Ask Surly Amy: How To Fix a Sexist Boyfriend
We get email:
Hello, I was wondering if you could help me out with an issue I’m having with my partner. I’m starting to notice more and more how sexist and misogynistic he is, presumably as he becomes more comfortable I’m seeing the real him. I think its mainly a case of education and up bringing as he went to an all boys school and that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing.
Some examples would be:
When we have a tradesman come to the house to do work he expects me to play the “dumb woman card” to get out of committing to paying for extras. He also genuinely doesn’t trust me to make decisions with these people without checking with him first although I’ve never been incompetent and can’t think what made him feel this way. Its not a 2 way street as he feels free to make plenty of decisions without my input.
He says women cannot make good managers but has yet to give me an actual reason as to why.
He has stopped me from wearing what I want on a night out before as he believed it was too revealing (it was not!) He got so mad about it I now always have it in the back of my mind when deciding on what to wear so’s not to upset him again
I recently found he watches ALOT of porn but he can’t see any issues with that
He gets mad if I drink too much (the only times I have drunk in the past 2 years were at works Christmas party and I was perfectly safe) where as every other weekend he gets drunk to the point he can bearly stand but says that’s fine because he’s a guy
I can’t fart or other do other “unlady like” things around him yet he must do at least 1 room clearer a day. He even has to comment if I sit with my legs apart when its hot!
I could go on and on. Seemingly small things that have started to really grate on me and as other men are starting to really frustrate me with unwelcome comments on my appearance and asking if I’m “OK with that bag?” And so on – it has started to become a bit much for me and I’d really like to put a stop to it!
Do you know of anything good I can get him to watch or read to get him to see, or at least consider my point of view? Show him that it is an issue, im not the only one who feels this isnt acceptable and why its wrong? I’ve tried talking to him about this and he just laughs about my “feminist rubbish” and thinks I’m ridiculous, so I’m clearly not being effective enough!
You are not ridiculous. You deserve to be treated with respect. Please don’t blame yourself because your boyfriend has revealed these deeply held misconceptions and false expectations about women. They are his flaws, not yours. And if he won’t even listen to you I’m not sure how a book or video recommendation is going to help at all.
I have to say that the general consensus of Skepchicks behind the scenes who read this message is DTMFA. But I can’t definitively tell you if you should pack up and leave or stick around and try to educate this guy because I don’t actually know you or him. And sometimes these types of obviously unbalanced relationships are much more complicated than, “This guy is sexist pig.” Your personal safety is an important and unknown to me, part of the equation. But I will say the following:
One of the hardest lessons you will ever learn in life is that the only person you can ever change and ultimately make better, is yourself. And trust me, it was a heart wrenching experience for me to learn. I have loved the hell out of people who were terrible for me. The good news is, those experiences taught me valuable lessons about the kind of people that I wanted to surround myself with and what I had to do to find them.
You can set a good example. You can provide a library of reference material. You can offer advice (much like I am doing here.) You can sky-write instructions on how to be a good person, like an instructional map, across a clear blue, summer sky. You can scream and yell and jump up and down and even do an interpretive dance routine. You can recommend this and other feminist blogs. You can make all the sandwiches (in the world) for him and his buddies, every goddamn afternoon, clad in six-inch, ruby-red, stiletto heels while juggling three new-born babies over your fucking head. You can simultaneously do this WHILE also inviting a professor of feminist theory over to lunch with your partner but you can NEVER ever force someone to listen or to change. Ever.
And no matter how much you love someone, it doesn’t mean that they are a good match for you.
It sounds to me like you already realize that you deserve to be treated better and that you want to be with someone who, at the very least has a grasp of the idea that women are people too, and in order to be with someone like that, you might want to consider making yourself available to meet new people. Or consider the possibility that being alone isn’t at all bad and might just be a million times better than being with a guy who can’t even trust you to make your own decisions.
Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best and I hope you can, at the very least, surround yourself with people who respect you and like you for you.
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top of the page.