Do you think that the gender war is fought between men and women? Think again, because it is time you choose your allegiance.
Nobody wins the gender war — it only makes us all miserable. It certainly doesn’t bring us closer to equality — it only entrenches us in the roles of enemies. We need to stop the war and choose the side of peace.
I am writing this because I feel guilty.
I’m guilty of writing sarcastic comments under myopic interpretations of gender dynamics. Of lashing out at people who write stuff that’s just plain mean. Of being overly critical of those who are hurt and find it hard to look at things from a different perspective.
I feel guilty because I could have de-escalated many battles, but instead, I fanned the flames and made everyone hate each other even more.
I feel guilty because I fell for the us-vs-them narrative peddled by the propaganda of every war to justify harming the enemy. I am one of the good ones and only ever say bad things because they made me, and they are all evil and deserve it.
Thus the war continues with attacks and retaliations, and blame, blame, and more blame.
Nobody who feels attacked ever stops to wonder if they deserved it. We are too busy defending ourselves and coming up with reasons why it’s us who’s right and they are to blame.
All the energy that could have been spent on building things up goes into burning them down.
As in any war, nobody gets what they wanted.
As in any war, no problems are ever solved.
And as in any war, we all lose.
And the worst thing is: I know I was one of those who fed the flames. I personally made things worse.
And I’d like to stop.
Meanwhile, the real conflict is not between the fighting sides.
The real conflict is between war and peace.
You don’t get real peace by exterminating your enemy’s forces, demanding an unconditional surrender, and rubbing their face in it whenever you can. This way you get a rebellion.
You get peace by negotiating it.
I want to stand on the side of peace, but it’s hard. Negotiation requires that I:
- Formulate my thoughts, grievances, and demands respectfully and communicate them without violence.
- Swallow my pride, look past the hurt, injustice, and stupidity, and see others as humans who also make mistakes.
- Avoid blaming people for things they didn’t personally do and take the context and human limitations into account.
- Stop inflating the differences between us and start highlighting the similarities.
- Remember that if I give out pain, more pain is all I’ll get back.
I know I should do all that, but, oh, it is so tempting to choose the side of war! To take the same thoughts, grievances, and demands and scream them into the faces of all those villains as I pierce their disgusting hearts with my sharp sarcasm.
Fuck non-violent communication, now you’re going to hear exactly what despicable monsters you all are!
Because, sure, I want the world to be better, but what I want more is to make the enemy suffer. I want the sweet taste of being right when they are wrong. The soothing validation of a crowd joining me to point fingers.
The side of war is tempting and I fell for it, many times.
But I want to be better than that. I want to choose peace.
And I invite you to do the same.
Easy for you to say!
I know what you think: Sure, maybe you can abstract your privileged white male ass from the minor hurt you have experienced, but there are people out there who have damn good reasons to rage!
And you know what? I’m not even going to argue. I agree.
Some people might have been harmed so much that it would be unfair to expect them to just look past it and move on. I am certainly not going to tell them what they should do or judge them for it.
But if you are like me, if you have experienced some harm, some injustice, and have a lot of thoughts on the matter, but in all honestly, you can control yourself perfectly well and don’t really need to scream out your pain in other people’s faces all the time… well, maybe don’t.
Maybe choose peace.
Wait, am I meant to just give up?!
No systemic injustice was ever resolved by the oppressed group asking nicely. Telling them to be calm is a codeword for making it easier to ignore their rightful grievances.
This black-and-white dichotomy between war and submission is false. The greatest modern successes for freedom and equality weren’t won at war. They came from peaceful protest and respectful negotiations.
In fact, war is a horrible way to actually get the results you want. What war gives us is the righteous feeling of being on the Only True Side — and also more enemies who are more committed to stopping us. As we’re getting high on the smell of their blood, our actual goal only becomes harder to reach.
We should choose neither war nor submission. We should choose results. Become tough peace negotiators, stay true to our values, and focus on the goal.
Surely it’s not that simple!
It would be foolish to think that any of us is firmly on the side of war or peace only. In reality, we are all somewhere in the middle and fluctuate depending on what just hit us.
We all want to make things better, and we also want to rage when we feel wounded, even if it makes things worse.
And sometimes, we do need to vent our frustrations. But so often, we just keep venting and venting and venting, just because it feels so good to hit the enemy again and again and again.
I know I do. I post angry comments I wish I didn’t post. I get into mean conversations that could have been left alone. I take sides when I shouldn’t have.
But even if I am entirely right, I only end up escalating the war. People reading my words think: Look — it’s exactly as we have always said, these filthy bastards are attacking us again, we need to retaliate!
So they retaliate. And then I retaliate. And then they retaliate. And…
Even if I was right, so what? I won nothing. In fact, I have personally made things worse: I wanted more equality, but all I got is more enemies.
Ask yourself: do you want this gender war?
I would much rather live in the midst of gender collaboration if I’m honest. Of gender negotiations, even. But for that to happen, each one of us must make a personal decision to choose the side of peace whenever we can.
All this war does, is make us miserable. None of us gets what we want and everybody loses.
As I sit at the keyboard gearing up for another battle, I will do my very best to stop myself and give peace a chance.
I encourage you to do it, too.
With thanks to SC, Kasahara, and others who called me out and helped me see that I am a part of this problem, to June Kirri for helping me describe it better, and HUMAN [R]EVOLUTION for the prompt to write.