Saturday, March 31, 2007

Speaking of Pandarus

Does my butt look like it belongs to Chaucer's depiction of a Trojan ethics-optional warrior culture in this post?

You look confused.

I'll explain, shall I?

I have nieces. Oodles of 'em. They are smart, silly, athletic, lazy, funny, serious, charming, brusque, whiny, weird, goofy, cranky, short, tall, ill-mannered, gracious, and any number of other adjectives you might care to mention. Just like people.

Yet, a 'feminist' male 'friend' of mine, upon hearing that I got a surprise visit from Niece #3 today immediately asked, "Is she pretty?" At which point, a number of memory neurons started firing on protector neurons, and I told him to get lost. Now, the first time I said it in a joking way. But Mr. Genius just HAD to keep insisting I answer his question. So I answered his question like an aunt whose niece, on the basis of being adult and female, was immediately being considered for classification of the "would I or wouldn't I?" kind by a man who calls himself a feminist and my friend.

This hurt his widdle fee-fees.

I am now in a boiling rage. I hurt his feelings?! Hm. I answer the phone and explain that a niece I haven't seen in a bit made a very lengthy car trip up to the back of bloody beyond to see me, and brought her new boyfriend for me to meet, and I was so delighted to see them I seriously considered making an attempt at cooking. And where are those sheets that fit the futon in the guest room anyway? Can I call you back in a day or two?

And I get two questions:
1) "How old is she?" and, upon learning she was indeed in that coveted barely adult range...
2) "Is she pretty?"

And then the weirdest thing happened. Every time a guy 'friend' tried to use our 'friendship' as cover for being a sexist, vulgar ass to me sprang to my memory. Every time a guy 'friend of mine' ignored our friendship and common decency to make a comment about the developing physique of Niece #3's older cousins sprang to memory. Every time any man treated me or any woman I cared about in my presence or in my knowledge as if we existed only insofar as we might serve his purposes sprang to my memory.

And I had a revelation.

If people hate me because I say, plainly, that I will not tolerate my kids being treated like sexual jokes, they can go right ahead and hate me. I have a more important social role to fill than 'friend of random jackass.'


meg said...

You go, Auntie.

jb said...

Yeah. Right on. His behavior is unbelievable (or all too believable, sadly).

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ancrene Wiseass said...


Sometimes the fee-fees have to get hurt for the consciousness to get raised. And even if Mr. "Feminist" doesn't learn the lesson, yep, we gotta protect our girls. So screw his fee-fees, anyway.

Medieval Woman said...

open up a can of "whoop-ass" on his feminist-esque little bum!

History Geek said...

Gah, I hated that when working child care how some of my co-workers would call the boys smart and brave, etc, but the girls were always cute, pretty, and adoreable.

You had every right to be ticked off.

lalouve said...

When I had my PhD party, I took some of my friends aside and said, 'there will be a very pretty 17-year-old at this party. she's my niece, and if you so much as drool discretely over her, you'll be picking up your teeth off the floor.' Worked like a charm...

Alexandra P said...

I have the same problem with my 7-years-younger-than-me sister. Just a couple of male friends would suddenly be interested in visiting me when she was visiting. Actually, I would still have this problem, if
1. I advertised her visits, and
2. She hadn't developed quite such a lovely, acerbic, out-there personality.

Bardiac said...

Sounds like you contained yourself quite well if only his feelings were hurt.

squadratomagico said...

Yay! I love this story!

nightgigjo said...


I'm trying to watch this in myself, actually, when it comes to babies and gender socialization (my only niece is two, and my nephews are 7, 4, 3 and 1).

It's really much "easier" (i.e., more knee-jerk) to say "what a pretty girl" than "what a bright child" or "what an inquisitive baby".

This is obviously not sexualization, but the socialization is part of the structure that supports the sexualization, once they hit that "nubile" *grrr* state.



It's good to get pissed at stuff like this. GOOD.

Anniina said...

Go, Aunt Heo!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bardiac. Sounds like you were very reasonable.

Why is it exactly that men are emotionall wounded when women object to being treated like sub-human sex toys? What is it about a woman having a mind and some sense of self-respect or humanity that is injurious to the male of the species?

9th of April was Amazon day. I wish I'd made a post for that. Oh well, the ritual will have to do. ;-)