Hey, I got this cool idea: If us ladyfolk and you menfolk can agree that we're actually equal, that we both deserve the same freedoms, bodily protection, autonomy, respect, and paycheck dollars for our work, that we have a shared, vested interest in making sure the care of the children and the households and the sick and the elderly are overseen equally, and that there's room for us at the toppiest top of the glassiest ceiling in whatever fields we excel in, then we can shut this whole sexism thing down by dinner time and still have time to finish the new Arrested Development. Wanna? Come onnnnnnnnnnnn.
OK, it would take longer than dinner. We'd have to do some very unsexy work together: We'd have to do some long-term plugging away (heh) at overturning laws that hurt both of us, but we'd also have to also fix the system that made those laws necessary and the attitudes that led to the system, a system based on attitudes that linger in effect to this day, regardless of whether you see it or not, like it or not, believe it or not. Attitudes even women have internalized and have to work to unpack.
I know, right? BORRRING. But that's what we would all have to do to end the stuff that fucks us over, and that fucks you over too. There's no other way. Just being pissed about what fucks you over isn't helping us get less fucked over so that you don't have to be.
Does this make sense? We're both getting fucked BY THE SAME SYSTEM. It gives with one hand and takes away with the other.
That's the system that says you're strong and smart and I'm weak and good at children. It's the system that says I'm just softer and more delicate than you are, and better at feelings in some innate way. It's the system that says you should earn more than me for the same work, just 'cause, even though there's no just cause. It's the system that says even when I'm better than you at something that your words or opinion still mean more, simply because they bellow out of your testosterone-fueled body. You know, the one that makes you stronger and more aggressive and more visual and more sexual and more rapey?
It's the system that says that you're still more valuable for what you do, and that I could basically not do anything if I didn't want, as long as I'm pretty, and then I can just do stuff for as long as I'm pretty, and then after that, sorry, pack it up, you're done here. And if I'm not pretty? Awkward.
It's the system that says you don't have to care about people as much as I do because not caring is what makes you YOU. Caring is what makes me ME. (And also that I'll get paid less to do it, since it comes so natural and all.)
But it's also a system that says — and here's where we get pissed together — your glory at the top of the pecking order is short-lived, too, and just as easily replaceable. It will get rid of you in an instant, it will send you to fight our wars (remember: It doesn't matter if I want to fight the wars with you, I'm not as good at that as you) and it will tell you that your job is to provide for me, to suck up your feelings, to survive in a culture of toxic hyper-masculinity that prevents you from experiencing the full range of humanness without deep shame.
And it will shame you when you do not claim the victory it has laid out for you through your earning power and accumulation of status-y things. And it will not tolerate your weakness, even as it bombards you with the message that you cannot help but be weak, weak with greed, violence, temptation, wanderlust.
So when you are angry about the alimony payments, about the fact that U.S. men only receive custody in 10% of divorces cases, about the fact that the burden of war still rests largely on your shoulders, that there is not enough attention paid to the violence you face in life, in prison, in war, you must use your superior brains to see the bigger picture, and get pissed: there is a system that exists entirely on the basis of the idea that you matter so much and yet so little that you get all the choices, and all the avenues to power, but we can still afford to lose you: the great, superior, disposable man.
And that system was not built by us. It was built by men, and yet, women — feminists — are a major part of the effort to repair those injustices. With every rising tide of female engagement, the burden is more equalized.
So instead of being pissed at us, why not join our efforts toward real freedom, real autonomy, real command of our own lives. Can you not see that we are the ones who don't want you to be on the hook to pay us money our entire lives to divorce us? That we want to be able to square away our own money, a fair and equal wage, so that when we come together, it is in the spirit of authentic unity: come as you are, leave as you came. And if you cannot, for all the mixed messages and gleaming bullshit the system has fed you about your natural entitlement, see that and join us, than the rest, to quote Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, is just pride, fuckin' with you.