each of the cited tweets my own personal assessment, because I am nothing if not generous.

Clementine Ford: Question to the male writers/speakers etc out there. Is it common for you to be called an ‘attention seeker’? Or do just women get that?

I don’t think it’s just women, but then – I am an attention seeker. You need to learn to revel in it.

Clementine Ford: #QuestionsForMen: When you have a hostile disagreement with someone, is it common for them to say you’re angry because no one will fuck you?

“Dude, you need to get laid.” Yeah, not entirely uncommon in an argument. And preferable to a punch in the face. Although the better solution is to just try to avoid having hostile disagreements with people.

Jane Caro: #questionsformen In a job interview have you ever been asked how you will juggle work and home?

Yes, because it’s a valid question. Suck it up, crybabies.

Her Gourdliness: Would u be comfortable w only women weighing in on the debate about your productive organs? Or proposing policy/law re: it? #QuestionsForMen

No, that would suck. But this is not happening. Only men are weighing in on the debate about abortion? No, that’s a lie. And even for the group of out-of-touch male legislators who somehow feel qualified to make their dumb statements, the reaction I have seen is almost universally derisive and angry, and rightly so. These guys should butt out. But let’s keep it on planet Earth, okay? Men are not the only people weighing in on this, and most people seem to think women should be the ones to decide one way or the other.

Mikey Nicholson: #QuestionsForMen Have you ever expressed a strong opinion and been called a meninazi? @clementine_ford

Mikey, I’m sure you’re trying to help, but you just made up a stupid word. Even “mascinazi” would have been better given the etymology, but still pretty stupid. If you mean “Have you ever expressed a strong opinion and been called a male chauvinist?”, then yes. Of course I have. Again, let’s stick to the planet with a breathable atmosphere for this debate, shall we? The rich, methane-heavy air of Planet Bullshit is alright for some, but it’s clearly making you lightheaded.

Clementine Ford: #QuestionsForMen Have you ever read a thinkpiece by a respected female writer explaining why and how men aren’t funny?

No (although I am sure they exist), and I wouldn’t read one by a male writer either. Except to see how amusingly full of shit it was. Stop crying and go tear it to shreds.

G: #questionsformen How does your wife feel about your career?

Yes? How does one’s spouse feel about one’s career? Um, good? They feel good? Or if one’s career is meth cook or high-class assassin, maybe they feel conflicted? Dumb question, G.

Kirsty Webeck: #QuestionsForMen have you ever had trouble breaking into your chosen field because it’s a ‘girl’s club?’

In my line of work it is known as a “pink collar” job, and no. I broke into it because I am good. If I failed, I wouldn’t blame the gender to which most of my superiors and competitors belong. Because I fancy myself a grown-up.

But yes, I do understand that the ‘boys’ club’ (please learn to use apostrophes correctly) is a thing, and these sorts of issues are weighed far more unfairly against women than men. Credit.

Julie Fairey: #QuestionsForMen Are you glad you waited until you were established in your career before becoming a father?

Why yes. Yes I am. What’s wrong with this question exactly?

Flynn Malice: How often have you needed to lie and pretend you had a partner to try to stop someone hitting on you? #QuestionsForMen

First of all, this question seems to automatically brand any and all hitting-on as negative and unwanted. I know Twitter’s not the most forgiving medium in terms of word-count and nuance, but you’re really only talking about fugly, obnoxious, overly-insistent, creepy or otherwise unwelcome hitting-on, right? And that will say more about you than about the hitter. All the hitter is guilty of at this point is not taking a damn hint. And possibly also using the “worm do” line.

Back in the days when this was even an issue for me, and on those rare occasions when I was being hit on by someone I wasn’t interested in (hey, it totally did happen!), and when I in fact did not have a partner, sure. Of course I used this lie. It’s a let-down-easy for nice ones, and if it turns out they don’t care if you’re taken, they’re not nice and you can move on to more abrasive discouragement.

Cassandra Joyce: #QuestionsForMen have you even been judged on the length of your pants?

