Feminism 101: Listening

Not listening to women is a misogynist act.

If your first reaction upon reading that statement is a contrarian urge to point out that some women aren't worth listening to, or to aggressively question if I'm arguing that every woman is an expert on every subject, or in any other way in whatever variation try to find some exception to my statement, that is a misogynist impulse.

Because this is a statement of fact: Not listening to women is a misogynist act.

Actively tuning out women is a misogynist act. Passively failing to seek out women's perspectives is a misogynist act. Shouting down or talking over or reflexively contradicting women is a misogynist act. Treating women as though they are not experts on their own lives and experiences is a misogynist act. Appropriating women's ideas is a misogynist act. Tokenizing women in lieu of making room for meaningful participation is a misogynist act. Marginalizing women's voices, through systemic and deliberate exclusion or a careless failure to practice diversity, is a misogynist act.

Not listening takes many forms. That is hardly a comprehensive list. There are, unfortunately, many ways to not listen to women.

Women with intersectional identities are not listened to in specific ways. One woman's ethnicity makes her too loud to be listened to. Another woman's fatness renders her too invisible to be listened to. Another woman's disability... Another woman's age... Another woman's class...

This is not an argument that women are always right, or wise. It is an argument that, even if a woman is wrong, the wrongest that any wrong person could be, she still deserves to be heard, and her wrongness dismissed on its merits, which requires listening in the first place.

To be heard is to be valued.

This, then, is also a true thing: Listening to women is a feminist act.

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