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Rambles' Ramblings

Ramblings, a salve for any hurts

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friends

Feminism menism

So, today I was studying feminism when one of my friends (a boy) tapped me and shoved his phone at me. I took it knowing that he wants to show me something every time he do this. A look at it makes me want to throw the phone out of the window – he has the phone opened to a Facebook page on Anti-Feminism knowing full well I am doing feminism and I am a feminist (at least I feel I am).

Now, before anything else, let me say that my friend is generally quite a nice guy. He respects women and girls and would never (I hope!) suggests that women should stay close to hearth and home and that ‘politics, like prize-fighting, are the work of men.’ After all, he admires Margaret Thatcher. But he is also very anti feminism as a legal theory. When I ask for the reason, he says that women have quite enough rights and that men are being cornered at every turn, proof in the Facebook post he showed me:

  1. Woman asked for split bill, independent; man asked for split bill, cheap
  2. Woman groped, sexual harassment; man groped, indifference
  3. Woman hit man, bravery; man hit woman, domestic violence

I told him off for that actually, lectured him a bit on feminism. How can you criticize and ridicule a theory you have not studied before? To describe Feminism in 4 four words: fight for gender equality. To achieve gender equality, feminists are trying to break the stereotypical gender roles and society’s perception of what the roles of the genders should be. The situations he showed me that I listed above? All because of something called gender roles. And what are gender roles? They are roles forced onto men and women due to social norms and social attitudes. This is not only unfair to women, but also unfair to men. Therefore, by the feminists trying to break the restrictions of the gender roles, it also advantages the men as it would have avoided the above scenarios.

Which then leads to the question: are feminism only for women? If not, then why called it by such a misleading name? If not, what are feminism for? This requires a little bit of history as the first organized group of feminists, the liberal feminists, were actually fighting for the rights of the women through the law. Hence, at that point of time, it is indeed for women.

But as time passes, formal equality has gradually been achieved for women. The feminists then asked themselves, now what? Although formal equality has been achieved through legislation, social attitudes are huge obstacles to their implementation. Part of the reason for these issues lies in the trouble with gender roles. From time immemorial women have by and large confined to hearth and home. They were regarded as subservient to men, a part of their property, and had little to no rights, ie they were assigned to a role. To suddenly be told that women are equal to men in every respect except for reproduction of life is a shock to the average man. The average man either did not believe women are capable of being equal to men (DUMB), or felt their position as the dominant family head threatened (WIMPS).

Gender roles not only act as restraints upon the women, but also on the men:

  1. Boys are not supposed to cry, even if you are very sad; girls showing their emotions are a ‘wreck’ and ‘too emotional’
  2. Boys have to play with cars and guns, too violent; girls have to play with dolls, too girly
  3. Boys have to work with science even if you prefer the art of sewing; girls have to learn to sew even if you prefer to experiment with chemicals
  4. Men are sexual creatures, they want to sleep with everyone; women are not, they should remain chaste and pure until marriage
  5. Gentlemen should pay for the meal even though he might earn less; women should not have to even if she wants to
  6. Men cannot be the victims of domestic violence even if he is; women can be and are easily believed even when they are not
  7. Men cannot be sexually assaulted, they are but rarely admitted by society and victims alike; women can be, but social stigma silenced them

From the short list above you can definitely see that gender roles are NOT, I repeat, NOT helping anyone. If anything, it just cause everyone (or at least anyone who doesn’t fit into the gender roles) to suffer much like a square peg in a round hole – unsuitable and uncomfortable. Any actions to break gender roles therefore should be, to my mind, be encouraged and supported. Any decisions to the contrary is mind-boggling and nonsensical.

This reminds me of the made up word ‘menism‘. Apparently, this is in response to feminism and is supposed to fight for men’s rights. What, pray tell, are your aims? In what way has the law been oppressive to men? Men’s pay is still 25% higher than a woman, majority of those in the business arena, the politics arena, the legal system, the public sphere are still men. Men are not pressured to ‘settle down’, have children and slow down their careers to have a complete life.

You say it is about the domestic violence? That women hitting men is a sign that feminism had overreached? Funniest joke I ever heard. If you read until here, you would have notice that above I talked about gender roles. These gender roles presumed the women to be the weaker sex and is therefore less capable.

But what most people didn’t realize is that this capability can be for the good, but also for the bad. There are more than enough literature on the capabilities of women in areas such as politics and law. But female criminals, now that is something often overlooked.

The gender role of women being the weaker sex and less capable not only excludes women from the so-called ‘public sphere’ of business, politics, law and etc, but also causes a perception that women are less capable of violence. This is certainly not the truth.

Women may not slit your throat or kill you in a fistfight, but women may murder you with slow-acting poisons. Women may not react violently and immediately to a provocation, but may find a chance to take revenge later. Women may not physically abuse their partners, but psychological abuse may be easily done.

Therefore, breaking the gender roles is also, from another point of view, a way of acknowledging that women are as capable of committing crimes as men. Only when gender roles are broken will the above situations I listed for examples of gender roles ceased to exist.

