Last month, #thingspeopledontsayaboutmen was trending on Twitter. I feel like I’m constantly biting my tongue when I think about the frequency with which I hear things like, “lady doctor,” “female doctor,” “woman CEO,” “male nurse,” “lady contractor,” etc.
What is particularly frustrating is that the same people will tell you that all of these occupation titles are gender neutral. Each of these assumed gender-neutral titles conjure up images of who should be in that job – who would be the ideal person. A “male secretary” is someone whose masculinity is in question because he is in a lesser-respected job, long-held for women. A “lady scientist” is subversive to the hierarchy of professions.
As women outnumber men in colleges, some feel this is a threat to the status quo. It is in some way, but looking deeper at the outcomes of these scenarios will show you that women continue to be at a disadvantage when it comes to position in the corporate ladder. When a woman gains even marginal success, she is either too masculine, or she used her femininity to dupe men to promote her. It’s something I notice on TV a lot – women are gaining some recognition as potentially successful in their careers – but it always comes at the price of their family or love life.
When men succeed, they are often viewed positively, but when women succeed, they are hated for it.
Women are hated when they try to break out of the role of nurturer; suppressed time and time again. I like how this hashtag looked at how people question a woman’s decision to work outside the home, but never consider that men are making a choice to be away from their families, same as women.
Issues of success and careers are only the tip of the iceberg when you think about the way we view men and women. Victim blaming was another major topic on #thingspeopledontsayaboutmen.
The saddest part of these instances, to me, is that these are some of the most mild examples of victim blaming I’ve encountered.
Unfortunately there are enough examples here that I could write books on, so I’m going to leave it here. I’m glad to see that a hashtag like #thingspeopledontsayaboutmen could gain some fame, though it really is not enough.
The more we begin to catch ourselves when we tell our friends about a “lady engineer” or a “male social worker,” the closer we can get to accepting that one’s gender does not create an intrinsic need or ability to do one particular job over another. And hopefully we can soon stop teaching boys and men that women’s bodies are property that men effectively own.