Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Sins Towards Gender Stereotypes

Yeah, you read that right. I was tagged by BlabberBlah, but I’m turning the tag around to suit myself. Ever since I saw the tag at IHM’s, I had a vague sense of disquiet. I admire IHM for how she starts and engages in dialogue about feminism and misogyny. But saying “sins” somehow didn’t cut it for me, even though I know it was meant to be sarcastic. Worse, saying that you are against a particular stereotype only causes that stereotype to be brought out again and looked at, and I believe all stereotypes should die quick deaths.

Besides, there are stereotypes about every act, every feeling. Women cry. Women are stronger. Women are weaker. Women are more vulnerable. Women are more manipulative. Women are “bitchy”. Women are gentler. Women talk more. Women are more silent. So many of these stereotypes even contradict each other. I don’t, for myself, find much value in bringing out ten misogynist straw-figures and distancing myself from them (or even, setting them on fire).

So what I shall do instead, is what seems to me more difficult and more meaningful: enumerate ways in which I still conform to gender stereotypes that I am ashamed of, and that I hope to change. My feminism is constantly evolving, constantly getting stronger, but I still have a long way to go.
  1.  I am scared of driving. I don't get a lot of practice: when the Guy is around, it seems much easier to just let him drive. The first time I actually started driving alone was when the Guy went away for two months. Now, I usually take the car out on weekends, even if it's just to go get groceries.
  2. I don't like running errands or getting things fixed. I don't like talking to repairmen or plumbers. Part of this is due of course to my introverted misantrophic self, and the rest is sheer laziness.
  3. I don't do much heavy lifting. This is mostly due to the fact that my back, which has almost healed itself in the last couple of years, still reminds me of how it used to be if I try stunts like that. I do chip in when we buy groceries - but the Guy's often carrying the heavier bags. Except when his back's bothering him - then I do more than my share.
  4. I'm not physically strong. I am too lazy (and right now, too busy - though you might take that as an excuse) to exercise. I have low immunity and fall prey to minor illnesses quite often, though I've never yet been ill with anything serious.
  5. I have never played sports. Okay, kabbadi and kho-kho in school, but never with much competence. I played a little badminton at home with my parents, but only for some time and again, I wasn't any good. My school never placed much emphasis on sports either, and I never felt like I missed it. I do now.
  6. I cry. Easily. I am very ashamed of it, and this should come as a surprise to most friends too, because I usually control myself quite well. But to the person I'm most intimate with, I show tears way too often. But I'm improving here, and I hope I'll improve more. I'm not ashamed of crying because it shows weakness; but it does, temporarily, render you unable to function, and I hate that.
  7. I have more clothes and accessories than the Guy. Much less than most women, and I spend next to nothing on grooming and make up. But I like clothes and shoes, and given that the Guy likes shopping for me more than for himself, we end up spending more on them than we plan to.
  8. I wear jewellery. Usually, most days, I have nothing on but the ring on my left hand. But there are days when I hang earrings in my ears (even while thinking how ridiculous it is that we punch holes in our ears just so we can hang things from them) or put a necklace around my neck. I used to wear bracelets or bangles sometimes, but then I regularly take them off and keep them on my desk because I spend most of my day typing, and that tends to be painful. Even earrings often hurt when I put headphones on, or talk on the phone for a long time. It seems that all this points out to me that jewellery is ridiculous.
  9. I am not physically courageous. Or, to put it more succintly, I am a wimp. I refused to go parasailing when the Blade did. I am so averse to pain that I refuse to get anything waxed. (Sorry, TMI.) I have contemplated getting a tattoo (okay, part of me thinks tattoos are ridiculous too, but another part thinks it would be really cool to get one), but know I'd never go through with it - or come home with a tiny dot, just like Phoebe.
And that's all. I couldn't think of a tenth one! Let's hope I pare this list down further as I grow older.

Who wants to take up the tag?


Aneela Z said...

thanks unmana, you have spelled my moral quandary best...Im linking this.

Unmana said...

Aneela: Thanks, babes.

Anonymous said...

Nice, Unmana. Most of what's on your list, is what I am too. :) Ok, all of it.

Aparna said...

Good read Unmana. Its funny that sometimes when we want not to conform to stereotypes, we end up conforming to the very same ones. I am not an avid blogger but I think I should take up this tag. Will be interesting

Unmana said...

Banno: Funny, I'd replied to you earlier, but Blogger's eaten my own comment. I'd said thank you, and these 'sins' weren't easy to confess.

Aparna: Please do. I'd love to read your take.

Aparna said...

Done :)