A few times, yeah. I’ll admit, though, that this has always been in a more “you look like an idiot” or “you’re not getting into this club wearing shorts” sense, not so much in a “you’re obviously a slut and deserve to be raped” sense. That shit is wrong. So, points for this one.

Kirsty Webeck: #questionsformen when you achieve something great, do you expect the female reporter to say, ‘give us a twirl, who are you wearing?’

Ah Kirsty, back with more, eh? Your punctuation is still a little messed up but let’s just move on.

Personally, I’ve been over this one:

Give us a twirl.

And I stand by it.

Basically, if you’re an entertainer (and believe it or not, sportspeople are entertainers), then your appearance and wardrobe are fair game. Nobody bats an eyelid when women leer over male sportsmen, and nor should they. Obviously you’d need a more male-equivalent demand for the reporter to make, and it always depends on the area of achievement[1], but yeah, I think there should be more of this.

[1] A woman who achieves something great in the field of literature or physics, for example, and then gets asked this question, should be legally allowed to kick the testicles of the man who asked it. And a man who is asked a similar question in a similar context should, I don’t know, get a free boob-honk out of it or something.

So to (finally) answer your question, fair enough. No I would not expect to hear this question asked of a man. And it should be. Another good point from Kirsty!

Margaret O’Connor: #questionsformen Have you ever had to fight for a 10% share of the conversation with women who think that you’re actually taking 80% share?

Yes. Every time I enter a discussion on women’s rights in basically any position or context. But I have to adjust for the fact that, as a privileged white male, my entry-level commentary on an issue may get more “share” awarded to it by default, so I’ll give this one a pass, too. Certainly unfair.

Kelly Trudgen: Has your body been compared to an unlocked car, wallet or other object that can be carelessly left unattended? #QuestionsForMen

No, not really. That’s odd. I assume this is something to do with rape culture or women as possessions. Yeah, let’s make this sort of question go away.

Penelope: Do you struggle to identify with playable male characters because they are hyper-sexualised objects of fantasy?#QuestionsForMen

Yes. Often. Suck it up. Next.

Laura Hartnell: Are you able to watch shows with more than two men on the panel without it being dismissed as a men’s show? #QuestionsForMen

I don’t watch shows with panels if I can possibly help it. If I’m watching something like Qi and there’s more than two women on the panel, then that means that Alan and Stephen are the only men so it probably would be a women’s show, because Alan is the only regular and Stephen is the host.

Not sure where that leaves us.

Chelsea Ayling: Do you send your mates a message to let them know you’ve gotten home safely? #questionsformen

Sometimes. Although a triumphant Facebook status normally suffices these days. As previously, given that this question speaks to rape culture and the practice means different things for men and women, I’ll give it a pass.

Gyan Yankovich: How many times have you been told you’re “such an independent young man” like that shouldn’t just be a given. #QuestionsForMen

Not very often, but then, I am not a very independent young man. I’m just a man, and I’m pretty dependent.

Nicola Gaston: Have you ever considered the advantages to be gained from signing your work using only your initials? #QuestionsForMen

No. And I have read about female friends who have faced this issue, so fair enough. This should go away too.

Paula Roe: #questionsformen ever been called a ‘boy gamer’ while girls are just… Gamers?

No, but then a lot of gamers who are female quite happily and proudly call themselves Gamer Girls or ‘girl gamers’. You want them to stop too? I get that it implies minority or negative-special status and feeds into a lot of other bad cultural stuff, but I don’t know if this is the hook you want to hang your social activist hat on. Maybe instead of whining about it, you should try owning the term.

So, there it is. Ten dumb questions, seven decent questions, three sort of in-between questions. And I have done my part as a judgemental male patriarchal hegemony-lord. You’re welcome, ladies.

I told you there was a point at which I got off the crazy train. This is not it – there is a lot of good sense in this issue and there are plenty of questions out there that highlight a horrible inequality. And ten dumb, seven smart and three meh is a pretty good mix, for a Twitter debate. Even if these were the ones they cherry-picked for maximum “win”.

