Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why instill "inferior" qualities in our daughters and "superior" ones in our sons?

Pre-Script: This is not at all to suggest that I believe masculinity is superior to femininity. The post below is actually a response to when our patriarchal, oft-misogynistic societies command that we raise our daughters as delicate, emotional, wanted/loved, but then when we do that, societies bites our daughters in the ass and tells them, "Oh, but those are inferior qualities!" Yeah, eff you, patriarchy. But I don't think the quality of "emotion" is inferior to whatever its alternative or opposite might be (conventionally "reason" but that's sick and false).

"We've begun to raise our daughters more like sons ... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters," says Gloria Steinem. And I agree. Many people, especially Pukhtuns, have a hard time understanding this quote. So let me explain.

Basically, the qualities we instill in our sons and daughters need to be the same--independence, love (for self and others), strength, ambition, intelligence, compassion. No need to gender them if we want successful future generations beyond us. In the same way that we train young girls from day one to become loving, caring mothers one day, we need to train our (heterosexual) sons the same way, teaching them the value of loving and caring for others the way we do girls. In the same way that we train our boys to stand up for themselves and be independent and all, we need to raise our daughters to own up to those qualities, too.

There is a difference in how we raise our male and female children. We've categorized our children into girls and boys, and they're supposed to dress, behave, think different ways. We inculcate different qualities in each gender such that, for example, independence, aggression, strength, "intellect" (as opposed to "emotion," though I don't see how the two are mutually exclusive) are "masculine" qualities while dependence/subordination, passivity, weakness, emotions/empathy are "feminine" qualities. You might be familiar with some families saying that since they don't have any sons, they treat their daughters (or one of their daughters) like she's their son. Yet, we never hear of or know about families who say that since they don't have any daughters, they'll raise one of their sons or all of them like their daughters. Because to be a daughter, to be a girl is to be weak, unwanted, passive, subjugated. To be called a girl is an insult. (And that's why we say, "You throw like a girl." Or "You cry like a girl." Or "Don't be such a girl." Or, and most sadly, "Be a man!" No.

If a certain quality is an insult, it should be an insult for all genders, not just for men. If a certain quality is a compliment, let it be so for all. Either that (and I prefer and highly suggest this), or then stop telling and teaching girls to be submissive, passive, delicate, dependent, "emotional" and then when they actually act that way because you freaking told them that's what it means to be a woman, you tell them, "Oh, those qualities are all inferior to masculine qualities." Educate women, teach them to be independent enough to be able to stand on their own feet, train them in self-defense so they don't have to rely on others to save them and so that you'll stop saying, "Well, women are weaker than men and so they're more likely to be assaulted than men are." Confidence is everything - teach them to confident in themselves. Self-love is another essential quality we need to make sure our daughters have: teach them to love themselves! Teach them to be happy with themselves, their bodies. 

I know families and communities that celebrate the success and accomplishments of men but not women's. In some cases, a girl won't even get a "Congratulations!" while a boy gets a huge party. Unless and until we raise our girls in such a way that they won't let such dismissal of their success discourage and offend them, we need to give equal recognition to women's success, too. I'd even suggest we give a girl's success twice or thrice as much recognition because a girl has to work twice or thrice as hard as a boy to make it far. 

And speaking of inferior qualities and whatnot, check this awesome tweet out:
See, we don't think of men as emotional when they're like that.  Don't get me wrong: I find nothing wrong with being "emotional." Being emotional includes being sympathetic towards others, being kind, feeling for others - and these qualities, EVERYONE should have irrespective of their gender. And yet, the way the word "emotional" is used and understood in our society, you'd think it's a bad thing, and primarily so because it's a quality that only women are supposed to have, and anything a woman does and says is always going to be inferior to that of a man's. Like when certain of my male readers comment on my articles/blog posts with things like, "Stop being so emotional" or "this is all based on emotions" or whatever. Even when I have a legitimate argument and even when there's nothing "emotional" about it. It's just simply a way for these men to ignore a woman's voice no matter how legitimate it might be.

Anyway, so I was saying, then, that tweet of my friend's made me realize that most societies actually do not link men's anger, yelling, etc. to emotions even though anger is an emotional response. Why? Because it's a "masculine" trait. Men have a right to get angry at women; men have a right to get angry, period. Consider this: According to certain interpretations of Islam, when a man divorces his wife in anger using Triple Talaq ("talaq, talaq, talaq" = "I divorce you" x 3), it's a totally legitimate and irrevocable divorce, and it's a right granted to the husband and denied to the wife. Why? Because--and get this!--the Muslims who support this idea, say, "Well, because women are so emotional that they'll abuse that right if they had it! Any small thing happens, and the woman will want a divorce!" ... I know, it makes me speechless, too.

So when a man is yelling at you or is being angry, he's not being emotional; he's just being a man. When a woman's angry or yelling, she's being emotional and crazy.

And such as.


Dare to opine :)

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