Pet Peeve: "I will NEVER understand women."

I generally dislike blanket statements based on ethnicity, occupation, whatever. I’ve already said quite a bit about this in a post called “Stereotypes”, so today I’m just going to describe a particular instance of this that arbitrarily bothers me more directly than the others.

“Men are pigs.”

“I will NEVER understand women.”

“I am so done with men.”

“Women are so f**ked up.”

“Men can be terrible terrible people.”

“Women!”

Seriously? You’re going to accuse literally half the population of Earth of being jerks?1 Because of the actions—however awful—of one individual? (Or possibly a few dozen, if this is an internet “list of jerks” who happen to share a gender.)

A naive part of my brain had hoped that once homosexual relationships became commonplace, a lot of this would go away.2 After all, same-sex couples seem to have the exact same problems as opposite-sex couples. But, nope!

Patriarchy? Totally worth being angry at. Culture? Definitely responsible for plenty of awful things, harmful gender roles included.

Your ex? Probably deserving of much bitterness, sure.

But please, stop dragging three billion other people into it.

Addendum: discussion of this post on Facebook prompted multiple friends (and one in particular) to remind me that while generalizations based on gender are a lousy thing all around, generalizations of women are much more harmful than generalizations of men in Western society, because they help shape gender roles.3 Men are much less negatively affected by Western gender roles than women, and generalizations about men do not have the same societal impact as generalizations about women. Talking about this particular class of one-off statements without really acknowledging the larger issues is disingenuous at best.

Post-addendum: the above paragraph has gender generalizations in it. Bah!

  1. To within experimental error. Alternately, I would guess that the absolute difference between the number of men and the number of women is a number less than the number of babies born every day. Also, clearly I am ignoring people who do not identify as male or female. ↩︎

  2. To demonstrate that I think too much, this sentence originally said “gay relationships”. Then I thought about whether or not “gay” automatically included “lesbian” here (the jury is out). Then I realized that that didn’t really describe a relationship where both people were of the same gender but one or both identified as bisexual. And all of this is still based on binary relationships—what about polyamory?

    For even more in this vein, check out “Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective”. ↩︎

  3. This does not claim that generalizations of women are not more harmful than generalizations of men in non-Western societies; I just don’t have the experience to make such a statement about other societies. ↩︎

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