Saturday, 22 January 2011

I Am Woman

The following isn’t about other cultures, and it isn’t even really about other people who live within the same culture as I do. It’s me, rambling and ranting, about me. Personal things. So don’t get angry or offended and try to argue. OK? Although I’m perfectly willing to discuss it all, you don’t need to tell me what I think.

From a short conversation with a couple of other people on Twitter, I’ve been thinking today about what it is to be a woman. The conversation, for context, started out about the concept in some television adverts that women are the smart ones, the savvy consumers who know the best products, and men are lumbering idiots. It seems, in my mind, to stem from a branch of feminism, the backlash against being told females don’t know as much about the world as males do. It’s not burning bras, it’s a more self-aware, now-it’s-2011-aren’t-we-so-grown-up-about-sexism kind of thing. But it isn’t, really, is it? Men are clever. Women are clever. Gender shouldn’t be relevant, and implying that it is, for day-to-day usage (I know nothing of any actual science, but I know that men do not need to be told by their oh-so-brainy girlfriends that painkillers might kill their pain) is pretty damaging. Obviously this is never going to catch on with advertising companies which rely on demographics and neatly labelled categories in order to “know” the people at whom they’re aiming their product.

By the by - just because it still makes me angry - whoever came up with “Ryvita - for ladies that lunch” is an idiot. Firstly, I’ve seen men eat Ryvita, but they probably won‘t want to now. Secondly, it should be “ladies WHO lunch”. Thirdly, people who use “lunch” as a verb are probably not going to buy Ryvita, because they’re stuck in a Sondheim musical in the 70s.

So back to the matter at hand. Being female. It’s just not something I think about, that much, although it isn’t for the lack of people bringing it to my attention. There weren’t many girls in my classes when I did various qualifications at college and uni. I attended a job interview recently at which I was the only female along with about 12 males. I don’t have particularly “feminine” tastes in clothing, or music, or doing things in general. This is in comparison to the girls I know well, which is the only comparison I can realistically make. I don’t call myself a tomboy, either. I’m not much interested in sport and I don’t like lager, both of which are seen generally as more masculine interests. I don’t find it easy to identify with, let alone side with, someone just because they’re the same sex as I am. I’m just a person, and aside from physicality, not much of what I do or think or say should be attributed to my gender.

The thing is, I’m not really interested. I get tired of women telling me, either directly or indirectly, that I should be fighting against sexism, and we need to prove ourselves, and that men still get paid more than we do, and blah blah blah. I’m not interested and I don‘t want to be made to feel guilty for not joining in your debate. Please stop trying to shove this idea down my throat that I’m being oppressed because I’m a woman. Because I’m bloody not. Nobody I respect has ever told me I’m less good at something just because I’m female. As the recent advertising trends go, men are the ones who are being told to feel like the dumb ones, boys are doing less well than girls at exams, etc etc, but this isn’t better, this is still rubbish.

What I’m actually trying to say isn’t that men are something or that women are something. I’m trying to say that I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about what you think of me, if that opinion is based on my gender. OK? That’s it.

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