Archives for posts with tag: Feminism

Given that sexes are, nowadays, considered to be equal… the advent of gender seems to be somewhat unwarranted.

I’m afraid things are not so simple.

First of all, sexes are only declared to be equal. Nobody – or, more exactly, very few, actually consider them to be absolutely equal.

Secondly, they are only of equal importance. Not at all ‘equal’.

First things first.
We, all, have been raised seeped in ‘culture’.
And almost all contemporary cultures consider women to be ‘second’ to men.
Hence both men and women – both raised by the same ‘mother’, have an ingrained bias towards men being ‘somewhat’ more important than women.

Last, but not at all least, sexes play different roles. Biologically, socially… any way you look at it, men and women do different things in order to fulfill their jobs. OK, those roles have been ‘blurred’ during the last decades but their are still discernibly different.
But of equal importance, mind you!

Just think of yin and yang. Would you say they are equal? Could you say which is more important?

Hence gender!
‘Genders’ do exactly that. They underline the functional differences between sexes while demonstrating the equal importance shared by both sexes.

And, last but, again, not least, genders teach us that only the biological roles are different AND fixed.
Social roles are also different but they can be fulfilled by either sexes. Men acting as secretaries for women bosses, women leading households – both income-wise and/or as ‘the pillar’, fathers using their maternity leaves, women flying fighting jets, men happily working as nurses. You name it!

You get accustomed to it.
Study genders. It will come easier.

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Regina Maria,
Ana Pauker,
Elena Ceaușescu,
Viorica Dancilă.

In felul lor, fiecare dintre acestea au reprezentat câte o premieră în viața socio-politica a României.
Fiecare dintre ele au exemplificat câte un fel de culme.

Concluzia?

Sunt mai multe.
Aș menționa doar două.

Mamele românce au ezitat pentru prea multă vreme în a-și încuraja fetele să ‘spargă’ barierele și băieții în, la început, a accepta iar, mai apoi, a încuraja ei înșisi acest lucru.
Soții, tații și colegii, români nu au fost în stare să înțeleagă, autonom, că nu pot gestiona toate lucrurile de unii singuri.

Așa că singurele femei care au ‘reușit’ să ‘penetreze’ au fost ‘excepțiile’.

Yet another misleading title

OK, I fully understand the editors’ need to grab readers’ attention… I also understand the fact that the readers themselves have become somewhat forgiving… in the sense that most don’t even notice that the title which convinced them to read an article is only vaguely connected to the rest… but how far down this road do we need to go before understanding how dangerous it is?

Most people do not trust the media anymore… could it be that this had been helped by the continuously widening distance between the titillating titles and the actual content of the articles?

How about ‘Men are attracted by smart women but not enough for them to overcome a certain weariness’?

Now, that I’ve hopefully grabbed your attention, let me delve into the matter.

“…more and more research reveals that though the thought of a smart woman is appealing to men, a real, live smart woman standing in front of them is actually a turnoff.”

“Researchers at the University of Buffalo, California Lutheran University, and the University of Texas at Austin” developed a two tiered study to test their hypothesis.
During the first step 105 men where read a “hypothetical scenario in which a woman either outperformed or underperformed them in a math or English course, and then (they were) instructed … to imagine this woman as a romantic partner”. During this step the men who were outperformed tended to describe a more favorable impression about the woman they were compared to than the one offered by the others. And this finding seems to validate another claim made earlier this year: “Men value intelligence in women far above large breasts and long legs.”
During the second step each of the same men were asked to complete something that looked like an intelligence test and then offered the opportunity to meet a woman that had either out or under performed them. Surprisingly (or not?) the men who were going to meet a woman that was smarter than them “distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive, and showed less desire to exchange contact information or plan a date with her,”

This being somewhat inline with the conclusion of another study which finds that: “men’s avoidance of more intelligent or ambitious women could be due to fear of rejection by these higher quality women.”

Can we even try to draw a conclusion? Given so much contradictory information?

Let’s start from here:

“This study also did not take into account men who are already in a relationship with a more intelligent woman.”

Wow! It wasn’t that hard, after all…
Until now we were considering ‘thoughts’ and ‘impressions’ provided by individuals confronted with ‘hypothetical scenarios’ but who had no first hand experience about the real deal…

But do not despair. You haven’t lost precious time reading all this.

