Tag Archives: society

What We Always Tell Them (The Perception of Manhood)

30 May

Sometimes I feel like I live with a tiger in my house.

I’ll wake up on days when both of my parents are home at the same time, and before I even go downstairs I can sense that the atmosphere is different. Sometimes shouting can be heard, sometimes stony silence. When I go downstairs, my dad will usually be planted in his usual spot on the sofa, staring at the television. My mom will be bustling around the kitchen, sometimes angrily muttering to herself. One wrong move, and he could be provoked. I never know if this will be the day the house is tense for days instead of hours again, if this will be the day they both scream at the top of their lungs again, if this will be the day he raises his hand again. Sometimes it’s once a week where I have to tip-toe around, listen carefully while in my bedroom, sit in the kitchen to make sure nothing serious happens.

But a man is not a tiger. Men are men; nothing more, nothing less. So what does it say about society when men are able to act like this, and have certain types of control over others, with little to no repercussions?

In Indian culture, it’s the norm that the man is more dominant in the house. Hindus will sometimes tout that “husband is God”. But this type of male-centered mindset is persistent across the globe, whether it’s to the same degree or much less extreme. Certain ideologies are instilled into men right from the start; boys learn that it is okay for them to play rough. They learn that they should be able to get what they want, and that a real man is confident and assertive. As the age old saying goes, boys will be boys.

This is a double-edged sword for them as well; boys are told that they can’t be emotional, and that they must be strong*. When you tell your son that boys don’t cry, he is forced to find other outlets for his emotions. Maybe he’ll see a violent television show, or learn from other boys at school, and just maybe he’ll learn to take his emotions out in aggression rather than tears. I have a genuine question for you: why do you think that 70 of the last 71 majors shootings were done by men? I’m curious. Why do you think that is?

On a side note, when I use the word ‘you’ in this post, it is not a direct attack towards anyone. This is a societal effect that bleeds through into all of us. The only way to combat it is through awareness and positive direction.

We are telling our boys the wrong things. They grow up thinking that they are entitled to certain things, whether it is success, happiness, or the hot girl at the end of the movie. They think they have to force certain emotions, the ‘weak’ ones, down into the depths of themselves, but that is where they could erupt in the worst ways possible.

We as a society have a tendency to label people who do awful things as monsters; we villainize them so we won’t have to acknowledge that they are human, and relate-able to us in some small way. We do this with rapists, murderers, terrorists, and more. We use words like ‘monster’ to relinquish any responsibility we had towards making someone the way they became. Rapists are not just creepy thugs who corner innocents in alleyways. They can also be boys in college dorms, brought up in nice neighborhoods by nice families. We need to start recognizing that people, perfectly sensible people that we know and love, can do bad things. That is the only way we will be able to start conversation with our boys and girls over what is right and what is wrong; when we realize that any child could become a so called ‘monster’ if we are not careful.

There is no white and black. There is so little, in fact, that sometimes I feel as though I am drowning in a sea of gray. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you have any young children in your life, cast away preconceived gender roles. Don’t let them fall prey to any stigmas, and always listen to what they’re feeling. Please, before you tell your boys to be men, think about what you want that to mean first.

*For the purpose of this blog post, I generalized boy’s/men’s individualized experiences based on overall societal constructs. Obviously many boys will not be taught things like “don’t be emotional”, but enough are that it needs to mentioned and discussed.

Straight Until Proven Gay

18 Aug

The other day I was sitting on the couch with my mom when she turned to me and said, completely out of the blue, “Is your friend gay?”

I was extremely taken aback but without hesitation I replied, “Yes…”. She followed it up with, “Does he have a boyfriend?”, to which I responded no. She then asked me this:

“Then how does he know he’s gay?”

I smiled a bit (although I don’t think she realized it was a bitter smile) and responded as boldly as I dared. “No one ever says that to straight people.”

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a very long time. The idea struck me right around when I was re-watching season 1 of Glee, when I realized just how problematic one of the things Sue says is. She tries to lecture Kurt on sexuality when he claims that he is gay, and one of the things she says is, “You see, that’s the problem with your generation. You’re obsessed with labels.”

via netflix.com

Screen-cap via netflix.com

The problem I had with her speech was that that line is very true. Many people are obsessed with labels, and it’s not beneficial for all of the different shades of gender and sexuality that exist out there. But the fact that the line was included in her ‘speech’ gave the impression that everything else she was saying is also true. Here’s what I want to know. Does Sue walk around her high school every day and find straight couples making out, and say the same thing to them? Did she ever reprimand Quinn for her boyfriend, because she’s never kissed a girl and therefore can’t be sure she’s not a lesbian?

The core of the advice, don’t be too quick to judge, is lost in the fact that the only person Sue decides to tell this to is the one kid who dares to claim that he’s gay. Sure, 16 years might be too young to decide on sexuality (for some, not all). But you know it’s complete BS when people only decide to share this ‘wealth of knowledge’ with people who have decided on any sexuality that deviates from the norm, which is heterosexuality. Apparently you’re only allowed to “not know what you are” if you want to be anything other than straight.

