Post # 1
Does anyone have any articles or research on sexism and its impact on women? My DH is very supportive with logical sexist stuff–like why it bothers me that women get paid less, the glass ceiling, man-interrupting, man-splaining, etc. However, he cannot wrap his head around the psychological impact that sexual harassment or obvious sexism has on your mind.
You know that feeling you get when someone above you in the hierarchy at work hits on you? Someone you trusted as a coworker, who has an impact on your promotion or a say as to whether your fit for another position? It makes you feel shaken, depressed and just wretched… It makes my mind think, “Hypotherically, if this dude tried to rape me, *I* would lose *my* job and be the outcast, not him.” Even if that is or isn’t true or the man hitting on me has no intentions to go any further. DH 100% does not understand this biological fight-or-flight response. He just sees the act as unprofessional and tacky, but not truly threatening.
There was a time we vacationed in another country and some white supremacist men refused to let me speak the entire night (4+ hours), unless they were making fun of me. I was sitting between my DH and one of the men and, when I would speak, it was like I was invisible. The man kept leaning over me to talk to DH like I wasn’t even there. The men’s parents were members of the government and basically lived above the law (didn’t even have to pay for taxis, restaurants stayed open late to accommodate them, etc). They asked us/demanded to hang out again. I was downright terrified the entire next day (we left the country the day after). I kept thinking that if one of them wanted to rape or sexually assault me, there would be no consequences and nothing my DH could do to protect me. Now, my DH would 100% understand if they had said something directly to me or made a pass at me, but he thought I was being totally over dramatic since these things didn’t happen. He thought t was incredibly rude and sexist that they wouldn’t let me speak, and that upset him, too. He just didn’t see it as a threat.
He is very willing to listen to research and any sort of logical explanation as to why some disgustingly sexist men would trigger my fight or flight response.. But I couldn’t find anything online. It is hard for him to possibly ever imagine, since he will never be female. Do any of you have this problem? Or any research on this? What do all of you do in this situation?
Post # 2
I’ve not had that same emotional response as you. It didn’t depress me or make me think the person wanted to rape me. I didn’t feel unsafe (uncomfortable, yes). I didn’t think I’d lose my job (HR would take care of that) but I did fear people at work treating me like a victim or someone who “asked for it”. I wasn’t psychologically scarred at all.
Post # 3
I actually don’t feel the same way at all… I work in a busy office with several men. One has hit on me, but it doesnt make me feel “unsafe”… In fact, I think it’s rather funny, and it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t make me feel shaken, depressed, or wretched. It just makes me roll my eyes and laugh!
However, I’m also a woman who knows how to protect myself. I carry a gun. I have an SO who is fiercely protective over me. So minor things like a guy hitting on me… No, doesn’t make me feel threatened whatsoever. 99% of the time, it’s all in good fun.
Don’t read too much into things. Laugh it off, and move on with your day. As far as your husband goes, I don’t have any advice because I don’t understand why you feel so threatened and have such a “fight or flight” response either. It makes me feel sad you feel that way!
Post # 4
You are entitled to how you feel, no one can tell you to not. I have been raped by a co-worker so I understand that logic but never had the “fight or flight” response like you over being interupted. I also had further sexual harrassment at other jobs that were not related. I knew how to handle myself and make it not go further. Sexism happens, men do not always grasp how it can affect women. Frankly my dear, and I mean this with love and kindness, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Nothing has happened to you. Sexism happens. Crap happens. You being scarred by a “what if” not a “what happened”. Learn to protect yourself. Self defense classes are a good start.
Post # 5
In my mind as a woman, I have equal rights to any man in the world. I can do whatever I want. I can vote. I can have any job I want. I actually get paid more than my male coworkers. I believe this whole “sexism” thing is blown way out of proportion in modern society.
