I was talking with some women a few days ago about the expectations of their gender that bothered them most, the unanimous answer seemed to be having their anger belittled. “It’s your time of the month isn’t it?” “Calm down, it’s just PMS.” And other such jokes are the most overt ways that women and girls are told that it’s not ACCEPTABLE for them to be angry, that their anger or annoyance isn’t as IMPORTANT as someone else’s. It gets subtler and more damaging too; if a little boy hits someone out of anger in play I’ve seen them scolded for violence and told to find better ways to deal with anger, but if a little girl does the same thing she is informed that “it isn’t ladylike to hit” and that she “shouldn’t get so upset about thing.” What is the message there? To me the message is simply that anger is for boys.
The double standard is perpetuated through nursery rhymes such as “ What are little boys made of? Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. That’s what little boys are made of ! What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what little girls are made of!” and the toys given to children, when older kids are roughhousing and misbehaving girls are called “trouble makers” while boys are just “being boys,” and when teens go through angry stages girls are always just hormonal while boys are rebelling and growing up.
Yours in queerness,
Today I spent time with family members I don’t often spend time with, one in particular, and I was reminded of the reasons for the separation during our visit today.
For the most part I ignore cruel and sexist comments such as “you through like a girl.” But when one is surrounded by such comments, even if they aren’t directed at you or are meant as a joke, it hurts. Between the sexist jokes of my grandfather, the gender based discrimination at the hands of my own uncle and the silent acceptance of everyone around me except my mother I find my spirit nearing it’s breaking point.
The pain I felt with every assumption made about me based on the presence of breasts on my chest and with every family member that just let it slide… On a less personal note I must remind all of my readers to avoid making generalizations about anyone based on anything they cannot change.
It’s fine to assume someone is part of a sub-culture if they dress like they are, it’s fine to assume someone is buying books if they are in a book store and it’s fine to assume someone wears a bra if they have boobs. But other gross generalizations based on BIOLOGICAL FACTS THAT CANNOT BE CHANGED are inappropriate, unfair and rude.
My rant is done, I’ll be back with a more logical and less emotional post some time next year. Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yours in Queerness,