Stuff like this…

…makes me mad when it happens:

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Woman soldier refuses return to Iraq, claiming sexual harassment

Particularly the event described in the last paragraph.

Link found on Chaos Theory

What is it about gender that makes it such a ripe target for power plays? My father (I don’t usually talk about him, but I’m going to make an exception right now) was always a manipulative bastard while I was still in contact with him, and I grew up watching him use gender to manipulate the women around him. Any way in which he could cast their femininity into a negative light was used against them. I became very afraid of fitting into any of the stereotypes or archetypes surrounding women and femininity because it would become a weapon to be used against me when he wanted something or wanted to win an argument.

For example, his favorite argument tactic was to push someone’s emotional buttons until he got them so mad they couldn’t see straight, then tell them that obviously he was right because he was the only one being rational. By that point you were so angry you couldn’t see or articulate the fallacy in that argument. He made it pretty clear, of course, that this was all part of you being the irrational, emotional female and him being the rational, logical male.

It took me a very long time to unlearn the tendency to get irrationally angry when riled, because he basically trained it into me from a very young age. Which is kind of ironic when discussing the whole issue of gender stereotypes, emotions, and irrationality–he’s the one who pushed me into fitting that stereotype, and it was only after breaking contact with him that I was able to start deliberately un-learning it and recovering some equilibrium.

I think that manipulative people often reinforce gender stereotypes in others, and look for ‘proof’ that they’re valid, because those stereotypes give them ammunition to use when manipulating others. I’m hardly saying that it’s strictly men who do this to women; certainly there are women who do it to men as well, and gender isn’t the only dividing line used in this manner. And thankfully, there are plenty of people who don’t do this.

Posted in News & Musings

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