[WARNING: this story is a parable, and not for the faint of mind. Sometimes it takes a man to mansplain other men about sexism. What can I say? We don’t listen too well, especially when so many of us figuratively bind and gag the women of this country.]
ONCE UPON A TIME, there lived six blind men in a village.
Their smartphone personal assistants notified them of a great event in eerie robotic tones:
“Hello, blind man, there is an elephant in the village today.”
They had no idea what an elephant was, for they had terrible reception and could not google the answer.
So they decided to take a chance and have an IRL experience by meeting up with this elephant, thinking:
“Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.”
The men went to the town square, where the elephant was on display.
Each of them touched the elephant.
“Dudes, the elephant is a pillar!” said the first man who touched her leg.
“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched her tail.
“Wrong-O! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched her trunk.
“Fuggetaboutit. It’s like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched her ear.
“No, you jackasses, it’s like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched her belly.
“F*ck off, you wankers, this is definitely like a solid pipe,” said the sixth man who touched her tusk.
They began to argue about the elephant, and each of them insisted that his perception was the only one that could possibly be right. Things began to get ugly, and they started sending out angry tweets.
Fortunately, a wise man was passing by and saw the fight unfolding. He stopped and asked them about the nature of their problem.
They replied that they could not agree about the true nature of an elephant. Then each blind man told the wise man his thoughts on the elephant. The wise man calmly explained to them,
“All of you are right. The reason every one of you has a different perception is that each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, actually, the elephant has all those features you said.”
Everyone was relieved, and the fight ended.
They felt happy that they were all right.
But one more voice finally entered the conversation.
It was the elephant.
She calmly told them:
You have all made accurate observations, but you are all wrong because you barely scratched the surface of who I am.
The blind men stopped and listened and started to talk among themselves.
She called over to the wise man since he was the only one who could see and asked him:
Do you see that crack on my right tusk? I clashed with a young bull to defend my baby.
Do you see that light-colored ring around my left rear leg? That was where I was chained up when taken from the jungle and forced to work in the circus.
Do you see those scars on my back? That was where they whipped me because I wasn’t pulling the circus wagons fast enough.
But I’m free now, and I will never allow myself to be insulted or attacked by men again.
The wise man looked down at the ground and blushed, for he had been humbled. He looked the elephant in the eyes and then said
Oh, beautiful elephant, even though I have eyes, my perception is still so limited. Without walking in your shoes, I will never truly know what it is like to be you. Would you, uh, like to go out for coffee?
Before the elephant could answer, the tavern door opened, and three drunks stumbled out: a manure salesman, a tanner, and a horny goat herder.
The manure salesmen pointed over to the elephant and shouted, “check out that ass! I could be rich if I had that sh*t!”
The tanner whistled and yelled, “Gimme some skin, baby! I could make the finest quality boots and belts and be rich.”
The horny goat herder screamed, “woo baby! look at that rack!” and started to run unsteadily toward the elephant, yelling, “Oh yeah, I’d tap that!”
The elephant looked over at the wise man, said, “oh, not again” and ran out of the village never to be seen again.
AND LET THE FIREWORKS BEGIN.
To better understand sexism and racism check out Everyday Feminism.
Here’s an article on Gaslighting. Both sexes can be guilty of this, but it’s worse when the one doing it is a foot taller and seventy five pounds heavier:
6 Unexpected Ways I’ve Healed From Gaslighting Abuse and Learned to Trust Myself Again
But my then-boyfriend was screaming at me, saying I was lying about where I’d been, and accusing me of cheating on him…
Here’s an amazing article on mansplaining. We all do it a little (that means you, too, ladies), just not as bad as the idiot in the article:
Rebecca Solnit: Men Explain Things to Me
Before there was mansplaining, there was Rebecca Solnit’s 2008 critique of male arrogance. Reprinted here with a new…
On racism, here are some really good sources:
A comic on why we can’t perceive white privilege:
White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic
White privilege can be a tricky thing for people to wrap their heads around. If you’ve ever called out white privilege…
A comic on how even the dictionary codifies institutional bias:
Why Using the Dictionary Definition of Racism Just Doesn’t Work
We all need to pause and read this comic before using the dictionary definition of racism in an argument. While…
An article that helps explain the difference between racism and prejudice:
I like to think of myself as being progressive, objective, and conscious about issues like sexism and racism. I thought I had a grasp of the meaning of white male privilege (playing the game of life on Easy Mode.)
But the writers on Medium have shown me so many different perspectives that shined a light on my blind spots, and the linked articles above were there long before I thought about exploring these issues outside of my knowledge of the news.
It just goes to show how not knowing what you don’t know is far more dangerous than knowing what you don’t know, you know?