Society will no longer expect much more out of the men, nor extra effort on the part of the women. Emotions will be seen as normal and so are sex. When social expectations disappear, feminism would have done their job. And if feminism breaks the gender roles, then female criminals will no longer be overlooked as generally non-threatening.

What then, is left for ‘menism‘? What rights that women have that men don’t have? Being that men had been dominant in the legal, political and social arena for so long, it is inconceivable that women have some rights that men don’t have. It would therefore appear that there is NOTHING left for ‘menism’ to do. Therefore, the conclusion would be that ‘menism‘ is something totally unnecessary and merely adds to the conclusion.

Feminism is actually a misnomer; the name implies that it is only concerned with advantaging women and to hell with men. This is so far from the truth that entire galaxies can fit within the gap. Feminism is all about gender equality, not only from the legal perspective, but also from the political and sociological view. It relieves the men of the burden of having to be a ‘man’ in the traditional meaning, and helps the women to release themselves from the confines of the traditional meaning of ‘woman’. It will help to ease the lives of those who do not fit into the traditional images of ‘man’ and ‘woman’.

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Today

Today I met up with a friend I haven’t talk to in some time. I am quite glad to know that she has found God. Although I am not, and probably will not be, a Christian, it is always true that religious faith makes you a better person (aside from fanatics and deviants). Her problems are not something I can hope to understand, so different our experiences are. I do not think that empty platitudes and false understanding will help. I can only offer her support while she works through her troubles, neither experienced enough nor wise enough to intervene though I would dearly like to do so to save her the heartache.

Enough with my friend whose troubles are not mine to tell.

I am, however, rather disappointed with today’s fashion. A quick search on Pinterest yields thousands of clothing. Unfortunately, the majority of these tops, shorts, skirts, dresses etc are quite tight and expose quite a bit more than I am willing to expose. As one of my lecturers would say, most of these pieces leave nothing to the imagination. Nothing.

One might say that I am rather prudish in wanting to covering up skin. I call that decency. I have never seen the need to expose skin that should not be exposed, but to each their own. It is the fact that the fashion world seems not to cater to people with a more … modest … sense of fashion that irritates and annoys me. Even the supposedly ‘modest’ maxi dresses and skirts commonly have low necklines, spahetti straps, open backs, and even thigh-high slits.

I supposed some part of this stems from the fact that I am pudgy in areas that every fashionista would tell you you must be thin and slim. It does not, however, changes the fact that almost all of the clothing that are ‘fashion-approved’ are clothing that will look hideous on me and the average female. It will highlight every roll of fat, every imperfection on the skin while leaving us open to leers from the creepier people around.

It makes me feel objectified, like I should somehow have a model’s measurement or else I will not be attractive and desirable. I know I have brains, but it still rankles to feel unattractive and undesirable. A chunky girl should never be forced into clothes that makes her look ugly, but what alternatives are out there when most clothes from the famous brands are ridiculously small and tight showing off ever curve and angle? It seems that the fashion world has forgotten that while there are indeed girls with the perfect body out there, there are also girls that don’t have the perfect body.

Take one of my friend, CPE, for example. She is quite a bit taller than me, around 170cm, but is not willowy at all. She is quite stocky and that has made finding feminine clothing and shoes for her very difficult. She had had to resort to men’s shirts because women’s shirts will not fit. Nor could the shoes: she typically wore men size 7.  Perhaps if the fashion world had looked into creating clothing for stockier girls, she wouldn’t be forced into the situation where she has to shop in the men’s department and put up with teases of being fat although she is all muscles and no fat.

Friends, birthday celebrations and money

First thing first, I am a college student who is still dependent upon her parents for money although I do work for my own pocket money. Secondly, most of my friends do not need to work for their pocket money but get it from parents.

So, believe me when I tell you when they wanted to organize a ‘small’ birthday celebration for one of our numbers, I sincerely believed that it wouldn’t be over the price of RM25. Therefore, when they decided to go to a nice Korean restaurant, I was stunned and in disbelief!

Never before I spent more than RM20 for a meal when I went out with my high school friends. However, apparently college means a whole new range of spending. I ended up spending RM60 for this dinner which I did not even enjoy as it is very spicy. Imagine! RM60 out of the RM400 I get as my pocket money every month which I work hard for!

Dear me, I feel so annoyed. But then I cannot actually say “You guys go ahead but I am not going because I only want to spend RM25”. So I have to fork out money way over my budget limit.

I decided then and there that I am not going out for dinner with them any more. It is very detrimental to my financial health. Rich friends!

To the movies

To the movies I shall go this Saturday with my friends. A full week has passed since we had our barbeque. Perhaps it is the age, but I find myself wanting the companionship of my friends.

We are going to see the newly release RIP Department. One of my friends told me that it is an adapted version but I have no idea what it is about. Based on the trailers I have seen though, I surmise that it is probably a humorous adventure story. Hope it is good. I need a good laugh after the miserable week.

To the end, I have to say, I am very lucky in my friends. If I was to have changed class in Form Four, I would not have met them. Sometimes, Fate depends on choice.

Friends

Such a simple word, yet so much more meaningful for its simpleness. It is common to say someone is your “friend” as in “I know him, yes”. These, however, are acquaintances.

