Reinforce your second class status

I really believe that in order to progress as a society that promotes equality we need to deconstruct gender stereotypes.  I think that this will be beneficial to both men and women.  However, men probably have more to lose and women have more to gain. 

 Inherent in the way we veiw the two genders that society accepts, men tend to come out on top.  

It’s not just that we should break out of the idea that all women or all men fit into nice little boxes and no one is an individual.   Male qualities are seen as good while female qualities are seen as bad.  If we deconstruct what it means to have masculine or feminine traits, the inherent power and goodness of being “male” will diminish. 

This is good news to those men that embody more historically feminine traits, and good news to women everywhere.  But how can we convince men to give up the power that comes with conforming to these standards?  Otherwise if women want power or influence we must rely on becoming masculine. 

 I’ve been genuinely complimented on my own masculine behaviour: being direct and expressing my ideas and concerns on projects.   Why is that masculine? IMHO: Historically women were not allowed to either be direct or even have ideas.  In order for any women to exert any influence she would have to be very indirect so her owner husband wouldn’t lose face.  Culturally this trait has been passed down mother to daughter.  (and in many cases is still part of many individual’s experiences with marraige and society) 

Cultural brainwashing should not constitute what it means to be female. 

This puts me in a frustrating place when it comes to talking to women who support/accept gender stereotypes wholeheartedly.  I have a friend who is a chef.  I remarked to her that she shouldn’t “work” on her day off when I saw her at a bbq cooking up some veggies.  Her response was, “well it’s ok, it’s not like real cooking, I mean, even men can do it!”

other golden comments include “well it’s just a male ego thing” and various references to how men are “just that way” differing depending on context.  So to her, it’s ok for guys to be jerks and uncompromising because that’s just they way they are and they can’t help themselves.  It drives me nuts as she is such an individual thinker in other areas.  She complains that we have all been brainwashed by the american food culture that is so unhealthy, but here she is totally consummed by the patriarchy.  But can I blame someone for not breaking free of the “values” her parents taught her?  is that blaming the victim? 

I would say, yes she is a victim of society but that is not an excuse.  no more than it is an excuse for someone who thinks raping someone is ok because society allows it. 

At the same time, am I not also working toward her freedom?  It’s like the matrix, at anytime the people we are trying to save could become Agent Smith. 

It’s just so frustrating.

Published in: on September 4, 2007 at 4:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As far as friends go … for me, it’s a bit like a Venn diagram: you can be a friend, you can be an ally, and maybe — just maybe — you can be both. But unless you are a complete asshole, not being an ally won’t necessarily disqualify you from being a friend. Yeah, it’s frustrating as all hell when I see my friends doing shit that ultimately comes to roost on my stoop, male friends that ask “pfft, what patriarchy?” and throw around rape jokes or white friends who say “pfft, what supremacy” and lock their car doors when they see Black people on the street.

    Scarily enough, it actually reminds me a bit of being a teenager, when I was one of only two born-agains in my group of friends, and I was torn between wanting to respect them completely and save them from ultimate damnation.

    One of the most frustrating aspects of “my body my choice” is that some people will unavoidably choose the things that you feel are bad for them — and at that point, you can worry, you can attempt to educate, but you’ve ultimately got to accept that they know themselves and their circumstances better than you, and while you can be around to offer advice you can’t dictate their lives for them.

  2. […] I’m Reading Blogs Left and Right Today! A little gender deconstruction. […]

  3. Annette was told (a lot) in Japan that she spoke Japanese “like a man”. WTF?

  4. Phreespirit, there’s actually an explanation for that one. According to friends of mine who speak Japanese, there are different “dialects” (not true dialects, but different methods of inflection, word choice, suffixes, and many smaller things like that) which are employed by the different sexes. A male friend of mine often got teased in Japan for speaking “like a girl,” because he learned most of his colloquial Japanese (instead of the more formal stuff he learned in language classes) from the women he befriended in Tokyo.

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