I am currently involved in an online debate about the conditions of women in society. As a self-aware individual, I am aware that I find the perspectives put forth extremely repulsive.
There seems to be a stereotype of “woman” that is endlessly needy, fragile and “requiring encouragement” for their “upliftment”. Worse, there are women who see themselves like that, rather than choosing to see what it is that they are doing that they could change to be in a condition they would enjoy better.
It is really superficial to say that women are victimized. What I see happening is a callous lack of looking beyond stereotypes. I see men victimized too, when their emotions need to be in a certain format for the world to acknowledge them as humans. Really, is crying the only symptom of sorrow?
What I see is a sheer lack of sensitivity toward self and others leading to messes that just don’t get solved with patchwork.
The woman is a victim, because the husband yells at her. Fabulous. Here, we are de-humanizing this said husband, who seems to be like a comic book villain, incapable of having anything good in him. What is really happening, is that there is a lot of emotion churning in this guy, that leads to him yelling to force his point home. Do we yell, when we feel that we are being heard? On the other hand, this woman is a pure victim, and someone needs to rescue her from the aforementioned villain. Does she have no responsibility for what is happening? Is she indeed so powerless that a person can come and yell at her and she will not respond? And if she is, how is setting her free going to achieve anything beyond changing villains? Because, believe me, there are plenty of people who are happy to walk all over people who will take it. We are de-humanizing the woman as well, by believing her as incapable of acting in her own self-interest.
Then, we have a whole rush of patchwork to explain how the yelling must not be done, and how the woman is a “poor thing” who is basically dependent on the man to do her a favour and change.
It happens in all situations. Yet, solutions are not looked for by looking at what people in healthy relationships do. Solutions focus on erasing symptoms and creating a “happily-ever-after” image ASAP.
Wake up folks, there is no such thing as happily-ever-after except in fairy tales. Good relationships require commitment from both ends. They need acknowledgment of the other’s perspective (not necessarily agreement). I find a very subtle but important factor at play here.
This is our stereotype of men. “Men don’t cry” “Men provide for the woman” “Men are stronger” “Women are emotional” etc. This is reinforced so strongly with time, that even men who will proudly say that they cry at times will not be able to admit that they “don’t know” or “are helpless” when they are. What is really happening to the men here, when their emotions are not even looked at as relevant to their being? Is it any wonder that the few times we see emotions, they arise from frustration/desperation and come out with excessive force? Who wouldn’t use all the force they have to ease their own discomfort and make stand if they believe that it will not be heard?
An excessively possessive man, is looked on as an extremely undesirable thing. Yet, do we see the caring and wish to protect and need to continue being loved that drives that insecurity (even if we don’t want to be protected)? Do we see it? So, if his caring hasn’t registered, and he sees the object of his love doing somethig he perceives as dangerous, how many choices does he have that don’t involve “laying rules”?
Does the woman really acknowledge his love for her and reassure him that she will be careful, and not take unnecessary risks, or does she simply see the dominance and rebel or succumb? What choices does she have when her freedom is sacrificed that are other than rebellion or becoming victim?
I don’t see how we, as a society can lay down endless rules for behaviour and upliftment, without empowering people with self-awareness and sensitivity toward others.