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Feminism related depression!!

(29 Posts)
joaninha Tue 06-Sep-11 20:28:34

Ok, so I spent the weekend trawling through toy shops for DS's birthday, noting with gritted teeth the oh-so-subtle-as-a-brick way in which toys are targeted according to gender, then I had to listen to DF joking about it just to wind me up.

Then today I learn about this friend who was really excited about starting her first job only to find out that as the female she has to put up with quite a hefty amount of sexual harassment harmless jokes. And it reminded me of how little things have changed since I was young, and how in some ways they've even gotten worse.

Individually these things seems too small to complain about, besides no one wants to be seen as too stroppy, but they add up and I just end up walking under this cloud of low-level grumpiness all the time!

In short I feel like being a feminist is making me depressed but I can't stop being one. I guess my question is: Does anyone else get depressed about it and if so how do you deal with it? Do you express your views (at the risk of being seen as a, um, feminist a.k.a man-hater) or do you hold it in? And does that drive you crazy? I need a coping strategy!!! Advice please...

colditz Tue 06-Sep-11 20:30:14

I express my views. Like when an acquaintence said to her daughter "you could grow up to be a nurse!" I piped up "yes, or a doctor, they get paid more, you know. I know lots of doctors who are ladies"

CRIKRI Tue 06-Sep-11 21:33:23

Yes, as colditz says, think of clever quips to use in situations where someone says something desperately stupid. Okay, there will be times you feel the need to bite your lip, but there are plenty of times when you can make a stand. Maybe think back on what you might have said or done differently in situations that pissed you off in the past. That's sort of a rehearsal for situations in the future.

Someone calls you a man-hater? So flipping what? Folks who genuinely care about you, know you and respect you will value you for what you are. Others, well, do their opinions really matter?

If you have "acquaintances," colleagues, family members, etc., who are bigoted fools and wind you up, avoid them as much as you can. Heck, plan you life around them or work them out of your life because well, you could be cultivating useful connections with people who aren't idiots, who add good things to your life, not suck life out of you.

And, it's always worth doing something, anything, that might make a difference. Volunteer as a mentor to young women, at a women's refuge, supporting elderly people (most of whom are women), anything that will bring benefit, opportunities, support, knowledge, empowerment, etc. to women. It can be fun as well as make a difference. If you aren't able to do that, there are other ways - circulating e petitions, writing a blog, even just reading about stuff that expands your mind, and validates what you believe (especially of many around you are rubbishing that.)

I've only been on MN for a few weeks, but it seems a good place for learning, stretching the mental muscles, finding out about campaigns and current events and that all important reinforcement that you sometimes need when stuff in RL seems stacked against you. There are other blogs and boards like that as well if you look around.

Stick to your guns and more power to your elbow/keyboard!

edd1337 Tue 06-Sep-11 21:39:10

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

sunshineandbooks Tue 06-Sep-11 21:50:36

I empathise. I experience this in waves. Most of the time I find feminism supportive and inspiring, but occasionally I feel worn down by it because seeing the sheer scale of the task is sometimes incredibly demoralising. And when you then have to experience sexism (however casual or 'benign') from people close to you it is depressing.

I have two relatives who I can't talk about feminism with because it would cause a huge row. They are some of the very small number of people I don't try to 'educate' because family harmony isn't worth it. But most people I see regularly in RL I have managed to bring round (though they could just be humouring me to get me to shut up grin). It's the press, politicians and wider society I find depressing. There are days when I truly despair of what the future holds for my DD.

I cling to the fact that the saying 'ignorance is bliss' is a load of crap, a saying coined by people who rely on the downtrodden staying in a state of ignorance so that they don't challenge the status quo, let alone challenge it. It is always good to have knowledge, even if you are seemingly powerless to do anything with it. It subtly changes your outlook and can cause you to react in new ways, which can lead to all sorts of different outcomes and exciting possibilities in the future even if it feels totally depressing right now.

I think all you can do is focus on the positives. And when that doesn't work - because there will be days when it doesn't - you just have to grit your teeth and power through it knowing it will pass. It's a bit like cravings when giving up smoking. YOu could also try getting more active too. If depression is 'anger turned inward' then turning it outward into active opposition may help.

It's also worth asking yourself whether you're not happy at being grumpy because you've internalised models about being a happy, compliant person (this applies to all but the elite anyway, but women in particular of course). That said, no one likes a miserable grumpy sod and if it's getting you down that's a good enough reason to find a way to take some time out. Different things work for different people and I'm sure you know what yours are. Indulge them. You deserve it - even more so because you're female. smile

Hope you feel better soon.

dittany Tue 06-Sep-11 21:59:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshineandbooks Tue 06-Sep-11 22:13:31

Good point dittany.

