Do I Have it Out for Men?

n160801669_30454581_8445Recently, someone I love, who happens to be a woman, accused me of this: “I think you have it out for men.”

A part of me instantly wanted to defend myself, to metaphorically raise my fists and swing away without thinking. So many emotions raced to the my chest because her statement was and is untrue and unfair.

It’s rare I hold back when my dander is up, but I did. I chose to set my ego aside and therefore be calm. It felt like it took me a long time to respond but I could be wrong. “I do not have it out for men,” I replied. “I have issues with the way women are treated specifically and generally and in many cases the way they are treated by men. But I don’t have it out for men. I am not out to get anyone.” I then gave some examples both from my own life and specific statistics that show how women are treated in our society.

After I calmly finished, she repeated, “I just think you have it out for men. It’s my opinion.”

This woman loves me and perhaps that is why it hurt so badly to be so misunderstood. It wasn’t the accusation that hurt me (mostly). It was that she so clearly did not know my heart. How could she think such a thing of me? She didn’t just say that I don’t like men (which would also be untrue). She indicated that I was actively, at the very least, rooting against them, and at worst, sabotaging them.IMG_5618_1024
Before I am a feminist, I am a Christian. In fact, I am a feminist because I am a Christian, because I believe Jesus is a feminist. Because I am both of those things, I care about men and my brothers. I don’t wish them ill. I don’t believe it’s an us or them situation. I don’t even think of the words us and them, let alone pit them against one another.

Simply put, I believe that women’s lives matter. I believe women’s stories and voices matter. I believe that society, as a whole, does not function with these truths in mind. Great strides have been made throughout history but no, in the deepest recesses of the world’s consciousness, these truths are not completely lived out. Please notice, in order to communicate my beliefs, I did not have to mention men once because one does not need to hold these beliefs and have it out for men. By clearly stating that women’s voices matter, that our stories matter, I am not saying men’s stories do not matter. It is ignorant to assume it must be one or the other.

I’ve never written the words, “I am a feminist” here because I have not felt the need to write them. I have hoped to demonstrate it with what I write about (and don’t write about) and how I write it. And also, can I be honest? I am a bit cowardly. To write those words is to invite the opinion that hurt me in the first place: that I must have it out for men. So many assumptions are made about a person when they declare themselves a feminist, on both sides of the aisle, from every ideology. It shouldn’t be this way but it is. Still, if you know me personally, I don’t hide this particular fact: I am a feminist. But that does not mean I have it out for men.

If I speak up when I see women’s voices silenced, their stories going untold, it doesn’t really have anything to do with men. I don’t speak up because I have it out for men. I speak up because women’s lives matter; their stories and voices should be heard with the same dignity and respect men receive. I believe this is God’s desire as well. I also believe society–all of us–would be the better for it. Furthermore, I do not believe anyone–but in this case, men–need be cut down to size in order that someone else–in this case, women–be built up. I don’t want to take anything away from men so women can have it. First, that’s not how the world works; that’s not a solution to the problem. Secondly, I love Jesus and I am called to love God and love others–first, last, and always.IMG_3859_1024This whole post started because I finished the latest season of Game of Thrones. I like to delay my gratification and put off watching the latest season as long as possible so I don’t have as long of wait for the next season. There were several scenes that disturbed me. I’d read some of the controversies around the latest season and yet I took issue with something very specific: the use of the male gaze.

I wrote a long dissertation explaining three scenes, two from the male gaze and one from the female gaze, in such a way that one didn’t have to watch the show to understand my point. (I found the topic interesting so maybe I will someday post what I wrote)? And then I remembered her words, “You have it out for men.”

Her words hurt at the time. Now, they make me pause. I know them to be so untrue it is nearly laughable except for the fact that it is such a serious accusation in my mind. So, should I remain silent when I hear a woman’s voice drowned out, when I see a woman treated unfairly based on her gender?

