Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Read The Comments, Sowwy

We should start a support group! Something which would force me NOT to read woman-hating comments on the net. This time it was in a Finnish afternoon rag, called Iltalehti, and the story began with a letter to the editor (by a Master of Economics, of all things!) which stated that there should be NO quotas for women on the highest levels of firms (something apparently under debate in Finland*) because men are more intelligent than women.

The numbers given in the letter begin with the assertion that an IQ of 105 or more is required for a person to successfully complete a four-year university degree, and that slightly more than 30% of men in Finland qualify, whereas only slightly more than 20% of women qualify. I have no idea where those numbers came from and they sound unlikely to me. They certainly seem not to be supported by the actual gender ratios among Finnish university students.

But never mind! It was the comments about this letter to the editor that I then read. They are absolutely and totally horrible (with a few exceptions). The majority agree that women are stupid, only good for routine work under supervision, better still, they should stay at home which they really want to do in the first place (despite Finland not having much of a history or tradition of housewives).

Women are illogical (despite the fact that logic tests do not show sex differences), emotional and should acknowledge their own intellectual inferiority. Nobody wants a female boss and women cannot really become men, however hard they try. By "men" the comments really mean a human being, but that role is reserved for male people in their opinion.

Even evolution was all about man-the-hunter, this time on the tundra, not in Africa, while the prehistoric Finnish woman sat in the cave (very few of those in Finland, by the way) suckling her babies. So she never evolved, and to this day remains stupid, weak, emotional, illogical and good-for-nothing. Indeed, she only exists because the prehistoric man protected her! (Which is really funny, given that even misogynists need women to give birth to sons, so had the prehistoric women died out, so would the prehistoric men.)

Foreign women are better than Finnish women, but the worst of all are something called "femakot" which is a wordplay with the plural of a "sow" (like in female pig) and feminism.

So. The comments allow anonymity and don't seem to be moderated. And of course a story (well, it's not really a story as we are given no links to the supposed data or anything else to judge it) about the stupidity of women WILL draw a certain kind of man. A self-selected sample, for sure, and I cannot use this experience to draw conclusions about the average level of misogyny in Finland. And who knows, perhaps all those nasty comments were written by one man.

But a Finnish strand of misogyny exists, and is of the same totalizing type as the misogyny over here (and quite comparable to what is written on the really bad sites on the net):

Women are always bad! It doesn't matter if a woman works or stays at home. If she works she is pretending to be a man or taking a job from a man or acting too uppity or backstabbing other women or having illogical quarrels with them. If she stays at home she is lazy, watches television all day long and uses the man as a wallet. If she works hard physical jobs with poor pay only, she is regarded as being in her proper place but gets no respect, because she is well suited for jobs which require low intelligence and good subservience skills.

If she is not well educated, it is because she is too stupid. If she is well-educated, what she studies is fluff and rubbish and does not contribute to anything in the society. Psychology is often mentioned in that context.

Everything about women is always wrong, with the possible exception of total self-sacrifice, silence and ever-present offerings of sex. It's not so much a doormat that these men want but a mummy/inflatable doll/servant.

Or perhaps a plate of ginger cookies? One comment stated that a plate of ginger cookies needs no intelligence; all it needs is not to start drooping.

The way sexism works in these stories is that all women are represented by one imaginary woman, created by picking all the worst stereotypically female characteristics the misogynist can think of. This creation is then offered up as "all women."

Men, on the other hand, are either portrayed by someone like Einstein or another famous man, not a man with the worst stereotypically male characteristics. It is a neat trick.

I am upset, and that's why I wrote this post. I always find it hard to accept totalizing hatred, especially when it is sold as a fun debate in the so-called "war between the sexes." Because there is no escape from being the object of that hatred, nothing that one might do not to be hated.

Whom can I call next time I feel the draw of a horrible comments section?
*One commenter reacted to this by stating that if women were as intelligent as men and as good leaders, no quotas would be needed.