gender

Women may assume other women have menstrual products and painkillers

If you are a woman (or others think you are a woman), women may occasionally ask you for pads, tampons, or over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen.

This is because most women menstruate, and periods aren’t always entirely predictable. People who menstruate can end up bleeding through their pants if they get their period unexpectedly and don’t have a pad/tampon. Pads and tampons are often not readily available (most bathrooms don’t have vending machines anymore).

Often, the only way to get a pad/tampon quickly is to borrow one from someone else who uses them. Since most women menstruate, often the best option can be to discretely ask a woman within a certain age range if she has one you can use. Since most women have been in this situation, most women are willing to share occasionally (with the expectation that others will share if they need them). So, if people think that you are a woman, they’re likely to assume that you have and are willing to share. 

Similarly, many women have migraines or cramps, and carry ibuprofen or other over-the-counter painkillers in order to deal with it. For whatever reason, it is often not readily available (office vending machines occasionally have it, but not usually). Being caught without ibuprofen when you need it is really miserable — and most women who experience menstrual pain have been in that situation and wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. 

So, it’s generally socially acceptable for women to ask each other for ibuprofen, and most women are willing to share from time to time. (So long as it’s not a situation where someone is regularly mooching off of them and not reciprocating.)

Tl;dr Most women of a certain age menstruate, and most people who menstruate are occasionally caught without menstruation-related things they need. (Eg: pads, tampons, ibuprofen). Often these things are not readily available, so most women share with each other from time to time. If you’re a woman or others assume you’re a woman, they may also assume that you have these things.

Mean people who aren't mean all the time

Mean people aren’t necessarily mean all the time. Mean people aren’t necessarily mean to everyone.

I think most people who are mean are nice to at least some people at least some of the time. It can be hard to understand that they’re mean to other people in ways that matter if you don’t see it.

One example of this is that many men who are awful to women treat other men well. Some men don’t know this. They often assume that a man who treats them and their male friend group well is basically well-intentioned — and may have a lot of trouble understanding why their female friends think he’s dangerously creepy.

That happens in a lot of contexts. Some of which have to do with socially marginalized groups like gender or race or trans status or disability or religion or any number of other things. Some of them aren’t like that.

Sometimes it’s about in groups and outgroups in ways that aren’t otherwise connected to privilege.

For instance:

  • Jesse is mean, but not mean to everyone.
  • Jesse is nice to people who they like
  • Mostly, Jesse likes people who admire them and don’t contradict them about anything important
  • Jesse is mean to people outside their circle
  • People who are in Jesse’s circle and really admire Jesse might have trouble believing that they’re ever mean to anyone else
  • On the logic that “Jesse has never said anything like that to me; I can’t believe Jesse would say that”. Or something else like that.

It’s not unreasonable to base some of your opinions on what’s probably going on in a conflict on your personal experiences with someone. To an extent, it’s *necessary* to do it that way, because you can’t find out what’s going on by disregarding what you know. But it’s also important to remember that the way someone treats you might not be representative.

For instance:

  • If you’ve never contradicted someone, you might not know how they handle being contradicted
  • If someone’s never been mad at you or someone you respect, you might not know much about how they treat people when they are angry
  • Everyone gets into conflicts.
  • Everyone gets contradicted.
  • Everyone is wrong sometimes.
  • Nobody handles this perfectly. Some people handle this more-or-less reasonably; some people handle it horribly.
  • If you haven’t seen what someone does in those situations, it’s hard to know whether their reactions are reasonable

tl;dr It’s easy to misunderstand conflicts by assuming that people who have always been nice to you are always reasonable with everyone. It’s important to consider what you know about someone *and* to consider the possibility that your experiences with someone may not be representative.

A post for men about creepy men

safer666:

realsocialskills:

I wrote a post a while back about how some people are very good at getting away with doing intentionally creepy things by passing themselves off as just ~awkward~.

Recently, I noticed a particular pattern that plays out. While creeps can be any gender, there’s a gendered pattern by which creepy men get other men to help them be creepy:

  • A guy runs over the boundaries of women constantly
  • He makes them very uncomfortable and creeped out
  • But he doesn’t do that to guys, and
  • He doesn’t talk to guys about it in an unambiguous way, and
  • When he does it in front of guys, he finds a way to make it look deniable
  • And then some women complain to a man, maybe even a man in charge who is supposed to be responsible for preventing abuse in a space
  • and he has no idea what they are talking about, since he’s never the target or witness
  • And he’s had a lot of pleasant interactions with that guy
  • So he sympathizes with him, and thinks he must mean well but be have trouble with social skills
  • And then takes no action to get him to stop or to protect women
  • And so the group stays a place that is safe for predatory men, but not for the women they target

For example:

  • Mary, Jill, and Susan: Bill, Bob’s been making all of us really uncomfortable. He’s been sitting way too close, making innuendo after everything we say, and making excuses to touch us.
  • Bill: Wow, I’m surprised to hear that. Bob’s a nice guy, but he’s a little awkward. I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it. I’m not comfortable accusing him of something so serious from my position of authority.

What went wrong here?