Here’s some ‘homework’ you might find challenging:

Why are some men – those who haven’t yet discovered that this situation could be comfortable – avoiding a romantic relationship with a more intelligent/ambitious woman? While so many same sex friendships bond people who display different levels of intelligence/ambition?

Are we that stuck in our old ‘gender roles’? Do males’ egos still tend to be threatened if they are not the alpha member of their household?

Or could it be that some of the males tend to associate female smartness with a variety of rather aggressive feminism and it’s this that puts them off, not the the intelligence itself?

And why is it that justice is usually depicted as a blindfolded woman instead of an overbearing male?

Just stumbled upon a text over the Internet and now I’m wondering: what’s the real meaning of this word, ‘witch’?

“Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur’s youthful happiness. So he offered him freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question.  Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer. If, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be killed.

The question was: What do women really want?

Such a question would have perplexed even the most knowledgeable man, and, to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. Since it was better than death, however, he accepted the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everybody; the princess, the prostitutes, priests, the wise men, and the court jester.
 In all, he spoke with everyone but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.
What most people did tell him was to consult the old witch, as only she would know the answer. The price would be high as the witch was famous for the exorbitant prices she charged.
The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no alternative but to talk to the witch.
She agreed to answer his question, but he’d have to accept her price first; the old witch wanted to marry Gawain, the most noble of the Knights of the Round table and Arthur’s closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified, she was hunchbacked and awfully hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage water and often made obscene noises.
He had never run across such a repugnant creature.  He refused to force his friend to marry her and to have to endure such a burden.
Gawain, upon learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He told him that nothing was too big a sacrifice compared to Arthur’s life and the preservation of the Round table.

Hence, their wedding was proclaimed, and the witch answered Arthur’s question;

What a woman really wants is to be able to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur’s life would be spared. And so it went. The neighboring monarch spared Arthur’s life and granted him total freedom.

What a wedding Gawain and the witch had! Arthur was torn between relief and anguish.  Gawain was proper as always, gentle and courteous.
The old witch put her worst manners on display. She ate with her hands, belched and farted, and made everyone uncomfortable.
The wedding night approached: Gawain, steeling himself for a horrific night, entered the bedroom.
What a sight awaited!
The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen lay before him! Gawain was astounded and asked what had happened.
The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she’d been a witch, half the time she would be her horrible, deformed self.
And the other half, she would be her beautiful maiden self.
Which would he want her to be during the day and which during the night?
What a cruel question! Gawain began to think of his predicament;
During the day a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old spooky witch?
Or would he prefer having by day a hideous witch, but by night a beautiful woman to enjoy many intimate moments?
 
What would you do?
What Gawain chose follows below, but don’t read until you’ve made your own choice!
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Noble Gawain replied that he would let her choose for herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time, because he had respected her and had let her be in charge of her own life.

What is the moral of the story?
 
The moral is that it doesn’t matter if a woman is pretty or ugly, smart or dumb.
Underneath it all, she’s still a fucking witch!”

“Why did the woman cross the road?
Who cares what women do outside the kitchen?”

I was watching a BBC documentary about sexism and I heard the ‘joke’ I quoted above. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a link to that documentary, probably because they are still airing it, but I linked the quote to Yahoo answers because it seems that this one is quite popular)

The narrator had summed up quite convincingly the phenomenon: ‘every time when people not obviously biased against women laugh at sexist jokes the misogynists feel that their convictions are ‘right’ and this enhances the sexist side of their behavior’.

I understand this line of thinking and it is correct from the a psychological point of view. People seek validation from their peers, so each ‘public approval’ for one of their action enhances that particular streak of behavior. I’m afraid though that the real problem lies some place else.

A joke is supposed to be funny. That’s what makes it a joke and it’s up to us to determine what is funny or not.
I didn’t laugh at that joke not because it’s sexist but because, for me at least, it isn’t funny at all.

Some more jokes from Yahoo answers:

“What is the difference between a battery and a woman?
A battery has a positive side.”

