Friday, January 26, 2007

I did it again: a rant

There's this thing that I do. I'm not sure of the precise mechanics of it, but I somehow turn normal friendly interactions into something unpleasant. Of course I have a case in point or I'd not have had such a restless night.

A little background: Freight trucks come to my warehouse to carry things away to customers. I am a friendly, sociable, outgoing person. I have befriended (or be-acquaintanced) a number of the drivers. They say "hello MissLynette" and I say "hello there honey!" Like that. I am nice, southern, happy. I can't keep it all inside.

The former driver for the company I use most called me his Sunshine and said it made his day to come by the shop. He would asked me about my church (isn't one) and then he'd shake my hand and give me a one-armed hug and tell me it always did his heart good to come to my place to see me. My guys teased me about him having a crush. That sweet old man retired and was replaced by Kendall. Kendall is a country boy from Little Dixie. He has a fine southern accent and he's friendly, sociable, outgoing, just like me.

The guys in my shop tease me about Kendall having a little crush. I like him. I started liking him more after the mid-term elections when I found out he was a lifelong Democrat. I was happily surprised, because country boys from around here, like Kendall, despite being mostly working men, tend to be Republican. They tend that way because of guns and immigration and because Glenn Beck and Rush tell them what to think and mislead them as to why their economic lives have become stagnant and things are harder now than they were before. Those multimillionaire entertainers tell these country boys that the problem is not corporate owned government, rather it's that guy swimming the Rio Grande at 3:00 a.m., it's the feminazi mayor, the welfare queens.

But back to it: I found out he was a Democrat post-midterms after someone ripped down and set fire to my "Yea Democrats!" signs on the sidewalk in front of the shop. They were copies of a photoshopped George Bush facing down a muscular and heroic looking donkey, with the words HEE HAW beneath. And yes, they did stay up a bit long and true, I've got a lot of windows and thus a lot of signs. Hee haw.

So my boy's a Democrat. He comes by a couple of times a week. He hangs out, calls me his "shade tree," meaning he likes to drop by and visit when he's got some time to kill. He tells me all about his Democratic views and we agree on so many things, and then he says that the one thing he doesn't agree with is "the races mixin, ah just don think it's raaat." (This after he came in to find me kissing my biracial grandson goodbye.) We discussed. He has his wrong view, I have mine. I am a hot-head and a reactionary but I can also accept different views. We're okay.

Somehow, somehow, how the hell does this happen? All of this somehow led him to believe that he could start telling me jokes. At first they were just typical dirty jokes which, being a reformed popular girl, I can laugh at with the best of the rednecks. I don't mind being one of the boys, hell I am one of the boys most days.

I guess that's where I went wrong, I giggled a little, more out of a wish to make him feel comfortable than an appreciation of the "humor" in his slightly, and then increasingly, off color jokes. In retrospect, I should have drawn myself up sharply and shown him the door, made him feel like an idiot. Should have.

He brought up Hillary yesterday and I said what I always say, that I think she'd be a kickass president and maybe she can convince the rest of the country in the next year or two, and it's probably time for a woman, and everything else I say when I know we're going to disagree.

His response had little to do with Hillary. Nope, he had to launch into his assessment of women in general. Women have their place, you know. That place is not in the church, or in the schools, except as teachers, that's okay. Ain't no place for a female cop or judge. They don't need to be doctorin' or teachin' at the universities, no sir, and there just ain't no way a woman can ever be president. A good woman has got her place, you know.

I asked what place that might be and he said "wayull, as a good waaaaf and a good mother, that's a woman's place." I said "what about women who aren't married, don't have kids?" I was interested because I only accidentally got married, was content shacking up, and never wanted, never had kids. "Wayull, that's what women are for. The Bible says so." This is the same shit I used to get from those Eagle Forum witches who would face us down at the ERA rallies. Find a man and get married. Fulfill your destiny.

But his discourse on the proper place for women in the world turned into this: "You know when God gave women that split down there, all their brains fell out." Followed by: "You know if women didn't have good pussy, there'd be a bounty on 'em. They ain't of no use but for that."

Somehow I allowed our relationship to get to this point. Some excess of friendliness, a little too much laughter, not enough attitude. In the shrink's office, this would be called a "boundary issue." But sometimes I think it's just the same old tired male-female crap that is, was, and ever shall be, and it makes me mad. My husband said "well honey, he's just a dumb old country boy, he doesn't know how to relate to a smart, educated woman with drive and ambition. He's probably never been around someone like you before." (Sweet Mike's just trying to make me feel better, not putting down my country sisters.)

But Mike confirmed what I know, because he's heard them all before among the contractors he used to work with, out at American Airlines, at Saber, at UTC. I know it in my gut and I just keep it put away, else it's intolerable to interact with them, these others, these men.

