Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"It's that time of the month, isn't it?"

[TW for misogyny and gender essentialism]

Have you ever been angry? I know I have. I'm angry every single day of my life. But there's a huge difference in the way in which my anger, the anger of a woman, is valued as compared to the anger of a man. I think it's safe to say that just about every single woman on the planet who has ever been angry has had to deal with comments from men about it "just being that time of the month." As a matter of fact, whenever I find myself ranting about women's issues, or anything else really, in front of my brother and/or my father, they will often tell me to stop PMSing so much instead of engaging my anger and addressing why I might be upset. Or perhaps it's not "that time of the month," and you're just being an inflammatory bitch. Because, I mean, it's not that you have a legitimate reason to be upset: you just feel like stirring the pot because vagina.

What makes the whole PMS excuse so horrifically offensive is the fact that it uses women's bodies and involuntary biological processes as a diversionary tactic to distract men from the fact that maybe, just maybe, the angry woman in front of them has a legitimate reason to be angry. This excuse is, without a doubt, a silencing tactic. In other words, rather than addressing the issues that are causing women to be so angry, rather than accepting women's anger at face value and addressing it as a completely legitimate response to a completely legitimate issue, men are choosing to attribute that anger to an entirely irrelevant source in order to undermine and invalidate that anger. They think that by telling us that we're not actually angry, that it's just our poor laydeebrains and vaginas fucking everything up for us, we'll just stop being angry, or that we'll at least stop vocalizing that anger. What that would do is make it easier for men to continue to marginalize us and continue to invalidate our perfectly legitimate emotional responses to issues that concern us. The reason that men use this excuse so often is because it's easier to invalidate a woman's anger than it is to actually engage it, which would force them to examine their male privilege and the role that it plays in the oppression of women, something that most men are not willing to do.

For those of you who are going "Hey! Women pull this shit, too!" I want you to think back as hard as you can and try to remember the last time you heard a woman tell another woman, "Wow, you must be PMSing" when she was angry.

I'll wait.

Some men try to use this as a "joke" around women and think that they're being funny, that they're commiserating with us women, but they're really not. Is it any funnier coming from a woman? No, it isn't. It's not funny coming from anyone, but at least coming from a woman, I would know that she was being sarcastic and referencing the crap we women face every single day, things that men will never have to deal with. Men's anger is always taken at face value and never questioned, mainly because men are expected to be angry. One of the main traits of traditional masculinity is "rationality," so whenever a man gets angry, it is assumed that he has a perfectly legitimate reason to be angry because of that inherent rationality. Men can get angry at just about anything and they will never have to worry about being told, "Wow, your testosterone levels must be through the roof today!" Their anger will always be engaged in the appropriate manner to the situation, and they will never have to worry about someone thinking that they're just being a raving bitch. That is what male privilege is all about. In the meantime, women's anger is almost always attributed to them having their period or simply being angry cunts.

Let me just cue you in on something: no matter what stage of her menstrual cycle she is in, a woman's anger is ALWAYS LEGITIMATE. If she is menstruating, if she's just about to menstruate, if she's nowhere close to menstruating, her anger is always valid. That in and of itself is a perfectly acceptable reason for women to be pissed off about this "joke" whenever it is told. For ME to be pissed off.

But maybe I just have my period or something.

1 comment:

  1. [TW for...violence, misandry,misogyny, menstrual issues]

    I had an endometrial ablation, so my husband can't use that line. He also knows if he tried to use that line, it would be the last thing he said, to anyone, ever, because I'd cut his tongue out. Truth.
    That being said, I AM an angry cunt. I happen to like cunts, and so I don't feel it is a pejorative. YMMV. And one of the things I am angry about is that particular silencing tactic. I'm also tired of the silencing tactic that involves calling a woman something that 99.99% of women find offensive in order to stop an argument by diverting her attention away from the issue and toward the fact that she's been called a (insert whatever word causes a sharp intake of breath).
    Now the vein is pulsing in my neck. I'd better chill.