So no ‘generic’ woman has ‘a positive side’!
OK, this leaves open the possibility for exceptions… a mother, a sister, maybe a wife… but still, I cannot wonder what kind of women has this guy met during his life? So hugely unpleasant yet passive enough as to feel no apprehension when stating publicly such a harsh position? I wouldn’t dare tell such a joke knowing that any one of my female friends would find out, including my wife. No, not because any of them would bodily hurt me or anything but because they would pointedly and purposefully react. Adequately. Well, in fact It wouldn’t cross my mind to use this joke otherwise than as an example but I believe you got the point…

“Why is the space between a woman’s breasts and her hips called a waist?
Because you could easily fit another pair of **** in there.”

Now this is a real good one. I don’t know for sure what those **** stand for but I’m afraid that the guy who came up with this joke would rather **** a bitch than a real woman. To each, his own…

If you don’t mind rather gross humor here is one for you:
“How do you make 5 pounds of fat look good?
Put a nipple on it.”

Excuse me if you are not and in both situations please consider the real case here: where is the sense of humor?

Maybe the last one will enlighten us.

” – If your wife keeps coming out of the kitchen to nag at you, what have you done wrong?
– Made her chain too long”.

I’m sure you all have heard about the three Ks – In German it’s Kitchen, Children, Church (Kueche, Kinder, Kirche). This expression was coined over a century ago by either Kaiser Wilhelm II or his wife Augusta while trying to belittle the feminist movement that was making inroads into the classic German Weltanschaung.
More than 100 years ago?!? Shouldn’t we get over it?!?
Meanwhile the situation has changed dramatically enough for me to ask you how come the guy in the last joke has a wife in the first place? Or maybe that couple is happy, she with the length of that chain and he with her nagging?

Now seriously, are we not all born by women? Educated, in the first few years at least, predominantly by women? So how come so many men are still finding jokes like that to be funny while so many women accept this situation?

One possible explanation may be that we are experiencing a reaction to ‘feminism’.
I’ve heard, and read, a considerable number of explanations about what it is and why it is named like that.
I must confess that while I agree with many of its goals I’m extremely unhappy about its name.

I think ‘suffragettes’ was, in those times, a far better denomination. It stated clearly what goal they had in mind – voting rights for women – and ‘disbanded’ as soon as they got what they had in mind.
But ‘feminism’?
What is their goal?
To establish that women are different from men?
OK, we already know that, don’t we?

Oh, equal rights? With whom? With men?!?

With which ones of the wide range of men? Men don’t have equal rights either… only in theory maybe, but in theory women have already been recognized (by men, OK?!?) as full fledged citizens. Well, there still is that small but nagging problem of being the masters of their own body (Roe vs Wade) but other than that there is no legal difference between being a man and a women. Not in the civilized world anyway.
So why are we still enjoying the presence of so many, and vocal, feminist activists of both genders instead of them joining ranks with the rest of the human rights activists?

Maybe because the entire human rights movement has reached a dead end?

Women want to be equal with men while men want to be equal among themselves and all pretend it’s their (constitutional) right.

In what sense can a woman be equal with a man? Or a man with another? Have you ever seen two absolutely equal eggs? Or, funnier even, can somebody pretend that egg yolk is equal to egg white?

Oh, the yolk is useless without the white (except for when you want to make mayonnaise) and the white is useless without the yolk (except for when you want to bake meringues) so no sensible person would ever dream of trying to determine which comes first… as we do with people… women come first when it comes to passing through a door and last when we are talking about promotions…

But who to change all this if not us?
We, men, should acknowledge that women are just as important as us, and just as wise, even if they cannot hunt as well as we do, while women should understand that their quest for ‘equality’ doesn’t make much sense.