  • Bill assumed that, if Bob was actually doing something wrong, he would have noticed.
  • Bill didn’t think he needed to listen to the women who were telling him about Bob’s creepy actions. He didn’t take seriously the possibility that they were right. 
  • Bill assumed that women who were uncomfortable with Bob must be at fault; that they must be judging him too harshly or not understanding his awkwardness
  • Bill told women that he didn’t think that several women complaining about a guy was sufficient reason to think something was wrong
  • Bill assumed that innocently awkward men should not be confronted about inadvertantly creepy things they do, but rather women should shut up and let them be creepy

A rule of thumb for men:

  • If several women come to you saying that a man is being creepy towards them, assume that they are seeing something you aren’t
  • Listen to them about what they tell you
  • If you like the guy and have no idea what they’re talking about, that means that what he is doing is *not* innocent awkwardness.
  • If it was innocent awkwardness, he wouldn’t know how to hide it from other men
  • Men who are actually just awkward and bad at understanding boundaries also make *other men* uncomfortable
  • If a man is only making women uncomfortable but not men, that probably means he’s doing it on purpose
  • Take that possibility seriously, and listen to what women tell you about men

tl;dr If you are a man, other men in your circle who are nice to you are creepy towards women. Don’t assume that if something was wrong that you would have noticed; creepy men are good at finding the lines of what other men will tolerate. Listen to women. They know better than you do whether a man is being creepy and threatening towards women; if they think something is wrong, listen and find out why. Don’t give predatory dudes who are nice to you cover to keep hurting women.

safer666 said:

It applies if you flip the genders too. Women undeniably have it worse, but they can be targetted by predatory women as well as men. If anyone tells you someone is being creepy and threatening, listen and find out why.

realsocialskills said:

I definitely agree that creepiness needs to be taken seriously regardless of gender. (And I also agree with you that this does not go without saying).

There are different forms of creepiness. And most of them are gendered to some extent or another. The pattern I described in this post is about a way that creepy men, specifically, tend to use male solidarity to get away with hurting women — and reasons that this may not be obvious to other men. That dynamic exists and it’s usually gendered. It’s also not the only kind of creepiness.

There are other patterns too. Some of which are gendered in different ways. For instance, here’s a post I made about Nice Lady Therapists who treat clients inappropriately. That kind of thing is usually much easier for women to get away with. (It’s also much easier for mothers than fathers to get away with posting inappropriately personal things about their disabled children on the Internet.)

tl;dr Creepiness always needs to be taken seriously, regardless of gender. Barriers to taking creepiness sufficiently seriously tend to follow gendered patterns. It’s important to talk about those gendered patterns, and also to acknowledge that there are exceptions.

Being wary of women isn't always misogyny

It’s completely normal for people who have had traumatic experiences with women to be wary of women. Or to have triggers related to women.

For instance, some people can’t tolerate being touched by women. Or don’t feel safe with female therapists. Or feel safer around men than women in general. Or need activities they participate in to be co-ed rather than single-gender. Or any number of other things.

Sometimes people with those kinds of trauma responses are told that they’re being misogynistic, or that they have internalized misogyny. And that’s wrong. Having a completely normal trauma response is *not* sexism, and it’s not a moral failing of any kind.

(It would be sexist to think that women are inferior, or inherently incapable of treating people well, or something like that. Being wary of women as a trauma response is *not* the same as thinking that kind of thing.)

tl;dr Trauma is not a moral failing, even when your trauma responses are politically inconvenient. If you have been hurt by women and have trauma responses to women, it’s not your fault and it’s ok to take care of yourself.

abuse doesn't always involve sex or romance

Anonymous said to :


A question about emotional abuse: Is it possible to be emotionally abused by a friend or somone who you aren’t romantically involved with? The person in question isn’t in my life anymore but when I think back to our relationship it seems abusive to me.

realsocialskills said:


Yes, it is definitely possible to be abused emotionally (or otherwise), by someone you aren’t romantically or sexually involved with.


Friends can abuse friends. It’s not rare, and it’s often not taken nearly as seriously as it should be.


For some reason, most conversations about abuse seem to assume that abusive relationships are romantic (and that the abuser is male and the victim is female.) But abuse happens in all types of relationships, and among people of all genders.


Abuse isn’t romance gone bad. Abuse is someone pervasively mistreating and harming another person. 

Interacting with marginalized people who do valuable things

Sometimes people do unusual things, things that people like them are not expected to do, things that might even be taboo. 

This happens to autistic folks, men who do childcare or raise their kids or otherwise “women’s work”, women who do many things, people with other disabilities, children and teenagers who accomplish things, basically any group of people who are often not expected to do things.

And sometimes people who want to support them end up making things worse. This is too abstract, so I’m going to give an example. This is not specifically a women’s issue; I’m using that as an example because it’s one I’ve seen a lot:

Say, a woman is the first female research scientist. And that she’s overcome a lot of opposition to get to this point.

And now that she’s finally gotten to the point of being allowed to do research that other people take seriously; 90% of the time what people want to talk about is her gender. About what it’s like to be a female whatever or the first female whatever.

Even when she’s come to give a presentation on her research – people who ask questions at the end all ask about what it’s like to be a female scientist and not what she’s actually presenting on.

And it’s hard to assert boundaries about this without just being seen as an uncaring bitch.

Many of the people are just curious, sometimes in a creepy way. Some people asking about it are hostile, and want to show that they really don’t think women should be allowed.

But sometimes, the hardest thing to take is people who want to tell you how great it is that you’re a female scientist, who mean to be supportive, but who are still really intensely focused on the freaky female part rather than the scientist part. Because, then, even the people who like you aren’t really taking you seriously, it’s *always* about the thing, the freakness.

And even then, it can seem like people are assuring you that you have their permission to be a freaky female – and being treated like you need permission by supporters 

And it’s so much better to be taken seriously on the terms you care about, on what you’re actually doing.

So, be careful about that. The best way to support someone who is doing something important and stigmatized is to value the thing they’re doing, and take them seriously as someone who does it.