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.

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Talking to girls

I was bored and perusing Facebook when I came across this interesting blog post.

The fact that we talk to girls and boys differently shouldn’t really surprise anyone, but it should upset us all. The social norms we live by are not something we are born with, it’s infused in us as children. We learn early on how girls and boys should look and act, respectively. These norms are then passed on from generation to generation, from fathers to sons, mother to daughters, from our teachers, friends and even strangers. We all learn to conform to our gender. But gender, be it masculinity or femininity, is just something we have made up, so what is stopping us from reinventing these age old norms? Well, nothing really. The problem is that norms that are so deeply rooted are difficult to break from, they are engraved in our minds and our selves, therefore we have to actively think and decide to act differently, in order to make any change. This is not an easy task. I know. But it’s still worth it. If we can try changing bit by bit, making it possible to talk to girls about what they like and do, instead of how they look, asking boys about their feelings and stop pressuring them about being “strong” and “manly”. How great would it be if both girls and boys were encouraged for the same things, being complemented for the same achievements?

This issue is also deeply related to media and advertising, since ads reflect our culture and society, therefore reinforcing the norms we live in. So many ads are portraying women and men like the stereotypical image of gender we have been taught growing up: Women are beautiful and passive, Men are strong and active. As John Berger put it:

“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision:
a sight.”

Growing up my mother always told me I was beautiful, being her child of course she thought and said so, as any mother would. This probably gave me some form of confidence boost that girls get from (being taught) hearing that. Still, more than praising my looks, she always encouraged me to use my brain. As a kid I was good at math, which thrilled my mother, and in the 4th grade it was me and this boy who were the best in class. However, while he was praised and acknowledged about his math skills, I was not. Needless to say, this really upset me so I told my mother about the boy and he being “better than me”. There and then, she made me a proposal: “How would you like to beat him at math and be the best?” I don’t know why but something in me triggered that day, my competitive instinct kicked in, I was sold. Of course I wanted to beat that boy in math, what ever it took. So from that day on I studied harder than before and sailed through the entire math book, I got so far ahead that in 5th grade I was reading the 7th grade math books. All the while my mother kept encouraging me and pushing me forward, praising not only my looks but also my smarts. So yeah, I did beat the boy, and that gave me a bigger confidence boost than any compliment about my appearance ever has.

I love my mother of course, but even more I am grateful for the way she raised me, being a strong independent woman herself, she always encouraged me to think, act and do. Not just be.

Thank you mom.