I was wrong about this.
Strangely, Gravity helped to change my thinking. It and Stone in the movie reminded me of the many interesting and awesome women I’ve met over the years who deserve a fair chance. That’s what art can do, and does best – changes your thinking. If it doesn’t, it’s not art.
(And I will never understand those who claim that movies and TV shows are not and cannot be art.)
I think I was mostly reacting to the fact that I am for radical equality, and even though I understand and agree with why as a male I am always looked at with more suspicion and distrust than I personally deserve, there is a good reason for that – women have to manage risk as well. And many more risks than I do, at least in daily life.
Something else I was reacting to is something that most women probably aren’t aware of, because just like sexual and street harassment for men, most women never, ever see it.
I’ll illustrate by a specific example, though this happened more than once.
I used to be in charge of night shift production at a company. I hired people. Quite a few people as it was a high turnover type of job (not because it was terrible, but it was monotonous and hard). One time we were looking for another staff member. I interviewed a few people. I had wanted to hire an older woman – probably 60 – for the job, but she ended up not accepting.
So I hired my second choice, who was also perfectly qualified for the role. Unlike my first choice, however, she was a strikingly attractive, tall blonde woman.
The very first time someone saw who I’d hired, he came up to me and said, “Man, it’s good to be king” and walked off.
Everyone, everyone — even the other women on my team – assumed I’d hired her just for her looks. Never mind that she was good at her job and very diligent.
Yes, that absolutely sucks for her and I didn’t realize how much beauty can be a curse until then (though, on balance, it’s better to beautiful than not I’d wager) which was just another difficulty in her life she had to deal with.
But from the other side, when as a male you show interest in and hire an attractive woman, even if it’s just to hire for for a job, you are assumed by your male peers and many if not most women to be doing it for the worst of reasons. That is, to attempt to sleep with her.
It gets old. And if I were a less stubborn dude, maybe it would have made me question even my own hiring decisions.
My post was a reaction to everything – right or wrong – that I could possibly do as a male being questioned for motive* by everyone all the time. I was just trying to avoid it. But I don’t really think there is any avoiding it, for women or for men, at least not until there is a better world.
I still don’t have any good answers. I want to treat my female colleagues exactly the same as my male ones. But society in general makes that difficult if not impossible.
But I’ve done difficult things all my life, and ill-advised ones, too. Why stop now?
*This is not a normative statement – this is just a fact that it is done.