Things I Don’t Understand

Things I’ve been thinking about lately that I just don’t get. I’m going to talk candidly about menstruating in here, possibly also gender dysphoria (they’re very interwoven subjects for me), so trigger warning if anything in that arena is difficult for you.

1. Straight white males complaining about “tokenism” in the media. Not tokenism of Straight White Males, mind you, tokenism of minority and underrepresented groups. No no, Straight White Males, tokenism isn’t a problem that you get to whine about re: how it affects your Very Special Feelings. See, this is our complaint. Us being the minority and underrepresented groups. The reason why tokenism is a Bad Thing is not that it means a black guy got cast on your favorite crime drama, it is a Bad Thing that the lone black guy (or gay guy or disbled guy, or even sometimes a non- white/straight/ablebodied lady) is remarkable. See, if media handled an inclusive cast, these things would not need to be pointed out. The problem isn’t you having to feel mildly uncomfortable that your video games include options and characters not crafted special to your liking, the problem is that, by throwing in no more than an occasional nod to the world outside your Straight White Male bubble, people who produce media are pandering clumsily to a wider audience. People don’t like being pandered to. It’s condescending.

2. When people suggest baths as a treatment for menstrual cramps. I mean, I know I bleed much more heavily than a lot of people, but generally uteruses cramp up on the first day of the period, right? When bleeding is at its heaviest? The last thing I want to do is seem judgmental of women’s bodies, believe me. I like to think of myself as fairly forward thinking when it comes to menstruation, it’s just a bodily function, etc. I’m even vocal about the suffering caused by my own cycle, but honesty time: I have a great, great deal of respect for women’s bodies, but I still occasionally rediscover that I’m walking  around in one. I spend most of my time feeling distinctly agender, but since I can’t remove any of my biological parts (unfortunately) they remain here for me to suddenly remember, usually via bathroom mirror. I’m still coming to terms with menstruation and my body, so the idea of sitting in a bathtub while bleeding heavily sounds pretty awful. I always have to assume that anyone suggesting baths has a very light flow, in spite of cramping, because I can not actually handle the idea of soaking in my own menstrual blood.

3. How dudes expect to be taken seriously as allies to feminism when they react to women saying that they don’t think cismen can technically be “feminists” by throwning tantrums. As in, when women don’t like cismen using the title. I mean dude, did you actually stop to think about why some women might have opinions about who can be considered a “feminist” vs. an “ally”, or did you just begin your very grownup pouting session the moment someone suggested that you might not be welcome in their club? Guys get so hung up on this. My personal opinions of the definition of “feminist” aside, at the very least, this makes me wicked uncomfortable reading the guy’s stuff/being around him. If you can’t handle a woman saying “I don’t think men can use the title of feminist” then I really don’t want to see what you do when a woman mentions privilege or the patriarchy. Worse, I don’t see you bowing out gracefully when I ask for a safe space to discuss queer experience, or a woman in your life wants to go to the Women Only Night of Feminism Club. Let it be noted that I’m not saying men can’t disagree with women about how cismen can self-define, but shouting I AM OFFENDED I AM TOO A FEMINIST kind of makes you look like Derailment Dave. And no one likes that guy.

4. No one in my life has noticed my stutter. I have a stutter. It used to be way more pronounced and embarrassing, but even then, somehow, no one noticed it. It still comes out sometimes, mostly when I’m upset or anxious. It’s not even small, I’ll compulsively repeat entire words, phrases, sentences. No one has ever mentioned it, and if I bring it up, they seem honestly bewildered. It’s bizarre.