Gender issues

I promised a post on gender issues, but the one I put up was based on an upset in my own head that didn’t really have a lot to do with gender issues, more with being preached/moaned at yet again. I need to work on that – it’s emphatically not something I should expect everyone else to tiptoe round and I’m always sorry when I’ve flung back the offence or emotional discomfort that I myself experienced. Even at the age of 61 I still get these old memes in my head and certain things really infuriate me. So i’m as guilty as the people I rant about. This version is a little more measured.

I loathe misogyny; it’s a form of hypocrisy, and of projecting all your problems on to another group so you can walk through life with a clear conscience. But the same goes for misandry, which here in the free, affluent West is the mainstay of feminism, along with the idea that all women are innocent and vulnerable but at the same time should be given jobs as CEOs of big companies.

The idea, perpetrated in all the Judaeo-Christian traditions, that

sex is bad
ergo women are bad and must be crushed utterly

is to me one of the most insidious and vile of the memes to have emerged in human consciousness.

But just as insidious and vile is the meme that goes

men=power over women
power is bad
ergo men are bad and must be crushed utterly.

One is about sex, the other is about cruelty, which is no more or less than abuse of power that you happen to have over another person or creature.

But spend time in an all-girls’ boarding school run by bitter old virgins, whether nuns or not, and you’ll see that cruelty is not confined to one gender.

No, these memes are symptomatic of something much deeper, and i don’t mind saying that I don’t know exactly what that is. Perhaps, like money, it’s an attempt to stave off whatever you’re afraid of, whether it’s pain, shame or death itself.

I was never taught to walk in fear of men, of being attacked in a dark alley. I was taught to walk in fear of shame – being manipulated, ridiculed and/or judged. That is my principal phobia, and sure enough, like the pink elephant you mustn’t think about, that is what I walk straight into, time and time again. Which is probably why I get so upset at feminist rants and other preaching on social media about issues that bother other people and I just find insulting. Other people I know have different patterns in their lives, different things that happen to them, time and time again. It seems to be about what your own particular brain has learned to look for.

Gender is not an important part of my identity. For a long time I wished I was born male, but the more men I meet the more I understand that it’s just a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Men are no less vulnerable than women, and no more powerful either. I see myself as androgynous, from my ‘tomboy’ childhood to my enthusiastic participation in the local woodturning club. And because I’m not bothered about it, I don’t get persecuted for it, at least not by men.

But I am beginning to understand (autism slows this process so it’s very late in life) that every one of us has our own patterns of fear that are so entrenched that they are almost impossible to eradicate. Once bitten, many times bitten. It’s the feeling of being bitten in the first place that makes you twice shy. I’m finding that autistic people are teaching me a lot; they demonstrate this phenomenon more clearly than most. But the phenomenon is universal. Which would suggest that the thing to work on eradicating is the fear, not the thing your brain has focused on as a threat. I think I’m finally getting to grips with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous comment in his inaugural address: the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.

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