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double standard…

December 17, 2008

By Edward Ruscha: Double Standard, 1969

It is no small wonder that brilliant women so frequently go mad.  Most feminists could easily name a handful of famous women whose mental health suffered because of rigid, or confusing, gender roles:  Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton etc.  Phylis Chesler’s 1972 book, Women and Madness explores this topic to great detail, creating a sub-discipline that has helped women: feminist psychology.

But what about the everyday occurances that slowly chip away at a woman’s sanity and well-being?  In addition to the constant doubt, self-sacrificing, guilt-ridden, ignored, abused role we play in society, there is also the infamous and ever so aggravating phrase: “Don’t let him get to you, he’s just a guy”.

WHAT THE FUCK?  What do you mean don’t let it get to me because he’s a guy?  I work in a café where several men screw around by throwing cups, pastries, bags, and coffee grounds at each other.  They mock my high-pitched voice, they tease me to no end, and sometimes they touch me when I don’t want to be touched.  What happens if they are doing one of these annoying behaviors to me and I complain?  “Oh Dahlia, just shake it off.  Don’t let them get to you”.  What happens if I tease the boys back?  They get incredibly pissed off and behave like petulant children.  No matter where a woman goes, we are working with this double standard, and instead of men and women working together to fight it, we’re told to “not let it bother us”.  But don’t people understand by saying that, you’re letting men get away with offensive and ridiculous behavior.  I had this conversation with a female co-worker and a customer (woman) overheard and said “it’s true girls, and it doesn’t change”.    Do you know how many times an intelligent woman can stand trying to ignore disrespect and condescension?  It’s a tough question, but I’ll try and let you know.   I myself another 10 years…if I’m lucky.

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