Squish your eyes up very, very tight and imagine this scenario.
A group of men are on the internet and are discussing erectile dysfunction. They talk about their feelings on the topic, their insecurities and fears, they talk about their first-hand experiences. Then a women joins in and tells them that this can't be true, that what they're feeling or have gone through is ridiculous and illogical. Another women joins in and counters this and an angry debate emerges, more women then leap in taking various sides. The men slowly drift away from their computers, never having been listened to.
Bit silly, right? So why does this scenario constantly happen, genders reversed? Why do some blokes think they're instant experts on everything, including issues pertaining to women? Why don't they listen?
This, at least, has been my own experience on the internet. After one such instance when a debate on abortion emerged and all the participants, bar one or two, were men I sarcastically tweeted that we should leave the men to the abortion talk while we ladies went off to bake scones or some such shit. I was surprised by the number of favourites it received, all women, and I realised that I'd touched a nerve, that it wasn't just me that was frustrated by the fact that men were wading in, never listening, and banging on as if they knew the facts on the matter. Blokes getting angry and defensive instead of stepping back and thinking that other people's experiences might be different than their own.
Yesterday I mentioned that some women might find some difficulty in contacting the media about being on the benefit and being allegedly told by welfare officers that feminine hygiene products were a "luxury good" and so could not be bought on the card. I was effectively told by a bloke that this was stupid, and was dismissed out of hand when saying that for some women the topic was a sensitive one. Yes, because us women have been raised in a society that is open and celbratory about menstrual cycles, we've never referred to them as euphamisms in order to avoid talking directly about them, they've never been referred to as 'the monthly curse' (a curse! so positive and life affirming), when adverts first appeared they didn't cause a minor controversy, and red liquid is always used to advertise them, just like blue scabs are used for bandaid ads. Ads also don't use the fear of the Red Stain of Shame to sell their products (leak guards! wings! we will save you from the embarrassment of your body!), and if god forbid an accident was to ever happen we shrek it loudly across the office and have a jolly good laugh about it and not scurry off furtively in horrified shame.
Mind you at University I saw a girl wash out her mooncup in the public sink with a dozen people milling about, so when I say 'some women' might be sensitive, I mean some women and use that qualifier deliberately. I can't talk for younger generations, I can't talk for other cultures, but I can talk from life experience and having been raised in a place and time that has from a young age instilled in me that menstruation was something inherently icky. So when I say that some women might not want to be linked to a media article, might have some reservations about contacting a reporter to talk about what may have been a slightly humiliating experience for them, I would like to think that I am talking from a place of knowledge on the subject and shouldn't be simply dismissed out of hand.
Basically, blokes, what I'm saying is that when womenfolk are talking about subjects such as periods, abortion, childbirth, glitter gluing kitten pictures, and your first instinct is to shout YOU'RE WRONG, MY MAN TRUTH WILL WIN, maybe, just maybe, listen. Maybe, just maybe, you might learn something instead of racing ahead to try and win gold in internet olympics for arguing and once again push women out of public spaces because, honestly, this stuff it's god damn tiring.