I could be wrong, but in the conversation–which was short because I could not engage without becoming incredibly upset–I felt as if she was implying that this was also why I was still single: because I have it out for men. Maybe that is a wrong assumption and one had nothing to do with the other. But without giving away details that should remain private, I don’t think this is a wildly impossible assumption.thumb_IMG_1630_1024

It’s complicated. She is not a villain. In many instances, she has and is my champion and supporter. That’s what made this accusation stick to me so completely even though I knew it untrue. She is not a bad person. She is not a stupid person. She is not an unkind person. If it came from a stranger, or a person who means less to me, the words wouldn’t have come back to me as I wrote about something so wholly unrelated.

To be fair, I haven’t been stewing on them for the weeks since they were spoken. I really only thought of them when I had to declare myself a feminist in order to talk about Game of Thrones…which seems so silly now.

And to be fair, she has no idea what it is like to be a woman in her twenties who has been told her whole life that the sky is the limit, only to walk into a boardroom of potential bosses who make inappropriate comments to her and are merciless for over two hours only to be told by the only silent one after it is over, “They wanted you to cry. If only you would have cried, they would have ended it earlier.” She has no idea what it is like to fall in love with a broken boy–hurt people hurt people–who on good days only pinches and on the worst day commits sexual assault.  She doesn’t know what it is like to read hundreds and hundreds of abused women’s stories.

I must acknowledge I’m sure there is a lot I don’t know about her.

Would it be better–I have often wondered–if I was the type of woman who did break down in that boardroom? The type of woman who did give into tears because those men happened to be very good at making women cry (their own co-worker told me so)? I wanted to. Believe me, I wanted to. They wanted me meek; honestly, it felt like some weird sexual dominant situation was happening. I was told my tears would have given them pleasure and that’s why these men took two hours of their very busy days to try and make me cry. But I firmed my back and straightened my shoulders and I answered their questions with all the dignity I’d been raised to have, without ever once attacking them back.

That same dignity is a large part of the reason I don’t have it out for anyone.
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15 thoughts on “Do I Have it Out for Men?

  1. Alanna @ Alanna & Company

    First of all, I love the picture of you and the dog! Super cute. Secondly, I’m glad you stood up for yourself and calmly explained yourself to her. I’ve had situations where I am so shocked that something like that was said to me (especially by a friend) that I just have to walk away. Or I can’t even open my mouth to coherently respond. I love how you responded.

    1. Nina Post author

      I love that dog. He was my friend’s.

      I can’t take credit for my response. I would normally snap, not going to lie. The truth is, I was so surprised and hurt, the breath knocked out of me, that I fumbled through it. I am actually thankful for that because if I would have snapped my response would have been discounted.

  2. Anne

    Wow. Knowing you as I do (which is not too well but well enough to say this I think) you must have used an enormous amount of restraint. Nothing you have ever said or done has ever given off that vibe that you have it out for men. You raised such a great point and one that is truly something that is a major assumption….all feminists have it out for men. Why is it than when we want to be seen as equals and treated decently it must mean that we want to bring the other half down. It perturbs me to no end. So bizarre bc here we are trying to raise women up and be empowered and it often goes back to men….you must not like them. Such a bizarre thought. Loving the posts lately where you encourage thought and discussion!

    1. Nina Post author

      Haha, Anne. There was a lot of restraint. It was one of those moments that I was so angry and when I am angry I can sometimes discredit myself with my reaction. Thankfully (????) I think this was one of those instances where it was so shocking and hurtful, like having the wind knocked out of me, that I couldn’t get it together to be mean in my response. (Not that it’s good to be mean but I don’t always handle moments like this well…I can’t pretend otherwise…so I have to consider that it was kind of a blessing and out of character to be so calm).

      I play this game in my head a lot (and for you it isn’t a game). It’s basically, “If I had a daughter, would I want her to feel/think/hear etc…” Sometimes I think about it as a big sister to my little sister. Would I want her to feel/think/hear…? I had amazing parents who really did tell me that the world was my oyster. And yet I still received so many messages that were the opposite of empowering from the world and I didn’t even know it was happening at the time, as I grew up and even now.

      The strongest and best men appreciate strong women. They love them and raise them. I don’t want men to be less (for my sake, for my someday’s husband’s sake, for society’s sake!!).

      Thanks for seeing and believing my heart.

