I have two older brothers; and now that I look back on it, they taught me more about gender equality than any one else.
I'm suffering from the flu today; I have no voice, very little energy and have to stop typing every ten minutes or so because it's exhausting. I'm still writing because being sick is also incredibly boring and I'm a little behind. This completely unnecessary paragraph is my way of explaining how loose and possibly unintelligible this article might be.
Our concepts about what is masculine or feminine are largely shaped by our culture, and while gender is fluid, I find it hard to believe we don't inherently assign certain traits to each, at the very least on a social level. It seems like nature: people have ten fingers and ten toes, eyes and lips and limbs; man-people are built one way and woman-people are built another. We make distinctions by default because it's available to us and we're allowed to scrutinize. Blah blah blah, insert evolutionary psychological sentiment here. I've had a lot of cough medicine today.
It stands to reason that we continue this scrutiny both psychologically and socially; that man-people behave one way and woman-people behave another. Women are often thought of as emotional and chatty, and all men are secretly Don Draper while that reference still has some crumbs of relevance. If not; they're level headed, rarely emotional, rational beings. The separation between rationality and emotion we have in the US is appalling but to be spoken of some other time.
Where am I going with this? Sexism. So we learn to treat each other based off of these cultural assumptions of what men and women are like. Once you're released from your childhood into the adult world, you're forced to figure out what all these googly eyed motherfuckers are staring at and how you're supposed to talk to them.
We develop rifts as to what masculinity and femininity mean based on the roles they're assigned; Mother, Daughter, Sister was all women had for awhile. Men had Father, Son, Brother but they also had Doctor, Lawyer, and Guy Who Makes More Than You. Slowly though, we're working on bringing those roles to equilibrium. How long is that gonna take? Only the Moon Rabbits know. The point is we're trying.
Inevitably, as something becomes more acceptable, people become lost in the echo chamber, and utterly valid points suddenly seem like overblown arguments that aren't relevant any more because we see them 'all over the place' (IE our own facebook feed and nowhere else). We see this with the slow integration of anything; the lingering cries against racism and sexism are brushed off by many as the outcry of a few people who simply fail to accept that the fight is over and they're shouting only to hear themselves.
This includes bringing to light things that happen that people don't want to acknowledge are happening. For example, campaigns like Yes All Women made the uncomfortable point that rape and molestation can occur from any man in a woman's life; that's not saying every man wants to rape a woman; it's not accusing perfectly normal individuals of being monsters, it's acknowledging the very uncomfortable truth that it can happen by any one in our life, coworkers, friends, even boyfriends or family. You think that makes a dude uncomfortable, think about how it makes us feel. It's like Ratatouille but fucked up; Not every man is a rapist, but a rapist can be in any man.
Masculinity and Femininity have traits that are almost intrinsically associated with the words; Masculinity harbors aggression, femininity harbors sensitivity. We view the opposite sex through these ideals of what their gender represents. While this may not be a groundbreaking view, it's weird that we still seem to minimize our attention to the very common instances of these gender tropes being broken. There are many confident, aggressive women; there are also men who are sensitive and desire intense dialogue about what they're feeling. We all know this happens, but for some reason, we tend to be dismissive of it and reclaim the tropes anyways, consciously or unconsciously.
Growing up I was a tomboy. I wanted to be just like my older brothers. I remember being given dolls and losing interest in them quickly. I liked animals and playing in trees. I never really picked up on things that were feminine, and it wasn't a huge influence on my upbringing. I never had large circles of female friends, which never bothered me. For that matter, I never had large circles of friends so I think by comparison it wasn't much of a shocker. I picked up a lot of my influence (including being a fifth grader whose first CD purchase was Portishead Dummy) from my brothers; they taught me a lot about how to be human.
The cool thing about having siblings is you get to see the opposite gender in a completely desexualized context; it's not "men are from mars, women are from venus", it's "we're from earth and going to be in this minivan for the next eight hours." Growing up, I never saw their reactions to things and thought, "that's what boys do, and I'm a girl so that's why I do things differently" We were all just little people running around and figuring shit out.
As I got older, I got to see how my brothers were hurt by women. I got to see how they retaliated. I saw how their relationships formed and deteriorated and it appeared to have little to do with who had which sex organ. They were people, their respective girlfriends were people, and as they grew and changed they went through the same experiences I would later find myself going through. Masculinity wasn't some off putting toxic thing, it was just a different way the cards got shuffled. The fact that attached to it are certain privileges and attitudes shouldn't be ignored, but neither should the fact modern men can acknowledge it as an issue even if they don't know what to do about it.
I didn't meet too many strong women until much later in my life and it's been a great addition; I'm challenged on things and in ways I would have never considered. I'm a pretty passive person, and most of what I've learned about being assertive came from these badass women. What I learned about disarming people, how to not step on people's toes no matter what their personality, that was a gift from my brothers.
Feminism is about gender equality. It's unfortunate the word has been so tainted by the few irrational pubes who pull reverse chauvinism; in order for genders to be seen as equal, we need to consider both of them. You're going to run into well intended people with the wrong opinion and vice versa. There's no need to assume either way that someone can't be part of a conversation, understand something or even change their mind because of their sex. That's what sexism is by definition.
I feel like there may have been more of a point to make, but maybe not. Let me just include this completely unnecessary sentence and the equally unimportant one before it.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.