jc.tryps

– feeds your head

Tag Archives: gender

Are women humans?

It’s about freedom. Basically that’s what it’s all about. The right to your own life. The right to dream your own dreams. The right to decide over your own actions. The right to decide over your own body and what happens to it. That’s what we mean when we talk about human rights. And how ever we twist and turn this issue there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to have the full right to decide over your own life you should avoid being born a woman. Regardless of where you look on this planet men have greater freedom that women. Of course there are lot of other things you should avoid if you want freedom; for instance being non-white, non-heterosexual, disabled or poor. But above all you should avoid being a woman. Of all the poor people in this world 70% are women. 99% of the worlds assets are owned by men. Women do 60% of the labour in this world but earn 10% of the money. There’s just no way to shrug those statistics off.

We can talk about injustice, unfair distribution, power abuse, corruption, we can all agree that our world isn’t fair. It’s true. And we do talk about it, but in those conversations we very rarely state that it’s actually also a gender issue. The world isn’t fair, but it’s even less fair if you’re a woman. No matter how bad the situation is in a country, be it war, famine or poverty,  there’s one thing you can be sure of, and that’s that the situation for women and girls will be worse. Regardless of where we are in the world it’s always worse to be a woman. Why is that?

The oppression of women is never the highest item on the political agenda, it’s always one of the “minor issues”, one of those issues that aren’t as important. In all the debates on global poverty the blatant connection to gender is never mentioned, it becomes a sub-issue. Women are made into a “special interest” group whose interests can be pretty much be disregarded. Oppression of women becomes an issue that’s not really important. It’s not one of the big issues on the global political agenda. But 51% of the world’s population are women. How can something that concerns more than half of the world’s population be considered a “special interest”? And when looking at aid initiatives targeting poverty the results are unanimous: if you give the aid directly to women it will reach more people, children, old people, even men, the distribution will be wider and the success sustainable. It actually works. It’s been proven time and time again that if you really want increased living quality, disease and hunger reduction, financial stability and sustainable change for everyone, women should be the target for aid. And yet, this is not the rule, it’s the exception. Even though the evidence couldn’t be clearer, from an economic standpoint, anything else is even irrational, but it’s still not the rule. Why is that?

When we say “human”, what do we actually mean? What’s the norm for a human? What archetype are we referring to? Is it a woman in Rwanda? A girl in Bangladesh? Or even a lady in Brighton? No, when we speak of a human we are referring to a man. A white, heterosexual middle-class man in the western world. That’s a human. Strange isn’t it? How did we end up having a an absolute minority be the norm? And even if we extend it to include non-white people it still doesn’t include women. Women are an exception. We speak of freedom of speech, democracy and human rights. We criticize governments who hold political prisoners, we condemn acts of terrorism. It’s all on the public agenda. And at times, as a parenthesis, we can even go as far as to state that it’s important that women’s rights are taken into consideration. That they get access to education, that they have the right to vote. But in the subtext one burning fact stands out: Human rights and women’s rights are not synonymous. Human rights equal men’s rights. Read more of this post

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Gender – a state of mind.

dumpster

dumpster

As long as I can remember I’ve occupied my head with thoughts about femininity vs. masculinity. Not in the sense of gender confusion, or as in the feeling of having been born with the wrong genitalia, but as in not being comfortable with the assigned role. I was just never very good at being a girl. Not only in my own head but also in the eyes of others. It was, and still is, frequently being pointed out to me that my behavior wasn’t very ‘ladylike’ and that girls “aren’t supposed to like/be/say/do/act like that”. As a kid this type of comments would make me quite uncomfortable and I would spend a lot of time trying to figure out why. What I couldn’t get my head around was what they actually meant because I was a girl, I was very much aware of that, so why wasn’t my behavior or interests considered appropriate for a girl? If I, as a girl, was doing it or into it, didn’t that then by definition make it ‘appropriate for a girl’? The unanimous answer was no. It wasn’t appropriate to like horror movies, metal and dirty jokes, and it wasn’t acceptable to burp and take long strides when you walk, nor was it ok to sit with your legs far apart or state your opinion loudly. And laughing too loud or getting in fights was also off the agenda. It was ok to play with dolls as long as the dolls didn’t get involved in sex or violence and it was ok to play dress-up as long as you dressed up as a princess and not a pirate. But I did both. That was the thing. I actually played princess and pirate. And I liked horror movies and Nancy Drew books. I could never understand why I had to choose. Read more of this post