It should be noted that all of these questions also invite the “not all men” response I have basically given to every point above, and as I have already ranted about on other occasions, “not all men” generally isn’t helpful.

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26 Responses to Questions for men

  1. thelinza says:

    “Julie Fairey: #QuestionsForMen Are you glad you waited until you were established in your career before becoming a father?

    Why yes. Yes I am. What’s wrong with this question exactly?”

    > It assumes that reproduction is the first priority, and career is a second priority that you would have to discipline yourself into doing chronologically first. Although, there’s a second layer of misogyny in assuming that a woman would have to give up reproduction altogether for a career, or would never want to have kids as their primary focus. That the question even exists is pretty repulsive, IMO. People should have life goals that appeal to them.

    “Flynn Malice: How often have you needed to lie and pretend you had a partner to try to stop someone hitting on you?”

    > I’d give points for this question. Women in the south of the US, at least, aren’t taught to be mean to people. We’re taught that everyone else’s feelings are Terribly Important and if a man hits on you, it’s a compliment, even if he’s obviously only looking for a place to stick it, and you owe it to him to be polite. Except that this kind of standard encourages scumbags to disrespect boundaries and insist to the point of Extreme Social WTF, where particularly younger women have no idea what to do. I fear that my youngest sister is going to experience a lot of this, because she’s so -nice-. I should’ve taught her to punch people in the throat when they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

    I have ample evidence that the ‘I have a husband/boyfriend’ defense doesn’t work, however, so this question seems a bit 90s. There must be a better way to restate it. Perhaps, ‘Do you find that lifelong subconscious training to be kind, selfless, and accommodating makes it less possible to turn down unwanted advances?’

    Re: ‘such an independent young man’ – I think you’re intentionally ignoring the point. If not, apologies. Nevermind, no apology– Throat-punch! I expect you’ll be avoiding these issues with your own daughters by telling them what talented and capable world leaders they both are. 😀

    Also, Janica has a zillion Linza-points for the gladiator comment.

    • stchucky says:

      That first one is a simple enough misunderstanding. I’m approaching it from the point of view of someone who has children, you from the point of view of someone who doesn’t and has no intention of having them. Obviously it’s going to mean different things to each of us.

      My point about lying and pretending to have a partner is that this is not an issue that is exclusively women’s. It’s pretty offensive to suggest it is. Yes, some people are nice and it bites them in the arse. And sometimes it’s not enough and hitters won’t take no for an answer. That sucks for men and women. But maybe it is a bit 90s. That was the last time I was single and bar-hopping, so that checks out.

      I have to admit I still don’t get the “independent young man” thing. The way I see it, this isn’t a given for either gender and it can be offensive or complimentary depending on who you say it to. I didn’t make it my business to analyse every single one of these questions in order to find the obscure feminist-agenda interpretation each one might have been trying to make, no matter how hidden it was to me. I feel that would be betraying my calling as a person of words.

      • thelinza says:

        Hm. The ‘independent’ comment comes from the same place as the double standard that assertive women are called bitches and assertive men are called leaders.

  2. aaronthepatriot says:

    Thanks for this! I agree with you on all the places where you don’t give a pass or credit, but I do want to talk about a couple of the places where you do give credit. Also, I feel strongly that it takes a sensitive person to object to the “are you glad you waited to have kids” question, as Linza is doing above. It’s really, truly not a big deal and is only offensive if you WANT it to be offensive. The thing is, if you have a healthy relationship with the other parent of your kids, you made the decision TOGETHER. So, no matter who is getting asked the question, a man or a woman, the question is really to both a man AND a woman. It’s not sexist. I have your answer, we waited, and yes, I’m glad we did. And the other problem is that the question itself implies AGREEMENT in the fact that the woman waited. So it’s not misogynist, it’s actually agreeing that the typical role of child-producer is not how we should view women first and foremost. Take offense if you want to, again, I say.

    Oh, also on the reproductive issue, I’d make sure women stop stabbing each other in the back on that issue as well by being anti-choice, just as much as I’d rail that male politicians dare to speak and legislate on the matter.

