Recently I came across casual misogyny in reference to my dressing style. I like to dress for comfort, so my wardrobe is full of non-form fitting clothes and baggy trousers. This sparked a conversation in the office about dressing more “lady-like”. I had one question for them ‘Why the hell are you projecting your idea of what ladies should be wearing on to me?’ Surely the autonomy lies on myself to garnish my body with the ill-fitting material that I so choose.
I wish it was easier to be able to call men and women out on casual stereotyping but sometimes it’s hard because you feel like a nitpicking arsehole. Please don’t let this stop you, if something that someone has said makes you feel a certain type of why then it most definitely should be addressed. (It doesn’t always have to be there and then).
Sometimes casual misogyny can be used as a test, ‘Oh, a woman should cook and cater to her husband’ – if you attack that idea, especially speaking from the perspective of a first generation Nigerian Brit then you are setting yourself up to fail. The test being – What will your worth be in marriage? Imagine that, such a seemingly passive comment actually holds a lot of weight on how you are perceived and how well you fit into certain ideals.
Women should be great cooks, friendly, build you up, have all the babies, have long ravishing hair. All of the things. In Dear Ijeawele, Chimamanda briefly mentions this topic and her advice is
‘Do not ever tell her (Ijeawele’s daughter) that she should or should not do something just because she is a girl’.
Casual misogyny is dangerous as it is so embedded in our culture and society that sometimes you question yourself to see if you’re wrong.
Why is it that we live in a world where casual misogyny is the norm?
Where it is okay for men to make derogatory comments about women and everyone nods and smiles like this is okay?
Where women walk down the street and are told, “You should smile more, love.” and then get abuse when they refute these comments?
I work in a call centre, and at least 7/10 of the male customers I get call me “sweetheart” or “darling” purely based on the fact that I am a woman. What is that? Recently I was told, “I hope you’re not taking my money to buy yourself a pair of shoes, haw haw haw.” Haw haw haw, go die. (I literally did the most sarcastic laugh I could muster and the man went silent. Too right.)
I was told once by a male relative that a woman’s hair is what makes her a woman. Not her intellect, no. Her HAIR. Sometimes I’m just watching the news and male relatives will make passing remarks about how a female newsreader has “put on weight, hasn’t she?” or “Oh, her hair could be a bit better, couldn’t it?” and it gets me mad. As if these things actually matter?
Casual misogyny is part of a culture of violence. Simply reducing violence to physical only lets men continue doing what they’re doing with no consequences to their actions. We need to start calling out the male co-worker who chooses you specifically to go get coffee, the men in the nightclub who think they’re entitled to dance sleazily behind you in the nightclub, the ones who use terms such as slag, slut, bitch, whore so casually, so flippantly.
But the way in which we raise our boys into men is not helping. If we continuously say, “Well, boys will be boys” this allows for boys to grow up thinking it is okay doing what they’re doing. “Boys will be boys” will eventually turn into “Men will be men” and anything they do will just be dismissed because it is simply expected of them.
A boy pulls a girl’s pigtails and the little girl is told, “Ooooh, it’s because he likes you, sweetie.” NO. NO. sTOP THIS RIGHT NOW. We should be teaching boys that it is okay to say they like someone, and showing your emotions does not make you any less of man and you do not need to use physical violence to portray this.
I was watching Just Kidding News the other day, and they covered a story about a woman who awarded a guy because he was the first man she encountered who had given up his seat for her on the subway because she was pregnant. Why do we live in a culture where this is rewarded? It should just be common courtesy that you give up your seat for a pregnant woman.
We should look to our boys and how we raise them. We should look to erase this construct of toxic masculinity that has developed. Answer me this: have you ever heard, “Well, girls will be girls”? Yeah, didn’t think so.
“He throws like a girl.” He must do it fucking amazing, then.