Damon Young has written an incredibly honest editorial at Huffington Post about trust and men’s perception of women’s emotions. He writes:
Generally speaking, we (men) do not believe things when they’re told to us by women. Well, women other than our mothers or teachers or any other woman who happens to be an established authority figure. Do we think women are pathological liars? No. But, does it generally take longer for us to believe something if a woman tells it to us than it would if a man told us the exact same thing? Definitely!
This conversation is how, after five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged, I realized I don’t trust my wife.
When the concept of trust is brought up, it’s usually framed in the context of actions; of what we think a person is capable of doing. If you trust someone, it means you trust them not to cheat. Or steal. Or lie. Or smother you in your sleep. By this measure, I definitely trust my wife. I trust the shit out of her. I also trust her opinions about important things. I trusted that she’d make a great wife, and a trust that she’ll be a great mother. And I trust that her manicotti won’t kill me.
But you know what I don’t really trust? What I’ve never actually trusted with any women I’ve been with? Her feelings.
Young argues that this basic kind of discounting – the same kind of phenomenon Miranda Fricker writes about in her discussion of testimonial injustice – is so insidious in part because it’s considered an accepted, almost laughable part of normal social interactions:
Basically, women are crazy, and we are not. Although many women seem to be very annoyed by it, it’s generally depicted as one of those cute and innocuous differences between the sexes.
And perhaps it would be, if it were limited to feelings about the dishes or taking out the garbage. But, this distrust can be pervasive, spreading to a general skepticism about the truthfulness of their own accounts of their own experiences. If women’s feelings aren’t really to be trusted, then naturally their recollections of certain things that have happened to them aren’t really to be trusted either.
This is part of the reason why it took an entire high school football team full of women for some of us to finally just consider that Bill Cosby might not be Cliff Huxtable. It’s how, despite hearing complaints about it from girlfriends, homegirls, cousins, wives, and classmates, so many of us refused to believe how serious street harassment can be until we saw it with our own eyes. It’s why we needed to see actual video evidence before believing the things women had been saying for years about R. Kelly.
He then points out that this type of distrust – a distrust that’s especially geared toward emotional reactions or feelings of anger, betrayal, and hurt – isn’t just something that crops up between men and women:
There’s an obvious parallel here with the way (many) men typically regard women’s feelings and the way (many) Whites typically regard the feelings of non-Whites. It seems like every other day I’m reading about a new poll or study showing that (many) Whites don’t believe anything Black people say about anything race/racism-related until they see it with their own eyes. Personal accounts and expressions of feelings are rationalized away; only “facts” that have been carefully vetted and verified by other Whites and certain “acceptable” Blacks are to be believed.