Half the time I post something on Facebook, I’m really just curious about what reaction it will trigger from the people on my list. I’m often surprised by who comes out to comment, but less often by what they say.
This morning I shared a picture from last year when the House of Representatives was debating changes to the ACA. It’s a somewhat notorious pic, a bunch of old men, no women in sight. Copy on the picture pointed this out in a choppy, indignant tone.
I was surprised that, soon after I posted this, an older acquaintance of mine who never struck me as someone who would blow off concerns of those different from himself, commented at some length to the effect that the graphic was making an issue out of nothing. That such “meaningless head counts” were the result of someone “getting their knickers in a twist.”
My husband and a male friend of ours agreed that he must be a Republican. I can’t be sure without asking, and I have no desire to prolong this interaction. But I have met many men, usually of the older generation, who present themselves and probably think of themselves as Liberals. Left wing or Right wing, this is the language of privilege. I haven’t encountered this problem, so it must not exist. Women are always trying to make trouble. I don’t judge people based on their sex/race/class/whatever, and I am the only representative sample I need.
“And I have no idea idea, Sarah, if there have been any meetings with only women because if one doesn’t play identity politics, it does not matter.
“The logical fallacies which I find most egregious is [sic], “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” I am not one who looks for what are to me meaningless head counts. I appreciate people for what they do, not what they say. That applies to men and women equally.”
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, he even resorted to Latin. As if saying it in the language we both speak just wouldn’t be authoritative enough. Unfortunately for him, I have known some pompous asses that make this look like child’s play.
Mind you, we are friendly in person. His granddaughter and my 7th grader are good friends. So I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath, and took my inspiration from the great bush-beaters like Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain:
“So you mean to say that, just because there are no women in the picture does not mean they were excluded? From this sole example I have to agree with you, if not for the pattern I have seen in Republican politics wherein men take it upon themselves to decide for women what we should and shouldn’t do with our bodies. I object to the characterization of “playing” anything, this kind of thing has very real and serious ramifications for people like me.
“I’m happy that you don’t judge others on the basis of their sex, but it belies a specific sort of inexperience to say that these objections are meaningless. I have personally experienced such a thing many times, and photographs like this strike a nerve with others with similar experiences.”
Your privilege is showing, and you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.
I didn’t get a response to that, but I was already thinking that, for someone who insisted these things were unimportant, he sure had a lot to say on the matter. Until he didn’t.
Ten years ago, less even, this kind of response out of nowhere would have rattled me. I’m getting older and have had this conversation many times, but I know it needs to be had. For the young girls, who are new to the world of public discourse in this age of far-reaching, often anonymous opinion spewing, I will say these things over and over as long as I have to. As long as I keep bumping into people who clearly don’t get it. This is not a game, and pointing out a problem is not the same as creating it.
Women are people – whole, complex people, who want and need to be included in every important decision of government. Every. Single. One.