Tag Archives: gender roles

“Daddy Issues”

As a “daughter of a father” I sometimes think it would be hard to understand men, what they want, and why they behave the way they do, if I didn’t have one. I can understand when the daughters of gay parents (moms) — or in the seriously unfortunate cases where dads end up in jail, leave, or die — find it hard to make sense of them. I get that it can be hard to imagine they would have wants, needs, and boundaries similar to those women have, but you know, they’re people too.

Tati, tata, baba, papa, daddy, dad, father, whatever you call him, it is personal. The devolution of “daddy” to a taboo can attest to this. Over the summer, I was talking to my dad while we made the drive to and from my sister’s college in New York City. The trip was long, and I’m sure it made him more aware than ever that he was losing the women in his life that allowed him to function at an unhealthy intensity at work. You will later see why without us it would not only have been unnecessary, but impossible. We talked about a lot, though most of it was redundant and distressing because it clearly lacked any release. Slowly, I began to realize that his incessant criticism about the way people act was dictated by the priorities society encouraged him to accept. Socializing for what seemed to be the sake of talking was reserved for women, or my mom in particular, and his only job was to work in order to take care of his family (parents, wife, and kids — brothers when he feels like being generous.) Speaking to anyone needed good reasons: sharing political ideas, health, information, business, connections, formalities. Of course, these weren’t invariable missions he set out on as he initiated any conversation, but they were definitely reverberating in the back of his mind.

To him, my mom helping her brother by letting him live with us and finding him a job didn’t make any sense, and wasn’t worth it because her brother was ungrateful. But, my dad knows how women work. Even though he’d constantly remind her that giving anything without foresight wasn’t right, he expected her to “act out.” It didn’t stop there. His degree in economics couldn’t be wasted, so he would analyze each relationship to measure how much they’d cost. In this case he owed my uncle nothing except resentment. He would never communicate to someone who “wronged” him because he was sure they were aware of how they were impacting and insulting him. Additionally, they were easily discarded, because they weren’t part of the work/family deal he signed up for. This would happen with people in and out of the family, and he would act as though it didn’t affect his mental health. I was slightly infuriated by his inability to see the intrinsic value of relationships — that can’t be quantified by ideas or knowledge or money or power, but as a woman I was taught to be tactful in these circumstances. I turned to look at him, and I think I was the first to ever ask him sincerely, “Are you happy?” Seconds ago a flaming rage filled the car, but now I was answered with the chill of silence.

The more distance I have from home, the more objectively I can see these situations. My dad’s personal views about how my mom generally handled things shaped the way I view what is considered “feminine.” Because he was both an expert at assuming the dominant and more knowledgeable role, and because she survived on submission, my views were shaped in such a way that I equated femininity with weakness, passivity, lower intelligence, and being overly nurturing (to the point of neglecting yourself.) More importantly, I saw that he deplored of every one of those qualities. I never hated women, especially not my mom, but I did hate what it meant to be feminine.

I wasn’t the only one. As an adolescent, everyone around me seemed to suddenly start hating pink, admiring heartless “Sherlock” characters, judging based on intelligence and aggression (throwback to king of the hill,) and acting as if they were ok with the fleeting relationships they felt they had with people. Yes, the “I hate pink” phase has faded, yes, we have begun to tell men to “embrace their emotional side,” and yes, some have begun to realize how unrealistic and destructive it is to glorify Sherlock characters. Yet, I fear we are still holding on to the tainted ideas that we should welcome feminism by embracing masculinity and rejecting femininity.

I don’t know about you, but “fierce” and “black woman” have nearly become synonyms in my mind for reasons I’m pretty upset about. Among them is that it’s a reminder that they’re too vocal, that it’s surprising they have shit to say, and that whatever they’re doing is abnormal. I don’t know about you, but I still have problems figuring out how to dress, and rarely consider putting on makeup. This is not for fear of promiscuity, because lucky for me that’s not something I’ve internalized (is it because I haven’t been harassed enough or my weight issues? you tell me,) but for looking too “girly” to be taken seriously. I don’t know about you, but I still feel pride knowing I’ve worked myself too hard today or didn’t sleep yesterday. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure anyone else is more anxious when talking about their feelings than our own generation. In this instance I’m comparing my current experience with my experience in an isolated region of the Balkans, in addition to what I’ve heard coaches say about the 80’s and 90’s. Both tend to be behind in the social scene, but in neither case would people feel awkward saying “I love you” or showing affection in any way. Note: talking about feelings is not the same as sharing personal information, which we tend to do instead. People here and now are more guarded, and superficial things like social media and “hook-up culture” endures, despite everyone being aware of the caveats. Wouldn’t you rather scroll mindlessly through twitter than even attempt to make plans that likely require ridiculous coordination, time spent away from work you should be doing, anxiety about whether you’re worth spending time with, and probably more money than you’d prefer to spend? We are desperately searching for ways to be ok with the deterioration of long-term relationships, and mostly what we have right now is detachment.