What we really need is equal opportunity to develop our potential, regardless of gender. If a woman is denied promotion based on her gender and a less capable man is promoted in her place the real looser is the entire organization and its stakeholders. Shortly that woman would move over to another company if she is really good.
The same rationale is valid for the rest of us.
If a child, no matter how gifted, doesn’t get the right education to fit his potential, he might loose some. But the society at large looses big.
Even if the child is less than average he might become, properly educated, a self sufficient person. If not, chances are he’ll become either a ‘welfare benefits receiver’ or a ‘repeat offender’.
We all agree that an average person has more opportunities to become a respected member of the society if he receives more education, right? I’m going to presume we are talking now about proper education, the kind that benefits the recipient, not the ‘teacher’…
If we are considering really gifted individuals  then the situation is even clearer. What if Edison, or Marie Sklodowska Curie, couldn’t have learned what they did or experiment the way they used to? And now, that we are talking about Edison, do you know where Tesla came from? Croatia? Have you ever heard of that place before? (It’s in Europe, east of Italy).
I’m sure you already know where Poland lies, the place where Marie Curie came from, but I wonder if you know that she was educated in an underground university because higher education for women was forbidden at that time in her country by Czarist Russia, the imperial power who controlled Poland in those times.
Really bright people have a habit of being able to make it more or less on their own but also of looking for greener pastures. Not necessarily because they are greedier than the rest of us but because they need more resources in order to put their ideas into practice.

I’ll leave you to do the final reckoning.

Some additional reading about how men and women complement each-other in most unusual ways and how heavily this depends both on social habits and individual choice:
– Islamic women fighting for what they consider to be freedom (and I fully agree with them): http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/12/meet_the_badass_women_fighting_the_islamic_state_pkk_kurdish
– Islamic women fighting to preserve ‘traditional values’ (To what end?!?, I constantly ask myself but I cannot find an answer) http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-60-UK-women-fighting-in-Syria-with-all-female-Islamic-State-police-374761
– What women have to experience in places where their freedom is less than it should be: http://petapixel.com/2012/12/26/portraits-of-albanian-women-who-have-lived-their-lives-as-men/ and http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/30/unmarried-women-thrown-on-scrapheap-after-years-of-living-with-a-man-4713547/
– Not only women can play the role of men. The opposite is not only possible but also sanctioned by some societies: http://theculturetrip.com/pacific/samoa/articles/fa-afafines-the-third-gender/
– For some historical perspective: https://www.facebook.com/FranciscoFilipeCruzCulturalMarketing/photos/a.569976243114253.1073742149.305394226239124/569976396447571/?type=1&theater and http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/1106316
– Even what we call ‘values’ depend heavily upon the social developments that are taking place: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/201211/be-thankful-your-liberties-and-freedoms

Even though I call myself a ‘feminist of sorts’ there is a side of feminism that I don’t understand/like.

“Michelle Obama took a fashionably shod toe and dipped it into her husband’s efforts to address the nation’s higher-ed gap, the move was greeted by some feminists with a relieved, “It’s about damn time!” “

For those of you who don’t care much about American politics she was just giving a speech about the importance of getting a solid education.

My problem lies with how some feminists choose to react to her behavior as First Lady:
“she dropped in the line that “at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom-in-chief.” Much of the nation may have been charmed; feminist commentators, not so much. “Why does mom-in-chief have to be the most important thing this strong, vibrant woman tells us about herself as she flexes the strange but considerable power of the office of first lady?” Emily Bazelon lamented on Slate.”

Why do some of the feminists feel they are entitled to tell others how to think or how to behave?
I still nurture the notion that true feminism is about empowering women to make their own choices, not to simply herd them in another pen.

Modern day feminism baffles my wife the same way it baffles me: “I don’t want to be your equal! I just want us both to be considerate of each-other and to do our respective ‘bests’ towards our common goal: for our entire family to be as happy as possible, as long as possible!”

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To me ‘equality’ is indeed important but I never forget it is nothing but an idea that needs people to put it into practice and I always remember that the results of its implementation rely heavily on the individuals involved in the process.
On the other hand ‘justice’ has a very powerful practical side. “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” is supposed to mean “let justice be done though the heavens fall”. I strongly disagree with this interpretation. Romans were extremely practical people and I’m sure they meant “let justice be done OR the heavens will fall”.

