Thursday, April 8, 2010

Input to Varsity Newspaper

This is an article I just sent to the Opinions Section for the Varsity Newspaper. Hope they publish it. The whole thing that is! Here goes:

In response to Gosia Podgorska's succint article about the subtle ways in which chauvinism comes into play within our daily interactions with one another, I would like to expand on a number of points she made. But firstly, and this is by far the most important piece of news you will ever receive with regards the feminist movement: it is not an ideology that seeks to point men out as egregious rapists, wife-beaters and murderers. Quite clearly, there are plenty of men, young and old that each one of us can point out as not coming even nearly close to fitting this profile. But the truth of the matter is, on a broad scale, our world's collective society has evolved in such a way as to place the male gender on a higher position on the heirarchy. We see this manifestation in the wage-gap phenomenon (which is not much of a phenomenon when one begins to closely inspect the dynamics between genders). The fact that historically, women have been economically-repressed for centuries, by not being given access in the workplace, held back from seeking tertiary education, not being allowed ownership of property and land, disallowed from partaking in the public vote, being given titles in accordance with maritial status (which still happens today mind you) and others are plenty of cause for such a movement as feminism to have struck its climax during the 1970's and though some argue we now live in a post-feminist society (the same claim they would make with respect to race), I disagree. Put simply, until we reach a state of absolute equality between women and men in every sphere of society, feminism will still have its place in attempting to galvanise the notion that yes "Women are people".
To describe this pattern of degrading, dominating, controlling and humiliating women, I use the word misogyny. It's important to note that this word does not relate to the ways in which men view women but often times the ways in which society as a whole treats people who belong to the female gender. Women too can be guilty of it; I can bravely say that because our society is built on sexist beliefs pertaining to the gender-binary and chiefly subscribes to a notion that there are specific and clear-cut roles that women and men must play, the very language we speak, is a language of male chauvinism (upholding the false notion that men are superior to women).
From the ways women's bodies are commodified for media consumption and sexualized for the purpose of male erotic stimulus, it is no surprise that general "guy-talk" or what I would personally call "douchebag-talk" comprises of the excitement found in dominating a women sexually and then calling her a "slut" which relates to a very intrinsic manner in which society as a whole likes to compartmentalize female behaviour - you are either a "good-girl" or a "ho" (the virgin/whore dichotomy). Sexism often shows up in the dismissal of female intelligence and creative agency. Often times women are treated as if we are dumb and are in need of male instruction. It goes further, our ideas are often discredited despite the richness they may carry. In worse cases a male may even steal the idea and take credit for it knowing full well that people will have a better time believing in his intelligence rather than that of a woman. In asserting a gender-binary with regard to stereotyping, we all do ourselves a great disservice. I know for sure, there are young women out there who you'll probably find one afternoon sitting in front of the TV with beer in hand and Arsenal jersey getting aggravated about Fabregas missing the goal. Gender stereotypes are a fallacy, they are socially-constructed. We have effeminate men and tough chicks and plenty other types of personalities that bear to relation to the individual involved's gender whatsoever! What Gosia described is misogyny (hatred of females) in three acts. This perpetual need to re-affirm patriarchal masculinity by observing women as sex-toys, virgins, whores, crazy, uncontrolled, docile etc and not as the individual PEOPLE that they are. It's an attitude that unfortunately does prevail and for this reason, feminism is absolutely necessary in combating misogyny and deconstructing patriarchal definitions of masculinity.

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