‘Misogyny, up close and personal’

Melissa from Shakesville has a fantastic piece up at CiF, about what it’s like for women to have close relationships and friendships with men who sometimes express misogyny or sexism, and how she doesn’t hate men, but finds it hard to trust them. The post has struck a chord and been picked up across loads of blogs – Melissa says its the post of hers which has been most thoroughly quoted from.

It’s really worth reading the whole thing, but here’s a snippet:

Not every man does all of these things, or even most of them, and certainly not all the time. But it only takes one, randomly and occasionally, exploding in a shower of cartoon stars like an unexpected punch in the nose, to send me staggering sideways, wondering what just happened. Well. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

These things are not the habits of deliberately cruel men. They are, in fact, the habits of the men in this world I love quite a lot.

All of whom have given me reason to mistrust them, to use my distrust as a self-protection mechanism, as an essential tool to get through every day, because I never know when I might next get knocked off-kilter with something that puts me in the position, once again, of choosing between my dignity and the serenity of our relationship.

I also liked this bit, from the postscript added to the CiF version of the post:

The subject is one of the most popular themes of emails I get from women: I’m paying more attention to the things my male partner/father/brother/male best friend says, and I’m challenging him more, and I am scared that if I said everything I wanted to say, our relationship would explode into a million pieces.

It is a discussion that feminist women talk around a lot, but never quite have in detail, that men we love express misogyny, and that it is alienating, functionally undermining the intimacy of the relationship and, sometimes, the entire relationship itself.

It’s so much easier to talk about misogyny emanating from men who don’t care about us, and about whom we don’t care. This is a much more difficult subject, one I had been trying to find a way to broach in a meaningful way for awhile.

To miss the point that it’s not about “men”, but about individual and specific men with whom individual and specific women have individual and specific relationships, is to miss the point entirely. It’s not about “misogyny”, but about how misogyny functions in intimate and familiar relationships. In wanted relationships.