Babies

A friend of mine got pregnant a while ago. Nothing special about that, women get pregnant all the time. But in this case it wasn’t planned nor was it desired. Also happens all the time. All part of life. Reproduction. A fact of life. But mainly for women. And don’t get me wrong, I know the XY people also have to relate to the reproductive issue. For instance the almost complete lack of control in relation to your own reproductive contributions. A woman always knows if it’s her baby, a man doesn’t. Being pregnant and giving birth is an exclusively female activity. Something that doesn’t actually have anything to do with men. Men are only in on the actual conception, beyond that point they really have nothing to do with it. In fact, they don’t even have to be there in person, a sperm donation will do just as fine. The manufacturing of babies is something that takes minimal male involvement, but requires a tremendous investment for a woman. In a lot of parts of the world it can even be lethal. As ‘natural’ as it may be, giving birth is a dangerous activity.  According to the WHO 1500 women die every day due to pregnancy or childbirth. That’s more than half a million women a year. Of course the danger is greater in the so-called ‘developing countries’ but women actually die of pregnancy related issue even in the ‘developed regions’ of the world. Baby manufacturing isn’t without risk. But we don’t really like to think about this here in our part of the world, we like to think that having babies is all about happiness and anticipation. Of course we are at some level aware of the fact that it’s not all fun and games, but we prefer to actually not think about the risk it poses to women’s health. And if we add abortions in the equation the situation becomes even grimmer. Because when the anti-abortion crowd, the so-called ‘pro-life’ band of idiots, are getting louder and gaining more influence, the dangers of abortion increase for the simple reason that the medical supervision and assistance for these procedures are decreasing. Read more of this post

The clone army – why does fashion have to be stupid?

same person, different shoes.

same person, different shoes.

I just did something very horrible to myself. I exposed myself to the world of fashion blogs. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m nauseous now. I actually don’t have anything against fashion per se, there’s a part of me that enjoys it immensely. I like the aesthetic aspect, the sheer visual appeal, but above all I think fashion has tremendous subversive potential. Unfortunately this potential is very rarely used. And that was why the excursion I just did was so revolting. It could be so awesome, so earth shatteringly radical, but it’s not. It’s the exact opposite. It’s bland repetition of the same old formulas over and over again. Consumerism, name dropping, brand enslavement, plastic and the same pacifying ideals over and over again in an endless loop that never fucking stops! All this time, all this energy, that’s wasted on something that’s so stupid it’s even painful to watch. It could be so good but it’s just mind-numbingly boring. An army of clones that look like bland copies of each other. Add to the mix some shallow exhibitionism and you have the world of fashion blogs. At least the majority of them. I’m sure there are other things out there. Or rather, I really, really hope there is. For the sake of our species I hope there are at least some people in this scene that actually have some sort of reflection type behavior happening. I feel I should be honest and say that my investigation wasn’t that thorough, nausea came in the way. But this way I can at least cling to that last shred of hope. Because what I did find was so depressing it made me want to cry. Read more of this post

Let’s talk about sex.

paint

paint

I am fully aware what I am about to write, the ideas and the stance I’m taking, may be considered offensive. Some people would probably say it’s politically incorrect and some would deem me down right sick in the head. But I don’t really care. Since I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where I am actually allowed to express my views fairly freely I intend to do exactly this. There’s no law that prohibits me from doing so, but there are plenty of prejudices and social rules that do. Convention as we like to call it. But fuck convention. And fuck prejudice.

A lot of people cling to the idea that our sexual preferences as human beings are determined by our biology and that they therefore are guided solely by our instincts of reproduction. Yes, it’s very naive, but never the less it’s a widely embraced belief that this is all part of our nature. By this logic anything that doesn’t serve the reproductive goal is deemed sick. Such as homosexuality. Strangely enough many of the people who advocate this idea has no issue with “sexy” lingerie, plastic tits or viagra. I suppose they are all to be considered as part of the reproductive effort. Read more of this post

Affirmative action

Today is the International Women’s Day. In a lot of countries this day has lost its political meaning and has become a bizarre mixture of valentine’s day and mother’s day where men are supposed to give women gifts. Nothing wrong with gifts, but I think finally awarding women basic human rights would be a better bargain. And equal representation. I.e. real gender equality. As in 50/50. In all areas all the time everywhere. But unfortunately that’s not even nearly the case. Far from it. And there’s so much statistics to back this up that there’s absolutely no room, none, zero, for doubt – Our world has a serious issue with gender equality. As in there is none to be found. Anywhere. Not even is our so-called “civilized western world”. We suck at it too. Massively.

One of the things that’s constantly being debated in our part of the world is the lack of female representation in parliament as well as in the corporate world. And a lot of possible solutions on how to attack this tremendous eye-sore of an issue have been discussed. Some pledge for a sort of self-regulation approach. As if it was somehow a pure knowledge issue. That people just need to be informed that hey, women aren’t retarded, and then everything will be ok. Eventually. Well, seems like we’ve been trying that for quite a while now and not a whole lot has happened so far. And in light of that very blatant fact, voices are being raised for affirmative action. Read more of this post

Transient encounters and the elusive nature of life.

I’m sitting in the dark of a movie theatre, immersed in images, a depiction of a life lived in the century before this. Paintings, the talk of art and of life. Faded photographs mixed with images of paintings radiating with color. It’s a movie about Otto Modersohn, a German painter, made by his great-grandson*. A movie about his art, but just as much about his wives and their art. These women, their stories, they resound in me, touch me to the core of my being. Their desire, their longing, I can feel it. Their journal entries reach out from across the oceans of time and grab me. I am mesmerized. The past becomes alive. These women become alive.

