I have learned not to read the comments to pieces that move me, like I have learned not to make eye-contact with men at late-night train stations, like I have learned to walk a certain way, apologise when someone steps on my toe because I was in the way and talk a certain way when I’m harassed as to not provoke violence.
It doesn’t feel right not to look, though. And what I find are a barrage of men who come to comment when women dare to speak – to tell them that they are wrong, to shut up, and stop making them feel bad for the privilege they are so used to having, they can’t feel it at all.
They say: Feminist lie – men have it worse. Men have the dangerous professions. Men die in wars. More men are homeless. Men have it worse!
And I know that these commenters lack socio-economic understanding and the ability to link different facts to draw informed conclusions. I know that they don’t think about the fact that all those are parts of the exact inherently flawed way to look at gender and society that feminists try to fight against. I know they don’t know better and they clearly are incapable of ingesting the information necessary to understand this, as laid out in a million articles and videos.
But it still hurts. It hurts personally, even though it’s not my video. But the video made me cry with the amount of truth in it, the video was about me. And so it hurts. And I don’t want to get a point where I care so little that it doesn’t.
Maybe they are incapable just because they have never been taught to be aware of others in that way – to listen — really listen, without forming counter arguments in every pause for breath. Maybe they have been taught that the response to hearing something that makes you feel bad, is not to pause, to analyse and to extend compassion, but to release anger, to vent and redirect the bad feeling to others. Be that in youtube comments or in a mean right hook.
Because in a certain demographic, masculinity seems to be defined through ignorance, where books and thoughtfulness are for sissies, nerds and weaklings. Yeah. Nobody denies than men have it bad, too. But the difference is that they – the commenters, because how dare they speak for all men? – want everything to stay that way, and try to shut up anyone who might question those ridiculous provisions of gender.
[the videos I am referencing in particular, and which are very very worth watching are: Slam Poet Lily Myer’s “Shrinking Women” and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Why we should all be feminists”.]