Amanda Marcotte has an article up on the XX Factor section of Slate. She asks “Can Someone Do Me a Favor and Explain This “S&%! Girls Say” Video?
She says it’s hard to figure out how to feel about the video. She further asks:
“I want to write the creators and ask, “Could you do me a huge favor? I’m sorry, but it’s a little hard not to feel like you’re suggesting that it’s annoying that women tend toward ingratiating and apologetic. It’s a super funny video, but if it’s not too much trouble, could you tell me what you mean by it?”
Ms. Marcotte, do you really need to be told what is annoying in people who simultaneously “tend toward ingratiating and apologetic” and yet expect to be taken as equals?
It’s called doubletalk. That’s what’s annoying.
This is why I like cats better. They are a tenth or a twentieth your weight, they look you straight in the eye with frank contempt and expect nothing but predation from the world and whatever little they can coerce out of you. And even dogs – when they suck up try to lick you face and all that crap, they don’t turn around and pretend to equality afterwards.
And then there is the problem of seeing everything through the gendered lens:
“But even if you read it in the most generous way possible, I just can’t support the basic premise that these language patterns are so very female. I’m trying to imagine my reaction if a male friend or my boyfriend called and, instead of saying, “Hey, can you look something up for me?” just told me what to do. Luckily, that doesn’t come up, because as much as this is labeled “shit girls say,” men also are adept at using deferential and placating language when asking for help.”
This appears to puzzle Marcotte or to strike her as an unfair generalization. The way she frames it is puzzling and unfair, but that’s the fault of her framing and not of what she is observing. These language patterns are servile. Men in servile positions all over the world use exactly these patterns. And they read as servile all over the world, so when you use them you are announcing your servile status. Is Marcotte likewise puzzled as to why men so often treat women as underlings? What do you think? She probably is.
And here is something that she doesn’t mention – when a man in our society tries this submissive passive-aggressive pattern of behavior, he doesn’t get to be subservient, he gets his ass kicked, often literally. He doesn’t have the option of inequality, unless he has the bad luck to be in some group – read: “darker” – that is a designated servile caste. He either meets the group norm for self-sufficiency or he is ground down to nothing and expelled.
So yes, while men may use these patterns now and then, there really is gender-policing that restricts their use to the same degree. You are going to have to trust me on this, Ms. Marcotte, because there is really no way you can have experienced this for yourself.
She also seems to be puzzled or annoyed with some comments from elsewhere she quotes:
“It’s possible that this was the intent of the creators, though the vast majority of comments and links I’ve seen with regard to this video apply a straightforward, “Man, women are so annoying with the talking and the acting like they have a right to just be in the world.”
Well, Ms. Marcotte, this is what’s annoying about that kind of attitude: it’s privileged as hell. This is exactly the kind of thing people point to when they talk about female privilege. You may fondly believe that men get to act like we just have the right to be in the world. Well, all I can say to that is people from your part of the country believe the world was created in six days, and with about as much basis. It takes quite a degree of immersion in this kind of privilege to take it for granted, to think it is natural and that it applies to everyone. It doesn’t. It doesn’t apply to little boys for instance.
It applies to little girls and later to women as a function of the chivalry you claim to be so over.
You know all that male behavior you think is so Neanderthal, all that aggression and
stone-faced indifference to pain and all that other stuff you label “toxic masculinity”? That’s an adaptation to a world without the kind of protection most girls enjoy so totally that they think it is the norm, the world little boys live in, and some girls. If any of that is still puzzling to you, if you don’t know what I am talking about, then that will just have to wait, because there just isn’t room here in one post. And oh yes, women who grew up that same hard way show all the same “toxic masculinity” behaviors as men do, although you probably “admire” and “respect” those women and then have absolutely nothing to do with such rough creatures. They are probably insufficiently passive-aggressive.