On Men Not Believing Women and Being Blind to the Sexism and Harassment Women Often Endure
I’ve noticed that many men have a tendency to disbelieve women when women talk about their experiences. (This would be true of a lot of American Christian men, as well.)
Allow me to give you some examples and some links (should I find more in the future, I would like to add them to this post).
When over dozens of women over a period of years said that actor Bill Cosby had drugged and fondled or raped them, most of the public did not believe them – until a male stand up comic, Hannibal Buress, made a public comment about it.
Next up, consider these stories…
However, new technology has emerged that allow men to undergo a simulated version of labour pain by sending electrodes to their abdomen for one hour.
Two confident husbands, who didn’t possibly believe that the pain could be that bad, decided to partake in the experiment, conducted by Kensington.
They got more than they bargained for.
Even in the early stages of labour they were pleading for mercy.
“That was early labour? It feels like someone is taking a saw and just carving up my abdomen” [- said one of the men]
Brandon Cohen of the website BroBible, which is kind of like Buzzfeed but with more boobs and less self-awareness, wanted to find out “why girls won’t stop complaining about wearing high heels.”
“We decided to show them what wimps they are, and straight up dominate the heel game for a whole day,” this video’s description says. “Except, things didn’t quite go as planned…” (video on page showing that Cohen was in agony after just several hours of wearing high heels)
This Dating Site story is very long, so if you want to just skim – scroll down it, that’s fine – be sure to see all the links I have below this one:
Snippets (this was written by a young man):
….This Reddit user, however, was convinced that us womenz is always lyin’ ’bout how sh_tty we haz it on teh internetz, and wanted to prove that ladies have a way easier time finding a match than teh poor menz.
So, this happened:
Last night I was bored and was talking with a friend on skype about her experiences with online dating.
I was joking with her that “girls have it easy on dating sites” etc. etc.
I had never really done anything in the online dating world but I had set up a real profile a few years back and didn’t use it much aside from getting a few nice messages and decided it wasn’t really for me.
But, as I said, I was bored, so I decided that I would set up a fake profile.
Set it up as a gender-swapped version of me essentially see what would happen.
So I did the username, and I was up.
Before I could even fill out my profile at all, I already had a message in my inbox from a guy. It wasn’t a mean message, but I found it odd that I would get a message already.
So I sent him a friendly hello back and kind of joked that I hadn’t even finished my profile, how could he be interested, but I felt good because I thought I was right that “girls have it easy”
…I finished setting up my profile, used a picture of my friend for the profile pic with her permission, and said I was interested in Long term dating/short term dating and was good to go. I thought I would check on it in about 24 hours.
But before I could even close the tab another message was received.
It was another guy who seemed nice asking how I was doing and I messaged him back staying as neutral and as uninterested as possible without being mean.
I was about to leave again, but I was kind of curious now, so I waited another minute, and sure enough, a third message popped up (also I feel this is a good point to say that my friend would be the first to say she’s a pretty average looking girl).
I messaged him back, but before I could send, I had gotten a reply from the first guy, so I had to do that, then a reply from the second guy.
So fine, people are interested in going out with me.
Then I got another message that opened with a line that while not wholly vulgar, kind of came off a little strange.
I ignored it and went back to send the message to person three now.
Before I could send it, I got a followup message from Mr. 4 which was needlessly sexual in nature.
I continued to ignore him and finished.
I then began to have some small-talk with some guys (remember this is like minute 20 of having the profile up) and all of the conversations kind of get weird.
One of the guys becomes super aggressive saying he is competitive and he will treat me right, the other is asking for my phone number telling me he is lying in bed and the conversation (without me steering it) is turning increasingly sexual in nature though I tell him I’m not comfortable with it.
Then I got the NoStringsAtttached messages, with multiple guys sending me messages asking me to watch them cam, or meeting up with them within the hour, or talk with them on the phone or cyber.
I would say no and they usually didn’t take it too well.
(end Reddit quote)
The speed at which his messages progressed from mildly civil to aggressively sexual won’t come as any surprise to those of you who’ve experienced this for yourselves. But it was a total shock to OKCThrowaway22221.
(More from the Reddit commentator):
At first I thought it was fun, I thought it was weird but maybe I would mess with them or something and freak them out and tell them I was a guy or something, but as more and more messages came (either replies or new ones I had about 10 different guys message me within 2 hours) the nature of them continued to get more and more irritating.
