2 Jun 2014, 11:45am
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This Absurdity fringe of gender

We are continually shifting definitions of gender, hopefully broadening to obsoleteness.

As the male silhouette shrinks, the female fashion trends move to leggings. As males wear bigger baggier pants, the females wear bigger pants to keep outlines distinct. Why do males hold themselves into a narrower subset of colors, fabrics, patterns of cuts and narrower set of haircuts? Why does such nonsense such as this 50 reasons to push for equality and notice it isn’t here yet.

Gender is presented to us as caricatures of wide-shouldered, square jawed men cloth-covered neck to ankles, women displaying more skin, wearing heels and lipstick and big hair.

I doubt the majority wear those on special occasion. People not in ads, not on tv, not in movies, not in cartoons, in the daily dress more androgynously. The majority of the time we aren’t abraded acutely by gender. Most of the time we walk about freely, evening mingling among all the gender spectrum because it is not relevant.

That is a gift horse with one bad tooth. There are still patterns. Females are more interrupted, are less likely to be boss, and all the etc you know. There’s always going to be something.

Oriah wrote in part,

Several people wrote to tell me I was making myself tired by acknowledging this condition, suggesting that I simply keep saying to myself, “I am not tired. I am full of energy.”

Now, I know that how we view conditions- both inner and outer- profoundly impacts our experience. But I was tired- not dying, not angry about being tired, not panicked or catastrophizing in any way. Because I could acknowledge I was tired, I went to bed early.

What bothers me about this so-called positive thinking is that it assumes that all thoughts of what is, when what is does not meet our ideals, are negative.

Although she was talking about caregiving to her father, she also puts her finger on something that transfers.

#YesAllWomen gets framed as complaining, instead of action, as if words were not also gestures of action.

#YesAllWomen gets framed as making generalizations, even when it is very specific to one person and one person at one moment.

It gets framed as making self into victims and blaming males and therefore discouraging unity by setting up him and us camps which perpetuates the nonsense of gender. That’s not it.

It gets suggested that #YesAllWomen is emotional-based. When one is attacked, naturally emotions happen and that effect lingers for years. When you remember bodily reaction of being disrespected, there’s an attachment to self as distinct from others, and some sense of autonomy. That isn’t the problem. The problem is the lack of recognition of boundaries when those boundaries are drawn by someone with visible books or encoded by fabrics to present as female, or perhaps have a timbre of voice that is female-range.

That’s not anger or catastrophizing. It is stating the facts. The patterns in aggregate make up the facts.

mackerel skies
Ah, blue sky, blue sky.

It is not generally males who slut-shame low-cleavage, get catty instead of complimentary about short skirts, who police women to not go out at certain hours alone. It is females who tend to mirror each other in silence saying I wanted to say something that didn’t. This complicit mess of social standards and tolerance of pushing even those lines, is not at the feet of males only. it is a human issue.

Comparing one life to another, one situation to another, glossing into one thing a range of behaviors from hiring a woman at lower pay to lynching a girl for getting raped. Not the same thing. Agreed, apples and oranges and not productive to pile everything in one heap.

Comparison is false but the system, is it the same root cause across different languages, cultures, continents? Or parallel evolution from different causes? The last thing we need is sloppy thinking. Especially since logical intellect has been codified as male and women get groups with Deleuzian tangles.

The more you say, the greater the risk that someone jumps on a minor point to as en excuse to throw out the whole or the validity of the whole.

The more you speak, the more you risk backfiring and reinforcing gender instead of calling out the parts of it that aren’t intrinsic. But that’s a short-term blow-up.

Prejudice is a thin card. When it faces you, the joker going toe-to-toe, it’s hard to miss. When it isn’t facing you, it’s only the thin width of the card.

General life anecdote. Someone on Top Gear saying “this car could be driven by a cross-eyed woman” as if that were the stupidest possible case scenario and different than a cross-eyed man.

Instant burn. Maybe I’m a sucker and a chump and a practiced subject of bully. To react to a troll is to be weak. Or to have heard the same joke in too many variations for too long.

It was a cheap shot perpetuating a joke, but why again? It was not provoked by there being a legion of cross-eyed women driver accidents. The audience is presumed male host, male drivers, for males. What’s the logic? In-group bonding to someone who can’t be hurt because no females would be in that space therefore no harm done? Same logic as anti-semetic jokes are funny so long as the body builder there in the corner isn’t Jewish. The joke presumes that I wouldn’t watch the show and shoves me to outsider position.

Apparently #YesAllWomen it is not stating the obvious since the systemic constant pattern isn’t recognized as significant.

You can’t fight all battles continually. When you do speak, that in itself is not negative thinking.

Negative thinking is the normal silence. Speaking is the making room for new, asking for new. If listened to.

That some females flourish does not prove that there is no pattern. That some people draw the line for over the line elsewhere does not mean there is not problem.

Sexism is waning compared to a couple decades ago. Or maybe I have made myself insular in a community that doesn’t practice it so strongly.

#YesAllWomen is not to usurp singularity as The Only Problem. It is not to jockey to be the best problem in competition. It is not out to win a ribbon.