This is how men talk about women when they're together and comfortable with each other. It's just what they do. It's probably what they're doing, all of the old guys who gather in the barber shop next door. When they smile and wave at me through the window, they've probably just finished telling some horrible joke about the general worthlessness of women, but ain't a good piece of pussy worth keeping one around?

That is what has me sitting here crying at 6:30 in the morning. It makes me so angry and it hurts. I don't even want to look at them. How can he, how can they, tell these jokes and not feel a little sick inside? If a man can say that to anyone and not feel really, really bad about it, what is wrong with him?

I feel like I've lost my bearings and have once more been slapped with a reality that's so ugly. They're just jokes, I know that. I do have a sense of humor. But how can a man tell those jokes without there being just a little bit of him that agrees with what it's saying? I can tell dirty jokes, sexy jokes, if I can remember them long enough. Those aren't the same, though. There's no hate in them. I can't tell racist jokes or homophobic jokes or jokes that imply women are of no consequence except as a step up from jacking off.

I don't want to have to change myself in order to prevent this kind of crap. We have done that all our lives. We still do it. Don't let him, don't encourage him, don't wear that, say that, look that way. Don't invite it, don't allow it happen, make him stop. I want to be able to just be myself without this shit coming up. I want to be able to listen to a joke about Viagra without that leading to "jokes" about hate and anger and the diminishment of women.

More than anything I want to believe that this really isn't every man, that this ugliness isn't lurking beneath the surface of the men I love, of the ones I care for, of the friendly old guys at the barber shop, the ones who drop by to chat and who always call me sweetheart. I want to believe that but today I can't.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Vic's Still Standing said...

I've been knocked around a time or two, but I can attest that there are good men who respect their mommas and the women in their lives, and who never talk that kind of trash talk. I know four right off the bat, and can probably name a hundred others, and that's just from personal acquaintance.

This hate mongering talk (whether it comes from a man or woman) has no place in this world. What an awful situation for you.

Hope something makes you smile today.

January 26, 2007 7:19 AM  
Anonymous K said...

All I can say is that there's ugliness in all of us. Not condoning it, just dealing with it.

One of the greatest accomplishments I have achieved in life is when my 4 year old son said, "Mommies and Daddies work and take care of their babies." Note the Mommies AND Daddies. No distinction. I cried that day. ;)

Have a good one - and for what it's worth, I feel myself saying, "Right on, sister," practically every time I read your blog. You rock.

-k

January 26, 2007 8:32 AM  
Blogger Glenn said...

Being another Southern pig - um, man - I wonder if your friend isn't mouthing mindless banter from his years of growing up and living in that particular culture. I have known men we would all consider dangerous bigots who would hold the door for a black man or woman and address them as sir or ma'am - then, God forbid, tell those same people one of their horrendous "jokes." It may be thoughtlessness and simple insensitivity. Have you talked to him about how he wounds you with those things? He might be appalled to learn how his words are affecting you.

January 26, 2007 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynette,

Beautifully written, and I am sorry it was your turn to witness the ugliness of the human race today. I find that people who get comfortable with you, and then spit out their filth and prejudice, are just plain cowardly and passive aggressive. They don't have the strength or courage to be up front about their shitty beliefs, and as soon as the coast is clear, they let all that pent up animosity gush out. Being gay, but not being stereotypical, has offered this situation up to me countless times. Some idiot assumes I'm straight, gets comfortable, and then come the fag jokes, soon followed by the women and minority jokes. It's usually the same kinda guy (and it's almost ALWAYS a guy), the one with low self esteem, and the inability to accept responsibility for his lot in life. Fortunately, being a man, I see and meet many good men that would in no way exhibit this behaviour. There are many such good men, straight and gay, so don't give up hope.

This too shall pass,

Tater

January 26, 2007 8:57 AM  
Blogger jinxy said...

I'm sure if you told him thank god his mamma had a good pussy or else he wouldn't be here today, that might drive the point home, but that would be sinking to his level.

Basically, some people like their bigotry. I think it's pathetic to say that just because that's how someone was raised, that excuses them feeling that way. If they have been exposed to another school of thought, and they choose to still hold their bigoted view, it turns into a choice. Some people hold on to bigotry because it makes them feel better, some people because they feel too good about themselves. No matter the reason it is still wrong.

But please don't feel like it is limited to the South. I worked at a job in Dublin Ireland in 2001, and my boss demanded that a woman always answer our phones because it sounded more appropriate. I lasted 6 months at that job, and that's an achievement I am still proud of. It took everything in me not to cuss that silly little Lucky Charms man out the minute he tole me that. Anyhow...

