Turn that douchehound upside down ” Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose

We’ve got a fairly desperate concern troll in the mod queue today; he’s left comments on three different posts in the last hour AND sent an email to Kate about how we are ruining feminism, which is a crock of man-hating shit anyway. Needless to say, he’s banned (thanks for playing, Richard! Feel free to read the comments policy on your way out!), but something he said made my jaw drop so hard I think it bruised. Behold the cluelessness:

I still believe that women are their worst enemies. Seriously, how many times has a man said something cruel or sexist about your appearance compared to a woman?

Now, apart from the fact that the famed “cattiness” of women is of course a manifestation of internalized misogyny, and thus Douchehound Richard is a concern troll par excellence, this comment reminded me of the sad fact that many men simply do not believe women’s life experiences. They have no idea what many of us are subject to, because those things tend not to happen when there are men with us. Some men conclude that therefore shit must not really go down the way women says it does, because otherwise wouldn’t they see it with their big manly eyes?*

So in the spirit of a recent post at The F Word (UK) that turned into a mass documentation of street harassment, I’d like to open this thread up to the perhaps traumatic, perhaps triggering, hopefully cathartic task of proving Richard wrong. Not because he’s so important — he’s just your standard issue antifeminist concern troll — but because it can sometimes be useful to state out loud the things we all take as given.

I’ll start, and this is necessarily an incomplete list, obviously, because so many cruel things have been said to me about my appearance by so many men that I can’t possibly remember them all. But here are some.

Boys in school called me a cow, gay, retarded, four eyes, and of course fat. They made fun of my hair, my glasses, my clothes, and my figure. A male “friend” of mine in high school called my high forehead “male pattern baldness” and suggested I tape infomercials for Rogaine. Boys in my HS Spanish class nicknamed me “Bigote” (”Mustache”). A friend’s boyfriend told me I’d have a dozen boyfriends if they only saw me from the neck down. The guy whose locker was next to mine in school would fake invite me to “cool kid” events and then tell me I could only come if I would stop being so fat and ugly. My brother would grab my thighs and talk about how fat they were, and he told me I had a hick haircut (a long time ago! he’s nicer now). My father has expressed happiness that a painful chronic medical condition made me skinnier. My grandfather bought me new clothes as a birthday present one year and told me “Now you just have to not get fat.” My photos on Flickr have been linked from fetish sites whose posts are locked, so I get to imagine what gets said there.

That’s just off the top of my head and doesn’t count the endless street harassment I’ve been subject to since I hit puberty. You think men don’t say fantastically cruel and sexist things to women all goddamn day long? You think every woman doesn’t have a running list of words she wishes had never passed her ears? You think that women are the problem in a sexist society? That’s not how it fucking works, asshole.

So. Hands up if a man has “said something cruel or sexist about your appearance.” Hands up if you’ve witnessed a man saying something cruel or sexist about another woman’s appearance. Hands up if you know a man like Richard who thinks he’s so bloody different from all those other men. Hands up if you’re goddamn sick and tired of being told that if you notice sexism, you’re the sexist. And hands up, male readers, if you have ever been or known that man.

***Raises hand***

*Chris Clarke: If no woman in your life has ever talked to you about how she lives her life with an undercurrent of fear of men, consider the possibility that it may be because she sees you as one of those men she cannot really trust.