These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works."
On December 30, 2008, on the fourth day of the offensive that the Israel Defense Forces called “Operation Cast Lead,” rain fell as I made my way from the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem to Tel Aviv airport. The taxi driver lived in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem where Israeli bulldozers had just demolished a few more Palestinian homes. When I asked him whether he was for Hamas or Fatah, he answered: “I’m for my wife and children.” In Sheikh Jarrah piles of upturned earth, razor wire, trash, and glass shards are constant reminders to him that nothing is safe, nothing is certain."
“The people of Gaza don’t deserve to suffer,” Ehud Olmert said on the first day of the three-week assault in 2008. In other words, these excesses are not punitive. Even obedience will not make them cease. Before each new stage of that offensive, leaflets bore polite warnings addressed to “residents of the area.” They repeated words that fly in the face of reality and sense: “For your own safety you are required to leave the area immediately.” Leave to where? Nowhere is safe. That is the horror.