I've never really understood the 'winding people up' style of humour. I know everyone has a different sense of humour but really, what is funny about making someone get irate or upset about something on purpose? Why would anyone want to do that?

dittany Tue 06-Sep-11 22:17:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CRIKRI Tue 06-Sep-11 22:29:21

I have to admit, I wasn't sure what "DF" is an acronym for so I wasn't sure what the OP's relationship to the person was. If it means Father, then it might or might not be easy/fruitful to challenge such a comment. If it means Friend, it depends on the nature of the "friendship" but probably a safer option for challenging.

In my experience, the "winding people up" type of humour is about power and control - something particularly used by those who are or perceive themselves as not having alot of power or being a bit inferior. If they can wrong foot, confuse or unsettle them, they've got "one up" on them. I don't think they actually mean to be funny, but rather to feel more puffed up by putting someone down. It's cloaked with humour in case the subject becomes hostile or gets more upset than planned, so they can say, "hey, it was just a joke, no offence."

joaninha Tue 06-Sep-11 22:31:11

Ha ha Dittany you should be a bloody psychotherapist or something! You're right - that is the bit that bugs me the most, when the male members of my family love to wind me up. It kind of makes me feel that feminism is seen as such a joke and that I'm taking it all too seriously.

Plus it's so silencing, because you can't object to anything for fear of being labelled as humorless. But maybe you're right Sunshine, I should stop worrying about whether I appear grumpy or not. Yes, I should just own my grumpiness and learn a few choice swearwords!

Would love to cut these annoying people out of life, unfortunately they are family, and my DF is lovely in every other way except for outdated views on women's abilities and enjoyment of winding me up.

dittany Tue 06-Sep-11 22:40:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bue Tue 06-Sep-11 22:42:50

Ah, this sounds familiar. I discovered earlier today at Halfords that it is impossible to buy a nice, sensible, gender-neutral bicycle for a child - it must be pink fairies or red and black superheroes. Then while I ranted about this I had to listen to DH play devil's advocate to my rant before finally conceding that of course I'm right and he agrees with me. He always feels the need to do this and it's so f-ing annoying... I know he agrees, so why not just agree and be done with it?!

maresedotes Tue 06-Sep-11 23:00:44

I find that I have to say something at the time or I wind myself up later but I do find it wearing. For example, neighbour's friend commenting that I had managed to get onto my driveway even though he had parked slightly over it. A small thing I know but I find it irritating that my parking is commented on and that he would never have said anything if my DH had been driving.

I find feminism more depressing when I hear comments made to my DD (9) that she accepts as fact like "girls aren't as good as boys at maths" (she is in the top set). I'm glad she talks to me about stuff though so that I can give her the other pov.

joaninha Tue 06-Sep-11 23:05:22

CRIKRI - yes DF is my father! I mean it's just silly stuff like making jokes about men being better at certain things cos they were hunters, or joking I wouldn't understand technical stuff cos "it's a man thing" - things like that. I've learnt to just roll my eyes but then afterwards he'll go to my DM and say "oooh did you see the look on her face!!" He says he does it cos it's so easy.

I'm confused as to whether he really believes what he says, but in our more drunken heart to hearts he does say stuff like that for real, like girls in general aren't as logical, as good at science, plus of course the whole sexual double standard thing. Also I guess as a kid I didn't know whether he was joking or not so I kind of internalized it all.

OK right plan of action - can't tell DF to "fuck off" - maybe I'll start with a mild "Piss off" and work gradually up to "Dad, the Mumsnet feminist section tells to fuck right off!!!" LOL.. thanks for cheering me up..

joaninha Tue 06-Sep-11 23:15:49

"I find feminism more depressing when I hear comments made to my DD (9) that she accepts as fact like "girls aren't as good as boys at maths" (she is in the top set). I'm glad she talks to me about stuff though so that I can give her the other pov."

Mares, this reminds me of this Romanian girl I used to know who used to enter these inter-school Maths competitions because she was so gifted. Even though she would usually come somewhere in the top 4 with 2 other girls and 1 boy, she was still convinced that boys were naturally better at Maths and girls had to work at it!

giyadas Tue 06-Sep-11 23:26:00

I've learnt to stand up a bit to people who are 'sexist for a joke' or play devils advocate, (which drives me nuts)
I loved the article by Melissa McEvan - the terrible bargain we have regretfully struck.
Especially this bit..
"There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil's advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women's Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

There is the perplexity at my fury that my life experience is not considered more relevant than the opinionated pronouncements of men who make a pastime of informal observation, like womanhood is an exotic locale which provides magnificent fodder for the amateur ethnographer. And there is the haughty dismissal of my assertion that being on the outside looking in doesn't make one more objective; it merely provides a different perspective.

