The single biggest thing you can do as an individual to fight sexism is to become a woman who is truly too powerful to fuck with

The four most powerful words in the English language are: “Fuck you. Pay me.”

Eric Trump apparently said his sister Ivanka is too “powerful” to put up with workplace sexual harassment. Here’s the thing. I have no reason to think Eric Trump is anything but a slimy, misogynistic, clueless piece-of-shit just like his father. But he’s not wrong.

Earlier I wrote that self-sufficiency is a feminist issue. I think I may want to amend that. It may be that self-sufficiency is the feminist issue. Think about sexual harassment for a second. What are the two ways you can absolutely guarantee you will not be sexually harassed by the same douchebag twice, and nearly guarantee you won’t be sexually harassed ever? You can either eliminate sexism, or you can not need your job at all.

It really is that simple. If you refuse to put up with being fucked with, you won’t get fucked with. By the way, this isn’t an income issue, though income helps. This is about having other options. This is about not needing any one person, because you’ve got twenty people waiting to fill their role. This, like sex, is about power.

People don’t fuck with people who won’t put up with being fucked with.

Women are more likely to get raped than to rape, more likely to be victims of domestic violence than to commit domestic violence, more likely to be sexually harassed than to harass, people assume women are dumber and more shallow than men, penalize us for being assertive, force us to be beautiful and likable before we’re even considered and then once we achieve that beauty and cheer accuse us of being un-serious.

Is this because we all hate women? Not at all, though from the outside the difference is undetectable.

I believe the reason is much simpler. We do this because we can. If we expected every rape victim to find their rapist and torture them to death, the incidence of rape would plummet. If we expected every domestic violence victim to tie her abuser to a chair in the dwelling they shared and set it on fire, the frequency of domestic violence would diminish. If we expected every victim of sexual harassment to find her harasser in the bathroom and cut off his dick with a rusty box cutter guess how often secretaries would have their asses pinched? Not a whole fucking lot.

If, every time a woman was underestimated she rose through the ranks of power clutching a handwritten list of the names of her detractors and then guaranteed they never worked again just like every fucking dictator has ever done and ever will do men would learn to keep their exhortations to be less bossy to their fucking selves. Sorry, getting lost in the fantasy here.

Here’s the thing, homies. Do not misunderstand me. Rape victims who have not have found their rapists and tortured him to death are not at fault for future rapes. Rapists are at fault for future rapes. No one should have to scare the everloving shit out of other people in order to ensure they are treated with basic human respect. Sexism is not women’s fault (though we do participate in it). It’s not men’s fault either. What I’m beginning to understand is that pernicious sexism is the natural consequence of sexism which seems more benign.

As I wrote before:

There’s a reason the woman who wrote the article kept waiting for a man to give her a sense of home. Men are expected to build the home and then find the wife. Women are expected to depend on our parents and then depend on our husbands. Again, this is not universal. Just like there are nu-males and other men who expect a partner, not a dependent, there are women who expect to have to do it for themselves. But for me, for instance, my father was quite clear. My college degree was an insurance policy in case no one wanted to marry me or my husband left. Most women, when polled, say they want to have kids. And most mothers do not want to work full-time.

It’s funny that conservatives describe urban public assistance as creating a “culture of dependence” like it’s a bad thing when I can’t think of a better way to describe the impact of sexist gender roles on women.

In a perfect world, no one beats, rapes, or harasses anyone. In a better world than this, men are no more likely to beat, rape, or harass than women are.

A fair criticism of “white feminism” is that it’s pretty fucked up to spend millions of dollars raising awareness about the glass ceiling and gender pay gap when trans women of color are getting murdered by cops in the streets and no one knows or cares. #SayHerName indeed.

The reason I’m so angry about gendered expectations isn’t just that they are robbing the world of the intellectual and financial contributions of half the population. It’s not just that we as a society are demonstrably dumber and poorer for telling women that our place is “in the home” and not in the laboratory or boardroom. It’s also that by telling women to depend on men for our safety and our livelihood we are putting ourselves in a position where we can be fucked with, easily and without consequence. We our robbing half the population of the tools they need to get the power to stand up to our abusers and say, “Fuck you. Pay me.”

It’s fine if you choose to be dependent. Someone has to sometimes, and sometimes it’s going to be a woman. But the single biggest thing you can do as an individual to fight sexism is to become a woman who is truly too powerful to fuck with. Yes, it will be harder for you than it will be for a man. Society is set up to empower men and disempower women. Workplace policies, government subsidies, and religious teachings all assume that men are providers and women are dependents.

But when you walk into a situation, whether it be a job, a friendship, or a marriage, and you know in your heart of hearts you can tell whoever you meet to fuck off at a moment’s notice, a funny thing happens. Nine times out of ten, you never have to. That is my feminism.

2 Comments

  1. Laura

    Cathy, I look forward to your newsletter in my inbox every day. This is by far one of my favorite pieces. “People don’t fuck with people who won’t put up with being fucked with.” This is so true. I don’t let shit slide and I don’t allow people to manipulate and fuck with me or fuck me over. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?

    You rock. Love you. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to reading. <3

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