Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Um, Could We Talk About Something?

There is a little girl with a wild temper. She has an intellectual disability and she rages, not against her disability but against anything that she considers unfair. And a lot is unfair. So, there are a lot of rages. She had burned through support worker after support worker. She'd struck many and injured some. It was finally decided, because she had no need of personal support in bathrooms or bedrooms, to hire a male staff. She had not shown anything that indicated that she was better behaved in the presence of male authority, the decision was made that maybe men wouldn't mind being hit so much.

A man was hired. He was a big man with strong shoulders and huge hands. In was with his support that she grew into a young woman who could express her rage in ways that left cups and bones unbroken. She learned to use words. She went from throwing fists in fury to flinging words into the air. From there she learned to direct her anger at an unfair situation and utilize the tools of advocacy.

The man, the very big man, who was hired to be her support was key to all of this. It was he who refused to do compliance training, who refused to work at 'eliminating outbursts'. He felt that she had a right to her anger, that she was skilled a recognizing when she was being treated with less respect or given fewer opportunities because of her disability. He thought this was a good skill. He fought those, mostly, but not always, women, who wanted her to be calm and compliant, so that she would fit better into the system.

The reason he succeeded was not because he was a big man with strong shoulders and huge hands. It was not because he was unfazed by being hit. It was because he had a gentle approach, a strong sense of values, and the ability to teach what needed to be taught.

He was a good man.

I say this because I tire of hearing that 'men are pigs.' This man is one of thousands of men I know that are good and kind and thoughtful. We should know that when one person of colour commits a crime, all shouldn't be blamed for it. When one gay man does something sexually inappropriate, all shouldn't be tagged with the crime. It seems to me that we all understand that - don't we.

I believe that behaviour should be confronted.

I believe that sexist, racist, homophobic, disphobic behaviour is unacceptable no matter who does it or where it happens.

But the behaviour of one does not represent the behaviour of all.

I am a man.

I believe in treating all with respect.

Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

I was called a pig as a boy because I was fat, I learned to hate that name. Now I get called a pig because I'm a man. I find that equally repugnant.

Call out wrong - speak out against discrimination - but in doing so, don't wrongly discriminate.


n. said...

I think when ppl say that, they're reacting to institutionalized machismo, systems that discriminate against women. (rape culture, for ex.)
your story reminds us that women also oppress other women with machista culture.

few really mean that all men are awful. (?)

my husband's one of the good ones, too. He taught me that guys are people too...

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how people who complain about some forms of discrimination will perpetrate others.

Along the lines of discrimination against the group I am part of is wrong, but discrimination against other groups is fine!

Tamara said...

No argument here, Dave.

Belinda said...

Amen brother! Name calling under any circumstances isn't fair or right, and especially when directed at specific groups. Sometimes a strong reaction to inappropriateness explodes into equal inappropriateness. We are human; not perfect; and the reminder is a needed one.

Jan Goldfield said...

Dave, I am 71 years old. I know all men are not pigs, but I have met very few of them. Check around. You will find very few women who have not been demeaned, harassed, assaulted, abused, by men. Often the abuse/molestation is criminal, but most of the time it is institutionalized behavior accepted,even encouraged by society. Women are used to sell cars, TV sets, most anything. In work situations, we are paid less, expected to laugh off, even enjoy verbal 'jokes', physical mauling all in the name of 'just kidding around.' I have taught many ABE classes through the years and always ask if the women have been discriminated against in the workplace or in school. So far 100% of them have said yes.
So, are men pigs? Yup, most of them.
Think of how you have felt as a gay and disabled man and the discrimination you have undergone. Add one more layer to that and you would be a woman.

Lisa Gleeson said...

Thank you for that. Men are not pigs any more than all women are snarky or worse. I believe it is more the fact that in some systems, women see men as getting away with things which are wrong and hurtful. I think this speaks more of our society than men at large.
I have known many loving men and I have raised one as well. You, yourself are a prime example of a man I admire.

Anonymous said...

I thought that readers of this blog might be above statements like "all men are pigs"


Jan Goldfield said...

Hey, anonymous. I stand by my opinions AND I sign my name. I do not hide behind anonymous.

Dave Hingsburger said...

