Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What Did I Miss?

Publicity photos Savage Jazz Dance Company 
taken by Crow Comoda 
Help me with this conversation, please.

Background first:

We're watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada and one of the male dancers says something along the lines of: Jazz dancing gets a bad rap because people think it's for girls.

An innocent enough statement, I suppose, though it struck me as off this time. Why does something being associated with girls give it a bad rap?

Which is what I said to my t.v. watching partner to which he answered: "I guess if you're a guy, it could be considered that way."

Me: "But if a woman wants to do something that's traditionally a men's thing, there's no bad rap. She's considered strong. There's no stigma."

Him: "Yay for women's lib. It wasn't always that way. In the old days, a tomboy wasn't a good thing. It was practically considered being a lesbian."

Me: *getting irate* "There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian."

Him: "I just meant...never mind...not interested in having this conversation. You don't get it."

O.o Clearly. (The fact he just shut me down with no discussion is for another, much less public rant in which smoke will likely billow from ears and my eyes will glow a dull red.)

So back to this gender role thing: please help me with what I "don't get". Just what is it I am not getting? Because I've already had this conversation with my eight year old son. I've suggested he rethink the idea that there's something wrong with being compared to girls. No one bats an eye when comparing girls to boys and being impressed when they measure up, but they disparage boys who measure themselves against girls. Why? What's so wrong with being a girl that you'd be embarrassed at being compared to one? When I asked the boy that, he couldn't really give me an answer.

I thought it might be a little hard for an eight year old to put into words, so I asked him instead what his sister could do that he would be find embarrassing if he could do it too. Would it be being able to do karate as well as she can, or being as good a jazz dancer as she was (he is also, by his own choice, taking jazz dance lessons, and does a fair decent job of it, when he's not preening and being tough, cool dude) or would it be being able to swim as well as she can, or being able to do math or read or play the piano as well. He said he wished he could do any one of those things as well as she does, but she's older and has been doing them all longer, so naturally, she's better.

So I asked him what, about being a girl, his sister should be ashamed of.

I think he got my point. I worry that the older men in his life don't seem to. Is it just hardwired in their heads to think this way?

Or am I actually missing something? Because if I am, please help me out here. Enlighten me.


Starfox Howl said...

A boy getting compared to a girl, that's fairly easy. "Your just a girl" taunt against a boy translates out to something like this, 'you play with barbie/betsy wetsy dolls, you can't run, you can't play baseball, you're effeminate, you're no good.'

Now, in the progressive, positive self-esteem, metrosexual, if we can put one man on the moon why can't we put them all there' world of adults the "you're just a girl" taunt might be brushed aside, but in the primitive, macho, Captain Caveman world of boys and childish men, it is very damming and demeaning.

As for Tomboy=Lesbian=Bad, well, go back to "the old days" or "dark ages", being a lesbian WAS a bad thing. It wasn't accepted by the general population as NORMAL. While that sort of attitude is fading, there is still a significant portion of the population where lesbian=bad is still the norm.

Faith said...

Society's overall outlook on this topic is slowly changing, but it's going to still take a lot of time. And there will always be that group who stands firm on their belief that women are the weaker and less intelligent sex. And that last comment is an entirely different can of worms, lol.

Shaunna Wolf said...

Men see anything that compares them to women as an affront to their masculinity. If a woman is better at something than they are then, oh boy their penis just shrunk 3 sizes.

If a woman is good at doing something that is traditionally a male thing she's an exception and people will say oh well not all women can do that.

If a man is good at something that is considered a woman's thing, say housework or sewing, he can't be masculine, he's gay or his wife wears the pants etc.

I just saw an ad for a program on tv about cars, it boasts on the next show that they teach women how to handle a stick and show scenes of a woman not being able to drive a standard car.

Absurd. In any place other than the US most all cars are stick and every gender drives them.

Until gender stereotypes are dissolved, anything men do that other men see as making their penis smaller will be seen as bad.

Blame most this stuff on patriarchal religions. There are social groups who see division in gender roles but neither is considered less, in fact gender rolls are given to certain things because that gender is deemed better at doing that job, that can be seen as the same thing, but it isn't.

