Sexist Talk About Women Affects Women. No, Really!
It’s embarrassing to admit to sexist behavior.
Especially for a married man. Especially for a liberal. Especially for a dating and relationship coach who specializes in helping women.
But I don’t write this blog (or offer advice) to look good. I write here as a reflection of reality. Yes, I believe I’m one of the good ones – and yes, even the good ones have been raised in a society that objectifies women – and have been known to make mistakes once in awhile.
Today’s article on sexism comes courtesy of Sam Polk, a former bond trader who was immersed in the culture of Wall Street. Writes Polk, “Most of the sexism on Wall Street occurs when women aren’t in the room. “Bro talk” produces a force field of disrespect and exclusion that makes it incredibly difficult for women to ascend the Wall Street ladder. When you create a culture where women are casually torn apart in conversation, how can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them? There are many reasons that men still overwhelmingly populate trading floors and boardrooms, but this is one that has gotten too little attention.”
Outraged men (MRAs, certain Trump voters) may say this has gotten way too much attention. “It’s not us; it’s the feminazis who are trying to emasculate us!”
Except, of course, that’s not true. As the article points out, only 2% of hedge fund managers are women. Given that women are half the population, that’s not just a “women opting out of work for motherhood” issue or a “women and math” issue; it’s a women have a glass ceiling on Wall Street issue that is culturally ingrained.
Outraged men (MRAs, certain Trump voters) may say this has gotten way too much attention. “It’s not us; it’s the feminazis who are trying to emasculate us!” Except, of course, that’s not true.
Most Wall Street guys would admit as much, but they rarely do or say anything.
Why not? Because, according to Polk, “it feels really good to be in the in-crowd. A few years ago, when I heard reports that Yale fraternity brothers had marched through campus chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal,” I was aghast. At the same time, I understood the thrilling camaraderie those young men must have felt from joining together to say something obscene, and to recognize that our culture had granted them that power.
Men have been inculcated by dads and coaches with an ideal of masculinity and male bonding that includes, and even revolves around, the objectification of women. I knew from a young age that my dad was a “tit man.” My high school baseball coach often talked about which senior girls had the best bodies. In many ways, objectifying women was the rite of passage through which I entered the world of men.
That helps explain why I stood silent hundreds of times as men objectified and degraded women. Protesting would have violated the sanctity of the men-only space, and would have risked interfering with the bonding that goes hand in hand with the objectification of the other sex. It would have been embarrassing and emasculating. And it would have been bad for my career.”
Yeah, that sounds about right. It’s not cool or popular to stand up for women when you’re a man. You risk getting called out as a pussy, a traitor, or in the inimitable words of the MGTOW crowd, a mangina. (Ha!)
They can all go fuck themselves.
I’m no longer going to sweep sexism under the rug as if it’s a victimless crime. It’s not. Women are the victims. And we should be talking about it.
I do think that there is value in women understanding what was written above – that men ARE driven by testosterone, are inculcated into objectifying (and often bond from it), and few men have the courage to shame and alienate their friends just to take a moral stand.
That explains what’s happening. It doesn’t begin to fix it.
I may still have moments where I’m immersed in bro culture – football games, bachelor parties, guys’ nights out. I may still engage in objectification based on primal attraction and the culture in which I grew up. (Hey, I’m self-aware, not perfect.) But I’m no longer going to sweep sexism under the rug as if it’s a victimless crime.
It’s not. Women are the victims. And we should be talking about it.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.