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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sexual Inequality

I feel like I'm being oppressed.

That's an ominous first line, but an appropriate one, I think; you can be the judge.

I am not always super perceptive of pressing or controversial issues. Whether it is because I am busy, lazy, ignoring it, or ignoring its potential, some problems I miss or avoid or am otherwise ignorant of until they are shouted at me.

Here's a problem which I dislike and do not fully understand. Female inferiority. Every so often, I will hear a rant about this problem. About the standards to which women are held or think they are held, and the effect it has on them.

Well, I'm tired of it. Honestly. I'm tired of hearing about how the world demands perfection from women. I'm tired of hearing how women have to be aggressive and demure, coy and straightforward, sexy and innocent, and how nothing they ever do will ever be good enough.

I'm tired of it for one of two reasons: I don't think it's true, or if it is true, I am tired of it being so.

Here's where my early discussion about my own ignorance comes into play, and why I'm willing to rant at either "reason".

Let's start with presuming it's true. Presuming that women are still held in this position, this ambiguous position, and that the toll is too much for most.

Well, whoever or whatever is continuing this: STOP IT! Seriously, what is wrong with you!? Welcome to the 21st century, fool, time to get wise.

I don't see how any good can come from pretending that a person is inherently weaker, less powerful, or less important merely by the number of X chromosomes they have. Presuming that it's some league of men out there promoting this inherently erroneous viewpoint, one thing they should consider: the human male's contribution is what determines the sex of the child. Sure, some of you will argue about nature versus nurture, or how much bottled water with estrogen in it can cause a higher chance of a girl being born, but bottom line, women give X, men give X or Y, and the combination of such determines the sex of the baby.

Sorry Henry VIII, it's not the fault of any of your wives, it's your "fault".

Now, I said above that it must be a league of men promoting this, but it might not be so. Truth is, I don't know who or what is. All I know, is that no one I know thinks this way. No person I know, (and haven't punched in the face), thinks that women are less than men, and no one I know puts women down. And the problem seems to be that either women are, or feel like they are put down, not under a glass ceiling, but in a glass box for all the world to see and judge.

Perhaps it's women who are doing this. You might think that's crazy, but I've seen too many "feminist" groups, spouting hate rather than equality. Some people just like having something to hate, or having a cause. And, if that isn't pointed enough, some women use their "inferiority" while still promoting "equality". The last one is in quotation marks, because a lot of the time, these people don't want to be equal, they want men punished. Maybe we deserve to be, maybe collectively, after all the crap women generally had to go through (or arguably still are), maybe men should be put down and treated as property for a time.

I'd like to think we can move forward, but I've been wrong before.

Now, let's get to the bigger issue at hand, the one which actually fueled this rant: the idea that women have to be the best of both worlds.

I have seen this everywhere, and heard it too often. Women have to be: attractive but not too pretty; sexy but not slutty; intelligent but not annoyingly so; coy but straightforward about what they want; etc., ad nausuem, ad infinitum.

Seriously, the list is stupid and lengthy. Apparently, women have these "standards" thrown at them all the time and if they don't live up to them, well, they are stupid, terrible, animals, or just plain wrong. Men will look down on you or use you, women will judge you and hate you, society at large will burn you like a wrongdoing witch.

Do you women out there really feel this way? If so, where is it coming from? Where should I direct my ire? Because I don't know. I will admit that as a man, with an easy-going past, I have no idea where this pressure, if it truly exists, comes from.

Let me tell you how I treat women: with respect, just like I treat everyone else. Unless you cross me, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and presume you are a decent person. Do I hold the door open for you? Yes, I hold the door open for anyone. (Go on, ask anyone; I do.)

Do I flirt with you? Maybe. I flirt with pretty much anyone, of either sex, if the occasion calls for it. I just like wordplay and I like making people unsure of what direction I'm going when I speak.

Do I think I should make more money than you? Maybe. If I'm better qualified, sure. And by qualified, I mean more suitable to perform the duties of the job, not more or less of a man.

Do I think either sex is better at some things than another? Not really. I sometimes joke that women have a poorer sense of direction than men, or that women have a better understanding of colour because they used to be the gatherers in the hunter-gatherer relationship. BUT! Let me be clear: I only joke with those who know me and know that it's a joke, I do not think so seriously, and if they are unsure, I continue the joke to pure ridiculousness before apologizing profusely about how wrong that is.

From my experience, women have the same potential as men. Some women are better at math, just like some men are better at math. Some men are lawyers, artists, engineers, just like some women are.

I don't hold women to some double-standard of expectation, or maybe I do, someone point it out to me and I'll consider it and try to better myself. But, as far as I can tell, I know what I want and I know what I like. When it comes to a woman I like, I enjoy intelligent, ambitious, honest, straightforward women. A friend described me as sapiosexual, as in attracted to intelligence, and really, that's not too far off. When it comes to women in general, I just hold to them the same standards as men: be good and be competent.

I know this rant is lengthy and out of hand, but let me share with you the perspective of me and some other guys I know and have talked to about this.

Men feel body-image pressure too. You can't watch Grey's Anatomy for too long without realizing your chin isn't too chiseled, your body isn't ripped enough, or that you're not a doctor. You can't watch a movie or flip through a magazine without feeling the same things I'm sure women feel: inadequacy or annoyance at the way people are portrayed. Hell, I've been jealous of accents even, because I've seen the effect it can have on attracting people.

Reading this over before I post it, I realize that one "source" which people might point out to me is "the media", or the way "the media" portrays women. Here's the thing: "the media" isn't specific enough. And if it's as specific as you are willing/able to go, here's another hint: TV shows, magazines, movies, and so on are only making money if you pay for them and support them. Ranting isn't going to make a hell of a difference if you're still buying Cosmo. If you don't like the way something is making you feel, you have two options, in my opinion: avoid contact with that thing, and/or try changing it. While I don't know a lot of people, I would argue that if everyone I knew shared with me the desire to change one thing, well, it would go a long way to changing. And it doesn't even have to be a huge protest or riot. Just talk about it. Maybe that's what these rants are, but honestly, it feels more like a lecture, at which the only people present are those who've already passed the class.

I'm tired of being blamed for this. I know I'm not. I know that the women ranting about this are not aiming it at me, they are aiming it at...well whoever or whatever is causing it. But, it makes me feel like I'm a terrible person. At best, it makes me feel sad, at worst, it makes me feel angry and since I don't know who to turn my anger to, I feel like turning my anger on the women who are complaining. I know that's wrong, and I do what I can. Hopefully, this rant didn't come across that way, but a tiny little part of it should.

The part that asks, "Who or what is making you feel this way?"

Part of me wants to be nice and say, "I hope we can confront this thing together, so that everyone can be loved." Another part of me that doesn't know where it's coming from wants to say, "Whatever is causing it, stop, or I will find you."

Ranting about things won't change anything. The rants I hear will only inspire those who care, or care to care, into "action", as in to rant or pay it forward. This rant will only cause you to agree, or disagree. It's is action and treatment which causes change.

If you too are tired of this sexual inequality nonsense, do what I do: respect everyone equally until they give you a good reason not to. Then give them a second chance.

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