I’m back with what I hope is another thought provoking post. I’m currently working on an essay for my Theories of literature class. The essay is based on the idea of feminism and we were given an option of 10 texts to choose from to guide our essay writing most of which were either online articles, videos or songs. I chose the song Flawless by Beyoncé and Adichie. While I was writing the essay I started thinking about all the times I have been stopped doing something by someone else because it wasn’t “ladylike” or because “it’s not what a woman should do.
Now of course I’m not time travelling from the 1800’s or indeed the early 1900’s, in fact I was born in 1999 and I would’ve liked to think or hope that this sort of thing doesn’t exist but it does and I think that it’s important that we accept that sexism and discrimination against genders exist and think about doing something about it. I’d like to hope that the next generations don’t face this like my generation and the generations before me have.
I understand what I am going to talk about is nothing extreme, it’s just a couple of annoying comments I’ve heard over the years but still they are wrong. I understand and want to highlight that people have gone through far, far worse when it comes to discrimination and abuse regarding gender and I am fortunate enough to have never suffered any of this myself. I simply want to share a couple of experiences with you that I have been reminded of earlier today.
- Sit like a “lady”- This one has annoyed me ever since I was a child. I will say though, it was never said to be cruel, it was just said because it was seemingly the correct and appropriate thing to say to a young girl who was doing the unconventional thing like many other children. As a child and probably a good bit of me now too, I didn’t care what way I sat or walked, etc. Call me lazy but I relaxed in whatever position was the most comfortable for me. Admittadly I still do. Whether that was crossing my legs, slouching in the chair with my legs not stuck together or sitting curled up in the corner of the sofa. I always remember been told that I wasn’t being ladylike and although I rarely said it I was often led to wonder why we had to be “ladylike”, who thought of this idea and why we couldn’t just be ourselves instead of being defined by being a lady. You’ve probably gathered by now I was a very curious child.
- Not carry heavy things- This is a more recent one and frustrated me just as much or if not more than the first point I made. I’ve been at functions where an extra pair of hands were required to help carry things but the question has always been phrased in a particular way: “Any lads available to help carry stuff?”. It’s not that I have a problem with men carrying heavy things, some of my close friends are male and I’d be just as nice to a man as I would to a woman but I’d be a little happier if the question wasn’t just limited to one gender and was phrased instead to be something along the lines of: ” Anyone available to help carry stuff?”
- Not to open doors for men- I don’t know where the tradition of only men opening doors for women came from to be honest. Of course I’m always grateful and full of respect when a man or a woman holds a door open for me especially if I have my hands full; it’s a lovely gesture. But one thing I have found is that when I open the door for a guy the reaction from people is quite different. It’s not that I’m expecting a round of applause or some gigantic amount of admiration from people, in fact what I’m expecting is no reaction at all, for people to take no notice at all. Quite recently I opened the door for a male student at our university library who had his hands full of books which would’ve made it impossible to open the door by himself and when I turned to go back in the direction I came from I noticed a couple of puzzled looks and stares. Even before that I have heard people say that ” a woman shouldn’t hold a door for a woman”, that it should be the other way around.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Have you ever had any similar experiences?
I just want to end this post by saying that I am not at all using this post to complain about any gender. I simply wrote this post to shed some light on issues that have bothering me about how we think of gender and people of different genders.
Until next time,