Boys’ talk? Just shut up

My phone lit up with a Snapchat notification from my best friend. Of course I opened it immediately. “Some people are saying some stuff about you,” it read. Great. Her next text popped up: “this guy asked this other kid ‘should I f— daria or my ex.’”

I responded in the only intelligible way I know how: I turned my caps lock on and smashed my keyboard. I was mad– no guy should be saying that about me or anyone else. I prepared myself to fight.

For most women, having these kinds of things said about you is common– we are incessantly pitted against each other as pawns in a game we never agreed to play. As if we were perfectly manufactured for male amusement. I was ready to tap out.

I pulled up the guy, we’ll call him Sexist Pig for now, on my Snapchat contacts and sent him his quote, followed up with a demand for an explanation.

“I don’t remember saying that,” was Sexist Pig’s first excuse. Try again.

“It was just boys’ talk, if u can comprehend.” Boys’ talk? Actually? That was his excuse?

“Hello Donald Trump,” I typed out. Of course I know that men talk like this. I’ve seen the Access Hollywood tape, along with the rest of America. I’ve also heard a man speak before. But to actually have it thrown into my face like some magical justification was unbelievable. Men see “Boys’ talk” or “Locker room talk” or whatever euphemism they can think of as some umbrella excuse to condone misogyny. It’s not good enough.

“I felt comfortable saying that because I was talking to one of my guys,” he attempted to explain.

“That doesn’t make it okay,” I said. “It’s still misogynistic, ‘if u can comprehend.’”

“I don’t want you to be mad at me,” Sexist Pig replied. I actually laughed out loud, what a futile hope.

“Do you understand why I’m mad?” I asked. I genuinely wanted to know. Was I saying something completely foreign and incomprehensible to the male mentality?

“Yeah. You don’t want men to disrespect females and I did that,” he said. At least some progress was made. Not enough.

“I’m mad because you think there’s nothing wrong with saying sexist things about women just because you’re talking to a friend. I’m mad because you pitted me and another girl against each other. I’m mad because you are treating women like pawns and not people.”

We need to end the mindset that  “I was just talking to a close friend,” or “That’s just how guys talk,” is somehow absolving. Yes indoctrinated sexism exists, but it should never be on the woman’s shoulders to have to accept that.

From Sexist Pig’s perspective, guys feel comfortable speaking about women in that manner when it’s in private. However, sexism in private is still sexism. Men, if you hear your fellow dude saying something misogynistic, call him out. We can only deal with sexism by facing the problem head-on.

Staying silent is enabling. If men are under the impression that they can say whatever they want about women with no backlash from their audience, it sends the message that it is completely okay to say those things.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl: if you hear sexist rhetoric, speak up.

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