What I didn’t realize while marinating in my indignation in the car with my dad, was that women adapted to be exactly what men needed them to be while they were setting out to meet society’s demands of them. For one thing, wives are the single person they are bound to. The single relationship they are obligated to maintain  which should, according to game theory, indicate an optimization of social welfare. Both parties seeking to maximize each other’s outcome to ensure the relationship remains perpetual. Women are not weak, passive, stupid, emotional, or nurturing by nature, but when the only priorities your partner has in life are to work and support the family, the things holding them together are the perceptions that they are strong, aggressive, smart, emotionless, and don’t need support. The same dynamic that may occur in gay relationships leads ignorant people to ask “who is the ‘man’ of the house?” Under the right conditions, these role fulfillment expectations perpetuate themselves. The delicate illusion that gender is related at all to intrinsic qualities continues to wear thin as feminism rises. No gender can be happy with these fundamentally flawed molds they’re expected to adapt to, and moving past them shouldn’t be questioned. But, listen to teachers when they tell you the movement began when women joined the workforce. The implications are significant, because right now we are all facing these ridiculous expectations and have no one to properly fill the shoes of the feminine role — with only a partial exception of pets (insert Rick and Morty reference here.) We can’t forget to analyze what was effective, what wasn’t, and why this discrimination emerged the way it did. Otherwise, we can easily fall into patterns of the past.

Seriously, it’s NOT about the nail.

This video is a pretty accurate representation of how many people explain the differences between men and women in society and why relationships fail.

Interpersonal communication can often be simplified into three different types, depending on one’s goal. There are task oriented, relationship oriented, and image oriented. Often communication between two people will be a combination of the three goals. Research has shown that the cause for miscommunications in a romantic heterosexual relationship is frequently a result of men and women having different goals. While men typically communicate in a task-oriented manner, women are more likely to communicate in a relationship-oriented manner.

In the Youtube video, “It’s not about the nail”, the couple demonstrates an occurrence of miscommunication where the male is seeing the woman as posing a task that she wants him to provide a solution for. He is viewing her communication as task oriented, when it is instead relationship oriented. As a result the woman becomes upset, the man does not understand what he is doing wrong, and nothing is solved.

Jason Headley portrays the subject in a light, humorous way: “Understand this and you’ll save your relationship”. The about section reads:

“Don’t try to fix it. I just need you to listen.” Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.”

The video reinforces the stereotype of women acting one way, and men acting the other. It sends the message that women are crazy, and men just accept this if they want t0 keep their relationship. At the end of the video, the man is still not listening, only nodding and agreeing with her so she’ll be happy.

I’d previously had a teacher send me this video and explain how accurate he found it to be about relationships. The teacher was aware that I was involved with this blog and thought I would be interested in it. I was glad the teacher had linked me to this video, but couldn’t stand the video itself. I proceeded to discuss the video for a good two hours with the teacher where I tried to explain why this video is such a poor example, however even after discussing it in extreme detail I don’t believe I made much headway.

The issue with videos like this one is that it stresses gender essentialism. The issue with the communication between this couple can not be reduced to the stereotype that all men think this one way and that all women think this other way. Miscommunication is clearly occurring in this conversation as a result of neither party understanding the goal and mindset behind the other’s comments, but should not solely be explained because one is a man and one is a woman.

I personally have had frequent conversations very similar to this one, where neither person could understand where the other was coming from. This miscommunication has occurred with men and women of a variety of ages. In some of the cases I’ve been the one saying “remove the nail” and in others I’ve been the one saying “don’t try to fix it, I just need you to listen”.

Dear Society,
Stop trying to reduce people to one gender role. Let people communicate how they want to. Maybe instead of simplifying someone into their gender category, you should focus on what they are trying to say.

Isn’t it about time?

It’s not about the nail, but it’s also not about gender and if you go with either mindset there’s never going to be successful communication.

Pope Francis Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

His Holiness spoke out against the role of women in the Church shifting from one of “service” to one of “servitude”, as reported on Globalpost. For this, we commend the Holy Father.

However, in elaborating his point, the Supreme Pastor (a man of many names – seriously, check them out here) went on to make some points which are worth questioning:

The “sort of emancipation” that allows women to enter traditionally male domains may rob them of “the very femininity that characterizes them”.

Whatever cultural and social changes have occurred or may occur, “the fact remains that it is the woman who conceives, carries and brings into the world the children of men,” the pontiff said.

