This post could well have a truly magnetic effect! It could attract and repel in equal measure!
I am female. This does not mean that I look down upon, or feel prejudice towards, those who are not. Nor was I born in a state of automatic privilege because my skin is pink, my gender is female. Think about this properly, World. Read on…
I am proud of being a woman. It has taken me many decades, and not a little grief, to come in to my own as one born female. It has not been an easy road. A path littered with broken glass describes it more accurately.
The idea that my gender has made me into an entitlement freak, a bigot; that I have lived a life of ease and luxury because I popped out with female genitals rather than male ones (and that, for reasons I do not intend to go in to, I have maintained the physical and sexual self I was born with); that any of the above makes me into one of the elite – and, in some people’s eyes, little more than the Establishment, the enemy – makes me weep and rave in fury and frustration.
Women have historically, and actually, ‘attracted’ abuse, extreme sexism, lower pay, genital mutilation, lower status in everything and extremes of control not generally experienced by men. Regularly passed over for promotion on the basis of our gender; raped for wearing clothes we like; murdered, in some countries, for adultery; the target of revenge killings for falling in love with someone unsuitable – and thus shaming the males in the family; often passed over in favour of male siblings when it comes to inheritance; expected, still, to conform to the Mother/Whore stereotype; I could go on, but will rein myself in. The point has been made, clearly and passionately. From it, I genuinely cannot see anything which points to a gender living a life of entitlement and privilege and automatic right to command. A few atypical exceptions make it through the Glass Ceiling; most of us do not.
Did I, back in the day, embrace Radical Feminism with the almost-religious fervour shown by so many? No, I did not. Even then, back in the seventies, I was highly suspicious of any movement which called for further hatred of, and division from, one sector of society, in this case, men. Feminist ‘friends’ accused me of letting the side down, of being a back-slider and a man-pleaser, of not caring about the Cause. My having a boyfriend was considered, by some, tantamount to arrant betrayal.
I was accused of covert undermining because I refused to call myself ‘Ms’ rather than ‘Miss’. I loathed the sound of the former, and still do – and only now put it on forms because I am no longer married.
So, has life really improved for womankind in the decades since Radical Feminism? No. Not really – or not enough. The Goddess is still stamped all over in the rush to get to the God. Far too many women-centred movements use male forms of coercion to bring their followers to heel.
Terms which are divisive and/or covertly punitive do not help one little bit, though I sympathise with the frustration felt (and discrimination experienced) by those who are bullied because of their gender, and can even, intellectually, see that there is a lack of appropriate vocabulary to cover true diversity.
But I would ask this: Does the use of a term, which is becoming pejorative in tone and meaning, help the gender divide one iota? Does turning men and/or women collectively into the bad guys, in the linguistic and emotive sense – because of this delusion concerning each discrete gender’s sense of supposed entitlement and gender-based privilege – actually promote healing and true communication between all peoples regardless of their gender, creed or colour?
I feel lessons need to be learned from the failure of Radical Feminism. Women aping men at their aggressive worst did not push the cause forward in a healthy or genuinely empowering way; in fact, they got people’s backs up, created further needless division, turned on less radical ‘sisters’ and, in my view, embraced bitterness and righteousness with far too much enthusiasm.
I have learned a great deal of inflammatory language in my time, most of it hurled by one sector of society at another and much of it overtly political in tone. Rhetoric is flung. Persuasive techniques are done to death. Arguments are started, and offence taken, at the slightest misuse of words. The only way to survive, I sometimes think, is to become a mute!
I am not a man. I am a woman. Part of the problem with our society is that the definitions of what it is to be male and female are centuries out of date, and exclude far too many of the world’s citizens. Why the hell shouldn’t masculinity include gentleness, sensitivity, emotional intelligence, wearing pink? Why shouldn’t femininity include being outspoken, physically strong, practical in nature, fatherly at times?
An urgent overhaul of the whole system is called for. I have finally come to terms with those aspects of my character which could be termed, for want of a better word, ‘masculine’. I accept that I have the potential to be attracted to women as well as men. I consider myself to be a strong person.
Hatred, name-calling, dismissive comments and isms have not advanced the human race by one measly step, have they?
Toleration and inclusiveness, acceptance and empathy seem like far-distant goals at present. It is, after all, far easier to sling verbal stones and accusations than to sit down and look at the connections we all share: to celebrate our points of contact rather than disparaging every person who is not identical to us.
Waging war has not worked. I do not understand why people still delude themselves into thinking that it can solve anything. The three letter difference between ‘assertion’ and ‘aggression’, and the confusing of the two words, has had the world on the brink of disaster on too many occasions.
I have a big heart. My natural inclination is to love and accept. But I will not be bullied by those who have a political agenda and object to me on principle; who see me as part of ‘them’ in the tragic ‘Us and Them’ divide because I do not cleave slavishly to the language of cultish division; because I call a spade a spade; because I dislike elephants trying to hide underneath carpets!
Let us show compassion, not dismissive competition, to those who suffer in life. Let us try and get away from this conceit that our wounds are worse than everyone else’s – and that anyone not in our tribe who claims to have suffered pain is lying or exaggerating.
This post is from the perspective of a female, but that does not mean that I am unaware of, or uncaring about, the trials, tribulations and torments endured by males, those who are transgender and so forth.
No one group or individual has the monopoly on pain.
I am woman. I know bigotry, abuse, discrimination and marginalisation intimately and personally. I am not the enemy – and I will not apologise for being born into one of the most underprivileged groups in the history of mankind: womankind!