(un)lovely familial chatting

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Bodies, Gender, Personal, Relationships, Sexism
Tags: , , ,

Trigger warning for sexual harassment and apologism.

Just had the joy of listening to my mother rant for half an hour about today’s society and how we’ve all become ‘namby-pamby,’ because of the ‘nanny state.’ Oh, and sexual harassment. I hate these conversations. It started when I mentioned my earlier joy of sitting on a table with a bunch of peers in a ‘discussion’ of airbrushing, listening to the women saying, ‘I’d like to be airbrushed,’ and the men saying, ‘Doesn’t affect me, I’m not stupid.’ And then… my mother got onto her soapbox about the lack of robustness in today’s society, especially with regard to sexual harassment. So because I’m too passive-aggressive/anxious about our relationship/mindful of the cracks in it to say all this to her face, I’m going to deconstruct her arguments online.

‘I gave as good as I got.’ But why should you have got in the first place? Yes, it’s nice that you had a coping mechanism, but not everyone can do that – and why the hell should you have had to? You were in an environment where it was normal, so you learned to cope in a way you thought was normal. That doesn’t make the sexual harassment right.

‘These days, there’s no joking in workplaces and all the cameraderie is gone because people can’t take a joke!’ Erm – sexual harassment is a joke? WAIT NO. A JOKE IS FUNNY. SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS NEVER FUNNY. Sexual harassment promotes cameraderie? Well, this is a patriarchal kyriarchy, Mother, so yes – but that doesn’t make it right. And also, a lot of things have changed now. Consumer capitalism is a few stages further on. We’re all expendable servants of the machine, so that does tend to lower morale. Besides that, no joking? What, so it’s impossible to joke about things that aren’t sexual harassment? WAIT NO. There’s plenty of things that are ACTUALLY FUNNY and that don’t involve SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

‘There will always be creeps.’ There will always be creeps in a patriarchal kyriarchy. We don’t know about the post-kyriarchy because GUESS WHAT, people like you are ACTIVELY HINDERING the process of demolishing it.

‘There’s nothing wrong with a bit of joshing between consenting adults.’ Well, yeah. I agree with you. Personal autonomy, consent… yeah, if people want to say stuff like that to each other and make sure consent is enthusiastic and informed, fine. But do people go around saying, ‘Are you okay with me making comments and passes of a sexual nature that will be crude and possibly cruel?’ NO. They don’t. So it’s NOT between consenting adults because consent means KNOWING WHAT’S GOING ON AND SAYING ‘YES!’ TO IT. And consent would mean that it wouldn’t be harassment, either, because harassment is definitely not consensual. Someone being harassed may ‘josh’ back because that’s literally the only solution that doesn’t involve losing the job. Seriously, if you think that’s consent, that’s fucking terrifying.

Sometimes I really can’t stand my mother. I like her as long as we stay away from politics and social justice as topics of conversation, but if we start talking about that I get incoherent rage attack and just sit there digging my fingernails into my hands and wanting to leave. She’s sizeist, cissexist, binarist, classist, sexist and ableist at the least. This is why I can’t fucking talk to her about who I am. I’m just so glad I managed to escape those attitudes.

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