(meaning third post in English in the last few days, mostly in order not to dissapoint my first other-than-my-mom subscriber – who so pleasantly surprised me this morning – with random musings in Romanian.)
The thing circling about in the bucket of my mind and trying to get a formulation, stimulated by more or less debate-ey comments on the mummyblogs that I’ve been reading with unembarrassed thirst for the last weeks, is the extent to which exposure to gender identity stimuli in the world around us makes us comply and be what we are told we are. Or rebel. Or – ideally – shun labels.
Because I used to think I would die if anyone ever called any thought in my head a feminist thought. I also used to think my children, if female, will own no pink piece of clothing – in apparently no connection at all with the first thought. I used to think I could be absolutely anything I wanted AND that the thing I absolutely wanted to be was a mum (to be honest, this is the one piece of reasoning that never substantially changed and I’m happy with that, in spite of the fact that I never got round to actually resigning my lucrative activities and probably never will). And I hated the feminist movement because of growing up in a country where the movement had done nothing but defeat its purpose: where I come from, women were and are supposed to work full-time, more often than not keep households in which their men don’t lift a finger (rumour has it it’s been changing lately, I’m not there enough to check), raise children more or less on their own – with the occasional male input of ball-throwing at little boys at the weekend side-of-the-pond-barbecue and of belittling them if ever they manifest any non-masculine interests. I am quite aware of the extent to which this sounds like a rant – I used to see the issue rather black and white and be angry at the wrong… ah, but no, I still think, to a degree, I was angry at the right people. Because the generation of our mums, while being quite driven in their carreers and telling us sky was the limit, also taught our brothers to be exactly as helpless as their dads, whose mothers they used to curse, in turn, in their youth. Chores in houses were seldom split evenly, the roles of boys and girls were distributed before we even knew it and by the time I went to the seaside on holidays on my own with a group, when we were about 15, the girls were cooking every single day for everybody – never grudgingly, mind you, we were playing at being grown-ups, and that was what grown-up women did. (I also impressed a very temporary love interest to tears in my second year of university by washing his t-shirts – apparently it was endearing that there were still old-school women who took care of their men in that way, and amusingly, I was proud to be one.)
In time, a lot more nuance has come into the way I tell these stories or see `societies`. Having lived in three countries by now, I have been able to see that people get exposed to things to which their particular society attributes values and most of the time the `irrefutable truths` about `how things are` are integrated unquestioningly in one’s system of beliefs. (The temptation here is to illustrate with examples of `universal` trains of thought per nation, but I’m not going to fall for it, of course, this already being a rambling post with too many branches). What I wanted to say is that, with globalisation, quite a mass of the thought that is acceptable and accepted, mainstream, not consistently questioned, might just be the same for many of us. This being how come we can wonder on different meridians about the effect of sexualising pictures on children growing up and on their image of themselves. This is how come anorexia and bulimia are spreading at much the same pace in different places. This is how unfiltered feelings of being unsafe or of making too much effort in comparison to others (ow, how well this ties in with my rant, although it comes from somewhere completely different!) create rejections of otherness of the least politically correct kind.
And this is where I begin to wonder about the sense of this post and get all solipsistic on my own ass – to what degree am I capable to think independently about these things when, in truth, I wanted to have girls because my own brain was washed enough (and it’s difficult to say by whom) to believe that girls were the part of humanity that I had a more decent chance to reason with? How can I stand straight in any debate on society shaping uneven roles when I have been glueing all-hated labels on human behaviours on both sides of the gender rift for years? But also, going back, are the unquestioned things which have been settling peacefully in my brain really disqualifying me from formulating any informed opinion? And if so, is there no informed opinion possible on gender identity issues (or any issues, in fact)? Or is there a way of securing one’s attempt at `objectivity` (lovely construct, can’t help labelling it `scientifically male` though 🙂 ) by critically questioning all assumptions one makes when trying to make up one’s mind? In other words, if I assess myself, for instance, as touched by an improperly/insufficiently questioned tinge of misandria, will that disqualify my view on how my world typecasts children in little princesses and little dinosaur lovers or will it just give it more strength because I am dealing with my own potential bias by admitting it?
Whoa, I definitely have too many questions for one single post and too many modifiers for every single sentence. Oh well…