People are alike all over, so everyone must think just like me

Echidne, Feministe and Pandagon all rip into a UK article whose female author asserts that women hate sex: “The only reason we do have sex is to get a man, keep a man, steal his sperm and flatter ourselves that we are attractive. Once we have a man, his children, his name on a piece of paper, his youth and his house, we no longer want to indulge in that ridiculous, time-consuming, horizontal dance.”
I thought about doing an Undead Sexist Cliche post—Women Don’t Like Sex certainly qualifies (and I touched on it briefly here) but those other posts did such a good job, I’ll focus on another angle: The author’s assumption that all women think just like she does.
A lot of magazine articles, dating guides and other pieces that make this assumption—”I’m a typical guy/woman/gay/Latino/homo sapiens. Therefore all guys/women/gays/Latinos/homo sapiens must feel just like I do.” I realized this back in the nineties, while reading some piece by a guy who brags about some of his sexist attitudes and goes on to explain that all guys think the way he does; anyone who claims otherwise is just lying.
For a more recent example, there was an article a year or two ago in which a woman recounts how she grew bored with her marriage, had an affair and found she didn’t want to “work” at fixing her problems. Which proves, therefore, that lifelong marriage doesn’t work—not just for her, but for anyone.
Or there’s this post on slacktivist, which quotes a conservative Christian pastor who says he regrets having kissed three women—none of whom he married—before he met his wife. Which proves that nobody should go around kissing women (let alone doing anything else) before marriage.
And then we have the UK writer who assumes that since she doesn’t like sex, no woman can possibly be into it.
Part of the reason we get so many articles like these, I’m sure, is the “everybody does it!” defense. I read one article by a serial philanderer, for example, who asserted that all men cheat (and any guy who says otherwise is lying) and clearly felt he shouldn’t be criticized for just doing what was in his nature (his assertion cheating is “a dick thing” might imply there’s some gendered thinking wrapped up in it too—or it might simply mean that he wouldn’t cut his wife any slack).
In some cases, the writer has an agenda they’re trying to press: If your faith tells you that premarital sex (or kissing, or anything in-between) is wrong, it’s not surprising if you find it a negative experience, or that you believe anyone and everyone will find it as horrible, disgusting and sinful as you do (NYT columnist David Brooks once asserted that anyone who has sex with multiple partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide).
Sometimes, I think it’s just marketing. “Trend” articles wouldn’t be published if the writer presented them as “something a couple of women I met in a bar said” rather than “the way all women really are.” Dating-advice books probably wouldn’t fly off myself if the authors presented them as “how you can get a date sometimes, with certain types of guys”; much better promotion to say, as The Rules did, that you’ve got a universal rule and no man will ever love you if you break it.
And sometimes, some people genuinely do assume that everybody thinks the way they do. Your Mileage May Vary? How is that possible? The way you feel is so obviously right and natural—and you’re obviously a normal person—how could any normal person feel differently?
Except they do.


Filed under Politics

4 responses to “People are alike all over, so everyone must think just like me

  1. Victoria

    Thanks for your posts. I’ve heard many of these lame cliches before and thought about similar possible arguments against them. One problem I have is that I may as well not even try to argue against them, because often whoever spouts these cliches aren’t about to listen to logical counterarguments. I’ve found it most satisfying to just walk away when possible, lol.

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