Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thoughts on sexism.

I was just reading an article about sexism. It's a decent read in my opinion. Basically it gives examples of high profile people who have been sexist in public - the most recent major offence being the whole "Andy Murray was the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years" thing - you know the claim that is now filling my facebook news feed with pictures like this:

However the most interesting part of this article for me, were the comments underneath. I love it when an article gets a whole heap of comments - you get a real sense of where the world is on these issues (and by "world" I mean the demographic who reads whatever newspaper the article is in, there is obviously a vast difference between the type of comments you get on a Daily Mail story, to those on one from The Guardian. The article in question is from the Independent, which is middle of the road-ish.)

Unsurprisingly enough the comments swung in two different directions "Yes the author's right, men should grow up;" and "Come off it, the situation isn't that bad" / "Men are different to women, accept it." As a side note, I do actually agree that in general men are different to women, I just don't think that you can stereotype away opportunity - even if the majority of women don't want careers as bricklayers, even if the majority of men don't want careers as nannies, there shouldn't be any problem when some of them do. And as a second related side note, I watched this video this week about the first woman to run the Boston marathon, I think most people these days would find the race organisers attack on her (mid way through the marathon) surprising / shocking / unnecessary, which is a good sign that we have moved on in the last forty years.

Anyway, the comment I found most interesting was the one asking for with examples of sexism against men (with the premise there aren't many) - but for me it is easy, way too easy to point to some: The Simpson's tops my list, followed by Family Guy, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Chat shows like Loose women which have that tut-tut-you-know-men-are-useless vibe to them. A vibe I see echoed all the time in too many women when they chat about their husbands'. I see it in children's books like The Bernstein Bears - men portrayed as dopey, clumsy, thoughtless, macho. It's a less direct form of sexism. It's often very funny. A kind of worming-it's-way-into-your-consciousness type of thinking that you barely notice. Most of the listed shows are created by, and scripted by men - I don't know what that says about the situation, if men are being sexist about themselves does it just count as irony?  You know like when Chris Rock does his stand up shows and uses words to describe black people that I can't even think about typing without feeling deeply uncomfortable, but his whole (99.9% black) audience finds hysterical?

Turkey has a sexist culture. Men are surprised when women do well. It is an insult to tell a man he is "acting like a woman" (a grown up version of "you're crying like a little girl") In the last decade I have never seen a female: refuse collector, builder, painter, plumber, electrician, bus driver, fisherman etc etc here. Excuses for rape are treated as a hell of a lot more valid than they are in the West. Domestic violence and honour-killing are both subjects I have seen on TV dramas, not as a shock factor, but as a general plot device. I could give plenty of examples from my own home life, but I don't want to start my day by depressing myself. If you want to read about how my marriage works click here. On the upside, Turkey is not sexist like real Arab countries are, here is a classic example from the wonderful Saudi Woman's Weblog. Turkey is not as close to creating an equal society as the West, but it has the advantage over countries-to-the-right-of-it that every so often it actually acknowledges there is a problem.

I'm not sure I really have a point here. Sexism is two sided and it's everywhere. Women are worse off. The whole knocking-people-down-to-make-yourself-look-better thing sucks. But at the same time there is not a healthy balance, it needs redressing. I don't feel guilty about finding The Simpson's funny, I don't want to feel guilty about it. My hope is in my children, that I can teach them a better way of loving the world they are in. And my hope is with children like this who despite all the odds really do exist:



Update: came across this video, love it.


5 comments:

  1. Even though, I am a very independent woman and have been Mother,Father and the breadwinner for my son, I still appreciate it when a door is opened for me and the little things like that. Men and women are different and thank the Goddess for that! As with anything, it's all gone to far once these ideas breed a generation. After that,they can no longer be contained - If it were not for the swinging 60's, where would the UK be now? Turkey is 50 years behind us in so very many ways and I doubt there will ever be a countrywide 'plague' haha like that here. There are of course good and bad points to this. You are so right when you talk about honor killings etc, being normal sub plots in some of the TV programs - Something I have watched and not given a second thought to! I think I have been here too long!

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    1. anyone who offers to carry my bags instantly becomes my hero. I think Turkey could stand to go a little farther. Do you think that the country will ever get to the point where there is a standard level of treatment across the board? It seem so extreme now between east and west, city and village.

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  2. Personally no - I really can't see that happening in our lifetime to be honest. I find is a bit of a fractured system really as once the gates opened to tourism, advancements were swift without the time needed to adjust. It's like giving a caveman gun!

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    1. the part that I find worrying is the drive for new shiny stuff (over simplified by young people always needing the newest shiniest mobile phone) I feel like people are really going to regret not preserving their history in the drive for modernity.

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  3. Especially the boys! I'm just back from Urfa - teenage son had the latest Iphone 5 even though his parents kitchen appliances are 15 years old!

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