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A Hall of Shame

Posted by A birch tree on June 2, 2008

[Updated 11Jun08]

From the “What Men Really Think About Women” files…

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a member of the United States Navy. I serve on a base that consists almost exclusively of men, with the exception of some female corpsmen (and don’t even get me started about the nomenclature of Navy jobs; corpsman, fire controlman, signalman, yeoman, and on and on and on…) and civilians who work at the NEX, among some varied and widely spaced others.

In such an environment, men feel quite free to express themselves at their truest; that is to say, with no one watching them who may be offended or angered by their prejudicial, racist, misogynist words and behaviors.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been covertly collecting sexist phrases and conversations overheard in the smoke pits and elsewhere, as a bit of an experiment. You see, many people claim that sexism is limited to certain geographical regions, economic classes, occupations, age ranges, or a host of other factors which would cut the potential pool of sexists into a relatively small minority of men.

Of course, I’ve discovered that this is unequivicably false. I serve with men from California, Texas, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oklahoma, Oregon, and every state and region in between, and some further away like Puerto Rico and a small steel-making village in Russia that I can neither pronounce nor spell. I have served next to men who have been my senior by fifteen or twenty years and my junior by nearly a decade. Some of these men were high school students before joining the Navy, others were factory workers, farmers, college students, small business owners, or bankers. I know one man who came from the streets, and I know another whose family is so wealthy he drops a “small” bet of $4,000 on a horse race without batting an eyelid. These men are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and independants who wish to vote for McCain, Huckabee, Clinton, Obama, Perot, or not vote at all. I have served with atheists, Protestants, Catholics, Buddists, Wiccans, and agnostics.

The unifying factor among all of them are the nasty, horrible things they say about women (and, among the white men, minorities).

Now some might argue that the military calls for these people, in an attempt to deny that the hatred and derision for women is a trait drilled into all men of our culture from childhood, but to say such a thing is both wrong and offensive. All the people, women and men alike, who serve in the US Armed Forces are answering a calling that is personal to themselves, not some sinister desire to inflict their hatred onto others. Our training does not, and needs not, instill such a great hate into us as a matter of course, so the argument that the military turns men into these kinds of horrible people is also faulty.

Rather, the undeniable and terrifying fact is that the attitudes I have collected are a cross-section of America’s culture of misogyny, and I only put the Navy into it to show the vast differences among these men that are crossed by a single brow: hatred of women.

I am ashamed to say that all but one of these comments, I allowed to go unchallenged, although I did quickly remove myself from the conversation, I did not stick up for women until pressed beyond where I should have needed to be pressed. I often hold to the excuse that I am not especially quick-witted, and as often as I hear these things I am still stunned when they actually exit another man’s mouth, but they’re copouts and artificial barriers I set up to avoid having to change my behavior in the face of those whom I am otherwise safe to confront. I will alter my behavior in the future with regard to these kinds of statements.

Here are some I have collected since I arrived at this command. I will warn you that many of these are the foulest things I have ever heard escape a person’s mouth in my presence, and people who are more sensitive to the kind of language I am about to recount may be better off just taking my word for it.

The rest follows after the break.

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3 Responses to “A Hall of Shame”

  1. Hey, A birch tree, I’ve been intending to get over here and read your posts and get to know you. I finally did today and I am so glad I did, thanks for your blog and your fine work. I am going to add you to the blogroll and feel free to add me to yours (as you asked at my blog, sorry it has taken me so long to respond.)

    Posts like this are SO NECESSARY and important as difficult as they are to read.


  2. allecto said

    I don’t know what to say. Men are so fucked in the head. Thanks for this post. I’m really enjoying your blog.

  3. Nice to see some honesty on males from one of them.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂

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