Misogyny is a window that goes up and down. Sometimes when it's down, I forget the window is even there. When it is abruptly thrown open, I remember that it was never actually gone. It is only closed now and then.
2016 is the year I have realized that the men on the other side of the window are not all religious or political conservatives. Many of them are liberal in their worldview and the champions of progressive causes. They talk about how black lives matter. They denounce Donald Trump for wanting to deport eleven million immigrants. They are on the right side of history when it comes to gay marriage and who can use which bathroom. They stand up for a woman's right to choose!
So why is misogyny still acceptable among progressive men? Some of the ones who would never utter the N-word are all over the B-word or the C-word. There are so many "nice guys" who turn into Mr. Hyde over the most trivial and imagined slights. Or they see a woman speaking up for herself and that provokes a primal tantrum involving death and rape threats. #MasculinitySoFragile is a popular hashtag that I finally fully grok has no political party or faith.
I understand why conservative men throw open these windows with gusto and stand in front of them beating their chests. There's a broad and deep tradition for such displays in the figurative neighborhood, as women just want to walk out to get their mail. But I confess to being gobsmacked by the misogyny coming from the left these days. I guess I'd rather suffer delusion than despair. I am abruptly jolted out of that mindset every time I post something about Hillary Clinton on my Facebook wall, unwittingly unleashing the Kraken.
You know what's a 100% non-serial-killer-like thing a lot of guys do? They pull down dark shades over their windows so you don't notice them for a while, and then when you least expect it at night, they give the shade a slight tug so that it hurls upward with a startling thwap, releasing a blinding amount of sexism approximating the corona of the sun. Oh there you are, little window, I totally didn't see you there!
What's that? Women do it too? Yes they do. Internalized misogyny is the new black. Well, not so new, but that's another blog post.
There are so many windows going up and down and up and down all over the darn place. I could run faster than a doped Olympic track athlete only to realize I'm on a treadmill, and the windows are still everywhere, and you can't nail them shut. Men don't get this. It's all a mystery to them. They feel like they're being treated like creeps no matter how much they follow us around protesting they're not.
I don't think all men are misogynists by any means--not even close! But it does amaze me when the ones who aren't are oblivious to all those yawning window sashes. Men's lives don't involve a gauntlet of these windows and the constant stress of wondering when and where one will open. They worry about cars that don't stop for pedestrians or bills they can't pay, like lots of us do. They also worry about certain misfortunes that tend to befall mostly men, but those usually occur due to chance, biology, or the decisions of other men. There are no societal systems that involve women standing behind windows, opening them, and then suddenly...what? The use of Viagra is up for regulation? Men can vote with their penises for over 400 years and that hypocrisy never registers with anyone coining terms like "vagina voter." And come to think of it, what better unifies the sexism of the right with the sexism of the left than a term like "vagina voter?"
Now here comes the fun part. Blog posts like this one open huge windows, like the largest pivoting set of windows in the world at this house in Antwerp, Belgium. These colossal windows will blow open within seconds of this post going live. Helen Lewis and Anita Sarkeesian have noticed this phenomenon on the internet for years. It's just as predictable as Godwin's Law.
Lori Day is an educational psychologist and consultant with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.