Content note: This post discusses rape culture.
There’s a tendency, particularly amongst the “I’m a feminist/ally but” types, to respect women if, and only if, said women appear to be invulnerable, perfect machines.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she dedicates all her time and energy to her work and/or to other people. Self-care is viewed as selfish.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she does not show emotion under any circumstances, because emotion is considered feminine and feminine is considered bad, so she’ll get every stereotype in the book thrown in her face.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she “respects herself”, a phrase that usually seems to have nothing to do with actually respecting herself and everything to do with following all the old tired nonsense rules about how to Not Get Raped, which doesn’t sound a lot like respecting her to me.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she is “strong enough”; that she “can take it”. Nobody stops to question exactly what she has to take and why she should have to take it.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she does not make requests, whether that’s accommodations for childcare, for disability, or anything that even as much as puts her on a level playing field with others. She has to just take it, otherwise she’s considered weak.
A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she doesn’t “let herself be a victim”, which is apparently still a phrase that exists and is used on a regular basis. Victim-blaming in its purest form. In order to not “let herself be a victim” (again, what???) she has to just take it, not make a big deal out of it (read: keep quiet). Any trauma she has experienced must not manifest itself, for example in the form of PTSD, because (even though she obviously doesn’t have a choice about that) then she’s “letting herself be a victim”. And woe betide her if she asks for trigger warnings.
I use “a woman” because, if she goes against any of the above, she’s suddenly considered to be representing all women – in many cases, she’s told she’s “letting her gender down” or “making women look weak”. The aim of this is to turn other women, sadly including feminists a lot of the time, against her in order to protect themselves (because women are already deemed to be weak too much as it is), leading to a situation where we’re all competing for scraps of respect and validation because we have no other choice.
Meanwhile, at least in terms of his gender (other axes of oppression may of course apply), a man is deemed worthy of respect… full stop.