Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Women Who Act Like Men and the Men Who Despise Them

Photo by Steve Snodgrass
Men and language. What does it all mean? They say, men are from Mars and women are from Venus, so does that explain away why we communicate differently almost all of the time?

I was in the barber shop recently and I heard a few barbers saying "I don't know why women want to act like men!" in response to women defending themselves against hurtful things men say and do to women. "Why do women want to act like men?" that's the best way to explain a woman's right to defend her integrity or to stand up for herself when she's hurt by something someone has said or done to her? WOW! This wasn't the first time I've heard men ask that question but I just wonder why do some men think that self defense is equal to gender stereotypes? I thought we were living in a post Flintstones era. My bad.

Not all men think this way, or use these phrases, but I just think it's interesting how differently women who are assertive are viewed in our society. Take for example, a female supervisor; how many times have you heard a female boss described as "cold" or "strange" because she sets boundaries with her employees, or chooses not to get involved in office gossip or doesn't allow employees to abuse the paid time off system. But a man can be just as assertive and he's awarded, literally, he's given awards, for being an inspirational boss and an outstanding leader. It's totally insane! And I've had enough of it!

I'm here now, today, to say, listen up! A woman does not have to be nice to the point of her own downfall, passive to the point of having footprints on her back and then aggressive enough when her employees feel like the system is taking advantage of them. A woman can be whomever she chooses to be, at any given moment, at any place in time. Just like a man. Why? Because that's the complexity of a woman, of men, of humankind. We are not robots, most of us at least, or only foot soldiers for the people we defend.

So, salute! all the women and men too who understand that and encourage their little girls to be that bold. And to the rest of the world, who doesn't get it, sorry for you. If you don't agree or have another point of view send me a response with a thoughtful rebuttal and we'll keep the conversation going. Just remember to read a few books on women's liberation, the history of humankind and the women and men leaders who have led this country to the day where we all see Barack Obama as President of the United States and Michelle Obama as a comparable wife and First Lady!



At October 16, 2012 at 4:59 PM , Blogger Rosechell Spencer III said...

Your argument is a bit artsy for my taste (will explain what I mean). Firstly, as a black man, I feel obligated to defend the sanctity of the barbershop conversation. Plenty of ignorant, biased, half-baked ideas come out of men’s mouths in the barbershop, but the barbershop is the forum to do that. The barbershop is, arguably, equivalent to a girls’-night-out. It is very much so like the Ice Cube movie; jokes, politics, movies, news, sports news, male gossip, etc. are all discussed. It is the place where boys form perspective and men develop theirs. Much like girls’-night-out, many ignorant, biased, half-baked ideas fall out of mouths and its sensitive information that often reflects emotional outburst rather than logical argument. The barbershop discussion and girls’-night-out, in my opinion, is very much so like the ridiculous radio personalities or that one person who insists on saying dumb stuff just to hear it said. I would like to say, once these immature, ill-informed ideas are aired out; they are often refined and reworked. I said that to say, what’s discussed at the barbershop often is left in the barbershop or on the basketball court and rarely, in my experience, translates to action. I would love to maybe chat with you more about my perspective on cultural forums, but I don’t want to distract from your important discussion.
I believe what you are getting at is the double-standard. The double-standard is a true-life, real fact that exists for both males and females. Mostly everyone takes advantage of it, and mostly everyone complains about it when they are disarmed by it. I 100% agree that there exists bias against women in the professional work-place, but the same can be said for men. Furthermore, I do not agree with your application. Earlier I described your argument as artsy. You’ve provided borders for your opinion but haven’t filled them in with any real detail. The details of a photograph make it factual or at least closer to it; otherwise one has a lot of vague, art (eliciting an emotional response).
I was a victim of work-place bullying (read up on it—the collective a put me onto it) and if you were to vaguely describe my supervisor; she would sound something like what you are describing: strange, assertive, and aggressive. Long story short, we discussed our work-place relation, and it boiled down to—there was no fault of her own and I was all to blame because I didn’t respect her know-how as a well-educated, experienced, black woman (that wasn’t it all). I agree with pretty much everything you said (especially about imbuing our little girls with attributes that are mistakenly mislabeled as male-only), but didn’t like how you seemed to framed “aggressive, assertive women” as always mislabeled out-of-line solely because they are women. If you act aggressively, male or female; the truth is you may get a less-than-favorable reaction. That unfavorable reaction you got was, probably, caused by your aggression and not, necessarily your gender. It’s dangerous thinking in generalist terms and it dulls important content. My problem with feminist’s views often is the fact they usually seem strictly-emotionally driven but well-articulated, and usually reinforces double-standards. If anyone says anything contrary; they run the risk of being labeled misogynistic or stone-aged.
I know I was long-winded and briefly touched a little bit of everything but I’m hoping that if the discussion continues I can just address a single thought at-a-time, and we’ll see some real progress.
GREAT LESSON: We have to consider raising our daughters with the opportunities that we give our sons. We have to stop crippling our daughter’s psyches with “he can behave this way, but you can’t.” But even with that, we have to be careful in its application. Thanks for teaching us.

