Sunday, September 21, 2008

random thoughts

I don't even know what i was thinking of, when my brain wandered over to two rude/raunchy/naughty/whatever words: "dick" & "pussy," as used as insults. And i realized that their usage typifies gender stereotypes.

When you call someone a "dick," you're generally meaning that they're an asshole, that they're rude or mean somehow; when you call someone a "pussy," you're implying that they're weak, wimpy, & pathetic.

Then think of how certain genders are seen. The stereotypical male is generally brash, thoughtless, loud, prone to getting in fights. The stereotypical female is seen as weak, meek. It's society's double standards. A big difference is, though, that the stereotype of the male is generally more acceptable. With females, one can't win. You're reminded of centuries of being seen as wrong & bad somehow.

I was looking through the reader for my History 101 class, & what the Greeks thought of women is extremely venomous. Generally, people look at the ancient Greeks & only look at the better points. The art, for one example. For someone who champions gay/lesbian equality, they might like the fact that ancient Greek males were encouraged to take male lovers. Civilization (whatever that may be) can, apparently, owe a lot to Greece.

But when one looks at the attitudes towards women, this becomes more worrisome. Women in ancient Greece were seen as almost livestock. They were seen as baby machines. While their husband went off with his lover, who he may have loved over her, she was expected to bear children & take care of the house. They believed that the first woman was made by the gods to plague men, & they had all sorts of horrific things to say about women, who were seen as no better than a plague. It becomes confusing, really, when one takes into account the religion & art. They had goddesses; the female form was depicted in their art quite a lot. The Muses are pretty much always depicted as female. It doesn't make any sense.

It's really disturbing how most societies do this sort of thing. People like to base their societies & countries & things off of ancient ones, using their ideas & the like. Unfortunately, it seems that double standards are another thing inherited from most ancient cultures. Anyone who tries to deny that it continues today is blind. I mean, such phrases as, "you throw like a girl" & "scream like a girl" are used to imply that someone is weak & cowardly. They are unmanly, they are not staunch, they don't have what it takes. If someone said, "you throw like a boy," it wouldn't be taken the same way. People talk about "becoming a man" & "take it like a man." No one talks about "becoming a woman," & if no one says "take it like a woman," & if they did, it wouldn't have the same meaning. Women still seem to be seen as inferior & weak. Most creepy males don't think a girl will fight or snap back.

It bleeds over into art. There are times when a female nude isn't as artistic as one tries to make it seem. Such works were often bought by men to show their male friends when they came to visit. They were for their viewing pleasure, porn masquerading under the guise of being "artistic." Hence the idea in modern women's art of challenging the "male gaze."

This doesn't mean that there aren't double standards everywhere, on both sides. It's not as clear cut. The best illustration would be Scott G.'s senior show. A small group of us had stayed behind at school, waiting for the time that the shows were supposed to officially be open, but for some reason we decided to go down to the lobby, where Scott was setting up his show. His work all featured nudes, both male & female. Whatever, right? It's an art high school, & there's Figure classes already; who's going to care?

Mr. G, one of the painting teachers, told Scott that the paintings of the male nudes would either have to be censored or removed. This wasn't Mr. G's personal opinion, this was because of the school being a public county school, & apparently, this means one can show breasts, but no penises. (Random question: why not "peni"?) earlier in the year, a guy named Zach had done female & male sexual parts as a "differences" kind of assignment, & people had acted so immature about it he was forced to take them off the wall. He had seemed more dazed & quiet than anything else when the discussion came up in Studio. Not so with Scott. He fought & fought to keep his paintings up & unmolested by censorship, to the point where, if he wasn't crying, he was close to it. Mr. G just shook his head sadly & said he was sorry, but those were his only options. Scott made the very good point that, by censoring the penises, it would only make it more obvious, but in the end, he opted for the censorship, so they would stay up. I felt so bad for him; he was so upset.

This, therefore, begs the question: Why? Why do you have to censor a nude male but not a nude female? Is it because of the "male gaze," that the nude female should remain so because then people can look at her & objectify her? To make the male seem more restrained by his lack of nudity, and make the female seem sinful, lustful, & unable to control her urges? Or does it imply, in a bizarre twist of society's usual workings, that the male nude is more dirty & wrong than that of the female? (Usually it's the other way around.)

It also doesn't seem to matter how a woman acts. She can act demure & princessy if she likes or act rebellious &, as one would put it, "one of the guys" (because certain traits & actions are linked to males in this culture), & no matter what, she'll still get dumped on. I once caught something on Metal late at night on either MTV or VH1 (my God, they were actually showing something about music, imagine that!), & they had a bit where they talked about women in Metal. They talked to the lead singer of Arch Enemy, whose name i forget, but she is brilliant. She absolutely growls when she sings, so it was odd to hear her speaking in her usual voice. But if i remember aright, she mentioned how, even she has had people calling to her from the audience such things as, "Take your shirt off!" Here she is, a rough & tumble-seeming kind of woman, who can growl with the best of them, & she still gets comments like these. Why? Why is this seen as acceptable?

