Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Originally posted May 22, 2009
Because I write about a lot of charged topics, such as Fat/Body Acceptance, Abortion, Rape and Sexual Assault and the right of women to exist without having to ask for approval,* I get attacked on my blogs fairly often. And one of the most frequent accusations I face is that because I am a woman, I can’t be right because I am “emotional.”
I have an example. I wrote about rape statistics and the frequency of rape. A male commenter posted that you can’t trust rape statistics because women lie about rape all the time. I produced citations to the Department of Justice figures that state that, actually, only about 8% of rape accusations are deemed “Unfounded,” not false, unfounded. He responds that he was falsely accused of rape, so he knows that women lie about it all the time. I responded with more citations, including citations of comparable studies about “unfounded” rape accusations from Britain and other countries. Other commenters weighed in with other studies, all providing links. At this point, the commenter, who has provided no citations of his own, announces that he isn’t going to continue this argument because we’re all “emotional” about this topic and he can’t win against that.
Yes. We, the women who kept providing citations, statistics and figures, were the emotional ones.
Not the guy who said, “Well, it happened to me so it happens all the time.”
And as a woman, you don’t even have to be talking about something as charged as rape for this accusation to come flying at you out of left field. Frequently if you express any sort of frustration or opinion, someone, usually a man but not always, will make a comment about “that time of the month,” or “are we a little hormonal today?” At which point my response is usually, “Well, no, but thank you for giving me a justification for your homicide with legal precedent.”
Any time you, Gods forbid, express some sort of anger, you’re over-reacting. I have had men who have put their fists through walls in fits of anger, tell me that I’m over-reacting when I tell them to shut up for a second and listen to what I’m saying. But I’m the over emotional one.
A group of Feminist bloggers recently put together a series of posts they are calling “Lessons for Girls.” The first lesson is that they get to be angry. That lesson made me cry, because until I was married in my 20s, I didn’t get angry. I got sad, and then I turned all the anger that should have been directed outward, inward. I hurt myself, I drank, I did drugs, I starved myself, I dated disastrous men and women. I had suicidal ideations and fantasized my own death. It took my husband, who is no slouch in the anger department, to teach me that I was allowed to be angry and I could voice it externally. Granted, this doesn’t keep him from making the occasional snide comment about PMS, but I do the same to him, so it all works out.
Honestly, teaching me that I could be angry at other people and TELL THEM was absolutely brilliant. It probably saved my life.
But how do you combat the charge of “over emotional” or “hysterical” woman?
My usual tactic is to be right, and then mock them mercilessly after the fact. But, I’m a mean, nasty, sarcastic being who delights in the pain of those who cross me.
The honest answer is, I don’t really know. I do know what the answer is NOT. The answer is not to hide all traces of emotion and attempt to be as cold and flat-affected as possible. Because that hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, and is probably never going to work. Regardless of how emotionlessly you present yourself, you are going to be called an hysterical woman any time someone disagrees with you, whether you’re talking about the best hockey team, or rape statistics. It sucks.
What you can do is call them on it.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t happen to see what my emotional state has to do with the matter at hand. The Red Wings are, by virtue of having won more Stanley Cups than any other team in the NHL, just better.”
Or, “Of course I’m angry. Wouldn’t you be angry if I called you a liar to your face?”
Or, “Would you like it if I challenged every assertion you ever made on the basis of ‘testosterone poisoning’?”
*All of these articles are here now, but are also archived at my Polimicks Livejournal page.