I’ve written and trashed, started and re-started, edited and tweaked and changed angles on what I’m about to write probably fifteen times in the past week and a half or so, and it’s still not quite right. I’ve accepted that this is hard for me to write and decided to just put it out there in the best form I think I can muster right now, because I’d rather say something imperfectly than say nothing.
Tuesday a week ago (February 7th, to be clear) I was, as is pretty normal for me right now, doing some pre-season baseball research and bantering back and forth with my usual gang of Twitter compatriots when someone, I can’t even remember who exactly, came across the nearly hilariously misogynist “fantasy baseball for girls” disgrace Baseball Boyfriend (I’m not directly linking because screw them, I don’t want to give them the traffic, but you can Google if you’re that curious and somehow missed the kerfuffle). There was an initial furor, which quickly turned into some giggle fits that left me snorting my afternoon Diet Pepsi, but, as the day wore on and the news of the California Proposition 8 appeal ruling broke, I saw a few people (actually mostly women) who seemed to think that the people who were aggravated by women being treated as if baseball needed to be more like some middle school sleepover game to be interesting to them needed to be quiet and pay attention to the “real” issues in the world. The sentiment bothered me at the time, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I mean, on the surface, it’s a reasonable enough thing. Who cares about some silly fantasy baseball game whose target audience is clearly not me or most of my friends when there is real injustice to be fought? But still, it bothered me.
It wasn’t until later that night, or it may even have been the next day, that it occurred to me that while a small part of my indignation at Baseball Boyfriend was because baseball is something that is very very dear to me and to which I devote a huge amount of time and intellectual and emotional resources, most of why it bothered me was the unspoken idea that there is some line of obnoxiousness that has to be crossed before it’s okay to be offended by misogyny and stupid gender role bullshit. Like because no one was actively, in that moment, being raped or beaten or told to shut up and get back in the kitchen and make some man a sandwich we should shush and go about our business. When people talk about how we live in a culture of misogyny, this is the kind of shit they’re talking about. They’re talking about how every single day, in ways that run the gamut from vaguely irritating to full on traumatizing, we are confronted with things and people who infantilize us, objectify us, and vilify us. That the simplest decision or action can become colored by issues that most men don’t even realize we have to think about as women.
That’s why these seemingly insignificant injustices do matter. Because it’s not a one-off thing. It’s not one ill-thought out and sexist website. It’s not one comment that makes you feel like you shouldn’t like the things you like, or like you’re somehow doing this whole being a woman thing “wrong”. It’s not one annoying guy who won’t stop hitting on you at a bar. It’s not one time you get creepily followed down the block by someone haranguing you for your number. It’s not one thing you wanted to go but didn’t because you didn’t feel safe going alone or going to a certain place. It’s a lifetime of that. It’s a lifetime of that, coupled with a lifetime of people telling you to lighten up, or focus on the “important” stuff, so that your discomfort can be ignored for the sake of someone else’s peace of mind. So, and I say this as ladylike and demurely as possible, if you think I should ignore the “little” things in favor of some mythical more important “real” issue, then kindly fuck off. I’m going to call out and shout down the little things as much as I have to, because that’s one less chink in the armor of who knows how many women and maybe, if enough of those little bullets get stopped, we can scale back to just chain mail and not full on armor. Hell, maybe even someday we won’t need the chain mail either. But until then, armor the fuck up, ladies.