While his aim was to highlight the importance of women in society, this may not quite be the right approach, because:

  • His claims are essentialist. ‘Essentialism‘ means believing that a woman is somehow truly, deep in her core, identifiable as a woman; being a woman is not simply the result of different attributes and behavior. (as described in this other Hoochie post).

The debates over essentialism rage on. Whether the Pope’s viewpoint is supported by evidence is one question; yet another is whether we should criticize the Church for its views… are the women in question not there of their own will?

I don’t know what is right – but it’s worth asking the question.

What do you think – how do feminist ideas fit in with the Catholic Church?

“But Empowered Women Deflate My Dick!”

Every once in a while, someone decides that it is advisable to spew their ignorant, asinine nonsense all over the internet in a perfect representation of the hideous, nauseated cave-dweller which they prove themselves to be.

This is exactly what the hobgoblin who goes by the name of Matt Forney has accomplished.

See if you can tell which statement regarding women comes from his personal blog, and which is a collection of factually inaccurate, inane ramblings crafted by yours-truly (spoiler: this will be more difficult than it looks):

Option 1:

Whenever a girl I’m talking to brags about how she’s “confident” and “strong,” I can feel my dick deflating like a punctured tire. I’d still bang her, of course; a repellent personality doesn’t negate the fact that she has a slammin’ body. But a crucial part of the attraction is lost. I’d be less offended if she ripped a fart in my face.

The idea that women should have self-esteem or need it, beyond a low baseline to ensure they don’t commit suicide or become psycho stalkers, is one of the most disastrous social engineering experiments of the modern era. A woman with excessive confidence is like a man with a vagina. It’s an attribute that is at best superfluous and at worst prevents women from fulfilling their natural biological and social functions.

Option 2:

Whenever a girl I’m talking to goes off about how she is an “empowered” woman cause she has a job and career, all I can think of is “Wow, what a waste of a fine pair tits-and-ass.” I mean, I really can’t think of a bigger turn-off than some chick who acts like she deserves respect for pretending to be a serious professional. There is nothing more useless to society than a “career woman.” Her time would be better spent on my dick or in the kitchen – for the sake of efficiency, let men do men’s jobs so they don’t have to waste their time cleaning up the mess some chick made, and regretting that they hired her in the first place.

The idea that a woman deserves the same respect as a man is absurd. She is half as capable as men are if she is lucky. If a girl expects to be regarded as a man, she has to play by our rules, and I haven’t met one woman who wouldn’t crumble if she were held to the same standards as men are held to.

Well, there you have it.  Can you tell which one is real? Click here to find out (but not if you want to be in a good mood afterwards).

The point is that us feminists need to be cognizant of the fact that people like this do, indeed, still exist. Hopefully, you will only have to come into contact with them rarely. When you do, proceed with caution, as it may be difficult for you to resist body-slamming them off of Planet Earth for the good of humanity.

Why Feminism Does Not Perpetuate Gender Categories

Many open-minded and freedom-loving young adults do not like the term feminism because they believe it perpetuates gender categories. Is the world not ready to move on?, they ask. Being ‘nice’ to women is ‘common sense’!

That is not the case – here we discuss why.

In a thoughtful post titled Feminism: A Male Anarchist’s Perspective, Pendleton Vandiver highlights how the attitude toward women has indeed changed for the better – not because humanity has slowly come to its senses; not because some vague sense of justice has cured bigotry – but only because of the ongoing struggle of feminism that has pushed through the past two centuries and still burns passionately today.

Vandiver writes:

To deny this struggle is to perpetuate a myth similar to that of the happy slave. Yet this is precisely what we do when we speak of feminism as somehow perpetuating a gender divide, or hindering our progress away from identity politics. Feminism did not create the conflict between genders: patriarchal society did. It is important not to forget that the aforementioned idea that women are fully human is not common sense but absolutely, emphatically, a feminist notion.

He goes on to discuss why many ‘freedom-for-all’ advocates, especially anarchists, have criticized feminism for being:

  • Essentialist (“believing that a woman is somehow truly, deep in her core, identifiable as a woman; being a woman is not simply the result of different attributes and behaviors.“)
  • A philosophy that asserts female superiority to men.
  • A perpetuation of gender categories.

Vandiver walks us through the arguments against these views. Here is a good snapshot:

Feminism can perhaps be best defined as the attempt to get beyond the state of affairs where people are oppressed because of gender. Thus, it is not possible to go beyond gender without feminism; the charge that feminism itself perpetuates gender categories is patently absurd.

The post is well worth a read. Check it out here.

So, what do you think – is the struggle perpetuating the problem?