A girl can't even have her body do what it does every month without getting flak for it. Many cultures & religions see one's menstrual period as being dirty & unclean. Aside from the obvious fact that blood is messy; it's more of the "spiritual" idea, i suppose. For some reason, what your body does naturally makes you dirty & unclean in the eyes of your society & chosen god/s. One may then say, "Well then, why would a god have made someone that could be dirty & prohibited from temples & the like," but that's forgetting people like the ancient Greeks, who thought women were a plague, & those who want to blame Eve for all the world's ills (as if Adam hadn't taken a bite too), & that Lilith was bad & evil because she wanted to be Adam's equal. I was on IM once with an online friend, & she found a Feminist writing that said if males had periods, it would all be the exact opposite: It would be "manly" & ok & not a taboo subject.

Sure, there are a few peoples who have ceremonies for a girl's first period. The ones i know of generally involve chanting & possibly being buried halfway in the ground. Contrast that to the Muslim boy's circumcision day, where he is treated "like a prince" for the day & given presents. Maybe it depends on one's culture, religion, society, values, etc., but really, which option sounds more appealing to most people?

Have there ever really been any societies that have seen the woman as an equal, as being on equal footing? I can only think of people like the Celts, & Anglo-Saxon women had quite a few rights. One's mind immediately goes to Boudicca, who was a warrior queen if ever there was one. The Romans whipped her & raped her daughters; she literally fought back, gathering many people to her cause & wrecking many Roman cities in Britain. They scoffed at her because she was a woman, & the Romans had about as much respect, it sounds like, as the Greeks. Unfortunately, she did end up losing because of Roman battle tactics, & no one knows what her fate was. But she was relentless & unforgiving in her anger, & her people tarried around her. They didn't look at her & say, "Oh, she's a woman; what does she know?"

Then, something i read in a book about the Celts: A woman was kidnapped & raped by a Roman. For some reason, somehow or another, he returned her to her home. She then beheaded him. The woman's husband remarked on this, & she said something to the effect of, "Better only one man who has slept with me."

Of course, double standards are everywhere. If a man doesn't act "manly," then there's something wrong with him. But even that seems to point back to the feminine, back to such derogatory words as "pussy." (And when did slang for genitals become derogatory?) It all goes back to the idea that male=good & female=bad somehow. You're looked down upon if you act girly, you're looked down upon if you act more rough (maybe even seen as either a "fake girl" or "fake boy"?). You can't win. Years of sufferage & feminism still don't seem to have changed much at all. How can such ridiculous ideas be gotten rid of? Will the ever be gotten rid of? As long as there are people who consider women inferior & wrong, & as long as that mentality is passed down to the next generation, nothing will change.

Even my male cousins, who i spent my childhood playing with (as my girl cousins are all fairly older than me), are not immune. At an emergency gathering this past May, i felt the overwhelming desire to kill two of my cousins. They think of sex in such a cavalier fashion; the one said, "I probably have a bunch of kids that I don't know about!" And he laughed. The older of the two of them turned to me & said, "Don't listen to him, he's a bad man." Like i am a child. Inferior. Stupid. I regret not having something to fire back, i regret not snapping & telling them what i fucking thought of their demeaning, misogynistic words & thoughts. I thought that being raised by single mothers would have instilled some sort of respect in them, but i obviously was wrong, as they so stunningly illustrated. I also thought their mother's religiousness would have played into it, but if it did, it was in the way that people suppose Catholic school kids will turn out to be hypersexual from being repressed. But, then: i have absolutely no respect for them; i get so angry that i seriously wish them ill. They absolutely disgust me.

How is it that a male can fuck around & somehow be considered manly, but if a female does the same, she's a slut? How is it that males think they can do things like force themselves on a woman, or that she somehow deserves it because of how she dresses? Why is it ok for a male to oogle a woman? Just because she's wearing a short skirt doesn't mean that she was "asking for it." How come male sexuality is seen as this manly, good thing, but female sexuality is seen as bad, wrong, sinful, lustful, dirty, slutty, desperate? Why are women expected to be meek & demure & submissive; why are assertive, aggressive women seen as negative, when the same traits in males are seen as positive? Why? It makes me so unbelieveably angry. There are supposedly decent guys out there, but sometimes it doesn't seem like it at all.

In other news, it is fifty degrees (F), last i checked. I'll be glad when the daytime gets as cool as this.

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