Post # 6
I agree. Self defense classes may help you feel more secure, OP. May make you feel more confident. Or if that’s not for you, perhaps learn how to shoot a gun and get a concealed carry license. For me, having my gun with me is a huge peace of mind. Not for sexist comments in the workplace (lol), but because you never know what could happen in life in general and if something ever did, I know I could defend myself
Post # 7
I think what you’re referring to is more to do with feeling powerless than anything else, and it’s that feeling that triggers your “fight or flight” response. I don’t know that I’ve felt as strongly as you in those situations, but I can certainly see how you would feel.
When you feel powerless, it can be very scary. Sure, as women have pointed out there are ways to fill in the power gap to make you feel better, like a concealed carry, self defense classes, etc. The reality is though that your DH probably will never truly “get it” because he has not really ever been in a truly powerless position. What you’re saying here is that you know that IF something were to go wrong, you have no way of stopping it. Nothing that you can do, and that’s scary. I really don’t know where to direct your DH to read about that, especially because these experiences are different for all women. But that’s sort of how I read your post, and if I’m completely wrong, my apologies.
If you need more evidence that a man can commit sexual assault/harrassment and still keep his job, you have to look no further than the man who will have the most power in the world come January, our President-elect.
Post # 8
I’ve been in a lot of sirtuations where I’ve felt worried for my own safety and wanted to run away. Situations when I felt vulnerable like in taxis by myself, when I’ve been walking down a dark street by myself and there’s been a man there behind me, when I’ve been home alone and had to let a repair man or someone into the house etc. I totally understand that feeling of “if he wants to hurt me what can I do?”.
If you partner doesn’t understand this then I think he will never “get it” as he’s probably never had this fear or been in a situation where he feels sexually and/or physically vulnerable or threatened.
Post # 9
I’ve always been curious about how different people’s fight or flight response works. For me, when I feel threatened my first instinct is to fight. Stand my ground, speak my mind, and cut a mofo if it comes to that. I think that perhaps for some women the “flight” variable has been ingrained into them because it better suits the image of women being demure. I think it would be really interesting to see how many women’s first reaction is to stand and fight and how many instinctively turn and run. No judgement for either! I think it’s just written into us.
Sorry to take your thread on a weird tangent!
Post # 10
Have you had trauma in the past?
I don’t have the same reaction of jumping to rape when someone flirts or acts in a sexist way. I think there’s a pretty big gap between being upset/put off by it and him raping you. I can understand why your DH would not understand what you’re going through.
It might be helpful for you to speak to a counselor about these thoughts.
Post # 11
I don’t know know if men can truly get sexism unless maybe they are otherwise marginalized in society ( ie gay, a minority). Even then – can they truly understand? They can be empathetic sure, but I don’t think they can know exactly how it feels
To touch on your other points, I don’t see behaviour like men not taking me seriously/ speaking over me as a THREAT where I have a fight or flight response, just annoying as hell. I also wouldnt think they would rape me because they are sexist.
I don’t know if that is a very common reaction so you may have a hard time getting him to understand that
Post # 12
The psychological effect of sexism is that women are forced to always think about their personal safety. This is a luxury most men take for granted. It effects our daily habits, our language, our interactions with people, our attire, EVERYTHING.
Calling it a fight or flight response may be a bit dramatic. Many men are unaware of how ingrained sexism is in our society. They are unaware of how women have to live constantly being aware of their surroundings. It is a conversation I have had with my husband because he was toally oblivious to things that women are aware of and take as “red-flags” as to our safety may be compromised if the given 1000’s of outcomes in a particular given situation.
For a simple example, he would get angry at me when looking for a parking space. In his mind, if the space is open, there’s not glass on the ground, and its big enough the car it’s perfect and he will park there. Where as I look for proximity to the door, is the space well lit, are there large vehicles on either side of the space blocking visibility, are there any shrubs next to it where someone could hide? My concerns are all about my personal saftey. At first he thought I was being paranoid. But I had to break it down for him.
