I believe in respecting others, even if they tick me off. Lately, the people who have been ticking me off are the men on the dad’s side of the family. I see these men only once a year, but each year brings with it an upwelling of hatred. Most of my hatred is directed at what I see as blatant displays of sexism. The women are expected to take care of the children, to cook, to clean, and to do all things feminine. Even the way the women dress is restricted; no pants, and certainly nothing that shows off curves.
And the men…well, to be honest, I’m not quite sure what they men do; I’ve never bothered to find out. I’ve generally just assumed that the men were all chauvinists who believed they were God’s chosen sex. Most of these assumptions, I drew from the presence of the Man Circle.
You see, every time I walk into the room in the church that the family reunion takes place in, there is a Man Circle. In the Man Circle there are males of all ages who just sit there, what they talk about or laugh about is unknown to me, or any female for that matter. That circle is entirely male, not even baby girls enter that circle. So, that mysterious, exclusive Man Circle came to serve as a symbol to me for all of the aggravating sexism that exists in this world.
The only problem with this judgment of the circle is that it is a judgment based entirely on assumptions and backed up only by the angry, feminazi voice in my head that declares that anything exclusively male has to be based on sexist tendencies. For a long time, I viewed the Man Circle as a group of men who were silently judging me in all of my pants-wearing, curve-showing, non-submitting glory. I viewed the circle scornfully, and certainly not respectfully.
But this year, I realized something important; I have not bothered to try and understand these men. They have never once criticized me, and even if they have disapproved of me, they have done so silently. I have blamed the exclusivity of the Man Circle on the men. As a female, I have not taken any responsibility for trying to enter the Circle and understand those who reside there. I have been too intent on my self-righteous feminist thoughts to do for the Man Circle what I have so long expected it do for me: give respect. So, no matter how much the men who make up the Man Circle may bug the bejesus out of me, I will bite my tongue, and I will give them respect.
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