His second wife, Paula Modersohn-Becker, a brilliant artist, more significant than her husband as the judgement of posterity would show. She wants to be free, she wants to live without the ties of a marriage, and he tries to meet her half-way. He let’s her go to Paris, let’s her leave their life behind. In 1906 that decision must have been more than radical, for both of them. But then he goes after her. Maybe it was a mutual agreement as stated in the movie, but when I hear the lines from her diary about her burning desire to be free and then the later realization that “she wasn’t made to stand alone” I can’t help but wonder. Was it resignation or maybe pity, or a combination of both, that made her ask him to come and join her? She gets pregnant and they leave Paris to go back home. She gives birth to a daughter and then passes away. What does that mean? I don’t know. But I know what it’s like to want to be free, to want to get rid of the emotional ties, the shackles of love that hold you prisoner in a life you don’t want to live. It hurts so bad. And sitting there in the movie theatre I can really feel her pain. The movie has me in a firm grip. I’m enchanted by all these stories, these women and their struggle to maintain the balance between society’s expectations and their own dreams. Read more of this post

Equality – Sorting the shit out.

I was talking to my dad yesterday and somehow we landed in the topic of things that are wrong with this world. We often do that. This particular time we were dwelling on the topic of equality. He was going on about all the things that were wrong in the world, about gender inequality and how that was still such a major issue globally, and he ended with saying that he was not convinced that it was even possible to reach a state of total equality. I was listening to his rant, feeling a certain sense of pride because my father hasn’t always had these views, ten or so years ago he would never have talked about this, let alone in the kind of fairly nuanced way he was doing now, but that finishing statement made me think. Is it possible to reach a state of total equality?

Equality is of course a term that needs some definition, as is the case with most concepts that are used in a political context. A dictionary will tell you that equality means “the state or quality of being equal”. But in a political context there’s a bit more attached to it than that. Different aspects of equality if you will. The most common being gender, race and social. Essentially it has to do with perspective, what you see as the bigger issue. But does that really make sense? Can you really grade it like that? I am fully aware that this has been discussed at length on various arenas and that there have been countless texts written on the topic, but if equality really means the state or quality of being equal there are a few things we must assume regardless of what perspective we choose. Read more of this post

The abomination of gender based identity and sexual conservatism.

There are some things that I will just never be able to understand. One of these is homophobia. I really and honestly do not understand it. And I am not talking about the various cultural and psychological reasons that are generally used to explain this phenomena, or abomination if we want to be a bit more precise, I get those. I understand what they are trying to get at when religion is brought into the picture and I understand what the whole threat to established gender identities theory is about. What I don’t understand is why anyone even cares in the first place. Why does it matter? How can it be that important what gender people are attracted to? Why on earth does anyone bother to care about that? Why is that particular preference given such a determining value?

I was reading a blog post by a mother whose son dressed up in a woman’s outfit for halloween and how that caused people to express a concern that he might grow up to be gay. Say what?! Apart from the fact that I really can’t see any issue what so ever with someone being gay, why would dressing up in women’s clothing make someone gay? How the hell would that causality work? It’s just beyond stupid. You don’t become gay, you are gay. Just like you are straight. Or bisexual. And gender identity has very little to do with that. A gay man is no less male than a straight man, just like a lesbian is no less female than a straight woman. Your gender or sexuality is not tied to your level of masculinity or femininity. But this line of reasoning does put focus on the problem of gender identity itself.  Why is it so important that a boy sticks to the attributes assigned to his male gender? Why does him dressing up as a girl become such an issue? And why is the immediate fear that he’ll grow up to be gay? Why is the transcending of the gender roles perceived such a big threat even when it’s a 5-year-old boy doing it? Read more of this post

Clothes, politics and conspiracy.

In India you see a lot of people wearing so-called traditional clothes. Colorful saris, salwar kameez, dhoti, lungi and kurta. Especially in the villages, there you see very few women wearing western style clothes. Men yes, but women no. Women wearing jeans is one of the best tell-tale signs that you are in a city. I made a casual observation about this:

“I suppose now we are in a city. You see a lot more women in western clothing here.”

“Yes, but I think it’s a shame when they give up the traditional style. The saris are so much more beautiful.”

I didn’t say anything because I’m not sure I agree. Of course the saris are beautiful, but what do they really represent? Is it really a free choice? And if so, how come you see more women making the choice to stick to the traditional clothes? Not just in India, but all over the world. How come women always seem to be the ones that have to carry the traditions?   I also think the traditional women’s clothes in India are beautiful but it’s not really a relevant argument or point in this context. Especially not if you follow the observation through on a more global level. A burqa isn’t beautiful. A burqa is a prison that hinders your movements and deprives you of sensory input. The sensory deprivation isn’t applicable for a sari, but it does hinder your movements. Then again, so does high heels. Read more of this post

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