When a human baby is born it is innocent, pure, naked and dirty and it cries. They or all born equal to the world and the universe accept them all. But soon they will be taught to differentiate themselves from others and form their identities based on social pressure. As kids we all play with toys and many of the psychological studies of the resent years have emphasized the importance of the games we play in developing our fantasy, skills, interests and curiosities. But all the way at the begging of our lives we are deprived of the right to be in the same conditions! So the girls are given babies, baby dolls and kitchen sets to play with, in order to teach them that they ought to be beautiful, good wives, mothers and cooks. Usual role-play games want the girls to imagine themselves as mothers, teachers, nurses, hostesses and other so called “female jobs”. Meanwhile boys are given trucks, construction games, balls, superheroes and mind games and they are taught that they can become “anything they want” (except “female jobs”) from an astronaut to a football player! With all the professions of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) included. So from childhood we are told what we can and cannot be and any variation in this conduct is going to cost us a fight against the society.
So most people, without even acknowledging it, tend to accept these norms in their identities. There is a lot of debate in the society (or at least in the directly involved part of it) about problems caused by sexism such as differences in the behavior, differences in the working environment, differences in treatment and so on.
Almost the whole society has agreed that women have been victims of sexism during centuries and historically speaking it has not even been long since they got the basic rights and later the equal rights. But as the law changes, we must all work hard on the changes in our everyday life, because the society still has a long way to go.
Sexism manifests itself in its worse when it comes to objectification of women by men and by the whole society (yes! Also women!). It is so deeply rooted in our life that we often don’t even notice how often we are sexists ourselves. How often we accept sexism from other people without even getting angry about it, without even classifying it as such. So doing like this we continue to feed this monster, and this monster continues to consume us, both men and women!
Sexism is that video of the rapper you so much like, yes that one with a lot of gold chains, surrounded by naked women who dance around him that goes on TV every 20 min. But you don’t mind it – you’re ok with your kids watching it, dancing to it, singing to it, imitating it.
Sexism is a boy forced to say dirty jokes about a girl to fit in with other boys even when he feels disgusted by himself later.
Sexism is calling a woman who has sex a bitch, and the man – a hero!
Sexism is all around us.
Some people say “you are exaggerating now, it’s not SO bad!” – To them I would like to say – wake up and look around! Then look at your life and be fair to yourself…
It is not exclusively a female problem. I do not intend to victimize one sex or another. Let me tell you more, I don’t even feel like blaming the sexual aspects at all! Yes, it is true, it’s a culture of stigmatization of the genders that for various historical and social reasons has been rooted for long and has been suffered and perpetuated unwittingly by both sexes. Also the price has been paid more by women, in reality it is suffered by both sexes, it affects everything outside the vulgate of main-stream values and discards everything else, confining them in pre-established identities and roles; I’m just disappointed that the fight (for the distortion that it creates and for the small impact) is brought into the spotlight mostly only by women and the feminist movement.
I understand that it’s women that are most DIRECTLY affected and so it is natural for them to have achieved this awareness before men. I write this just to go ahead. I am sorry that the culture has still not sensitized men and that there are not so many movements and men who feel a strong need to have a level of playing field in the gender debate. I am also sorry that the fight is brought forward with anger and personal resentment, because it limits the effectiveness and it does not affect a wide range, especially it does not affect those who are not sensible to this cause, who doesn’t know it, who belittles it or ridicules it. Anger usually fails to hit the core of the problem, the target.
The most violent act is the most visible. It’s hardly possible that only reason, without a personal emotional involvement, manages to capture a problem, feel deep injustice and devote itself to the fight. I understand that it is always the extreme that is most visible at the beginning, so it is in the conception of every struggle and movement that aims to change and hopefully create a new value system; I understand that the voices and the cultural awareness are only now starting to spread massively and it must be heard, must assert itself, touch, reach.
My only motivation is to remember that after the anger and the simple and radical solutions there should always start the process of understanding and knowledge – not of injustice or of the perpetrator – but of the problem, of why it happens.
We should rationalize. Include and not exclude. Involve and not make totems, dogmatize, understand and comprehend without sanctifying. To think of the reality and not its religion. How many times instead anger at the injustice has resulted in another unjust stigma, marginalization, segregation, intolerance? It happens when a deconstructed reality turns into an ideological cage. It occurs when we don’t examine every situation for what it is but we generalize the profile. Like an animal that has internalized a danger associating it to a moment, a sound, a color or the same smell as an engram in the brain serves as a wakeup call to every situation that reminds if that situation.
The problem of sex is in its inviolability and sanctity; obviously this depends on the culture. This vision is the fruit of a State and a religious culture. However sex is exploited. Manipulated and controlled with this purely for the purpose of management of the society. This creates the above problems.
What is the problem? The problem is that men still need these types of controls (proportionally from country to country and culture to culture) for their civil and social survival.
If I have to think about my identity I will first have to consider it in terms of the “privilege”. I have to consider it before I jump to any criticism: a male, cisgender – a heterosexual, from a liberal country, a privileged social class, with a family that was always close to me. So when we discuss about identities, struggles of other people we should always consider their backgrounds.
Yes, we are in a clash of old and new values that are emerging. With all the players that will play, from both sides worldwide.
We often tend to go straight to the judgments and do little to comprehend. We build the enemy in our mind and devote our lives to fighting it or we choose to adapt and live our lives ignoring it. But none of these ways will lead us to a new reality, to a change. For a problem to be understood, felt and resolved one needs to immerse into it. What bothers women and men, needs to be expressed, needs to be deconstructed piece by piece until the very core of the problem. Of course it is painful, uncomfortable, like going under a surgery without anesthesia. But it needs to be done, we need to talk openly and stop expanding the gap between us – the gap of silence that is.
Nina and Mehiel