#YesAllWomen is not blind to the possibility of sense of humour. It is for enough is enough.It doesn’t matter that some women don’t mind. That is not who it is for anymore than a blonde person from Newfoundland liking blonde jokes and Newfie jokes.

Adaptable rolling with things with a sense of accept what you can’t change. Enjoy life anyway. #NotAllWomen isn’t opposed to adaption but is seasick from all that rolling.

“The past is not actionable” is an opposition to the #YesAllWomen stories. We are all subject to the baggage of gender that we did not choose. Sure.

That isn’t the point either.

“We can only control this moment, if that.”

So we should not speak of the past? Yet we trot out as if neutral cultural reflections of violence in “diverting” “entertainment” of females being written as if powerless, as if needing a male saviour, as if males were the villain. Is this not also the past? Is this not also negative? A “good movie” in which there is a plot arc based on a binary of them and us in which one is intending harm and one is intending harm to protect another? Where there are 4:1 males to females on the planet and females don’t speak?

Is this not all a negative ubiquitous hogwash that ramps up hormones, trains neurons to mistrust and want an adrenaline rush, stimulants of stressful situations or imaginings?

But the solution isn’t to tell people to stop talking.

Is there blurriness?

But what about female on female violence? Isn’t this just a general human issue?

Yes, people who communicate with power and hands and are poor communicators who disprefer to hear no are creeps come in all ages, colours, sizes and genders but even still, only a handful of females have assaulted or letched at me. Proportionally few but with impacts.

In a lot of rooms I can accurately predict that if my arms are covered, then I take a sweater off and have short sleeves there will be a beeline of someone rubbing my bare arm as if they have been waiting. There are others who reliably only touch with a pause hover or light near touch that gives time to move away or towards and the gesture is completed or retracted in a fraction of a second of listening.

Touchers or close talkers isn’t the issue. It is certain behaviors that presume to touch females is to touch public space with as much liberty as to grab a handrail.

I know boys are also assaulted. In my home community more pedos were aiming for boys than for girls. Or hebephiles (puberty onwards) or ephebophiles (14-17 years). I suppose eventually, just as the word gay became more than a general word for not-het, eventually ephebos and hebes will eventually come into currency as being not the same as bi, not the same as hetero.

That isn’t the issue. That would be derailing to another topic.

Women are still risk of being dismissed or being unheard when they call out behaviours while the males who bother are excused as “going thru a bad time now” or “didn’t it mean it that way” or “didn’t mean anything by it” or “doesn’t get enough attention at home” (i.e. blame woman A for male not listening to woman B).

If a woman is hitting on men wildly, are the same excuses made for her? Probably? Are the men checked in with to see if they are okay about all that boundary shoving?

The issue isn’t as narrow as one person to one person. That is with solutions. Speak to the person. Put one person in line. That’s not the level of problem.

The dialogue is to change the system. It isn’t outrageous or upsetting. It is pesky. It is sloppy. It is unnecessary.

The Geena Davis Institute is a watchdog for women in the media and business. How far as we from genderblind? A ways. “Female writers accounted for 15% of feature film work in 2012” [source]. Men are hurt and spoofed to. Yes, but that’s another thread. Playing roles we can forget they are roles and mistake them for essences and earnestly try to be like a gender. We forget our gags are jokes and make them into gags.

But that’s just the way humans are and always have been. No, I don’t believe that.

Whole systems of behaviour change rapidly. What was culturally common upends. Society can go from working as an economic community to revolution where people stone each other or go from intermarrying to “ethnic lines” drawn. Smoking can go from everywhere, even doctors smoking during operations, to being locked behind cases.

Consider practice of drinking and driving and beer bottles all along the roads through the 80s. Or what it is to be male or female being strong pinks appropriate only for males and females needing to wear blue, to that reversing. Males drink and women don’t, traditionally. Depending on who and when and where. In United Arab Emirates women are the drinkers who binge drink at least once a week. In Russia females of course were in engineering and roadworks. Why here are women just holding construction signs?

Individual choices come from somewhere. From the way we treat one another not just from infancy but in the daily. In what we let pass. In what we pursue.

Healthy boundaries where it is win-win help so everyone flourishes. To loop back to Oriah, to say no to some stuff is stressful but less stressful than to let some things stay fuzzy and continue.

Boundaries- or rather, the lack of them- is often a source of anxiety. If I don’t know where I end and you begin, if I can’t tell if something is my business or yours, or ours, or that which belongs to something sacred and bigger than the two of us together, I am likely to feel easily overwhelmed and overburdened- and that can create anxiety.

The problem on one level is not one person to one person but the implications and baggage we attach to gender. It is where general boundaries of ideas exist compared to where an individual places them.

A problem comes not when a person presents as female. It comes with the implication, presents as female therefore unconscious primed to something big about a pecking order, intelligence, capability, motivation, character, world view, an assessment of a whole shebang of aspects not having to do with that particular person. Or the gender generally. Believe me I would as much as anyone like gender to disappear and take all its nonsense of monopoly on lace and pink shoelaces with it.

Much of the rules of engagement of gender are local, shifting in time and place and like anything else need a great deal of work to stay in place.

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