There is so much in the news these days that makes us, as women, feel rather badly used and certainly objectified. One thinks of how the media has gone wild over a boxer who bit another boxer's ear. Yet when Tyson raped a woman, this same media bemoaned this great athlete having to go to prison and trashed the woman who was raped.
Then there is the current "panty" craze going on these days at Wimbledon. All of the athletic skill and technique of the women tennis players is ignored while the media focuses like a lazer on their panties which may be readily seen beneath the short skirts.
In this century, we have truly come a long way, WOMEN! We are in the professions, in politics, in universities and as GenderGappers, we have shown that we vote and we have served notice that our vote counts. The Project Director of the Mars Projects is Donna Shirley -- a very highly trained and erudite engineer, yet how few of us are aware of this and how many of us really care.
Are we ignoring this disrespect for our gender, are we fighting it or are we contributing to it? If we contribute to it, is it because of genetic predisposition or cultural engineering? Along those lines, we were tossing around a few ideas the other day and got into a "why do I (we)..." session. Here's a few we came up with but feel free to add your own.
Somehow, as a gender, we are considered to be weak, helpless and needing a man to "take care of us" -- we are unable to open doors or put on our own coats, for example. To maintain and to contribute to this image, we may dress ourselves in clothing that is totally uncomfortable, in some respects dangerous to our health and childish (as opposed to adultish.) We cannot let the line of our dress be disturbed by pockets so we weigh ourselves down with huge bags that hurt our spines and render us defenseless if attacked. Do we do this because it is expected of us? To get noticed, i.e. male approval (and female envy, too?). Is this all genetic and we can't help ourselves?
To add to the clothing mandates for success, we are expected to (or is it innate in our genes) shave our axillary hair, legs and even pubic, so that we become even more childlike, i.e. non-adult and thereby more attractive to daddy (males.) We submit to, and even in some cases appear to enjoy, being referred to as various kinds of food as well as such juvenile terms as baby, girl, doll and bird.
Why do we continue to load ourselves up with scent (because we stink or are we trying to be flowers?); have elaborate hairdos; cultivate long, painted fingernails (for show only, as we certainly know we cannot work properly with them); find baubles, bangles and beads a necessity; paint our toenails, and wear open-toed shoes to show them off; paint our faces, especially our lips; glue false smiles onto our faces and end our sentences with raising intonations and little-girl-question-words? Right? OK? All right?
Is it genetic that our culture has our male parent "give us away" in marriage to another adult male and that we lose our identity and go from daddy's lil' girl to husband's property by taking his name? Do you know of any groom that has been "given away in marriage" by his parents? Just how long do you think a male would go being addressed as Mrs. and Mr. Elizabeth Smith?
And, of course, never forget that we still teach in our sciences about man -- just as if woman never existed -- until the chapter on reproduction introduces her as a collection of reproductive parts which men use to produce more men.
In a joint return, who is designated "head of household" by the Internal Revenue Service? Who is expected to look pretty and be nice, wear frilly, lacy fabrics and like pink and pastel colors? Why are women assumed to all have aesthetic tastes that are different (and less important or frivolous) than men's? Why is a women expected to give up her personal space and a man allowed to keep his in our greeting rituals? Men generally shake hands with other men but we women are expected to allow them, unasked, intimate contact with our face.
Is it genetic that we must coo over stuffed animals and useless knickknacks and go ga ga over flowers and candy?
Check out how you talk to children and listen to how others around you do. Note the programming in: "big man versus little lady," note how you are referred to as "girl" or "lady" throughout your life. To add insult to injury, many men will address older women as "young lady." It makes us barf!
How much longer do we blindly accept this cultural engineering as genetic destiny? How much longer are we willing to politely allow our bodies and our minds to be trashed? In a recent book, scientists have urged women to "live to their own biological potential." They say that research shows that a woman's body is better designed than man's and that women have a better and more effective immune system.
The fact is that more and more women are waking up and rejecting the whole definition of woman as opposite and unequal to man. We are taking pride in being women -- human beings, not children or ladies -- and discovering for ourselves what we can do, think and feel once we throw off the conventional, cultural straight jacket that has restricted us for so many thousands of years.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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