"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Communication and Worry

I've thought a lot about what I've seen as a certain thread of sexism in my life, the one where I tend to worry more about the women in my life, from friends, to family, to lovers, than I do about the men in my life. It struck me most recently because a my cohort (who is a woman) is moving out here, and I found myself obsessing a bit about what I could do to help, but also worrying in a way that I didn't worry about, say, my buddy Dave when he moved out of SF, or Steve when he moved across the country. I thought about them leaving, and thought about the difficulties that they would have, but I wasn't tempted to try to take on their burdens—or at least, I wasn't tempted much.

I started to chalk this up to my own sexism. What other reason would I treat equally capable people differently in the above ways?

I thought of another reason, and while it's still related to gender stuff, it's not sexism per se. I realized, as some friends and I were talking, and one of my male friends was talking a bit about some personal stuff, that another reason that I tend to be tempted to take on the burdens of my women friends, family and lovers more than the men in my life is that the women in my life tend to share how they're feeling more with me than the men; in addition, aside from any particular individual people in my life, I have a whole life history of women telling me how they feel, through words but also through body language and the like, more than men ever have. Which is not to say that the men in my life didn't share their hopes and dreams, their fears and the like with me—I think my experience is probably atypical in the amount that my male friends and I have talked about this stuff. But still, we tend to talk about it less than I talk and listen with the women in my life.

And then, of course, it's much easier to worry about people when you have been given some potential reasons for worrying.

And regarding another facet of the emotional spectrum, it's likely that I'm more connected to the women in my life as regards the joys in their lives than I am the men in my life.

Yet another way that traditional masculinity, in as much as it keeps men from communicating their feelings to other men, can make life...less.
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