  3. Audrey

    It’s unfair how those we love most can’t hurt us most… even when they don’t mean to. When I was younger I thought “feminist” meant man-hating bra-burner so I would preface every feminist-y statement with, “I’m not a feminist but…” When one of those old statements crosses my path I cringe and mentally pat little-Audrey on the head, as if to say, “Sorry sweetie, but you ARE a feminist.”

    How sad that someone accused you of “having it out for men.” All the more reason to FIGHT for women and our equality, both professionally and socially. I have so much love and respect for my husband and my dad and my brother, but I expect the exact same respect in return- and they are well aware. It’s not an extravagant demand… it’s just equality. Never doubt your worth. I hate that I still lower my eyes and PRAY that I don’t get cat-called while I walk my dogs. I cringe when someone tells me smile. I HATE that men and women aren’t socially expected to carry out the same duties as parents.

    Thank you for being you 🙂 And thank you for writing this!

    1. Nina Post author

      I totally get why you said that though back then. Because whether we want to admit it, it is a loaded word. For a lot of people, as soon as it is said, your opinion is judged or viewed through a different lens. In a way, you may have just been trying to be SEEN and HEARD. Because by distancing yourself from feminism and the loaded word, maybe people would take you seriously. I have done the same thing in different ways for sure! It says more about the world than it does about you (in my opinion, Audrey!

      I love when you say that this is not an “extravagant demand.” Whether people admit it or not, that’s how it is viewed sometimes which is not right.

      So many things you mention that we as woman deal with and think about that go unnoticed by society and ourselves. Like the whole smile thing. Smile more. Would you ever say that to a little boy? And what message does that send to a little girl? There are a million things we think about in a day that we are so used to we don’t know any different: never walk home alone, who is going to be my buddy?, have a plan, watch your drink, don’t ever leave your friend alone etc.

      Thank YOU for being YOU!

  4. Jo-Anne

    Ok have to say men ares so bloody frustrating and often they make us want to band our heads against a wall, do you have it out for men, I don’t know I don’t know what type of men you have to deal with on a day to day basis and some men can drive a woman to want to commit murder, as long as we don’t murder them it is all good because murder is bad just saying in case you didn’t know

  5. jamie

    I love that picture with the door. such a cool photo! This has happened to me as well; whenever I say I am a feminist, men get all crazy and think I hate men. A lot of it is ignorance, unfortunately. I’ve also had a friend say that I am “too Christian” for certain things. Ok.. so I can’t enjoy a martini because I’m Christian?? I definitely can relate to your experience!!
    Jamie
    http://www.jamieeverafter.com

    1. Nina Post author

      I know. It comes from both sides! So if I am a feminist, I am must not be at all conservative or christian. And if I am a christian, I can’t be a feminist? So very frustrating!

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  7. Brita Long

    I am a Christian feminist. This post resonates with me so much.

    I used to go out of my way to prove/insist that being a feminist doesn’t mean that I hate men.

    But I’m over that. Why? Because the same courtesy is NOT extended to me. I am ridiculously careful in how I word things, so it takes a lot of mental gymnastics and a total lack of respect to twist my words around to assume I hate men.

    It’s no longer my problem to deal with a dude’s hurt feelings just because he doesn’t like when I point out sexism (especially benevolent sexism or unintentional sexism). Literally in every single post I’ve written on sexism, I’ve reminded my readers that sexism and misogyny are not the same thing, with a link back to the original post where I describe the differences in detail. And yet I’ve still had men demand, for example, that I specifically write out that I won’t judge a man for doing something unintentionally sexist. I don’t think a dude is a bad person for doing something unintentionally sexist, but you know what? I still judge him for it, especially if he can’t get over his injured pride when he reads a blog post calling out his sexist behaviors.

    1. Nina Post author

      It is not your problem to deal with anyone’s hurt’s feelings if you are speaking words that honor God, that you really believe in your heart is honoring to God. Sometimes when a post hits a nerve for someone (not just on my blog…I am talking about bigger bloggers) and I think MAYBE IT IS SUPPOSED TO HIT A NERVE.

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