Here is a story about something that happened to me while I was in Buenos Aires. I submitted it to the Tumblr “Academic Men Explain Things to Me,” but it looks like the Tumblr isn’t being monitored anymore because the last post was in 2013. So here it is for your enjoyment, anger, amusement, frustration, whatever emotion it evokes in you 🙂 :
I’m currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, and last night my host mother took me to dinner at her friend’s house. There was a French man also there, and over dinner, I brought up that I was happy the US had just legalized gay marriage. When they asked me about what dorms are like at American colleges, I mentioned that some colleges are trying to become more progressive by having gender neutral housing options. He then proceeded to talk about how much it annoys him that governments try to seem progressive by doing things for gay rights but not actually addressing what he thinks is the most important social justice issue, the discrepancy between the rich and the poor, and how gay rights affects a much smaller portion of the population so isn’t as important as combatting poverty. The other women and I jumped in to say that certainly poverty is an important issue, but gay rights are also very important and there’s no reason we can’t fight for both.
He then brought up the example of women’s rights, basically saying that in today’s day and age we’ve already achieved equal rights so women’s rights are getting too much attention. I tried to list many examples of sexism that still exist in the world, mentioning the large number of femicides that had occurred in Argentina recently. He repeatedly asked me if I could give him the statistics (which obviously, as I was not writing a research paper on this, I did not know off the top of my head), and then told me that the majority of suicides and homicides are of men and therefore men’s issues were much more important (while it’s possible that the number of suicides and homicides among men are higher than among women, I don’t believe that makes femicide any less important of an issue; rather it indicates we need to address what is causing this violence in the first place). He also said that just that day he had seen two women sitting comfortably in a café talking freely, and extrapolated from this example that therefore women are free and have equal rights to men. I mentioned that although I am privileged in many ways because of my race, nationality, and socioeconomic status, I do not feel that I am as free as men, because I cannot walk alone at night without fear of getting raped. To this, he said if you’re afraid of getting raped, you can go see a psychologist, basically insinuating that I was a crazy feminist and that rape does not in fact continue to be a very real danger for many women.
At this point, the other people at the table told him enough, and I also told him he had crossed a line. I like debating with people who have different views than me, but for a white, cis-gender, heterosexual man to patronize me in such a way and dismiss my personal experience was very upsetting and made me pretty angry. I didn’t talk to him the rest of the night.