Dita Parker

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hey brother

Lances at the ready, gentlemen, I'mma climbing on a high horse. Cue groans oh gawd it was such a lovely day what now? International Women's Day! Yes, I know, but I was kinda busy on Saturday, and this year's theme stands every day of the week/month/year. Equality for women is progress for all.

You gotta wonder sometimes, and gents please don't charge before I've had my say and please please don't take offense because I do not mean every man on the planet, but are men stupid or something? You really want to shoulder the burden, financial, political, enter areas of overrepresentation here, on your own? Like really really? Because women sure feel that way sometimes, that you're making life unnecessarily hard for yourselves keeping your own counsel, upholding your old boys' clubs, anti-social networks closing the door on fully capable, willing and able women, people differentiated by the fact that their breasts tend to be bigger than yours.

Considering that our breasts have nothing to do with our brains, they sure play a big and baffling part in the oddest of times and places. The same goes for other discriminating factors. Irrelevant. At least they should be. So don't go there. With your eyes, or your hands. Your thoughts? Keep them to yourselves if you're with Camp Chauvinist. And go camp somewhere else. It's 2014 for crying out loud but you wouldn't believe it reading the Everyday Sexism Project stories and suchlike.

I have one, every woman does, starring that part of the female anatomy that makes many a man stir and stare and many a woman insecure for life. This was way back when I had hardly anything to make you stare or stir, a time when I didn't know if I liked what I saw or what I would be seeing in a year or two, but there they were. Now. Picture a bus with many school girls, young and a bit older, on board. Along comes a gang of three boys, 17 to 19-year-olds, about to play a game as they make their way to the back: breast spotting. Breast spotting with running commentary.

I had plenty of time to realize what they were doing. Plenty of time to watch their faces, see those smirks, listen to their lewd remarks and laughter, hear other girls hiss and curse. Time to wish I was someone else, somewhere else. I intended to look away, pretend I saw or heard nothing, brush it off with indifference. I ended up looking the boy who stopped in front of me straight in the eye.

Big mistake. I still remember what he looked like and I still remember what he said, but I was thirteen years old and I hated them, those boys I didn't know and never saw again with the fire of a thirteen-year-old, and that makes the whole episode that much harder to forget. To them it was just a stupid game. To the girls in that bus they were just stupid period. But when the games and comments start piling up some girls really do stop listening and some girls stop talking and some girls stop believing they'll ever meet a decent guy and if they do he's probably just pretending or a recovering asshole about to relapse and who wants that, you know.

I'm not kidding, gentlemen. I kid you not, I've held a girl's hand, tried to talk her out of giving up on you, told her there are plenty of good men out there because I knew there were, just you wait and see. So for the love of all that is holy please don't make your life unnecessarily hard, okay. Don't be an insensitive jerk. It's 2014 for crying out loud meaning you're very much at risk of being on the receiving end, the punch line of a sexist joke and who wants that, but what goes around comes around, you know. Or as a former card-carrying playboy now a father of three girls put it: "Poetic justice much?" I wonder what he'll teach his daughters about men, what he'll tell them about his wild days and ways.

Many women have turned feminists, and I mean hardcore, card-carrying feminists, after breaching the gates of power or breaking through the glass ceiling only to be confronted by some card-carrying chauvinist questioning her every move and word. Many men have turned feminists, and I mean hardcore, deeply concerned feminists, upon the birth of a daughter. They look at the world through the eyes of a woman and don't always like what they see. They know what kind of boys their girls will face along the way because they've met them all, maybe even been one of the worst kind once, and there's nothing they can do about it now but be responsible, empathetic role models not just for their daughters but their sons as well.

I know men who wish women ruled the world. I know women who wish we did. Most people I know just wish we could get on with the business of living and loving without having to hide or exploit or abuse or excuse or resist or explain our own sex, or the opposite one. Making a power struggle of it is a monumental waste of time and resources and we're kind of running out of both on this planet so...truce?

Empowering your sisters benefits all you misters. There's nothing in this world we wouldn't do for you. You've capitalized on that. There's nothing in this world we can't do. Why not capitalize on that too.

All yours,


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