My blog today was NOT about comments here on this blog, it was about some of the things I've seen recently in other social media. I don't like 'all (these people) are (this) statements' now matter if you put good or bad things in the (this) part and simply wanted to say that.

Raychelle said...

As a person with a disability all my friends with disabilities and all the friends of my friends who have diabilities have experienced prejudice from non-disabled people. I don't think that all non-disabled people are pigs.

Deb said...

I think we have to define "societal norms" and individuals. I have known, am married to, and am mother of two, fine men who treat women as equals and advocate for their fair treatment.

However, I have been assaulted, and threatened with rape on the job, by men who were using sexual misconduct and threats as a way of expressing power, in an effort to control me or make me more compliant. In one case I discovered criminal activity going on, and I was threatened with gang rape if I spoke out. I didn't go back, but I did call the police and report the crime.

Society puts up with, and re-elects politicians who cheat on their wives, and refuse to pass laws which guarantee equal pay for equal work and outlaw discrimination against women. We support executives and companies who use exploitive sexual content in their advertising by buying their products. So this is a layered problem.

My husband leaves the room or averts his eyes when the soft porn "Victoria's Secrets" ads come on, and it's not because he's a prude or a religious zealot. He won't watch those ads and others like them because they exploit women. He was equally angered when Joe Fresh had an ad campaign (which they quickly pulled) showing four and five year old children in sexually provocative poses. Their ads feature children and *young* teens, almost always in quickly moving but at-some-point suggestive ads.

Money drives the exploitation of women and children, and as women and men who are not supportive of this exploitation it's time for us to stop using the "All men are pigs" excuse and take responsibility for what we consume, who we vote for and what we push back against. If enough of us make it clear with our wallets and votes that we won't tolerate it any longer it will change.

Anonymous said...

Yes! This is so important!!

but, but, but.... just want to put a question mark next to this section:

'He fought those, mostly, but not always, women, who wanted her to be calm and compliant, so that she would fit better into the system....The reason he succeeded was not because he was a big man..’

Last week I was told by a woman manager that I should have supported a service user to understand that less work gets done over the holidays when people are off work and she has to be more patient, in the context of a knuckles rapping meeting for my part in supporting her to complain about services failing her.

I wonder if the manager would have expressed herself differently if I was a man. I suspect so. I think men may have a different experience of fighting 'those, mostly but not always, women, who want clients to be calm and compliant'

(I can see that ‘client’ is pretty much the words ‘calm and compliant’ with the a and m and omp taken out... take the omp out of service users and they become clients)

Jan Goldfield said...

Deb, thank you for lending some logic to this discussion. To go a step further, think about how men control women by insisting they be uber thin and building entire industries around this control. And women buy into it.
And one more thing. Did you realize that all filthy names we call people refer to women? M---F---, B---, Bas----, SOB---
Try to think of one that isn't.

Anonymous said...

I love men. I love their caring. I love their strength of character. I love their ability to laugh, often in the face of adversity. I love how they protect the weak. I love how they are quick to save. Oh yes - women have all of these characteristics, but at times men shine. If some feel that these are the same characteristics as pigs - then "oink" "oink". Oh - there are exceptions - some women are mean and catty, some men are selfish and rude - but oh how the dark background they provide make the others shine.

Anonymous said...

Jan Goldfield

You are proud of the fact that you state most men are pigs. I feel sorry for you carrying that amount of bile around with you. I would never completely dismiss a section of the community in the way that you have done. Discrimination is wrong in any form.

The only reason that I am anonymous is because I am writing in my lunch break at work and the IT security does not allow me to use any of the login options. I am not hiding behind anything.

Anonymous said...

My father is infact a man. And he is one of the many men in my life (heterosexual or homosexuel alike) that have helped and supported me immensly.

Men are okay, women are okay and individuals with complex gender orientation options are okay.

But sometimes by different learning and different living options the choice of a person in a certain situation can change everything.

Thats why I am in treatment with a male behavioural therapist, and thats why I have felt so easy breazy with him, even more so after he told me he is homosexual and in a steady relationship.

I guess it is entirely my reference frame how or what I think about men/women/people and how to interact with them.

Sometimes a man is more helpful, sometimes a women.
I for myself would always choose a women as a gynacologist.