Going back to my “More Like Them Than I Think” series, you, the reader, were introduced to a gentleman I work with called Melvin. That journey made me realise that although Melvin is formally diagnosed with having Asperger’s Syndrome, he and I are alike in many ways. What I didn’t mention that he is very sexist but in an old fashioned way. He has a real problem with women telling him what to do and he especially hates our female supervisor. Furthermore, he recognises the assistant director as the actual head of the company because, yes you guessed it, he’s male and the managing director is female. However, there is a somewhat endearing side to Melvin’s sexist attitudes. I mentioned that his sexism is old fashioned and that’s because he is in love with the by gone eras of the 1920s and 30s. He often said that men should have respect for women like they did back then. I don’t know if he’s historically right here but I admire his values. Also he still hasn’t forgiven another service user for touching a female support worker’s breast. Something which he was horrified by when he saw it. So, while Melvin’s attitudes towards women may be very backdated, I can see the positives and negatives in it.
Comparing myself to Melvin, I am sure that my attitudes are a bit more modern in regards to women. I have no problems with working for women, especially for the past twenty years or more I have been working in largely female dominated fields: the caring profession and primary teaching. Those in authority over are always judged on how they treat me as opposed to their gender and I can say I have worked for great people and total jerks from both. Saying that, I know that I am far from perfect in my attitudes towards women, especially when I was growing up. As a teenager in the 1970s, I listened to the fundamentalist Christian belief that feminism was wrong and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment was the work of Satan and all feminists are doomed to hell fire. Although I pushed those attitudes behind me very quickly, I know I’m not perfect. I struggled with female characters in both of my books thus far. There was always the temptation to describe a woman as “plump in the right places” and if had not been for my sister reading one chapter in “He Was Weird,” I could have unintentionally insulted many female readers. I know for a fact, I go into a bit more detail when describing a female character than what I do a male although in my defense; in “He Was Weird,” it was only right that I made the Lisa character a person of physical beauty as well. Therefore, I admit that I am not perfect.
While I can admit my faults in this field, I also know that I too have been the victim of sexism. Sexism is a two way street and women can be just as sexist towards men as the other way around. The most glaring case was back in the 80s after I came out of the marines and committed that terrible anti-social act of growing my hair too long. When she ended things with me, the sister of my former marine buddy stated that my long hair and earring wasn’t her idea of a man. Now imagine if I said that short hair and no earrings wasn’t my idea of a woman. I would be called all the sexist pigs going and rightly so. Needless to say it was the length of my hair that gave people, especially ladies, problems with me back then. Yes, I know my Native American moccasin boots didn’t help much either. In fact, when I did cut my hair, I still kept the earring and the boots on and one day when walking past a group of girls at college, I heard one of them say, “At least he cut his hair.”
It was this reverse sexism that really stirred my Asperger’s Syndrome. The main thought in my mind was that ladies and men knew I had been in the marines and that my long hair was in reaction to having to wear a crew cut during my four year service to the country. It was women who seemed to be more rejecting of this, which, I admit, burst a bubble on my preconceived notion that women would be more accepting of it. Was that sexist of me? Maybe but it really played hell with my mind.
I guess what I learned from this was that the best way for me to deal with sexism was to try not to have any stereotypical views of women, even if they were deemed positive. Because I know that if I have any conceived notions of what women or people in general should be like, then my mind will find it difficult to process and cause problems for me.
Next post: Interracial Bullying
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401308683&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird