Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's a Man's World... (Not)

Oh, so much to talk about, but where to start?  We finally painted at our apartment yesterday, and the color looks great.  We recently lost our kitty - I had planned to write about it, but felt it was somehow inappropriate to post on here.  I'm still writing, but I haven't been making a lot of progress lately.  I did add a new beginning.  I've read several books since my last post (some very good ones, too) such as The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which I would recommend to anyone and everyone.  

I also recently watched the controversial movie "Milk" which I thought was excellent.  It stirred up a lot inside me, too.  I suppose I'm one of those people who is only happy when they have a cause.  I just don't like seeing people hated on or oppressed.  All about the equality.  

I was concerned with the lack of women in the movie, however.  I feel like when we talk about gay rights, we just forget about women.  One theory might be that lesbians are better accepted in our society, or another might be that there are less of them, or maybe men loving other men strikes people as much more of a problem.  Maybe our society is just too male-centered.  And I do believe that's true.  It makes me angry.  I will now commence my rant.

The problem here is that no matter how far our society or our culture has come, women are still not equal to men.  Tons of people would scoff at that comment.  Tons of people would also call me names for saying I'm a feminist.  I don't care; bring it on!  Women are paid 15% less than men, STILL!  How is that even excusable in this day and age?  It's ludicrous!  I know women are part of the problem.  Don't mistake me for a woman who hates all men, though sometimes it seems easier to just blame all the problems on them.  I don't.  Women are underachievers, as a sex.  I know tons of hardworking women who have big dreams.  But how many women do you know that settle for lesser jobs?  Why a nurse and not a doctor?  Why a kindergarten teacher and not a professor?  Why a social worker and not a psychologist?  Why not a firefighter, police officer, astronaut, scientist?  So many women choose to sidestep these jobs for ones of lesser prestige.  Is it because we're drawn to children in fields like teacher or pediatrician (as opposed to brain surgeon)?  Do we put off these greater careers in order to get married and start families?

I for one will not put my dreams on the back burner.  I may have been born a woman, but that does not mean  I will settle for less than I am capable of.  That is what makes me so angry.  I know so many women who are capable of so much, but they still settle for less.  

I had a lot of interesting ideas about why so many people are prejudiced against gay men.  And why men are so obsessed with things like war and sports.  It may be that men are being held back in this society even more than women.  Our society casts men as strong providers, unemotional, logical and problem-solvers.  They get things done, and they are manly doing it.  Men don't cry.  They don't feel weakness.  They are tough and they protect their women (please! I say, dripping with sarcasm).  Well, it's not as if men are born without feelings or fears.  They aren't perfect.  They make mistakes, they have needs.  But society doesn't want them to get too close to each other.  If a man has a close friend, people talk about them.  They might be made fun of or called gay just for having a close friendship and caring for another man.  Women do that all the time - it's expected.  But the only real relationship in which it is okay for a man to be vulnerable is with a woman.  That's all fine and good, but it sounds awfully lonely.  

About sports, and war.  I've heard that they both give you a great high, something some people crave.  But the most important thing about these two, and it's not just my own musings here, is that they provide brotherhood.  This is one other situation in which it is okay for a man to depend on another man.  To love another man and have a close connection to him without being seen as acting outside of his role.  (Because somehow we've gotten so homophobic that a man can't show his feelings or admiration of other guys outside of certain restrictive boundaries.)  No wonder guys crave these things.  Everyone wants to feel wanted, to have close relationships with others.  Sure, the whole brotherhood thing isn't the only reason men participate in war or sports.  Maybe not even the main reason.  I don't know.  But I do think it is a reason.  Men are stifled and weighed down in this culture.  They are constantly being told they aren't good enough.  Not good enough at their jobs, not good enough in bed, not good enough at being fathers.  

And while we're talking about fathers, let me just touch on the epidemic of crappy fathers.  I hear about them left and right.  Men leaving their kids, cheating on their wives, abusing their families, just plain not caring.  Maybe this is because men don't have very good role models of what a good father looks like.  We need a movement toward more caring and loving fathers.  And part of that process, which has already started, is that women need to let men take care of their children.  We have a tendency to want things done a certain way and when the man doesn't do it perfectly, we just do it ourselves.  Not only does this put more pressure on ourselves, but it leads to that apathetic quality seen in so many fathers today.  They can't care about something they aren't allowed to participate in.  And how much richer would their lives be if they could have more responsibility in the care of their children?  How much more time would women have with some of that burden off their shoulders - time enough to fulfill those big dreams she maybe didn't think she would ever achieve.  Maybe if we had more equitable roles, people would be more tolerant of those who choose alternative lifestyles to the traditional.  

We all need to learn to be more tolerant of others.  If you believe in god, good for you.  Don't shove it down other people's throats.  If you think being gay is wrong, fine.  But don't hurt another person or discriminate against them because of it.  Keep it to yourself.  Respect others.  Understand them and the fact that they did not up and choose a lifestyle they somehow "knew" was "wrong," but they are simply being who they are.  And they deserve that right.  Thousands of young LGBT kids contemplate suicide, lots of them do kill themselves - all because we can't be more accepting of them.  We are all human.  We all get afraid, we all care what others think, we all need encouragement and support.  If your intolerance is leading to loss of life, maybe you should rethink what you believe, or at least how you deal with others who you deem 'in the wrong.'  All the stupid jokes you made as a kid, every time you say 'that's gay' or call someone a name, just think about how different things would be if their struggles were your own.  

I wish I could solve all the world's problems.  I want to be active, but this is a time of inactivity.  I know I just need to have the courage to start what needs to be started:  a new way of thinking about the world and the people around us.  Tolerance.  Love.  Acceptance.  Respect.  I hope when I leave this world, I'll have left it just a little bit better than when I arrived.  And I really mean that.


Anonymous said...

I can see what you're saying about women sometimes settling for lesser. But when you say, "Why a nurse and not a doctor? Why a Kindergarten teacher and not a professor?" I feel like you're saying that all women in those jobs are simply settling and I don't think that's true. Maybe those women just want to be a nurse. Or have the gift of working with Kindergarteners and not college students (because it definitely takes a special person to work with Kindergarteners.) I just don't think it's fare to say that that is settling. In some cases it may be true, but not all.

I think what frustrates me about women is when they settle for men that are lazy and don't treat them well. Shouldn't that be a bigger concern to us than their career path?? Seems like it to me.

And I don't think that you can say women are giving up on their dreams by wanting to raise a family. I think it for parents focused on their families rather than their careers we would have a better world.

These are just what I thought as I read your post. Very interesting...

Christen said...

Thanks for your input! I'm glad you said that about nurses and kindergarten teachers. And you're right, I think if that is really your dream, then you should do it. We should all be able to do whatever it is we want to do. But really the stigma goes both ways. If a man wants to be a nurse, he will almost certainly be made fun of for it. Many jobs seems "closed" for men, just as others seem so for women.

My real point here is that if you dream to be a doctor, then don't settle for being a nurse. And I'm not opposed to raising families either, but I've seen a lot of women getting married super early - like right out of high school, or dropping out of college or cutting their education short to get married, and then having kids right off the bat. It puts your dreams on hold and most women usually won't go back to school years later when their kids are grown. I would just like to see more women finishing their school and realizing their dreams before settling down.

And you're right about settling for men who don't treat us right. It seems a lot of women are in such a hurry to get married that they don't always wait for the right guy to come along. I would personally love to see more couples waiting to get married until they've been together for a few years. There are so many things that can come up in a relationship that test it, and if you haven't tested your relationship yet, who knows if it will survive. And better to leave a boyfriend than a husband (or a girlfriend/ wife).

Maybe the underlying theme here is to just slow down and take our time. Work things out to the end and we'll all be a lot better off. I just hate to see so many women short-changing themselves. But I guess we all have to realize sometimes that we live in an unfinished society. Hopefully, it'll make it's way to being a better place to live in the future.