Tchootnika Tue 06-Sep-11 23:38:44

joaninha - I think you're being too kind to e.g. your father.

If you feel undermined by 'humour' that's undermining you, why not give as good as you get? It sounds to me as if by doing so, you'd be no more of a 'man hater' than your father is a woman hater. (The fact that he wouldn't describe himself as this doesn't necessarily make it any less true.)

You'd in no way be debasing your arguments by doing this, but by changing your tone (which I'm thinking is at present reasoned and 'considerate'), you'd be pulling some punches and perhaps giving him the experience that you're currently having. Tough love, I call it.

And the laughs you'll get might well help to de-stress you.

MillyR Tue 06-Sep-11 23:58:36

Joaninha, with regard to the hunter thing, or just people going on about the marvel that is the inherently masculine brain, I always just say that I am busy getting on with 21st century life and haven't they got a gazelle they should be out spearing?

Just end the conversation. Avoid being drawn into discussions with anyone who just wants to talk nonsense at you. If it somebody not related to you at all who you are not even obliged to be polite to, do not even respond to them. This generally leads to people making increasingly offensive remarks and digging their own hole. Only get drawn into conversations where there is going to be a benefit to it. You do not have to indulge the desire of some men to start a debate at your expense or make a joke at your expense.

Another method I have seen used is when people are trying to talk about women as if they don't mean you, as if you are somehow exempt from the group 'woman'. That seems to be done a lot. I saw a feminist on a tv programme recently where rape apologists were talking about how dress could mean women were mistaken for women who were promiscuous and women who were prostitutes. The feminist replied, 'well some of us are promiscuous and some of us are prostituted women and we still don't deserve to be raped. I think that 'we' is hugely important when talking to people about women.

With regard to feminism being depressing, it sometimes is, but it is also cheering, because it allows you to let go of a lot of issues about who you are, because you realise they are not your issues at all.

TeiTetua Wed 07-Sep-11 00:06:48

How about "Not funny, Dad. Just like the other million times you've said it."

Or "Goddess, you're in a bad mood today. Get Mum to pour you a beer. Though if I see her first she'll be telling to get your own damn beer."

giyadas Wed 07-Sep-11 00:17:58

yy to feminism being cheering, I'd be truly depressed if I didn't have feminism.

Tchootnika Wed 07-Sep-11 00:19:53

How about just splashing out on a nice little My Little Pony for your dad, joaninha?
Borrow it and canter friskily around the room whenever he tries to speak (neighing loudly, of course).

As for the 'harmless jokes' at your friend's workplace, there have been anti-discrimination and harassment laws in place since the '70s which address this sort of behaviour. So no, she doesn't have to put up with it, and HR should address this (or at worst, an employment tribunal).

Of course some people are dickheads. But in the situations you describe, thanks to feminism, you don't have to put up with it.

theothersparticus Wed 07-Sep-11 09:04:48

Going back onto the 'harmelss joke' at work, I had an interview last week where the two (female) interviewers, one was the head of the finance dept, asked me if I had a problem working with men as I would have to 'put up with the banter' I was so surprised by the question that I just answered that I had no problem with men but afterwards it made me think why should I, and these two highly-placed women, 'put up' with it?

It gets to me that there is stuff in place to protect people from harmless banter sexuall harrassment and no-one wants to cause a fuss and stand up against it sad

edd1337 Wed 07-Sep-11 09:11:39

nothing wrong with banter. I work with mostly females and banter also comes from them. Both innuendos and euphamisms. It's all in good jest

PrideOfChanur Wed 07-Sep-11 09:40:34

Thing is,for every person saying "it's all harmless fun,all in good jest" there is someone like the OP's friend who is finding her life made stressful/miserable because of it.
My DCs are actually very good on this,better than me I sometimes think.If it makes someone else miserable,it isn't harmless banter,it's bullying.
If everyone involved is happy,fair enough - if the assumption is that you should be happy with it and if you aren't it is your problem then that is a different situation.

edd1337 Wed 07-Sep-11 09:45:06

Can depend sometimes in the situation. Sometimes jokes cannot be made for fear of what you think may happen. Then again some poeople just don't care

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