July 9, 2017

Gallery Chat: Venus/Experiencing Sexism

I recently had a conversation with someone, this person being notorious for inflammatory and outrageous remarks, and it was a surprisingly wholesome and interesting idea. Except he intentionally left out women/girls. Which was hilarious to me because there I am, a young woman, listening to this man's "great" idea for our youth, but only young men - NOT women, only men (his words). I'm sitting there wondering what he would suggest the young women do instead then - what would you have me doing right now, sir? I didn't want to know. I wasn't prepared for confrontation so I simply left the conversation. But man did I want to pull out the big guns and shred his idea to pieces.

It isn't often that I experience blatant sexism in my circle, and for that I am privileged and so fortunate. Unfortunately it also means I'm not usually prepared to fight against it, especially when it is coming from someone older than me who clearly assumes power over the situation.

I've had these conversations with my brother about the wage gap and representation in the film industry (his area of interest). We discussed what other issues he finds important to him, and we discussed why it's hard to understand when you don't experience what women experience. The same way I have to listen to people of colour and the lgbtq community and other people who experience marginalization, learn from them, and accept that I will never understand it the same way they do, it is important for my brother to realize that he doesn't know what it's like to have someone harass him when he walks home at night based on the length of his skirt. He doesn't know what it's like to wear your favourite pair of jeans and have people visibly gawk at you when you're just trying to get some damn groceries. He doesn't know the implicit threat involved in such little gestures. He can't understand the way it feels to have male professors celebrate only the men in your class, or celebrate you for all the wrong reasons. And so on. It's nice to have these conversations with my brother because he is learning, and wants to learn. I've even had these conversations with my dad, my uncles; people who are open to listening and learning.

So how sad is it, that there are so many people out there who can't take the time of day and don't want to learn. And how easy it is to pick up on that, to clam up, and stay silent.

How easy it is to shut up when you know they won't listen.

I'm not sure what my solution is to these feelings, but I want to find more strength in times when I am negotiating these weird sexist spaces. And I wonder; how do you navigate these conversations? Do you experience them often? Please feel free to share (respectfully!) in the comments...

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