You shoot like a girl
Man up, you pussy-asses
These are all things I heard said to men while I was in the military. They were all meant to be insulting and degrading to men by comparing the men to women. This is not a phenomenon unique to military service. Men in civilian life hear the same things.
I'm not going to go into a long dissection of what is and isn't sexist. Here in the Blend, we all are smart enough to realize that comparing a man to a woman is supposed to be insulting because in our society, woman are less than. Women are supposed to be weaker, inferior, our bodies meant to be pleasurable for men, either on display or in the bedroom. It's the same reason that gay men are so mocked in our society – by not “using” women, and by having sex with other men, they are considered to be at the same level as women, and therefore inferior to straight men. It's the same reason that transwomen are so vilified – by transitioning to female bodies, they are allowing themselves to become inferior. And what man in his right mind would do that?
Women are deemed inferior in our society. Misogyny is not over. This is not a hard concept to grasp.
Dan's comments comparing Harry Reid to a woman spoke volumes to me. Dan felt anger and contempt for Reid. He saw him as weak, as inferior, as less than. And Dan made the logical jump to comparing Harry Reid to a woman because of it. By comparing Harry Reid to a woman, Dan inferred that he also thinks of women as less than, at least in the sense that he has been acculturated to think so.
I'm sure that Dan is not, at heart, a misogynist. I've met Dan, I respect him, and would serve with him any day. But after hearing those words, I would do the same with Dan as I did with every NCO and officer who voiced such an opinion – I'd work my ass off to be twice as good as the men in my unit, and I would never truly trust those individuals. Because when you start out inferior, you have be better than everyone else just to catch up. You learn not to trust those who see you as an inferior, because you never know when they will knock you right back to the bottom of the heap no matter how good you are. Sexism, like every other prejudice, creates division, fear, and distrust. It has to stop.
In the end, this is not about Dan. This about the women Dan represents when he speaks as a leader of our movement. This is about the women Dan served with and led. This is about the women that Dan – and all men – interact with on a daily basis.
This is about women, and how the men in our movement need to help us, to be part of the solution to the problem of societal misogyny and ongoing gender inequity.
Note: In addition to the normal TOS rules, there is one more rule for this comment thread in particular: be supportive of women. Men do NOT have the right to tell us how to feel, either about Dan's poor choice of words, or our other experiences with sexism. One of the first things that privileged people do when confronted with an uncomfortable minority truth is to invalidate it, to pretend it didn't happen, or to say, “It couldn't possibly have been as bad as you think.” This is called erasure, and as LGBT people we are all quite familiar with it. Erasure is a tool used by sexists to shut women up, to invalidate us, to make our lives and concerns seem small, petty, unimportant. That also needs to stop, both within our movement, in the rank, and in society.