It all started when one woman shared a thought-provoking observation about yet another invisible hurdle women face in their everyday life.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 8, 2022. It has since been updated.
A Twitter user shared a thought-provoking observation about yet another invisible hurdle women face in their everyday life. In a thread shared by the user, Toph Cassandra Beifong—who, according to her Twitter bio, is an electrical engineer with AuDHD (a combination of autism and ADHD)—shared how her "autistic brain has to learn by observation" since she does not pick up on social cues like those outside the spectrum. She does so by observing patterns in people's behavior. She noticed how men have a knee-jerk reaction of saying "no" to pretty much anything a woman says.
"I've been asking my male friends to do something—watch if the first response to everything a woman tells you is to refute, say no or something negative. One texted me later: Holy f*ck The problem is, constantly putting up with unwarranted resistance is bad for mental health," Beifong tweeted. "The conversation started off from discussions with married women on dealing with men just resisting ideas with no basis. Including, and I'm not kidding, buying the new black toothpaste. "
She then went on to demonstrate her point with the help of one example involving trying a new toothpaste. Beifong tweeted how a woman wanted to try using a new black toothpaste but was immediately shot down by her husband. However, when the woman went ahead and purchased it anyway, her husband ended up trying it and actually liking it. "This gets horrid when it piles up. It makes daily conversations with men anxiety-inducing for women because you have to literally prepare a defense for everything. In a good no. of cases, women stop mentioning or asking anything. No one wants a fu**ing toothpaste discussion," she tweeted.
The conversation started off from discussions with married women on dealing with men just resisting ideas with no basis. Including, and I'm not kidding, *buying the new black toothpaste*.— AuDHD Electrical Engineer: Toph Cassandra Beifong (@W_Asherah) June 12, 2022
W: Let's test this
W: *Goes ahead and buys*
M: *Uses it* I actually like this
"Some things you just do. You think, you do. Not everything needs to be a debate. It's 'let's get this' and the person goes 'okay' and then you get the thing. Another was a story of someone's husband chiming in to say negative things whenever she's chatting with friends," Beifong continued. "Oh, he is one of those allies who believed that he's very supportive of women in his life (I'm hoping he's stopped believing that). All while responding with resounding no to things that should not get a no. He didn't say what but he found himself in an argument with his sister."
Me: We should do thing X.— Amanda B Thinking (@AmandaB_strong) June 13, 2022
Husband: I don't know, X doesn't sound like my kind of thing
1 week later:
Husband: So and So says this new X thing is really great and I should give it a try, wanna come?
She explained how the man and his sister argued about "something really petty that he should have just agreed with" until the sister took a moment to ask him what exactly he was resisting. "Which is when he remembered what I'd told him," Beifong wrote. "It's socialized resistance to women speaking—and every man I know does it either subconsciously or consciously. My Autistic brain has to 'learn by observation'—I don't pick up social cues so teaching them to me as a child was likely futile to my oblivious brain. So I kinda 'learn by observing patterns.' Ever since I started my ADHD medication, I'm noticing weird social norms like these."
I just had this conversation with my husband! “You say I’m always so defensive but you set me up in every conversation as the person who has to *prove* even the most minor opinion. It’s exhausting and after 14 yrs I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt”— Gwen Castleberry (@MsGCastleberry) June 13, 2022
You've also got me thinking of where else I see this pattern happening -- specifically anywhere there's an ingrained social narrative of dominance (race, gender, ability, etc.) -- and I do think it's very much a way to establish social dominance. Gross!— Jules Kelley 🌈WELCOME TO THE SHOW🌈11-Jan-2022 (@juleskelleybks) June 13, 2022
I live with 3 males. My husband and 2 minor sons. I am the most educated of the 4 By Far. Everything i say is questioned and negated. I've basically given up speaking— Jen D (@jeduffy) June 13, 2022
Concluding the thread, she added: "It's like pathological demand avoidance but make it something inflicting men when women speak. The problem tends to disappear when it's a man speaking. One person talked about a woman who calls her husband's best friend whenever she needs a huge decision to be made." The Twitter thread hit close to home for thousands of social media users, prompting many to share similar experiences from their own life. "Married 38 years to a man like this. It took a toll on my mental health. I left him. Today, we are friends and he considers what I say. Lesson learned: what we tolerate, persists," tweeted @desertvoice.
My stepdad is like this. EVERYTHING I said was automatically wrong. Every. Thing. I stopped talking to him altogether after my mom died. I don't need that kind of negative energy around me.— Angelina 💉💉💉 (@MemphisBelle111) June 13, 2022
You can observe this even on this website. Every time a woman makes a positive thread that goes viral, she gets support from other women and negative/antagonistic comments from some men. Same gender disparity every time.— Icona 📚 (@iconawrites) June 13, 2022
"Not unlike the phenomenon in meetings where a woman submits an idea or concept for discussion, and response is minimal, but when a man re-words the SAME IDEA a minute later, the response is enthusiastic. So infuriating," pointed out @themediawitch. Here are some more responses to Beifong's thread:
A corollary to this is when men perceive our refusal to agree to their “correction” as argumentative. E.g.:— Jen Psaki stan account (@AngryLawyerLady) June 13, 2022
Woman: x is better than y
Man: no way. Y is way better
W: no. X is better because z reason
M: why do you have to argue with me about everything?!?
Meanwhile they short circuit when they receive the same treatment from women. Because why would we ever say no when we are supposed to be on the receiving end of resistance?— Attention Nots (@maina_noela) June 13, 2022
And constantly being interrupted as a woman. One evening at a social event, I asked my male partner to notice how many times I'd get interrupted or talked over. He said, no way it's that bad... then all evening kept shooting me incredulous glances like omg, you weren't kidding!🤯— Polina Buchan (she) (@Polina_Buchan) June 13, 2022
Is this why capable and smart women often voice their good ideas as questions? Smart woman: This can be fixed by doing a and b. Smart woman dealing w grown men: Should we do a and b? A and B would work because [whole thesis]. What do you think?— J Still (@Stillnah) June 13, 2022
The men in the replies proving your point are so funny.— kickabel (@kickabel) June 13, 2022
Women: men can never just take our word, they have to object to everything
Men in the comments: THAT'S NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!
"When a man says 'no', it's the end of the discussion.— Cold Grits (@ThatSadiddyBish) June 13, 2022
When a woman says 'no', it's the beginning of a negotiation."
This is so accurate. Particularly frustrating is when you finally snap at one man for said behaviour, who raises his hands defensively and tells you to 'calm down', not realising his is the 1000th comment you've had to deal with that day.— Ellie Brundrett (@EM_Brundrett) June 13, 2022