Guys were full-on spamming my inbox with multiple messages before I could reply to even one asking why I wasn’t responding and what was wrong.
Guys would become hostile when I told them I wasn’t interested in NSA sex, or guys that had started normal and nice quickly turned the conversation into something explicitly sexual in nature.
Seemingly nice dudes in quite esteemed careers asking to hook up in 24 hours and sending them naked pics of myself despite multiple times telling them that I didn’t want to.
I would be lying if I said it didn’t get to me. I thought it would be some fun thing, something where I would do it and worse case scenario say “lol I was a guy I trolle you lulz”etc. but within a 2 hour span it got me really down and I was feeling really uncomfortable with everything.
I figured I would get some weird messages here and there, but what I got was an onslaught of people who were, within minutes of saying hello, saying things that made me as a dude who spends most of his time on 4chan uneasy.
I ended up deleting my profile at the end of 2 hours and kind of went about the rest of my night with a very bad taste in my mouth.
(end Reddit quote)
In this one, – people treated someone they believed to be a man with more respect, patience, and credibility than they did a woman:
Boy, was he shocked.
Then one day, he was interacting with a client who was proving to be especially difficult.
“He is just being IMPOSSIBLE. Rude, dismissive, ignoring my questions,” Schneider tweeted. “Telling me his methods were the industry standards (they weren’t) and I couldn’t understand the terms he used (I could.)”
Schneider said he was confused until he realized he’d been signing his emails with Hallberg’s signature — an easy mistake to make because of their shared inbox. He then decided to reintroduce himself.
“IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT. Positive reception, thanking me for suggestions, responds promptly, saying ‘great questions!’ Became a model client,” Schneider wrote, adding, “Note: My technique and advice never changed. The only difference was that I had a man’s name now.”
After that the pair decided to switch names for two weeks — he’d sign as Nicole while she would end her emails as Martin.
To summarize, “it f—ing sucked,” Schneider shared. “I was in hell. Everything I asked or suggested was questioned. Clients I could do in my sleep were condescending. One asked if I was single.”
Hallberg, however, was having a much better time.
“I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life,” she wrote in a response piece for Medium.
(end article snippet)
There was an article about a trans-man who worked as a scientist I saw some time ago that also shed some light on this.
This was a person who was born as a woman but transitioned to become a man – he said once he was perceived as being a man by co-workers and others, people gave him more credibility and were more willing to listen to him, and stopped doubting him.
Having experienced the workplace from both perspectives, they hold the key to its biases.
…Ben Barres is a biologist at Stanford who lived and worked as Barbara Barres until he was in his forties. For most of his career, he experienced bias, but didn’t give much weight to it—seeing incidents as discrete events. (When he solved a tough math problem, for example, a professor said, “You must have had your boyfriend solve it.”)
When he became Ben, however, he immediately noticed a difference in his everyday experience: “People who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” he says. He was more carefully listened to and his authority less frequently questioned. He stopped being interrupted in meetings.
At one conference, another scientist said, “Ben gave a great seminar today—but then his work is so much better than his sister’s.” (The scientist didn’t know Ben and Barbara were the same person.)
“This is why women are not breaking into academic jobs at any appreciable rate,” he wrote in response to Larry Summers’s famous gaffe implying women were less innately capable at the hard sciences. “Not childcare. Not family responsibilities,” he says. “I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”
By Shankar Vedantam, July 2006
Neurobiologist Ben Barres has a unique perspective on former Harvard president Lawrence Summers’s assertion that innate differences between the sexes might explain why many fewer women than men reach the highest echelons of science.
That’s because Barres used to be a woman himself.
In a highly unusual critique published yesterday, the Stanford University biologist — who used to be Barbara — said his experience as both a man and a woman had given him an intensely personal insight into the biases that make it harder for women to succeed in science.
After he underwent a sex change nine years ago at the age of 42, Barres recalled, another scientist who was unaware of it was heard to say, “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but then his work is much better than his sister’s.”
And as a female undergraduate at MIT, Barres once solved a difficult math problem that stumped many male classmates, only to be told by a professor: “Your boyfriend must have solved it for you.”