Neither gender is less for their role.

Guys just need to get over it, and keep the ego out of it.

Anonymous said...

Historically, during many periods in human history women were property. Women have traditonally been less educated, less well fed, had less control of their own lives than men of similar class in the same periods. As agriculture and the ability to make war gained ascendancy, women became the tripods, the bootie, little different from a good horse or sword, often a great deal less useful than either. I paraphrase, but is not the sixth commandment of the Christian religion "thou shall not covet a man's wife, servant, ass, or anything else he owns."

Now, I am a huge supporter of equality. I want to see gender erased. I think our sexual organs should not be obvious either from our language or our physical appearance.

But why would a person of a traditionally free group accept being compared to those that accept enslavement?

Valerie Mann said...

Without reading the other comments first, here's my armchair (and very tongue-in-cheek)analysis: Men are strong, women are weak. Strong is good, weak is...well, weak. Therefore, to be told you're strong, even though you were born the weaker of the species? That's good. If you were born the stronger of the species and told you act like a girl? That's so bad.

In reality, women rule the freaking world. Men don't know it even though we keep telling them it is so. "Behind every successful man is a woman" isn't just a cliche phrase. We women know it. We simply don't strut and preen about it. We carry on with pride and get the job done.

Having said all that, I LOVE a masculine man. Just as I look at a beautiful woman and appreciate her femininity. But whatever a person chooses to be, or act like, or look like, or whatever their sexuality, it's all good.

Nicki said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with a boy being compared to a girl. When my son was alive (he made it to 11 mos old), he was constantly being called a 'girl' because he liked pink. Wouldn't wear anything but pink. :D

Robyn M Speed said...

The thing that pisses me off the most is this: in this age of equality women are almost EXPECTED to mow lawns, repair the house, and check the tyre pressure on the car, whilst men are NOT expected to hem their own trousers, bake, and clean the cupboards.

AND we are expected to do this whilst dressed fabulously (yes I HAVE pumped my own gas wearing my CFM boots!)!! We are supposed to be gorgeous sexy women who dote on the male of the species. The reason tomboy/Lesbian is not so openly embraced is this: from the male perspective it is wrong if ALL women do not dote on/adore/cherish/swoon over the male...they are after all gods (note the lower case 'g'), conquerors and rulers of the world, and 'deserve' to be worshiped.

Men want us to do their work FOR them, but not be equal to them. How about this for a laugh... women are SO GOOD at doing everything that men do that we don't NEED the men, because frankly I think a good woman will do just fine, if not better, because she KNOWS what we like. Is THIS what the men 'don't get' ??

Jaime Samms said...

yes, Starfox, (and everyone who quoted history at me) I do understand the path of history that brought us to this pass. I get that. My question is more this: are guys really so hard wired that they don't see the problem with the actual logic involved in the whole " Me Tarzan, you Jane" mentality? Be cause I tell you, I have always thought lived with a fairly enlightened guy, so this whole conversation caught me flat-footed. I truly thought he had a more open mind on this subject by now.

anon, your last statement makes a good point, although I question the use of that phrase ''accept enslavement" That's a can of worms we probably don't want to open here.

Val, I love a masculine man, too. i'm also fascinated with androgyny in both genders. maybe it is me and the lines are just blurred in my own head to the point I don't understand the divide that seems to exist for some people.

Niki, how wonderful that you can celebrate his life so strongly. thank you so much for sharing that.

Robyn, there's a country song something along those lines: Kenny Chesny's The Woman With You: and it's nice that it celebrates this aspect of being a woman, being able to do all that and still be appreciated for who we are. It's a shame it doesn't go both ways, and guys can't have that same freedom.

Anthology Authors said...

What's sad is that this crap is still floating around, but I see it all of the time with the neighborhood boys as well as the boys Lily invites to her birthday party. They can't wear pink (because that's girly). They can't like My Little Ponies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc., because that's girly too. However, Lily can like dinosaurs, pirates, blue (what used to be her favorite color. Now, she prefers gold--the shiny kind. grin), building blocks, chess, etc. It's a stupid stereotype. Beyond stupid, really. And it only limits people.