    Now, for this one you credit: “Have you ever been judged on the length of your pants”. I just have to add, amusingly, that in the Navy yes indeed I was judged, they had to be a precise length. I’ve not heard this one as part of rape culture but I’ll take her word for it.

    As for the “men’s show” issue: everyone likes to hear more from persons who are “like me” than “not like me”. Therefore, men may wish to listen to other men ideally, but *women are exactly the same*, especially feminists, be honest! I’ll prove it by the existence of this one word: Mansplaining. The same person who makes a comment like these in this article also resents a man expressing his opinion (to one degree or another). I’ve seen it too many times to allow a denial of that fact.

    You need to get over it. I watch *good* shows and I don’t care about the gender makeup of the show. In fact, I like women, so the more women the better. This one again needs a box of Kleenex and a stiff upper lip. Stop worrying so much about how idiots classify your show, and just watch what you want to watch!

    10%/80% conversation share: yes! In most conversations where women are involved, they do most of the talking and I definitely feel like I’m butting in if I do more than make a statement edgewise. Get over it! No pass for you!

    Sending a “home safe” message: Again this completely applies to me and I think it’s common courtesy. If you want to think the only reason you’re sending it is because you didn’t get raped, I think you might have a problem. I send it because there could be an accident, a mugging, bad weather, or just damn courtesy. This one is again what you choose to make it and I don’t give it a pass. Happens to us all, if we care about our “mates” feelings.

    My mansplaining 2 cents XD

    • stchucky says:

      Also, I feel strongly that it takes a sensitive person to object to the “are you glad you waited to have kids” question, as Linza is doing above. It’s really, truly not a big deal and

      Like I said, I think this is explained in terms of different points of view.

      You and I are imagining ourselves being asked this question as we are today – as men who already have a couple of kids each (you illustrated this assumption yourself with your explanation, “The thing is, if you have a healthy relationship with the other parent of your kids, you made the decision TOGETHER.” – the difference is more fundamental than that), so of course this isn’t going to be offensive.

      Linza is imagining herself being asked the question as she is today – a woman with no children and no intention of having any. So obviously when she hears the question, it’s going to come ready-packaged with an offensive assumption that the reason she hasn’t got kids is because she’s totally going to have kids, absolutely, but she’s just waiting until later, because reasons.

      See?

      Now, if you’re looking at it from that point of view (and just phrasing your mansplanation poorly, heh) and still saying it’s not an offensive question, you feel free. I think there are sensitive-petal responses to the attitude, sure, and there are more useful responses. But I’m not going to declare alternative viewpoints null and void.

      My response to said question would probably be more along the lines of, “oh, so now I’m established in my career? I missed that fuckin’ memo.”

      Oh, also on the reproductive issue, I’d make sure women stop stabbing each other in the back on that issue as well by being anti-choice, just as much as I’d rail that male politicians dare to speak and legislate on the matter.

      I am baffled by women who are anti-abortion too, but if it comes down to individual choice and we leave legislation out of it entirely, Imma let each woman decide for herself whether or not she gets an abortion. Whether I agree with her or not.

      nObKodos: Free abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

      Now, for this one you credit: “Have you ever been judged on the length of your pants”. I just have to add, amusingly, that in the Navy yes indeed I was judged, they had to be a precise length. I’ve not heard this one as part of rape culture but I’ll take her word for it.

      Really? You haven’t heard “if she didn’t want to get laid, why was she wearing that trashy little skirt?”? Okay. But your objection is much the same as mine, and relates to dress code far more than actual assignation of assumed character. Which was why I credited the question.

      If you want to think the only reason you’re sending it is because you didn’t get raped, I think you might have a problem.

      I just disagree with this. Women get abducted and raped with horrifying routineness while walking home alone. This does not negate the fact that men also get raped, but it’s not often in that sort of situation. This is a legit difference between men and women right here.