“By far,” Barres wrote, “the main difference I have noticed is that people who don’t know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect” than when he was a woman. “I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”
Barres said the switch had given him access to conversations that would have excluded him previously: “I had a conversation with a male surgeon and he told me he had never met a woman surgeon who was as good as a man.”
…While there are men and women on both sides of the argument, the debate has exposed fissures along gender lines, which is what makes Barres so unusual.
Barres said he has realized from personal experience that many men are unconscious of the privileges that come with being male, which leaves them unable to countenance talk of glass ceilings and discrimination.
Here are additional links on these subjects:
Men Just Don’t Trust Women — And It’s A Huge Problem by Damon Young
Panama [the author’s wife] and I were talking about the Rolling Stone story controversy. It eventually segued to Cosby, which then segued into a realization that there’s a common thread in each of these types of stories and the tenor of the conversations surrounding them.
Trust. Well, the lack thereof. Generally speaking, we (men) do not believe things when they’re told to us by women. Well, women other than our mothers or teachers or any other woman who happens to be an established authority figure. Do we think women are pathological liars? No. But, does it generally take longer for us to believe something if a woman tells it to us than it would if a man told us the exact same thing? Definitely!
This conversation is how, after five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged, I realized I don’t trust my wife.
…I’m speaking of my own relationship, but I know I’m not alone. The theme that women’s feelings aren’t really to be trusted by men drives (an estimated) 72.81 percent of the sitcoms we watch, 31.2 percent of the books we read, and 98.9 percent of the conversations men have with other men about the women in their lives. Basically, women are crazy, and we are not. Although many women seem to be very annoyed by it, it’s generally depicted as one of those cute and innocuous differences between the sexes.
And perhaps it would be, if it were limited to feelings about the dishes or taking out the garbage. But, this distrust can be pervasive, spreading to a general skepticism about the truthfulness of their own accounts of their own experiences. If women’s feelings aren’t really to be trusted, then naturally their recollections of certain things that have happened to them aren’t really to be trusted either.
This is part of the reason why it took an entire high school football team full of women for some of us to finally just consider that Bill Cosby might not be Cliff Huxtable. It’s how, despite hearing complaints about it from girlfriends, homegirls, cousins, wives, and classmates, so many of us refused to believe how serious street harassment can be until we saw it with our own eyes. It’s why we needed to see actual video evidence before believing the things women had been saying for years about R. Kelly.
…The first thought I had was, “Why do men find it so hard to validate women?”
…No group is innocent, no group is perfect. But I can see that a lot of times men have a great deal of difficulty validating and emotionally supporting the women in their lives. Here are some reasons.
A number of men comment that to validate or to use emotional language to support the woman is unmanly. “You are trying to make us into wusses,” a number of men say.
They believe that the role of the man is to be strong, above it, domineering.
Validating and allowing emotional ventilation is for feminized men, men who have lost their dignity as “real men.” The women may think that some of the macho confidence is appealing, until it leads them to feel that the only emotion they can get from him is his anger.
…Demand for Rationality
Some men believe that their partner should always be rational and that irrationality cannot be tolerated. Their response to their partner’s apparent irrationality is to point out every error in her thinking, dismiss her, become sarcastic or withdraw.
This demand for rationality or “the facts” might sound “mature” but I have yet to hear someone say that they have a great sex life because they have the facts on their side. Communication is often more about soothing, grooming, connecting — less about simply giving you the information and being logical.
…Problems Have to Be Solved
These men think that the main reason for communication is to share facts that then can be used for problem-solving. They think that venting and sharing feelings gets you nowhere and that if their partner is not willing to initiate problem-solving then she is being self-indulgent and wasting everyone’s time and energy.
When he jumps in with problem-solving, she either escalates the emotion which she believes is not heard, or she withdraws.
Well, ask yourself, “Have these responses really worked?” Why is this kind of behavior and thinking so predictive of divorce? If it’s not working — and you and your partner both know it’s not — then maybe it’s time to think about making a change.
…Let me go back to a fundamental part of intimate relationships. We want to feel that our partner cares about and respects our feelings. We want to believe that they have time to listen. We want to feel supported, soothed and that we are not a burden. The seven beliefs and styles above — which many men use — only alienate the women that they claim they love. If it’s not working, why would you continue to act this way?
The answer may be that some men view relationships in terms of power and control.