A lot of my arguments nowadays tend to be centered around the effects of the benefits of living in a group on human behaviour. A rather complex topic, admittedly, and one in which it would be particularly naive to explain from merely ethological and ecological perspectives. But I do digress.
When conversing with other people, I find body language and behaviour will ultimately be the first factor which determines the impression left on each party, and how comfortable and respected they end up feeling. I am certain I am not the only one who appreciates and relishes in engaging in conversation, but unfortunately, there are those whose words – if any are indeed spoken – are either distastefully superficial or plainly impolite.
My, when outdated men complain about women like me being ‘too assertive for their own good’ who ‘need to learn their place’, or when juveniles colloquially reduce me to an object as they jeer shallow statements about my assets out of windows, I am taken aback. I have been brought up to know that I deserve basic human decency. I expect these men to be courteous and polite in conversation, and neither patronising nor demeaning towards women of whom they have learned to treat as if they are submissive to their every command.
To the corporate businessman who asserts his dominance by commanding and directing young women in everyday scenarios; to the shirtless beach-jock who asserts his dominance by patent objectification – your internalised misogyny will not be condoned. Were you surprised when I spoke back? Were you further astonished when I had the audacity and the ability to construct and rebut a logical argument evaluating your crass behaviour? I’m honestly surprised you were.
I may wear flowery dresses and rouge lipsticks, but they are certainly not a symbol of submissiveness. In fact, I would argue that for some women, they can serve as symbols of strength. For others, the choice to not wear these things is equally empowering. That aside, I am an educated young woman, but even if I were not, I still deserve basic human decency. I am confident in the fact that I am well-read and able to debate. What would be the point of education if I never learned to put my skills into action because I was dogmatically taught that men are dominant by default in every social situation?
Instead of accepting this today, I challenged and initiated conversation, to which I received a defensive backlash from certain men I interacted with while out in town today. On the other hand, particular male friends of mine do listen and talk with me about all kinds of intellectual subjects. In other words, they treat me as their equal, and you know what? Quel surprise, I appreciate it because it makes me feel comfortable.
This is the difference that a dismissal of internalised misogynistic culture makes, because these reasons are precisely why they are my friends in the first place. It’s merely a simple request: respect each other. Patronising me will get you nowhere. Engaging with me in respectful, decent conversation where my opinions are not undermined by alpha-male dominance – however – will. It makes all the difference.