Choices

Ok, say what you want about Lady Gaga and her music, however, couple of nights ago while perusing the web I came upon this video, which raises a very important and unjustifiable issue. I was moved by it, and before I knew it I had stumbled upon a rather frustrating debate on Facebook with some co-feminists and this one rather ignorant man. He started the debate by stating some statistics (who knows where the hell he even got them from) about there only being 6 cases of reported rapes in 1000 colleges, so what is all the fuss about? Well first of all, the fuss is not about this being an issue that happens so rarely and is so easy to get over we should all just get back to our own business and ignore it. The fuss is about this being a violent crime that should not happen at all. I don’t give a shit really if it happens to 1 in 100.000 women (or men for that matter), that is still 1 too damn many! The fuss is about us living in a world where this actually does happen, and trust me, I bet my own life on it, it happens in more than 6 occasions out of 1000, because the reported ones are not all that actually occur. We have no idea of knowing how many cases go unreported in our colleges, in our homes, in our cities, in our countries in the whole god damned world. But needless to say, it’s too damn many for it not being something to fuss about.

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We did not (surprise surprise) convince the man with our “female logic” and all of a sudden the debate was about gender, and him saying that basically us women are privileged and it’s our own faults cause we choose to have smaller salaries because we choose to have babies, and we choose to have low-paying jobs, because we choose not to work as hard as men. At this point, I was literally boiling. Apparently this guy has been living in a cave somewhere for the last thousands of years when the rest of society was built upon certain values, institutionalizing certain norms and certain social structures that we have, and are still stuck with, today. Cause how else on earth can you say that all of these things are choices? I did not choose to have the ability to have kids, but if I choose to have kids, that should still not be a reason for me earning less than the equivalent man (who also can choose, or not, to have kids, but at least is not more or less expected to have them by the society he lives in). I also did not choose, and have never chosen, to earn less than any man who performs the same tasks as I. For those who know me, know that I am a damned hard worker, and have always been, I do not like things handed to me on a platter, I want to earn everything for myself. But when I work as hard, or even harder, and still get paid less, well. Sorry but then I will start making a fuss.

When it comes to biology VS. society, I believe that the former is what gives us our basic foundation, while the latter is the force that actually shape who we become. We do not choose as much as we think we do, we only fool ourselves when we think all our choices are actually our own. Every choice we make is basically the product of our biology, culture and society, we are taught to like this and that, we are taught to choose this and that, we are taught to believe this and that. We are not ourselves but everything that surrounds us, and if you think for a minute that women chose to be the “second sex”, well think again. That is not, and has never been, a choice of ours. It has been stated, normalized and reinforced, over and over again. This must probably be one of the most used quotes when it comes to gender and feminism, but dammit, it can apparently never be said enough:

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
– Simone de Beauvoir

Before leaving the never-ending debate I wanted to address the man one last time, (even though I know it would not make any difference to him), so I wrote:

Brandon, I do not know where you got the idea that white females are the most privileged ones, since throughout our history, and throughout the world, the only really privileged person in almost all categories is a white middle-aged man. And do you know why “he” is privileged? Because “he” is the norm = the focal point whether it’s about power, money, medicine, literature, art, advertising and media, heck even language (think of how language is built, what words we use, very simple example, take sports, it’s called football and basketball etc, but when girls/women play, it becomes “women’s football” and “women’s basketball”. Just “normal” football is played by men, for they are the norm). The world we live in is based on the white male norm, whether we like it or not. And what feminism wants to do is raise women to the same level as we have raised men for ages. Now I am sorry that you feel “oppressed” by feminists cause they seem to mostly raise and discuss “female” issues, but the issues they (we) raise actually involve you too, they are not female issues at all, they are human issues. And also, when trying to lift up one “minority” or oppressed group of any sort, is it really that unbelievably weird that the focus is on that group? It rather seems like you feel less valued as a man, and that stings since you, as a man, have always been the most highly valued. But take it easy, you are still the norm, cause we still have a looooong way to go before actually reaching something worth calling equality.
Good night.

Testy women

Sexism comes in many forms. While my research focus is mainly on advertising and foremost the imagery used, there are still other ways to show gender bias. Language, for instance, is just a great source of degradation and pure old sexism. Read this and weep.

Even if you are not a Hillary supporter, you may still find it interesting, and also insanely frustrating. Deep down I think (hope) most of us have learned by now how media helps to distort our views of reality, still, when we are repetitively fed with the same type of gender biased and, well, sexist language, it is kind of difficult not to get persuaded and affected. I mean, by repetition, norms are born, standards are set, if you repeat something enough times, it will surely stick.

“Feigning neutrality and reporting on the effect of their own reporting is like repeatedly hitting someone then asking why they keep getting hit.”

Even if we know that reporters and journalists are human beings just like us (thus they are not objective, no matter how much they say they are or wish it), I guess we want to more or less believe in what they say and write. It is clear that the authors of the article are on Hillary’s side, but then again, they are not trying to hide it. And even so, the case they make is an important one; media writes about men and women in different ways. And it’s not just about women in power like Hillary, which of course have to be put down (ps. sarcasm), it’s about all women. The discourse of men and women looks very different in media, even when talking about the same thing, the same act, it is still presented as different. Men are such and such, while women are something else, often something with negative inclinations.

“The formula is simple: Man = firm. Woman = testy.”

I so hope that people can see through this elaborate language scheme, but sadly, it’s still “only” the year 2015, and we are apparently, not quite there yet.

My first official day

So yesterday I officially started my phd. Needless to say, I was tense, tense and nervous. And excited, and scared, and freaking out, and in awe, and kind of calm and somewhat hopeful. And I went back and forth through all these emotions and states a couple of times throughout the day, but all in all, it was a good day.

It started out with me arriving at the building, finding the right place and being introduced to the Associate Professor and director of Post Graduate Studies. He shook my hand, I told him my name and he said he remembered who I was, told me he was delighted that I had gotten accepted, that my supervisor had spoken highly of me, that he liked my thesis and that they have high hopes for me there. That tiny conversation was a roller-coaster of emotions ending with the lovely tenseness taking a grip of me. Yay…

Then I got to meet my fellow researchers, which all seemed nice and I am sure we are going to get along just fine. Even though mine is the only research including gender studies (the majority seemed to be about sustainability) I hope to be able to share some thoughts, discuss and debate over the topics that interest me.

There was an introduction about the University, the Phd program and so on, which both enlightened and confused me, then a nice lunch where we all got the opportunity to present ourselves, our research field and topics that we are interested in. Some other professors joined the lunch, and many of them came up to me and commented on my research; they were pleased that they finally had gotten someone who introduced gender studies to their marketing department. While there are some, a few, others at the Uni that apply some type of gender-related studies to their research in other departments, the marketing dept. was sorely lacking. And that is exactly where I come in, I guess.

After lunch we had a recess, I managed to sort some things out, but not all, and then we had an introduction for the two courses we will study these first few months. Needless to say, there is a lot to read and write in both courses. I mean, a lot, really, a whole lot. Phew! I actually wanted to write this blog post yesterday evening, but I was just so slammed with all sorts of papers, new systems to get access to, articles to read, reports to write and so on that I just did not have any time. Actually I barely have time now, just finished my first report so I figured I could spare the rest of the night to other activities, but come tomorrow, I have to start reading a book that I should have read and reported on for a seminar next Tuesday. At least, I will now, for the four years to come, always have something to do. Idle hands and all that…not for me!

(A classmate uploaded this image to our brand new facebook-group, I think it very accurately sums up what this journey is going to be. :] )

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