The only thing you can really do about bigotry is to disagree, and personalize it. Ask him if that's the way he feels about you, or his mamma, or his daughter? How would he like his daughter to be objectified in that way, and how can he expect men not to objectify her like that if he does it himself?

But at the end of the day you have to just make your point and move on. If you lost sleep over every bigot in the world, you'd never close your eyes again.

January 26, 2007 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Kamrin said...

This happens a lot in the South. If they are not courtin' ya, then you are one of the guys. Not a lot of in-between for um. Sorry he was so crass with ya. I wouldva snatched his hat off his head and hit him with it if I caught him talkin to you that way! I am sorry he has placed you in this spot.

January 26, 2007 10:44 AM  
Blogger David said...

I find that when someone feels the need to talk others down it's because they don't feel good about themselves. It's not just southern boys. You should here some of the awful misogynistic crap that is spewed by guys in the gay community. These are men who still can't fully embrace who they are, and in order to ward off their feelings of low self-worth, they attack others, and since women are still relatively second class citizens in our society, they make an easy mark. Add to that the fact that in a gay environment, there are few women present to offend, and you have the perfect recipe for he-man-women-haters-club mentality.

Your Southern boy is no different (although I am amused at the prospect of equating him with the same mind-set as a gay man). He most likely has issues with his own lack of education, fear of unemployment, and a sense of disempowerment as the cache of being a white male continues to dip in society at large. As women, homosexuals and non-whites become more powerful, it threatens the power of the white, straight male. Thus, Kendall finds it expediant to demean women in order to find a way to pump up his own self-image.

But still feel free to rip him a new asshole the next time you see him.

January 26, 2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Don't let it get you down, and don't cut Kendall too much slack either. We are responsible to ourselves. If being a product of our environment really worked then I would be some happy, racist, anti-semitic, sexist jerk like my dad. (Oh yeah and only the Catholics would get into heaven.) Feel free to kick his dumb ass. I grew up in Lower Buttfuck Falls, Vermont. I know stupid hicks, the problem is they aren't all that dumb, they're just too lazy to think for themselves.

January 26, 2007 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Travis said...

First of all: ((((Lynette)))). Sometimes people are [insert favorite cuss word here].

I can't believe he would say those kind of things about women in front of a woman.

Of course, he shouldn't say them at all. Sometimes it's just about education. It truly doesn't occur to folks that some things are better left unsaid, preferably they should be left unthought.

I have always found myself having to be extra vigilant about my thoughts, words and deeds, lest the I end up with foot-in-mouth-itis. I've been fortunate that I've had people in the past tell me when I've said something inappropriate, so I learn from the experience. It hasn't always been a pleasant learning experience, mind you, but it has helped me to learn and grow.

I've also known plenty of women who put men down, specifically and generally, in many crass and horrible ways, so it's not just men that can be thoughtless asses.

It's a long journey, and hopefully humanity in general is getting better and better about respecting fellow folks.

Travis

January 26, 2007 4:14 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Oh my. I had no idea there was anyone who identified as a Democrat who actually thought that way about women.

And, as David said, this is more a reflection of how that country boy feels about himself and his life and that he interacts all the time with a female "friend" who is better educated and probably makes more money than him. His diminishment of women is the only way he feels he has power. It's sad actually and had nothing to do with you. Not all men are pigs like that. And some of us have voted for Hillary TWICE already!

January 26, 2007 8:34 PM  
Blogger Marshmallow said...

Holy crap! I'd heard of the stereotypes, but boy, I didn't want to believe it was true O_O I know that there are still people here in New Zealand that think that women belong in the kitchen, but would they dare say that in the face of Helen Clark, our SECOND female prime minister?

I would like to think that he's just one of those people who mouth off to self inflate their ego. David's comment was awesome.

Hope you're feeling better; that sort of thing would have upset me too *HUGZ*

January 26, 2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger Lotuslander said...

Oh, Lynette, you are wonderful, smart and funny. It's interesting what DAvid said, because I too have met many gay men that seem to resent woman for whatever reason, but the majority seem to really like woman.

January 27, 2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Da Nator said...

I'm just catching up here. Sorry you had to go through that, darlin' ((Hugs)).

I would like to say all kinds of nice, supportive, thoughtful things about educating and understanding your fellow humans, but I'm in a mood today, so here's what I think you should do:

Next time he comes in, hand him a gift-wrapped photo of a sheep. When he opens it and asks what it's about, say
"Well, I've been thinking about how much you hate women except for the pussy, so I thought you'd like this."

I betcha $10 it hits a little too close to home.

Hang in there, sweetie - hope your vacation makes you feel better!

February 02, 2007 4:46 PM  

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