Getting and not getting

Phil Plait is another who disagrees with Richard Dawkins about the zero badness of asking a stranger for sex on an elevator at 4 a.m.

An important point that came up multiple times is that many men do not truly understand what women go through in such situations.This point was driven home when Richard Dawkins spoke up about it. Through his own words, he proved quite clearly that a lot of men just don’t get it.

And lots of other men on various other sites have been demonstrating the same thing. They don’t get that it matters, they don’t get that women aren’t a public commodity, they don’t get that it’s not all about them, they don’t get that they don’t know better. It’s a depressing spectacle. (Lots of men do get it though. Lots. No need to tell me that. Not that you were going to, but…but some of you probably were.)

This is a societal issue; sexism (conscious or otherwise) is still a strong force in our society, and a lot of men will dismiss claims of sexism from women. As has been made very clear here, we all need to make sure that all men understand the woman’s point of view, or else this type of thing will continue to happen… and people will continue to dismiss it as no big deal.It is a big deal. If Dawkins — a leader in the critical thinking movement and a man known for defending women against religious oppression — can take such a dismissive stance, it’s clear that we have a long way to go. I don’t know if it was sexism on Dawkins’ part or just plain obtuseness, but this attitude is shared by far too many men. It trivializes the justifiable fear women have to live with as well as their point of view, and that’s just plain wrong.

It’s not actually primarily about fear, for me (which perhaps puts me right back in “it’s no big deal” territory – except that I don’t think so). It’s primarily about not wanting things to be divided up as: men do thinking and talking and women do looks and sex.

There are the usual many comments saying things like

Men are not allowed to speak to or even make eye contact with women without express written permission, signed in triplicate, notarized with at least two witnesses. Because all men are potential sexual predators and all women are delicate potential victims. Sexism, much?

That’s only six comments in, and it’s not even the first one saying “wull how are we supposed to ask women for sex then?”

Miranda raises an interesting issue about this idea of “getting it.”

Attempting to silence and/or shout down those who dissent or disagree is rude, immature, irrational, and counterproductive.

And engaging in that attempted silencing and/or shouting down of dissent or disagreement by telling someone that they “just don’t get it” is gallingly condescending, patronizing, presumptuous, childish, arrogant, and rude.

Yes but…there also really is something to the idea that we don’t “get” everything, and that our circumstances can prevent us from “getting” what things are like for people in different circumstances. Privilege can get in the way of comprehension. It’s always possible to exaggerate that, or to see it when it’s not there, but it doesn’t follow that there’s no truth to it at all. I think I have been seeing a lot of not getting over the past couple of days.

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