      It’s perfectly valid to ask this question of men and women, and for men and women to send courtesy “home-safe” messages around, but let’s not kid ourselves that they’re not doing it after evading very different sets of threats.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “Linza is imagining herself being asked the question as she is today – a woman with no children and no intention of having any. So obviously when she hears the question, it’s going to come ready-packaged with an offensive assumption that the reason she hasn’t got kids is because she’s totally going to have kids, absolutely, but she’s just waiting until later, because reasons.

        See?”

        Not really. Women can have kids. Men can only help with the process. If no one has kids the human race will die out. Why is it insulting for someone to think you are going to reproduce one day? Word to the wise: persons who don’t think you are a positive contribution to society tend to NOT want you to reproduce. So, think of it that way.

        Also, are you SURE they were assuming, oh the horror, that you wanted to reproduce when you do NOT want to? Sometimes a question doesn’t imply one assumption or the other, it’s just a question. Like your blog entry about ethnicity and asking persons who look “foreign”: “where are you from?” They can ASSUME you mean “go back there”, but surely you do not! You just are seeking information, it’s human nature. It’s what it means to be sentient.

        The alternative here is to not converse on the topic at all. Unless, of course, someone this sensitive is ok with being asked straight out: “are you ever going to have kids?” Yes, I know I worded that harshly. These questions are all conversation starters. People like to have conversations. Try not to load every question with baggage if you can avoid it, I say.

        “Really? You haven’t heard “if she didn’t want to get laid, why was she wearing that trashy little skirt?”? Okay. ”

        Pants are not skirts. Length of pants was the tweet. That’s why it seemed silly. I’ve never heard a mansplaining Fox news retard say “her cargo shorts were too short”. The tweet doesn’t say “not wearing pants” or “not wearing a long dress”. It says “length of your pants”.

        I see that the parallel is to a woman’s skirt, but isn’t that parallel sexist to even make? I think there are a lot of mines in this here field, on both sides. Pardon me for not thinking “dress/skirt” as soon as I swapped the gender to “female”. I should think credit to me for that.

        ‘ If you want to think the only reason you’re sending it is because you didn’t get raped, I think you might have a problem.’

        “I just disagree with this. Women get abducted and raped with horrifying routineness while walking home alone. This does not negate the fact that men also get raped, but it’s not often in that sort of situation. This is a legit difference between men and women right here.”

        Your response seems out of context. I said “only” and I listed several other reasons to send that message to friends or loved ones. Rape isn’t the only issue here, is my point, and to ignore those other concerns that make MEN (or at least me), send those messages when I’ve arrived safely, seems to be pretending they do not exist.

        My sentence there MEANS if rape wasn’t an issue, and therefore you never felt like telling people you arrived safely, I think you aren’t being considerate. Many people worry when friends and family make long trips or even short ones. So there are many reasons to send that message.

      • stchucky says:

        “Linza is imagining herself being asked the question as she is today – a woman with no children and no intention of having any. So obviously when she hears the question, it’s going to come ready-packaged with an offensive assumption that the reason she hasn’t got kids is because she’s totally going to have kids, absolutely, but she’s just waiting until later, because reasons.

        See?”

        Not really.

        Well then never mind. I’m just looking at it from the point of view of someone who self-evidently finds the question “repulsive”, and trying to explain why it’s not necessarily repulsive, but that it depends on one’s point of view.

        If you don’t want to be part of that mutually-reached understanding…

        Pants are not skirts. Length of pants was the tweet.

        Yes, maybe translating (manslating?) pants = male and skirt = female is sexist, but that was the gist of the whole concept of clothing choice as a basis for assumptions about a person’s character.

        Pardon me for not thinking “dress/skirt” as soon as I swapped the gender to “female”. I should think credit to me for that.

        You maybe shouldn’t think that. But okay. I had a chuckle.

        My sentence there MEANS if rape wasn’t an issue, and therefore you never felt like telling people you arrived safely, I think you aren’t being considerate.

        Rape is an issue.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “Well then never mind. I’m just looking at it from the point of view of someone who self-evidently finds the question “repulsive”, and trying to explain why it’s not necessarily repulsive, but that it depends on one’s point of view.”

