These effects are often most visible when the structures of inequality take the most deeply internalized forms. A constant staple of 1950s American situation comedies, for example, was jokes about the impossibility of understanding women. The jokes (always, of course, told by men) represented women’s logic as fundamentally alien and incomprehensible. One never had the impression the women in question had any trouble understanding men. The reasons are obvious: women had no choice but to understand men; this was the heyday of a certain image of the patriarchal family, and women with no access to their own income or resources had little choice but to spend a great deal of time and energy understanding what their menfolk thought was going on. Hopefully, at this point, I do not have to point out that patriarchal arrangements of this sort are prima facie examples of structural violence; they are norms sanctioned by the threat of physical harm in endless subtle and not-so-subtle ways. And this kind of rhetoric about the mysteries of womankind appears to be a perennial feature of them. Generations of women novelists—Virginia Woolf comes most immediately to mind (e.g., Woolf 1927)—have also documented the other side of such arrangements: the constant efforts women end up having to expend in managing, maintaining, and adjusting the egos of oblivious and self-important men, involve a continual work of imaginative identification, or what I’ve called “interpretive labor.” This carries over on every level. Women are always expected to imagine what things look like from a male point of view. Men are almost never expected to reciprocate. So deeply internalized is this pattern of behavior that many men react to the suggestion that they might do otherwise, as if it were an act of violence in itself. A popular exercise among high school creative writing teachers in America, for example, is to ask students to imagine they have been transformed, for a day, into someone of the opposite sex, and describe what that day might be like. The results, apparently, are uncannily uniform. The girls all write long and detailed essays that clearly show they have spent a great deal of time thinking about the subject. Usually, a good proportion of the boys refuse to write the essay entirely. Those who do make it clear they have not the slightest conception what being a teenage girl might be like, and deeply resent having to think about it.
David Graeber, Dead Zones of the Imagination (via antoine-roquentin)


It really pisses me off that we’ve been conditioned to view men’s aging as attractive and perfectly acceptable and that their ‘flaws’ and blemishes are okay, but women are apparently supposed to be perfect and have perfectly smooth skin.

It pisses me off that a woman’s age lines are not only…