Why I'm More Likely To Help Women: A Bias

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Last week, someone invoked my name on Twitter, saying they’d like to friend me on Fet but were too shy.  So I emailed them to say that I understand social anxiety and of course it was fine to friend me.  Then I read her Twitter page, saw they were a blogger, saw that she’d just been through a hard divorce and her laptop had just died and she was looking for $200 to repair it, and I sent her $20 to help her on her way.
Now, that’s not unusual; I have a little fund I harvest from my writer-earnings to donate to people in trouble.  It’s not much, and I can’t donate to everyone who I think deserves it, but it does let me spot-give to folks I think need the help.
And I asked: would I have been as eager to help if this person was a guy?
The uncomfortable answer: no.  Not really.  (I have donated to guys, but way less often.)
And I thought about that for a while.  Was I white-knighting, getting off on helping women?  No, not really – I do a fair amount of pro-women blogging, but I don’t do it because I think the women need the help.  Was I unconsciously trying to curry favor with women as a way of getting into their pants?  Again, no, because I don’t recall ever actually making headway on that front from donations – though again, yeah, I probably get more date-offers because of my pro-women blogging than otherwise, so there is an upside to those essays I can’t rationally deny.  Was I doing it because I thought women were incompetent and needed the help?  Again, no…
…and I realized: it’s because I don’t trust men.
This is not a new revelation – it goes all the way back to the war on Jefferson Hill – but when I was in my heavily-bullied middle school period, the people who were picking on me were guys.  And it wasn’t just shoving me; the guys in question would frequently pretend to be my buddy in order to get me to reveal some embarrassing secret to them, which they could then share with the rest of the class, and so in the back of my head though I have guy friends I’m always waiting for them to punch me.
So most of my best friends are women.  I tend towards trusting women.  When I write squawky essays about how women are treated like shit, it’s because I often default to viewing things from a female perspective and go Hey, these jerks are hurting my friends.
And I’m more willing to help out a woman in need, because I trust them more reflexively.  They don’t have to earn my trust like men do.  I’ll help a guy out, but I don’t think I’d ever just help a random guy I only read about online ten minutes ago, because some tripwire in my brain would go, “…wait.  What are they really up to?”
That’s a bias I’m not necessarily happy with, as there are a lot of good men out there who I could be closer to, and I’m not.  It’s a bias that does more good in the universe, I think, because I know some of my essays have helped guys view women in a different light… but it’s a bias I need to examine more, see what I can do with, see how I can help.
Because while I loathe the Men’s Rights Movement as a selfish and stupid grab for white dude power, I do have to admit that personally, I can work on trusting guys a lot more.  Just as I ask men to examine their unconscious attitudes towards women, I should also dissect my attitudes towards other men, and see what I can find.  And like men examining their thoughts on women, it’s a process that takes a while and some thinky-bits.
I’m not unhappy I’m helping women, mind you.  I just should reach the hand to more dudes.  I should reach the hand to more people.  Because, you know… that’s the goal.

1 Comment

  1. Melody Byrne
    Mar 21, 2014

    Oddly enough as a woman I’m exactly the reverse… The vast majority of bullying, humiliation, and emotional pain I’ve experienced has been at the hands of other girls (and unfortunately grown women) so I tend to trust men more. In order to trust a woman I need to determine that she’s not one of “those” women, I.e. a backstabber, attempted husband stealer, etc. A few times men have exhibited the same behavior and when they do I avoid them as well. Overall though I don’t put men through the same “litmus test” I put women through.

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