This is a story of how I lost a friend, over a shampoo bottle…
I have gotten to a point in my life where I cannot just ignore blatant or even mild #everydaysexism or gender stereotypes.
For me, not saying anything or not drawing attention to sexism/genderism, is the same as supporting it.
I cannot knowingly participate anymore.
Not even the shampoo bottles are safe…
Someone I know bought this lovely bottle of shampoo recently:
So, the message here is, “Hey guys, don’t be like silly, filly, nonsensical girls!”
And, I rage…
I didn’t realize I was going to lose a friend, all because of a shampoo bottle.
Obviously, Twitter and Facebook are my first stop. I tweeted @AussieHair this: “Women are just frilly nonsense. Hey fellas, don’t be like us.” I included my best friends (I wish…) @Jezebel, @TheLindyWest, and @Ryeisenberg because I hoped they would see how sexist the message on this bottle was.
And they did… You can see the conversation we had on Twitter here.
My next stop was Aussie’s Facebook page. This is where things started to go downhill.
I posted a picture of the shampoo bottle and said: “So, the shampoo women use is nonsense? Frilly stupidness? Do you have any idea how offensive this is? To women and men?”
Yes, I know, this is just a shampoo bottle. However, the implication here is that women are foolish and men should not want to be like us. My big issue here quickly turned from worrying about the label on a shampoo bottle, to dealing with the all too familiar silencing tactics of people who fear female voices of dissent.
A man I have known since I was a kid and another chap (who it turns out is a friend of my former buddy) did not agree with me. My sister walked into the fray full force and soon, it was an all out FB War… Over 19 comments from 3 different men, all trying to convince my sister and I that we should just be happy that we are allowed to go to school and don’t have acid thrown in our faces.
It is necessary for my life to be danger so that I can talk about women’s rights and call attention to advertising and labeling that is sexist?
These fellas were surprised that a shampoo bottle could elicit feminist rage, I was surprised that they were trying so hard to shut us down.
Here are some of the comments (responses have been edited to remove names and fix grammar errors):
-Theresa, you say this is offensive to both women and men. How are you qualified to say what is offensive to ME? Don’t you think THAT is a bit ridiculous ? (Why so ridiculous that I suggest that labels like this tell men who they should be? Am I not able to relate to men because I have a uterus?)
-Could it be your are reading way to much into it? … I have been to a country where women have no freedom and where everything smelled like death, you know what I realized that getting worked up over little things that mean little just screws you day up. You have freedom of choice and speech. My family has put there lives on the line for it all I ask is you use that freedom to fight for something worth while like homeless veterans or abused children not a shampoo bottle. ( Oh yeah, I forgot, some men went to war to fight for my right to have freedom… Ummm… When have we not been free in Canada?)
-People are animals, all of which have separate genders with distinct natures… To think we’ve evolved beyond that is naive and preposterous. To think we are above hormones, genetics and a multitude of predispositions is to not know yourself… Consciousness is a thin veil over our animal nature (at best), and those of us who are not aware of that MUST therefore be more subconsciously impacted by that nature… more impacted by the ANIMAL part of us. We all have an animal nature and all animals have gender. (Hmm, do animals have gender?)
-Sounds like a couple of women need some other “feminine” products because it must be that time of the month. (That one was my fav, for sure…)
-Btw god dame (God Dame, I effin love that!!!!) right you should be happy Btw that men like my uncle that fought at Vimy or my father who was in the Navy during WWII just to die a slow death do to the chemicals he was exposed to or my brothers who were blown to bits ya life. You speak of feminism over a shampoo bottle I fought for women to go to school in Afghanistan or for them to wear what they want. Hmmm who is the feminist out of the two of us. Enjoy your soap box I’m done I should know better then try and be reasonable with a close minded right winged person. Be it feminist taliban who ever they never see anything outside there little world. (I’m right-winged??? Seriously???)
-See what is funny is how you are saying we are missing the point where I believe your missing the point. I fully support feminism I think you need to look left then right and see where your views truly lay. Are you looking to better your gender rights or simply ranting and yelling to rant and yell. There is a major difference between feminism and being a famanazi. Don’t ever assume to explain to me what the difference is I held the hand of a little girl that had acid thrown in her face because she wanted to go to school. (Oh, there’s the acid…)
And, my response…
-I think you have missed my point entirely…. I don’t think that men should smell like flowers or that they should want to. Men and women are different, our societal structure forces this on us everyday. My issue here is the implication that the products women use (and thus women by association) are “frilly nonsense.” This “Don’t be silly like girls, fellas!” is bad for both genders. It asserts a particular brand of masculinity and at the same time implies that women are foolish.
I was so surprised how far this thread went. My FB friend starting posting links to scientific research from 1992 on sex-brain-differences, research that has long been discredited. Where would it end?
Has sexism become so ubiquitous that it takes a million years of university to be able to see it anymore?
I finally decided that I was done with my “friend.” This was not the first time he had come to my fb page to try to shut down my “feminist ranting.” I love a good debate, but I just couldn’t handle his comments any more. This guy is so threatened by feminism that you cannot even have a half decent conversation with him. For him, feminism is about women improving their position by taking men down, and this simply is not the case. I couldn’t engage anymore with someone who was so afraid and so unwilling to even entertain the idea that I was not a man hating bitch who just wants everyone, including men, to be able to live their lives without the restrictions of imposed gender roles.
And so, I unfriended him.
Perhaps I should not have. It is important to engage with people and their ideas.
Perhaps I am developing fatigue.
Perhaps I just need better friends.
What happens when you talk about controversial ideas with your friends? Ever lost one?