        Oh, well I was saying the same thing. It might feel repulsive but it is not by default and possibly not even by intent. Cool.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        I’m going to attempt to create an epiphany here (or at least a shift in perspective). Apologies if I fall flat on my face, and no detailed response is needed, we’ve been over this. But:

        ‘Really? You haven’t heard “if she didn’t want to get laid, why was she wearing that trashy little skirt?”?’

        I hear very little difference in approach, and see the same problems with:

        “It’s horrible and wrong that she was raped, but why was she wearing that trashy little skirt?”

        and

        “The Charlie Hebdo attacks were horrific murders. However those cartoons were pretty damn offensive, were they necessary?”

        *crawls under desk for protection*

      • stchucky says:

        Yes? Both are absolutely despicable points of view.

        That was it?

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Truly not going to say anything else that might be inflammatory, but this was very interesting:
        https://books.google.com/books?id=DJ4th69doAMC&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=survey+women+worry+about+being+raped&source=bl&ots=5l7wbx8RYf&sig=DeEBUGuSyK4TYs6HWyKyIUvtq8k&hl=en&sa=X&ei=XQvdVPamLYflsASS4oGoDw&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=survey%20women%20worry%20about%20being%20raped&f=false

        3 in 10 young women “very worried” about being raped, and more than men, fear walking alone at night. That sounds about what I was expecting. Although I fear walking alone at night very much, and my neighborhood is *very* safe. To my point about the tweet. If it said 5 in 10, or 7 in 10, or 9 in 10 I would have felt completely stupid for my ass-umptions about thoughts of rape in women’s minds. On the next page (66) it states that fear of crime seems to have more effect on quality of life than the actual crime. Fair enough, I hope I said/implied as much.

        OK really done now. Promise. It just occurred to me I was remiss not performing the search I just did today, for the above result. If nothing else, one more man (myself) has informed himself a great deal more about rape. All men should do so.

      • stchucky says:

        Okay man, whatever. I’m not even touching this set of statistics.

        But if you look at my original point, it was basically the same as yours: yes, I send such messages when they are appropriate. I happen to feel the question is justified in its turn-around, though, because the drive behind me sending such a message is different to the one behind a woman sending one to her friends.

        If you feel that the cases are similar enough as to make this Question For Men invalid, you go for it. Duly noted.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Fair enough. As I said I was critiquing the tweet itself, since 3 others were about rape/sexual assault issues as well. I feel it was weak since we both answer “yes” when the question implies we would answer “no”. I know I’m being repetitive. So peace, out.

      • stchucky says:

        It is a bit weak, but what can I say? I gave it a pass. I’m a big softie, you know that.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        I know, you’re such a pushover! Never a tough word for anyone!

  3. thelinza says:

    All of this becomes good demonstration of the term mansplaining. Though I’m a fan of portmanteaus in general, I believe there needs to be a better term for this. The existing one sounds ridiculous.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      It implies that we do not or cannot understand what it is like to be a woman. That is flawed for several reasons. One is that I have plenty of empathy, I just also have a significant BS filter. The second is there IS no definitive “what it is like to be a woman”. The third, just offhand but I think this demonstrates that there are in fact “several” reasons as I said, is that it is frequently used to simply invalidate the opinion of the man in question.

    • stchucky says:

      The I’m Not a Sexist Tool Butt?

      • thelinza says:

        At first I thought it was my computer screen, but nope. It has freckles. Or moles. Trying not to think about it.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Butt pimples, most likely, looking at the shade, shape and size. I know…I’m not helping you not to think about it. I’m trying not to wonder if this means butt pimples are more of a guy problem than a girl problem, because the less thought about butt pimples [1] the better.

        [1] It would help if I stopped typing butt pimples [2]

        [2] Argh

  4. stchucky says:

    I don’t know if anyone still gets notifications from old threads or will see this reply, but don’t care. I had a laugh over my lunch break with some of this guy’s (admittedly sometimes obnoxious) responses.

    “Would you go back in time to rape Hitler?”
    “…Yyyyeeeess…”

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