I man-shamed someone. I’m not proud of it. Let me explain-
The way men speak is littered with language that reinforces machismo, and is done so in a way that is usually sexist and homophobic. To take umbrage with a peer’s conduct or speech is usually countered with something juvenille and scatological like “get the sand out of your vagina”, because 1) sand in a vagina would probably be uncomfortable, and cause irritable behavior, and 2) if a man has a vagina, he must be a woman, and we all know women aren’t as valuable or esteemed as men, right, fellas?
So back to my shameful man-shaming. My coworkers were talking about the best way to have something tailored-one guy swore by the alterations shop a block from work, another guy espoused the benefits of ordering items tailored online. I said “or, you could learn to sew LIKE A MAN.”
I’m a man. I can sew and cook, and I believe able-minded adults should be able to do the same. My coworker, a few years my junior, hung his head. I reinforced my gender expectations on him, and that wasn’t fair, or kind, even though my “man box” of acceptable ideas, speech, and conduct is likely very different from his. It’s been on my mind all weekend, and I haven’t had the opportunity to apologize, even though when I do, he will no doubt pretend to not remember.
I want to be intentional in my words. I want people to feel safe communicating with me, not worrying about some cynical, smart-assed barb. I want to speak peace, and I don’t want to shame anyone. The more I think about it, the harder it is- words like “fag” and “retard” used to be frequent visitors to my vocabulary, although, even when I said them, I would never imagine using those words to hurt an actual homosexual or mentally challenged person. It’s as if by intentionally misusing those words-by lying- they were somehow less offensive. At the same time, those words were still used as the standard of “not as good”, “less normal”, and “bad”.
I don’t like the cowardly misuse of language, and mislabeling someone. I’m working to fix it. Like a man.