Lily loves ballet and gymnastics. She's a good swimmer. My MIL bought some inner tubes with built in squirt guns. Those are as popular with the girls as the guys, but the neighbor boys don't want to play mermaids. Why not? Mermaids (and mermen) are awesome swimmers. Who wouldn't want to swim with such power?

Well, I digress. I agree with you. It's sad that considering all of the progress we've made, we still haven't made that much progress.


DARRELX said...

A man cannot give birth to a woman, but a woman can give birth to a man. I think that the things that separate the male and female gender and so are uniquely male or female should be appreciated and respected rather then any comparisons made. I admire women greatly for their maternal gifts. I actually see woman as the Superior sex. I would not like to be compared to a woman, for I cannot perceive in me anything that would be worthy of that comparison. I am not worthy to be compared to a woman. I can only try and be the best man that I can be, in my limited capacity as a man.

Jaime Samms said...

marci, what I find interesting to note is that when our daughter was born, we were in total agreement that we were not going to make an issue of traditional gender roles. we bought her cars and dolls. she liked the cars better and still does, even though In lots of other ways, she's very much a girly girl.

When the boy was born, suddenly, that changed. We didn't buy him dolls. cars, yes.. dolls, no. Suddenly, we were no longer in agreement. And when hubs came home from work one day to find the five yr old girl had dressed the two yr old boy in her old pink ballet tutu and shoes, he flipped his lid, seemingly unaware that the flip out was going to be far more detrimental to the kid than the pink tutu ever would.

Can you say double standard much?

darrel, there are unique and wonderful aspects to celebrate in both genders. Neither, in my opinion, is better ot worse. We are equal but different. We need each other, and it seems it would be best for all if we respected each other. how is that possible with such unfavorable comparisons?

DARRELX said...

Regardless, the human race has reached unsustainable numbers, indefinitely. LOL!

I believe if men saw the superiority of women from day one. Not spiritually but biologically. How valuable they are. Then there would be no need for anything else. We would still be in paradise. Equality is a nice rose colored argument. Yet if thats what you see when looking at both genders. How am I equal with a woman since I do not have a womb!!! Did my dad carry me to term and give birth to me??? So the genders are equal how? How is the womb not a Superior organ? what has a man got that is Superior to a womb? Please do answer me!!! From the womb come forth man!!! Phewweee!!!

Anthology Authors said...

There was a little boy at Lily's preschool who loved Disney princesses and loved to wear the costumes. His mother was disappointed (because she doesn't like Disney princesses), but she said nothing about it and was okay with it. At three and four, gender means little to them. Out here in Los Angeles, you see a lot more acceptance for this. No question there is still intolerance, but I believe it's less than what you'd see in a lot of other places around the States and the world.

Fiona McGier said...

I have raised 3 sons and my youngest is a girl. I brought them all up to be affectionate as well as assertive, to be able to access BOTH sides of being human. I used to argue with women in the mom's groups I belonged to, because they were all adamant about raising their girls to be assertive as well as nurturing, but they made fun of me for being pleased that my oldest pretended to nurse his teddy bear, because he wanted to be like me when he was 2...for crying out loud! Do you remember anything you did when you were 2?? They said he would be "gender-confused". I told them their "whole people" daughters were going to be looking for "whole people" sons, like my boys...not for some cardboard character, 2-dimensional macho man whose only acceptable emotion was anger.

All of them are whole people now, and I'm glad they all played with trucks, dinosaurs, and dolls, though the boys did spend a lot of time pulling the heads off of their sister's Barbies. But then, she did too...and as a babysitter, the little boys LOVE her, because she learned to speak "boy" before she had any friends who were girls. But when I made her a superhero cape and mask, like I had for all of her brothers, she insisted on wearing it with her princess Halloween costume, so she could be super-princess. I guess some things are just innate?

As for the lesbian thing, men understand being attracted to women, so they understand how lesbians could be attracted to what they find sexy. And they like to watch because if a woman gets another woman turned on, they don't have to "waste time" doing any foreplay themselves. Lazy gits! But they don't understand gay man because they can't comprehend how damn sexy they are, with their hairiness, their bigger muscles, and their scruffy faces. They recoil at the idea of finding that sexy. How limiting for them!