Feminism: Cookies

I say a lot of things on this site about women, and how to interact with women, and how to respect women, and about my utter loathing for the terrible, horrible, entitled character trope of Nice Guys who fail in almost all interactions with and respect for women. But I don't say very much about actual nice guys, because I tend to think they can keep on keeping on just fine without me. I'm just some random dudette on the internet, after all. But today I'd like to thank some genuinely nice guys that have interacted with me in the past few days.

To the guy at work who, when we were gently teasing him about having a rough childhood based on a silly offhand remark he made, made a face and said, "Yeah, I'm a straight white man, what a rough life I have clearly had", leading to one of those rare oh my god, someone In Real Life gets this stuff moments, thank you.

To the man who approached me in an empty parking lot early in the morning to ask for emergency gas money after his car ran out, but who immediately saw the early stirrings of cautious fear in my eyes and -- rather than get defensive -- made every possible effort to move slowly, remain motionless and in my line of sight while I was digging out my wallet, stay out of grabbing range, communicate clearly and respectfully, and use all possible body language to convey that he respected my fear rather than challenge its validity, thank you.

To the young man who worked at the grocery store who offered to carry my groceries out to the car upon seeing my back brace and correctly deducing that I was disabled, but who graciously accepted my polite decline of his offer (which I enunciated clearly for the sake of any nosy managers who might be watching) without pressuring me or overriding my wishes for the sake of "chivalry", thank you.

To the police officer who pulled me over for accidentally speeding in an ambiguously marked school zone, actually listened to my situation and seemed to genuinely care about the details without giving off any creepy vibes, as well as being careful to stand as far back from my open window as safety would allow, remaining out of my personal space at all times, and keeping within my eyesight as much as possible thereby making me feel as much at ease as possible in an interaction that has the potential to end very badly indeed, thank you.

To all the many men out there who are practicing feminism as best they can today, actively learning how to do better tomorrow, and genuinely trying to think about situations from the point of view of the least privileged party in the exchange, thank you.


purplemonkeydishwasher said...

So...you really need to know what a fan I am! You've inspired me to start blogging again, your work is just incredible and I love your clearly-articulated feminism. I'm not linking my blag here for cheap pageviews, I just want you to know that you've been inspiring.

Brin Bellway said...

Oh, you mean that kind of cookie. Here I was expecting baked good recipes.

Smilodon said...

Can I offer a cookie as well? Because if we're giving out cookies, I'd like to offer one to the gentleman I chatted with who explained to me that he realized that women go out of their way to avoid him when walking alone at night. So now he often moves to avoid single women at night, since one of them is going to be moving anyway. And he said this without once blaming women for being scared in general or of him in specific.

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm glad!

Ana Mardoll said...

Ha, I could probably provide those too.

Nina said...

lol, me too. Seriously, I saw cookies, and thought "ooh, I have some great recipes, which one should I share first? will I have to come back later when the kids are otherwise occupied?" and then actually read the first paragraph and realized that's not what we were talking about AT ALL.

But on the subject of the post...great post, Ana! It's always nice to read positive examples, partly because it can be really draining to only hear about the bad stuff all the time, and partly because it helps me think about the good experiences I've had recently.

I'd like to add a thank you to my husband, who never second guesses me when I tell him about an experience I've had, and who listens without getting defensive when I tell him about something he's doing that bothers me. It really helps me deal with microagressions in the rest of my life when I don't have to deal with them at home, too.

EdinburghEye said...

These are far and away my favourite cookies - Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies . It's the combination of molasses, chocolate, and ginger that makes them so good.

I used to know a guy called, for the sake of the story, Wolverine. He was six-foot-plus, a skinhead, wore black leather, had tattoos on his face and hands. I knew him via a friend who shared a flat with him for a while and via two of his lovers: we knew each other in a "Hey, hi, how are you?" kind of way. I was never interested in getting to know him any better because I happened to know a bunch of fairly genuinely scary things about him (drugs; drunken fights: really fairly sexist attitudes to women and to gay men, even though he was himself bisexual).

Wolverine looked scary, and in lots of ways he was scary. He had a chivalrous attitude to women, in both good and bad respects.

He told me once when we met at a bus stop in the early evening that he'd seen me quite a few times heading home late at night (I had a volunteer job that kept me out late on Wednesdays). But, he told me, he'd never stopped me to say hi, because, he said, "you looked like you knew exactly where you were going and wouldn't stop for anyone" and he'd thought: "that's how she keeps out of trouble walking around late at night." And Wolverine didn't want to make any other guy think that he could stop me and get away with it, just because he could have.

Another story he told me once: standing at a bus stop late at night, he'd realised that the woman waiting for the bus with him was getting really nervous. He'd stood there realising this and getting steamed up about how offensive that was, about how he would never hurt a woman, how this woman was judging him based on his size and his leather and his skinhead haircut and his tattoos. And then, he backed out of the bus stop and waited for his bus outside, so it would be clear that he wasn't a threat, because he knew that saying "Hey, I'm a nice guy" would just make him sound even more threatening.

I believe it: he told me also about how it was predictable that if he was walking down an empty street but for was a woman walking on the same side of the street, she'd almost certainly cross the road rather than risk being near him. And again, he said: the only way to prove I'm not a threat is to stay on my side of the road, or cross the road myself if I see her first.

I haven't seen Wolverine in years. He had his bad side, but I liked his attitude about how to behave towards strange women. (In justice: if it had been a man at the bus stop, Wolverine wouldn't have had any compunction at all about how scared the man was getting. He was... chivalrous. That's not always a plus point.)

Dav said...

I can recommend these green tea cookies. It's a bit fiddly for me - I'm *not* usually a baker - but tried these a couple times and they're fairly forgiving. Not as forgiving as oatmeal cookies, though.


MaryKaye said...

Shout-out to a very famous senior scientist in my field. Early in my postdoc I walked into his office and said "The approach I've been coding all summer doesn't work because the theoretical argument in your last paper is completely wrong."

He handed me a piece of chalk, helped me struggle through the proof (I knew it, but I hadn't proved it) and then said, "Okay, we publish on this, and we can add a retraction of my previous paper." That's it. Not a single effort to defend his position. In fact he has encouraged me to write a history essay on the field which would include "how big name guy was So Wrong."

A large part of why I'm still here despite never getting tenure is being able to work with this person. Yay!

Isator Levi said...

Aww, that's nice.

Thank -you- for being so clever, funny and articulate in a way that has these concepts really cut right to the bone, and perserver... ent(?).

Nathaniel said...

Cookies are always appreciated.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

I saw the titles of the two posts in the sidebar: one called "Metapost: Actual Cookies", and this one called "Quickie: Cookies". I immediately deduced that this one was about browsers and the internet, and perhaps more woe with Blogger.


Asha said...

I've been lucky to know some decent guys, who try to understand their position instead of just assume they know everything and mansplain. Now, if only there were more of them.

I was expecting recipes, too. Glad for the followup post because the world needs more cookies. Peanut butter cookies. Yup.

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