I’m Not Here to Make Men Feel Good About Themselves
I hate chivalry. Like, seriously hate it.
I didn’t have to deal with it too much when I was in the northeast. Not that it wasn’t there, I just didn’t date much so my interactions with men were limited. I started dating in the south, after I moved to Georgia, and in the south, men believe in being men, whatever that means.
Actually, I soon learned what it meant, in little, annoying ways. It meant making myself vulnerable in ways I never needed to in the past. It meant letting strange men walk behind me because I was supposed to get off the elevator first. It meant being forced to acknowledge unknown men because they opened a door for me. It meant constantly having “help” forced on me despite my assurances that I could manage. It meant stepping back and letting a man handle things that I’d handled just fine before they appeared in my life.
It meant being called “mannish” for beating them at games. It meant being unfeminine for opening my own doors. It meant being mocked for splitting the check. It meant being constantly shamed for handling my business and living my life without centering the man in closest proximity to me.
And, frankly, I’m not here for that shit.
Just last week, I was in a work meeting with a woman who informed me that she was allowing incompetent white man number 1* to lead the meeting so that “he would feel important.”
Wait, what? First, why would anyone do that and second, why would you tell me that? Not to mention that this man is demonstrably not good at his job, yet she wants him to feel “important.” It’s been days and I’m still struggling to wrap my head around that. Why are we catering to that fuckery? Why does he need to feel important, especially as he’s not good at his job? It doesn’t make him better at it. In fact, I’d wager it makes him worse because we keep rewarding him for subpar work. I am really not a fan of rewarding mediocrity, yet here I am, contributing to that bullshit because I like getting paid.
This is a man who inserts himself as an authority about things he doesn’t understand. He provides input on projects where he lacks not just the background but any information in that subject area. He actively tries to silence people who disagree with him. He tries to belittle and undermine other people in the room. He projects himself as knowledgeable when he’s really an embarrassment. And then we reward that shit by making him feel good about it.
He’s subpar and needs to know it. But nobody will tell him because he’s a white man and in America, that means more than competence or skills.
Mind you, this is in addition to the boss who admittedly has no experience in his current role but somehow has had it for several months, learning it on the fly. The boss passed over two Black women who’d been working in that department and doing that work for five years, in favor of a man who’d never done that type of work, ever. It is believed that these white men will excel at these jobs, despite all evidence to the contrary, including current performance. But, you know, they always get the job done if given a fair shake, right? Fuck hiring someone qualified; they can learn it fast enough. That’s sarcasm, by the way cuz this is some straight up white male patriarchal bullshit.
Fast forward a few days to when I was carrying some boxes to my car and a male friend offered to help. I told him I was fine and thanked him for the offer. He asked again. I refused again. Third time is the shaming of why won’t I just take help when I need it.
I didn’t need it, though. Not only didn’t I need it, I also didn’t want it.
And this is the shit that really irritates me. I was minding my own business, and here comes some guy offering help. Ok, cool. I get it. You want to be helpful. No, thank you. Now go away.
But they don’t go away. They usually ask a second time and sometimes they linger around to ask a third time, each time being more insistent. It doesn’t matter that I said no. It doesn’t matter that I want to do it myself. It doesn’t matter that I am taking care of it. I am supposed to stop what I’m doing and focus my attention on some guy who is inserting himself in my life repeatedly, and then thank him for the intrusion. I’m supposed to be grateful for it. I’m supposed to want this kind of attention and I’m being hostile when I refuse it.
I can’t stop men from offering help. In fact, I don’t care the first time. It’s when they assume I don’t mean it when I say no and they keep trying to impose their will on me.
Fuck the fact that I like doing things for myself. Fuck the sense of accomplishment I feel when I figure some shit out and make it happen. Fuck what I want in this situation. It’s all about some guy and his need to feel powerful around some woman.
I don’t care about you, your need to feel helpful, or you fucking fragile ego.
I am not interested in letting a “man be a man.” That’s not my fucking job. I don’t even know what that bullshit means. No, motherfucker. This is not your show.
If you need my helplessness to feel strong, you’re not strong.
If you need my weakness to feel masculine, you’re not masculine.
If you need me to submit to feel dominant, you’re not dominant.
If your sense of self is in any way tied to my actions, you don’t know who or what you are.
And I’m not here to help you figure that shit out. Your fragile male ego means nothing to me.
The thing that really pisses me off is how quickly I become the enemy when I don’t cosign on this shit. I mean, I get it. Oppressors need buy-in. They create legal and social structures to reinforce their “dominance” and empower enforcers of that dominance. That’s how you get women who endorse sexism – they are accepted as an honorary member and encouraged to enforce their sexist agenda. They are lauded as the women who “get it,” who prove the system works. They gain superficial benefits to demonstrate to other women the rewards they can receive if they “get it” too. Many women are complicit in oppressive patriarchy, with some women becoming its most powerful supporters.
“It’s not that big a deal. It makes them feel good about themselves. Men like being heroes; just let them rescue you every once in a while. It makes them feel strong.”
Ignore your needs to appease theirs.
And that’s just the American way, isn’t it? I do it for white people. I do it for men. I do it for white women. I do it for cops. I do it for anyone who thinks they have some authority over me.
And me? I just disappear under the illusion of agreeableness because sometimes it’s better to be invisible than it is to be a target.