Friday, April 13

So, this is interesting...

The indecision over The Filmmaker and The ex-Ex has not been resolved yet.

In the meantime, another problem has presented itself to me which will be easier to discuss.

I like to think of myself as a feminist. It's not that I think there are no gender differences. I think being a feminist partly means being a critical thinker; looking at gender as something that shouldn't dictate one's destiny. I'm a woman (whatever that means), but I don't think that all women are the same. I don't think all women are weak or strong. I don't think that all women have a "natural" mothering instinct, and I don't think that none of them do. I try to question phrases with the words manly, womanly, feminine, masculine...

I am irritated at the studies revealing the ways women defer to men. That women, in conversation with men, use words like "This is interesting" or "I have a story to tell you" instead of just launching in. Whereas men don't point out the value of their words because that value is automatic when the speaker is male.

When men speak, they tend to break up their sentences with their natural breathing patterns. When women speak, they lengthen their breaths in order to push more words out of their mouths, unsettling their natural breathing patterns. Why? Are they afraid someone will interrupt them? Are they making sure they convey enough information in one breath to confirm that their stories are valuable enough to hold someone's attention?

Women in power who freak out and yell at their employees are deemed emotional, bitchy. Their words are dismissed and they are taken less seriously. Men in power who freak out and yell are forces to be reckoned with. They may not be highly regarded, but their right to be "the boss" is not as likely to be questioned.

There are statistics about pay inequality and workplace discrimination. Those trouble me as well. But when the inequalities come down to such subtle social interactions, it's even more insidious. Why is it acceptable for men to watch women, survey them, examine their bodies without feeling uncomfortable? Why is it unacceptable for women to hold eye contact with men when they are not flirting?

I recently tried to look people in the eyes as I strode past them on the streets of Manhattan. I tried to walk with my shoulders back and head up, eyes forward. To convey confidence, ownership of my surroundings. Arrogance, even. It feels nice.

Yet, even though I am aware of these inequalities, disdain them and protest them, I continue to wear bras and shop for feminine, "attractive" clothing. It makes me feel good. I say "Sorry" when people bump into me. I ask a server if "it would be possible" to get a glass of water. I thank people profusely and often.

And today, I stepped off a path to make room for two men who were walking in the opposite direction.

16 comments:

monicker said...

Yes, very interesting.

I find that at work, I have to speak louder and more forcefully in groups consisting mostly of men because many of them constantly interrupt and nothing valuable gets said without much difficulty and lots of verbal conquering.

Oddly enough, in more social settings, the men I am with pay much more attention to what I have to say. I hesitate to say it's because they think somewhere in the future they might score with me, but...

The College Chronicler said...

I've only worked in small offices that were majority women, so I really don't have any experience (yet) with the social glass ceiling women are presented in the workplace. However, it is a good point that men can look a woman in the eye, but when a woman does the same, she's considered flirting....

Trouble said...

I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the film-maker from what you have written. In fact, I think you should run...fast...away from him. He seems emotionally unavailable and ugh...why would you want that?

p.s. If you don't follow those rules and talk like a man, people really don't know what to do with you. (trust me on this one...)

GrizzBabe said...

Where I come from, stepping out of someone's path (male or female) would be considered courteous. But then I live in a southern state where being nice is not considered a sign of weakness.

Airam said...

Wanting to look nice or being polite to peole doesn't make you a "weak person" or one who seeks acceptance from society.

It just makes you person with high morals who likes to look hot.

Airam said...

Wanting to look nice or being polite to peole doesn't make you a "weak person" or one who seeks acceptance from society.

It just makes you person with high morals who likes to look hot.

Bridget Jones said...

What airam said.

I used to get stressed out over the inequities of crap like this.

Then I realized that I couldn't change it, much, and kept being me. Went from being d*mn forceful/emotional to quiet voiced.

But when my (usually) male bosses ignored what I said, and they came running to me to fix things, I did so, after saying (with a big grin):

"You know those people who say 'I'm not going to say I told you so'?

I'm not one of them.

I told you so!"

Joseph said...

you're complicated....

very very complicated.

Beatrix Kiddo said...

I find that in the workplace, I behave in the typical female fashion and speak only when spoken to in meetings. Which is more pronounced since I work in a chemical plant where the vast majority of employees are men. And I feel intimidated not only because they are men, but because they are much older than me. Old enough to be my fathers and grandfathers.
And maybe that is why you stepped out of the way for those two men. Were they older than you? Were they successful-looking business types?

Wombat said...

Why are 91% of all workplace deaths male?

kittenpower said...

hhhmmm.
i don't think being nice should equate to being weak.
That's a shame the world predominantly thinks that way.

Grant Miller said...

I hate when anyone looks me in the eye.

Charm School Reject said...

I agree with Trouble. Filmaker reminds me of the old version of XXB (assuming, of course, that he's done a total 180).

I think the biggest problem with the whole women vs men scenario is that some women are too afraid being labeled a feminist so they back down and other women wave their feminist banner so proudly they make moderate feminists look bad.

Wearing a bra does not make me anti feminist. It means I want/need support for my girls.

Asking a waiter nicely for something doesn't make me anti feminist. It means I like to extend the common courtesies I'd like to be shown.

I don't think that men are to blame for all of these problems either. Honestly, I think its the uber feminists who have pointed out and preached about womens supposed inferiority who've done that. Sure, in the 50's and before, women had a role and yes, when they wanted to go to work a "Real job" there was alot of backlash....but not nearly as much as one would think and also, when life changes, of course, you'll freak out.

Men and women are NOT equal, in most aspects. Do we all deserve the same opportunities, respect, dignity and pay? Yes. But that doesn't mean we are equal.

How often has the generalization of a male hair dresser been that they must be gay? All the time. How often do you see a female firefighter that you automatically assume is a lesbian? All the time.


Men of older generations are alot more polite to women than "men" our age. The older men hold doors, let you get on the elevator first, the whole nine yards. I'm sorry but I'm not offended by being treated like a lady.

Respect is respect no matter what your gender is.

Men that are jerks aren't that way because we, as women, are inferior. Its because their parents were sub-par parents.

I know this was a ramblin' comment but I don't really have time to go back and make sure it all made sense so hopefully you get what I was trying to say.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I am not a feminist. I believe that boys should carry my things and that I can cry openly and they shouldn't.
I still want to make as much money as my similarly qualified male counterparts do.

S* said...

I'm assertive, ambitious, and aggressive but I'm a tiny size zero with a super soft girly voice. I think men should take out the trash and not cry. I should be able to giggle and swing my purse. I look people in the eye and know how to get what I want. I'm far from a pushover.

My point? Just be true to your nature and not worry about what society dictates.

BlueLoverGirl said...

I remember feeling the same way in my women's studies classes. Tis true everything you say. Practice talking "like a man" for a while and tell how the experiment went!