I am not looking into dictionaries for the distinction for the word “friends”. But, to me, friends are people who you can rely on in good and bad situations as well as relax together during your spare time. A person who you can rely on but never relax around is at best an efficient co-worker or team-mate. A person who you can enjoy life with but never rely on, is a bad influence and should not even be an acquaintance.

Having said so, I examine my repertoire of “friends”. Shockingly, I find that I have less than ten genuine friends. The rest are merely “acquaintances”. Although my Facebook account proclaims that I have 127 friends, more than half of them are mere acquaintances, a handful are true friends while the rest I never even spoke to in my life. It is a mislabeling of the highest order.

Anticipation

Tomorrow evening, I will be playing host to five of my closest friends. Nothing lavish, just a small BBQ. But those who know me know well the significance of this BBQ. I am not an outgoing person by nature. In fact, I value my privacy so much that almost none of my acquaintances have gained access to my home.

I invited these five friends because they are, without doubt, my best and closest friends. I am always able to talk to them about any problems. Whenever we spend time together, there is never a calm moment. We are always talking and joking and laughing.

I look forward to seeing them again.

Reflection

Tonight, as I laughed in the car with my sister over something silly, I suddenly realized that I felt so happy and light. Not carefree, no, that is not to be my lot now. But I am happy. No man can really claim to be content for isn’t it one of our fundamental weakness to ever desire more?

I wasn’t always happy. I am often told that I am too serious for my age, but nicely matured than my peers. Perhaps they don’t understand the pressure they put upon me. Although I am far too serious for my age, apparently my maturity works well enough for them to never complain or tell me to lighten up. This may work well for them, but I was and still am speechless in disbelief when one of my sister’s friends (one year younger than me) told her that she was afraid of me because I am so stern! I felt like shouting and laughing and crying and everything in between. I was set apart. Different. Not to be joked with or played around. So I became more stern.

I was on the prefectorial board in secondary school. I earned a reputation of being stern, of all things. Although I was not on the highest committee of the board, I was still consulted on many things. I was and still proud of it as it shows that one do not need status to command respect. Although I did held a powerful position. I was the leader of the junior members. Partnered with a younger boy, we were the caretakers and teachers of the younger members. As I remembered, I was the bad cop and he was the good cop. But we did have a good partnership.

Being a prefect is not my happiest decision. I found it took up too much of my time but I refuse to quit. Stubborn pride. I was miserable throughout my Form 1 and Form 2 years. However, salvation came to those who persist. In my third year of secondary school, I met and became acquainted with two people who later became to be two of my closest friends. The next year, The Group, as we call it, finally met and fully formed. There are six in total. Although we only knew each other for a few months, something just clicked.

Good friends they are. Never pushing, always willing to listen. And for the first time, I was not thrust in the limelight, making all decisions. It is a burden off me and I loved it. It is very freeing. I can voice my opinions and others will listen and add to it.

Two years is a short time in bliss. Before long, we were graduated and went our separate ways in life. We still make it a point to meet whenever we could, which is not as often as I wished for our schedules are tight. Of course I met new friends in college, but I never had friends like them. Patient, willing to help out. My good friend in college is always willing to help out but always wished to know more, even when I wanted privacy. It irritates me, but we always make up.

I am now truly happy. Happy and with a light heart. Trials will still be waiting for me in life’s course. No need to go seeking trouble when trouble came to you in its slow speed.

An Unplanned Visit to the Cinema

Today, the second day of my freedom, I planned an excursion to the mall with my friends for lunch and a chat. Secondary school friends. Although I have made new friends in college, I still felt more comfortable with them than with my friends from college. There is easy camaraderie between us, none so with my college friends. Although I see them more often, they usually make me slightly tense. I couched my responses and make polite small talk. It is all so painfully staged.

So, I went out today with my friends (only 3 of them). After a nice lunch, which took almost 2 hours as we chat, we decided to leave the shop as we do not want to incur the wrath of the proprietor from blocking his business. Thinking of what to do next, one of my friends, KJ, suggested a movie. All agreed.

Which movie, though, caused some lively debate. PE suggested Fast and Furious 6 but KJ and I protest as we have never seen its prequels. Aries then suggested After Earth, but I remind them that I had already watched it. At last, we settled for Man of Steel, although I do not like Superman.

Suffice it to say that I was nearly bored out of my mind. PE became quite annoyed by me and KJ as both of us chuckled uncontrollably throughout the film, and she had the misfortune to sit between, as she calls us, ‘crazy laughing loons’. I know, probably rude to say that the film was comically uninteresting, but that is what me and my friends felt.

For us who don’t follow Superman through his exploits, the plot is somewhat confusing. Worst still, the first hour and half or so was without much action, mostly about his upbringing and memories. It is so completely uninteresting that I had a hard time focus. Then action was crammed in only at the very last part of the movie. We all agreed that the plot was too loose at first, and too intense at the end.

Personally, I feel that although Man of Steel is better than After Earth, it isn’t that much better. Both are films which lead audience to anticipate action, but were left unsatisfied. Although there is action at the end of Man of Steel, it just seems so crammed, that it isn’t enjoyable anymore.

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