Let's Digress

Who Can I Have Conversations With?

This appeared on my social media stream the other day and it has provoked me to have a few questions. Seriously, if this person’s list of forbidden male discussion topics is even remotely accurate, I am going to be über confused.

Now that I think about it, this kind of ties in with another blog I wrote forever ago, which prompted similar questions that I’m still waiting for answers on. 

1) How does one decide who is and isn’t a man prior to having one of these discussions? 

I’ve read several articles, mainly from Everyday Feminism, which indicate that misgendering someone is an insulting, psychologically harmful, and literally violent act against the person being misgendered.

So, what is the barometer being used to determine man-ness? Is it based on chromosomes? Is it based on the gender roles that are performed greater than 50% of the time? Is it based on physical appearance? Is it based on the individual’s self-identification? What if their self-identification contradicts what their chromosomes say? 

How can I reliably determine who to have these conversations with without accidentally being a debased, gender-assuming bigot? 

2) If I accidentally do find myself knee-deep in a conversation with a man about any of these topics, how do I abruptly end the conversation without seeming like a discriminating bigot? 

Free and open dialogue with another person usually changes topics frequently and without warning. If enough conversations are being had, at some point, one of those will no doubt transition to one of these forbidden discussion points. 

How do I abruptly end that discussion with that particular man without appearing to be someone who participates in discussion-related gender discrimination?

Side question: If the conversation I’m having is with a man of a different race, like a black man or an Asian man, will I be classified as a racist for discontinuing the conversation? Or will it be okay as long as I clearly inform everyone within earshot that the reason I don’t want to talk to him is strictly because of his sex and not his race? 

That being said, questions 1 and 2 are contingent on me agreeing with the premise of the post, that premise being that it’s morally acceptable, even encouraged, to not talk to certain people about certain things because of their sex. 

I absolutely think people should have the freedom to be able to talk to, or to not talk to, anyone they want for any reason they want. However, I think that if someone elects to not talk to someone about something strictly because of the other person’s sex, then that person is, by definition, discriminating. And I find that problematic. 

3) I was told from Everyday Feminism and other interweb places that men actually can have periods.

Can I talk to those men about any of these topics? 

4) Last time I checked, most of the time, in order to get to the abortion phase of a pregnancy, a male had to be involved. So, shouldn’t men be included in these discussions since they generally ought to have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their unborn children? 

As for the other forbidden male discussion topics, I really don’t care that much. I generally think the practicality of breastfeeding should be something decided between a married couple. I also don’t think anyone actually cares what women do with their body hair. And I think that access to birth control and feminine hygiene products is an individual issue, unless my taxes pay for it, in which case, I should have a right to discuss whatever my money is funding. 

I do find the last sentence to be problematic though, and that I do take issue with. I wholeheartedly disagree that the deciding factor for a valid opinion should be determined by how deeply one’s sex is involved in any particular topic. If one’s sex is the deciding factor now, then opinion validity being based on race (or any other factor), is only a half-step away. 

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