And the other point she tries to bring up is how someone could know that they’re gay if they’ve never kissed someone of the same sex. Bypassing the obvious (which again is, no one ever says this to straight people) this kind of ideology just doesn’t make sense to me. Sexuality isn’t the same thing as, for example, saying you don’t like a meal before you’ve even tasted it. People have eyes. It’s insulting to tell someone that they can’t know who they’re attracted to until they’ve had some sort of physical, sexual interaction with them.

The bottom line? It’s no one’s place to decide or even make statements on another person’s sexuality or preferences. It’s a personal decision. If you think they’ve ‘chosen wrong’, it’s not your place to comment on it. They will figure it out on their own and experience that journey themselves.

Rape Me Once, Shame On You

9 Jan

Pretend you’re taking a test in class one day. You have no idea what the answers are, but the extremely smart boy next to you isn’t using his cover sheet; his answers are right there in front of you. I mean, you know cheating is wrong, you’ve been told that all your life. But it’s not like you woke up and decided you wanted to do it. Who could resist when the answers are right there? And everyone knows that that boy is smart; if he didn’t want to be cheated off of he should have thought to cover his answers. You don’t mean any harm, you just want to feel better about the test. He’s not gonna mind too badly, he helps people with their homework all the time. And besides, he’s practically asking for it.

Does anything in this situation seem off to you? Does it seem wrong as you read through? However it happens all the time: regarding a different situation.

Slut shaming is a huge problem nationwide. While America is decently ahead of other countries in terms of rape awareness, many are still shockingly ignorant to the horrors of rape and the atrocity of such a crime. Many have reverted to blaming the (most often) women for the rape, at least in part. What kind of clothes was she wearing, does she have many sexual encounters, how much flirting had she been doing? These are questions that people legitimately think should add insight into what happened and how badly the rapist should be punished. But I think they should not even be brought up.

It is never a person’s fault for being raped. A dress/skirt hemline will never go from ‘flirty’ to ‘rape me’ with a difference of an inch. If a man or woman gets raped while drunk, it is not their fault for not drinking in a ‘safe environment’ or getting drunk at all. Humans have self-control when it comes to raping; if they know it is wrong, they should not be given lenience based on how ‘tempting’ their victim was. Also, rapists are a small portion of the population who have serious problems, and by insinuating that any male will rape a woman if she is scantily clad is insulting to men, to be frank.

Rape education is being given though. It’s everywhere, but mostly just directed towards women. Girls are advised to not wear their hair in ponytails because someone can easily grab onto them. They’re advised to lock their car immediately after getting into it and never sit in a parked car alone. One quote from a list I saw included this:

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

There are instructors…for classes on how to not be raped. Why are women the sole target of rape prevention techniques? Why is the sole mindset “how to not be raped”, like it’s something people should be actively doing at all times? This kind of thinking makes victim-blaming okay, because it suddenly implies, oh, perhaps this woman forgot to follow this certain precaution: why didn’t she follow it? And why are we as a whole ignoring that men might need advice on how to protect themselves too?

While rape prevention is important and should be taught, it is too focused on the potential victims. Some might say that addressing potential rapists is illogical, because trying to convince a bad person to not rape will never work. It’s as if a blanket statement exists that says ‘we’ll never get through to those psychopaths, so why bother’. But the problem can best be fixed by pulling it up from the root, before ignorance and bad thoughts can set in: by educating children. Rapists are not born rapists. They become rapists. Many people don’t want to discuss FLE with children beyond general anatomy, but they need to be taught about consent and the right to privacy regarding bodies. Perhaps it would prevent horrendous things from happening, such as this.

Society has painted a picture that if you don’t want to be raped, you need to do something about it. And if you are raped, then you must have failed what you were told to do. But rape is serious, and things like clothing choices aren’t going to stop someone who wants to violate another person. Slut-shaming is destructive to victims of rape, and it’s hurting them all the way to the courtroom.

Rape me once, shame on you. Rape me twice, shame on you.

Manicures?

3 Apr

From forladiesbyladies.com

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve gotten a manicure about 4 times now. It’s not like I just decided to go (a majority of the time); someone offered to take me 3 out of 4 times and I simply agreed; I mean, it’s a free manicure! I say ashamed because they’re kind of a complete waste of money; I can tell you for a fact that unless you need your nails done for a special event, people only go there to pass time. One of my relatives is the type; bored housewife who has nothing to do and money to spend. They go and feel pampered for a while and then go back home. And as someone who’s been through the experience enough, it does feel nice. Sometimes they have massage chairs, and maybe hot water or wax treatments, and then your nails are all perfect for a week. But that doesn’t take away from it being a complete waste of money. People should really stop going there unless they have a formal event they need to look special for. Seriously, it’s outrageous how much cash people are willing to dish weekly just to have things like acrylic nails, which need a lot of maintenance. Bills can extend to 100-200 dollars easily. Maybe this is insight into a girls mind for the guys out there, or at least into mine; nail salons are giant greedy cash gobbling machines. And they don’t need to do anything; the people just waltz right in.

I’m not criticizing people who go to them occasionally; this is for people who go there on a very regular basis. There must be a better and cheaper way to spend your time, especially through a method that’s not as shallow as this.

So there you have it, a little mini-rant on how manicures and pedicures are pointless; although I am curious to see what a facial or massage is like, I won’t find out since they’re so overpriced >_<

Thanks for reading! Maybe I should make ‘questioning society’ like a mini-series here. Hmmm…for now it can be a tag/category. 🙂