Behind Closed Doors: Mind Your e-Manners

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April 26, 2016

7:53 PM

Let’s talk for a second about how much I hate the internet. Not only does it encourage sexists, racists and homophobes everywhere that they can say whatever they want while hiding behind a computer screen, but also the world wide web promotes outdated and exclusive ideas about sex, dating and gender without the bat of an eye.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably noticed me posting an article entitled, “25 Things You Only Understand If You Have a Guy’s Mind and a Girl’s Body.” No, this article doesn’t detail the struggles of being a non-cisgender individual. It does not discuss how black trans women are victims of hate crimes more than Caitlyn Jenner might lead you to believe. Nor does it discuss what it’s like to be a homeless transgender youth.

Instead, it lists what the author considers to be stereotypically male traits such as, “You take pride in yourself and you don’t take kindly to people stepping on you,” and, “You don’t automatically assume you’re in a relationship with someone just because you went out on a few dates — you were just having fun.”

Asking someone how confident and patient they consider themselves to be doesn’t only set up gender stereotypes, it completely undermines the experiences of those who must grapple with understanding their gender in ways that the average Joe might not even consider.

I know I can’t spend every week seeking out articles that make my blood boil and telling you why I hate them so much, but the fact of the matter is there are so many misconceptions about gender and sex that are constantly perpetuated by articles such as this. And at the end of the day, they need to be acknowledged for their falsehoods and exclusivity.

I get it, a lot of these opinion pieces out there are ironically a lot like what I’m doing right now. I draw from personal experience, seek information and inspiration from my peers, and scroll through the internet when I’m unsure of some information. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve deleted an article because I was concerned it did not consider differing opinions respectfully. Okay, sure, my Total Fraternity Move article might not have considered the view of the misogynist respectfully, but I try my best to remain open-minded otherwise. I am, after all, a cisgender woman whose sexual and romantic experience doesn’t encompass all that is out there.

So, yes, when I see online quizzes entitled “Which Gender Are You Subconsciously?” float around Facebook, I get riled up. Asking someone how confident and patient they consider themselves to be doesn’t only set up gender stereotypes, it completely undermines the experiences of those who must grapple with understanding their gender in ways that the average Joe might not even consider. And if you’re wondering, Answers.com says I’m 50 percent male, 50 percent female.

And on the topic of inclusivity, it’s also important to remember that it’s not just straight cisgender individuals who are guilty of ignoring intersectionality. While this trope may be on it’s way out, gay men are still guilty of claiming that they possess an “inner black woman” (see Perez Hilton’s controversial tweet from 2014). I know you might think that this statement seems harmless in theory, but when you consider the ways in which black identity and culture has been stolen in America’s history, hopefully you’ll reconsider.

 And at the end of the day, they need to be acknowledged for their falsehoods and exclusivity.

There is not enough time in the day or enough Behind Closed Doors articles for me to call out what’s wrong with every Odyssey Online article about how a young woman claims to not need feminism, but I can remind you all to remember the importance of considering other points of view. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when that opinion looks to exclude or undermine the experience of others — especially those who are marginalized within society — it might be time to open yourself up to new ideas.

Mallory Walker is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who sees the irony in this post, but wishes you could just let it go this once.

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  • Mallory W