At October 19, 2012 at 1:11 AM , Blogger asha.tarry said...

Very interesting points Rosechell and I give you a lot of credit for your responsiveness.
There are a few things I have to say are well stated here. The first being that whether a person is male or female, acting aggressively with someone else can be quite detrimental and have consequences of its own. Had I been more explicit in where the edited version of the barber shop talk derived I would applaud you in taking notice of such an insightful acknowledgment of truth, albeit often under-valued by angry, aggressive people.
On a different note, however, there are a few things I feel differently about in your response.
Honestly, I completely understand the code of the shop to "keep what's discussed in the barber shop among the people in the barber shop." I wouldn't at all equate that to "Girl's Night Out!" which I'm not sure you've been to and which does entail many different things. I think what you meant is equal to simply, shop talk, as in barber shop to salon shop. However, that's of least importance. What I can say is that once a thought or message is manifested verbally, there's no guarantee that's going to remain confidential, so anyone saying anything needs to keep that in mind. Once it's out there, it's truly out there. Opinions being shaped also do not BEGIN in a barber shop as much as they are expressed in a barber shop.
If a man thinks that a woman talking up, maybe even loudly, or thoughtfully,about her take on an issue that's important to her, is deemed biologically flawed or to have maladaptive characteristics, then that is a pre-conceived thought and learned judgment of that man toward that woman. One doesn't need to leave their home to get that message. That message is everywhere.
Your other point about how many of us use our gender to our benefits, I would agree to that;at times some of us do. Am I saying here in this post that some, not all, men (and women too) have been conditioned to believe that there are expectations of gender role determinants, absolutely! So, if you go to the example I gave about a female boss and a classic description heard often in corporate America about female bosses, it's not an artsy, inadequate description, it's true. If that's doubted look at the statistics of female bosses to male bosses in almost any profession-- compare the #,the significant difference in salary using the same qualifications, education, time spent working in their given position and you tell me if the way our society thinks about gender is not a reflection of the way it thinks about women's roles in society compared to that of men's.
In regards to your supervisor, well, I would say you did a brave thing and your supervisor was probably threatened to have that encounter from a young, thoughtful, assertive man and possibly she can't tolerate anyone else's opinion but her own--I've been there w/ women bosses too; a flaw of her own,not yours.
Lastly, the goal of feminine thinking is not to showcase the emotionality of a woman, though many who haven't accepted it as a humanistic point of view, believe, but I think the reaction shared here does have a place for further discussion, since it was one that evoked a reaction and plays a part in our continual journey of self development.

Thank you greatly for contributing here. This is why we exist. #Critical thinking and #healthy exchange everyday!!


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