I saw something on the internet recently that brought out the humorless feminist in me, as they say. Someone posted a rundown on how to tell if you’ve got a woman who’s not going to treat you right: if she yells at her kids, she’ll yell at you; if she treats her dad badly, she’ll treat you badly; and so on. The post ended by noting that “somewhere along the line women got entitled” and everyone’s got to remember what their place is.
Now, I’m not really trying to call anyone out for saying something in frustration – understandable frustration, I might add. And I agree with this when it comes to getting bent out of shape because someone you disagree with dared to speak their mind on the internet. At the same time, I think it’s important to be aware of how certain kinds of thinking creep into public discourse, and as they do so, into our heads.
Plenty of writers have made this observation about how men and woman are perceived differently in areas like the workplace: If a man screws up at his job, he’s just a bad worker, while if a woman screws up at her job, she’s proof of how women shouldn’t be in that line of work in the first place, and we should probably all just get back to the kitchen. The “women got entitled” post seems to do the same thing. All of the behaviors listed are undeniably hurtful, but they’re all examples of people doing a bad job at being human beings. There’s nothing truly gendered about these behaviors, and yet they’re presented as if there is. If a man treats his dad poorly or yells at his kids, he’s just a jerk. But if a woman does it, it’s evidence of how those darned women got all entitled in the last couple of decades and they’ve forgotten their place.
Yes, I know I risk turning into that archetypal humorless feminist, the favorite target of conservative talking heads and young female celebrities. It’s just a comment on the internet. Pretty soon I’m gonna get all bent out of shape about pictures of cute kittens that seem to joke about violence against women. But I also know how the human brain works. There are only so many times you have to repeat something before you start believing it, before you start to internalize it, often without even realizing it. So before you repost that thing about how rotten women are, however jokingly you mean it, think twice. Is this really the social mindset you want to contribute to? People’s attitudes and prejudices don’t come out of nowhere – they are built on the things that you and I say.