Back to feminism. My first real problem with it arose when I kept the door open for a lady (?!?) in New York and she hissed at me: ‘Move or I’ll scratch your eye-balls, you misogynistic perv!’ (Please note that I am a Romanian living in Bucharest and even if communism has done a lot to improve the status of women relative to that of men – while lowering both – we didn’t give up common courtesy).
So are women equal to men? Some say yes – I somewhat tend to agree, at least with their intentions – while others deny it vehemently citing, among others, differences in size, stamina, etc…and sometimes even differences in how our brains work or how we respond to what is happening to us. I find this arguments to be very flimsy. If anything women should be considered superior to men because they need only a small amount of sperm to give life to another human being while all we man can do about this, after donating the sperm, is to help them in raising the offspring. So yes, we work a lot better in tandem but if push comes to shove a single woman is able to fend for herself (and for her children) a lot better than a single man would be.

The hard reality is that we function differently and we do this for a very good, if overlooked, reason: we are wired differently. Having different sexes means a lot more than being programed for different reproductive roles, it means that we transmit differently genetic information to the next generation and I’m not speaking exclusively about the genes that determine the sex of the child.
There are chances that you have already heard about ‘mitochondrial DNA’  (If not this is about some genetic information that regulates not only the way the human cells generate energy by oxidizing glucose but also other important processes).  Now the funny thing about this is that even if we men believe ourselves to be the ‘more energetic gender’ we inherit the ‘software’ that determines how we generate and use energy exclusively from our mothers. Weird, heh? So men, contrary to the widespread belief that they contribute with half the genes of their offspring, have in reality nothing to do with an essential part of the metabolism of their children while women pass along this kind of information to both genders alike.
But wait, there is some more. Some people would jump to say there is a similar situation with the Y chromosome, the one that differentiates man from woman and which comes directly from the man, right? Well… not so fast. Having a Y chromosome helps but does not guarantee maleness while having two X chromosomes does not always insure feminity. It seems that each and everyone of us are not only wired differently but also our fate is heavily in debt to the particular environmental conditions that surrounded our development.

Now that we reached the subject of the ‘environment’ lets see how it has evolved in the last 100 000 years or so.
No, don’t worry, I’m not going to ramble about the global warming, this is about the social environment. You see, by the time we are born there are about 1.06 boys for each girl, when we get near to the 20 years mark the numbers are roughly equal while as we get older the sex ratio is skewed in the favor of women. And the fact that “the percentage of men aged 65 and up grew faster than the percentage of women aged 65 and up, according to the 2010 census” suggests that there is nothing wrong, biologically, with men only they tended to live more riskier than the women.
So humankind evolved while the norm was for two generations – parents and children – to be present at the dinner table at one particular time while a third generation, the grandparents, was a rare exception and it was not uncommon for a widow to raise its offspring, maybe with some help from the relatives or from the older children. The proportion of single women rising children tended to rise shortly after major wars.
And these things are not without consequences. Social change is, in general, slow but increases its pace after great wars. Yes, probably the driving force behind the change may have been people’s dissatisfaction with what had just happened but i’m convinced that the change was facilitated by the fact that the single mother who had to provide for her family had less time to interact with its children so she had less time to pass over to them the ‘values’ and customs valid for those times. And so it was easier for the young generation to effect change because they were less imprinted with the ‘good old ways’. Another thing. Who were the most conservative sections of the society? The better off-s? Surely because the status quo was beneficial for them! Yes, probably this was the driving force but the fact that wealthy people had a tendency to live long enough to meet their nephews was also helpful: the grand parents contributed to the imprinting of the younger generation.

So what am I driving at? That women should stay at home and raise the kids in the shadows of their almighty husbands? Not at all, no way Jose. Restricting half the population to domestic chores only cripples a society, it is a waste to stifle the creative capacity of so many people.
I just propose for us to understand that even if we are able to survive, to a degree, separately it would be better to work as a team. Also we should accept that our innate abilities are different, even if they overlap considerably, and therefore we should not insist as much on ‘equality’ but rather on mutual respect and cooperation.
Also that we should teach our children to use their heads for thinking autonomously instead of memorizing like a parrot our already ‘old’ ideas. It is better for them to be able to discern what worked and why than to try to remember which is the pertinent ‘tradition’ for every problem they encounter. This way revolutions that happened because the society became stuck will eventually give way to peaceful and continuous fine tuning  – evolution that is.
And one other, and last – at least for now, thing. We should never stop defending our freedom. Subordination has nothing to do with cooperation. (I am speaking now about the cooperation between genders, sometimes subordination works in other areas of human interaction)

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