In your case, situations where you are surrounded by men that make it known that your presence is not valued or even wanted is a red-flag. It is a threat because they are asserting their dominance. Dominance can be asserted in several different ways but when combined with power, any woman that is not able to assert herself on an equal level can easily become a victim. It just takes one person (the alpha) in the dominant group to change the focus of the conversation from benignly ignoring your presence to subtly or overtly threating. The only examples I can think of are rape cases. Rapist assert their dominance physically and it is not a far stretch of the imagination to make a connection that those that assert their dominance verbally and through body language would also be ok asserting their dominance physically if given the opportunity. It is not a far stretch to think that someone with money, power, has a get out of jail free card, and a general sexist view of women could possibly feel they could physically assert their male dominance towards you if they pleased.
Post # 13
- Wedding: December 2017 - Courthouse
It surprises me how many pp have said “oh this stuff happens, just ignore it” or “it’s not that big of a deal”. This is why people don’t believe in feminism. Just because we have basic human rights doesn’t mean we should stop there. Why is it okay for coworkers, bosses, neighbors, etc. to hit on us and we are just supposed to ignore it? It’s not okay. I understand why women “just laugh” or ignore it. It’s because it happens so often you don’t know what else to do. But the fact of the matter is that it still doesn’t make it okay. Women are not just sexual beings made to be treated as such by anyone who can crack a joke, catcall, wink or hit on us.
And like pp have said, men don’t have to worry about their safety or their surroundings as much. It’s something that we as women should hope for one day. It’s not okay to just accept being treated badly. Especially in a work environment.
One of my bosses just said the other day that he thinks men have it harder than women. I wanted to vomit.
Post # 14
I sort of get where you are coming from. When I was at school all the girls were taken into one room and told how periods work, how birth control works and how I should carry my keys between my fingers as an inconspicuous weapon should I be attacked. These are just the things you need to know to be a woman. The boys continued with their PE class. So I get why in certain situations you feel fear and that we’re conditioned into feeling fear.
The downside is men aren’t conditioned the same way. So I’ve had instances where I’ve not felt safe, where I’ve had someone behind me and I’ve walked quicker and taken the longer but better lit way home. My husband hasn’t. At no point has he been told to put his keys between his fingers and was baffled when I did this. It’s really hard for someone who hasn’t experienced that conditioning to understand and you can’t make them. If your mother is really superstitious and spent your childhood avoiding ladders, even if you aren’t superstitious you’ll still notice the ladders whereas others will only notice them to same extent that they notice the other mundane details.
I don’t think you can make him understand that but you can explain why you felt scared/threatened. The more you say to him “I felt really uncomfortable there, they wouldn’t listen to a word I said and one of them kept leering at my chest”, the more he’ll pick when you’re uncomfortable and start to notice why at the time rather than after. For articles I think it’s a broad approach of why someone thought they couldn’t report sexual assault at work, why someone never walked home alone, why someone didn’t report their rape because they thought they’d be labelled as asking for it.
ETA – my husband was bullied so he has run home in fear. The difference being he felt fear in a very real scenario, he doesn’t feel that fear now. He didn’t feel that fear if he walked in an area that the bullies weren’t. Whereas I’ve been told that every walk you should check who is behind you, stay to well lit area and don’t take shortcuts. So for him to understand, everyone is a bully, the bullies are out on every walk home and they will get you. So for every walk home you need to look out for them and be wary. The bullies aren’t to blame because you’ve asked to be bullied or people like you have been asked to be bullied. If you walk through a dark area and the bullies get you, we’ll then you were warned so don’t expect sympathy.
Post # 15
I completely understand and agree with you. When a problem is pervasive and constant, microagressions that aren’t by themselves threatening add up to make you feel disproportionately awful. Something I’ve done that helped with my DH is to tell him whenever something sexist happens. It helped him understand the magnitude of what I and other women face on a daily basis. For example, I texted him things like “took a walk at work today and guys in a garbage truck leered and honked and yelled nasty things as they drove by.” “My coworkers were talking about women on the ‘hot/crazy chart’ and then looked at me and made jokes.” Etc. and so forth until he saw that the problem is *everywhere* in our society and my day to day life is constantly being affected by it. He is much more understanding now of not only my experiences with oppression, but the frustrations of other minority groups.