Being Yourself (and a vague tangent on gender roles)


I just read an essay and in it the author basically says (to my understanding) that Argentine writers should not limit themselves to writing about Argentinian themes or Argentinian motifs in order to keep the Argentinian literary culture. Instead, they should write about anything and everything and be influenced by whatever, and since they are Argentinian, this literature will automatically be Argentinian literature, for better or for worse.

This is what I have always said about gender roles. I should not have to act a certain way to “act like a girl”. I am a girl so whatever I do is what a girl acts like.

In another vein of thought, I really dislike it when people say they’re not “that kind of girl” or they don’t “act like a girl” with the intention of distancing themselves from their femininity. If they identify themselves as a girl then they are an identification of what a female can be. Just because general society has a certain view of a role for females does not mean there aren’t a large percentage of females who are very different from that view. In fact, I would presume there were more “different” girls than there were “normal” girls, considering how rare it is to find someone completely normal. In this sense there may have been more girls aspiring to be the normal instead of accepting their difference.

I guess girls who say they are not like other girls are trying to say they do not want to subscribe to the gender roles imposed by society.

What I dislike more, I guess, is the disdain some have for the girls that do. As if they are somehow more intellectually superior and that allows them to place themselves above these “feminine” females. Instead of empowering girls (and their own group) they distance themselves from women and as a result, women as a whole stay down, a group that is somehow inferior to women “who are not like other women” and men. The only group below them, possibly, are men who “act like women”. Somehow, possessing feminine traits is undesirable and loathed. And yet “feminine” women are still praised by men and women who believe keeping the status quo is natural (it’s not). I swear, whoever thought that keeping everything the same was the natural way of life…

Anyway, I know I say some things about acting like a girl or a guy sometimes but I am trying to get that sort of vocabulary out of my system. I used to deny any and all stereotypically “feminine” actions in protest, but denying the expression of something I actually feel just because it was considered “girly” was probably a very immature way of thinking of feminism, i.e. I was still considering masculine things to be better. But masculinity is no better than femininity; they are equal and they both have problems to address. Neither should be considered more ideal because in the end they are all just schemas for behaviour and quite variable.

I know religiously there are certain roles for men and women. I know biologically there are certain differences, too. But neither of them say that women can’t be sporty and outspoken or men can’t cry or be weak. Neither of them say women have to stay at home and and do house chores and men aren’t allowed to do those things. (In fact the Prophet used to do a lot of his own chores and his wives and daughters have been businesswomen and leaders and really well-educated people). It does say that men are more likely to be colour-blind and women are more likely to have a hard time building muscles. That does not mean there are fewer male pilots even though colorblindness is not allowed for pilots, and that does not mean there are no female bodybuilders. Even in brain studies that outline various differences between male and female brains, the authors tend to conclude that although some areas were statistically significant by a small margin, the variation in the general population is wide and individual ability simply cannot be judged based on gender.

Anyway, I recommend this book to everyone. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. He is very well read and takes inspiration from quite a lot of different works, including the Qur’an. Actually, the essay I talked about earlier mentions the Qur’an – how the Qur’an does not speak of camels even though it was written in Arabia, because it was “written by an Arab” and camels are the norm, so they do not need to be mentioned them to make the Qur’an “identifiable” as an Arab work. However, a non-Arab writing about Arabia might include a lot of camels because that is what they see and that is what they will use to give their writing that “authenticity”. Obviously I do not agree that the Qur’an is a piece of Arabic literature but the point he was trying to make was to not try to be something when you already are. For example, I do not have to write about my etles dress and chimmen doppa to show that I am Uyghur, I am Uyghur so what I write will be identifiable as Uyghur.


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