Feminism, Sex & Relationships

I just get along SO much better with guys, girls are too much drama!

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this statement quite a fair bit. I think it’s problematic. But I don’t think it’s problematic because “girls who say it just want male attention”.

I think it’s problematic because no one is asking why this is being said.

Let’s assume for a second that girls are in fact, “too much drama”, and guys aren’t. Why is this the case? It appears that it’s common that when women argue, we really go through it. We are spiteful, we are mean, we resent, we bitch, we talk about how we felt, we unpack our emotions, then we decide whether we want to keep the friendship alive. When men fall out: they argue, then they make up (or they just never talk again). As if nothing happened. Some may even talk about their feelings, but I can count on one hand how many guys I know that are like this. I’m grossly generalising here. But I think you get my point.

Salvaging relationships is exhausting. But then, why wouldn’t it be? If we take out all the horrible bullying and just really take a good look at how we feel, this takes time and it is tough. Especially when you’re in the wrong. But this isn’t drama. Drama is the meanness, the resentment, the bitching. All the stuff we can do without. To be fair though, I feel like as women we’ve grown up thinking that this is totally normal. One of your friends upsets you and all of a sudden she’s a fat ugly bitch. It’s basically the script of Mean Girls. It is just embarrassing and ridiculously unproductive. Like maybe she just isn’t being supportive or she’s behaving selfishly, but fat ugly bitch? Come on.

A more productive approach might be to take a good look at yourself and just think for a moment if you are the problem. Accountability is key. I think there are several approaches to take (e.g. talking to a friend about it, talking to someone older etc.) but I’m not a life coach so I’m just going to assume that you lot know how to communicate properly.

Anyway, another point I want to make is that in navigating female relationships, the aim is not to replicate male ones. Just because guys tend to kiss and make up quicker, doesn’t mean their friendships are any stronger or any better. When you don’t unpack your shit, you’re missing out on improving your emotional intelligence. Being powerful, successful and smart is not the same as being more “manly” and acting in accordance with “toxic masculinity” or what is stereotypically manly isn’t going to get you any of those things.

Also, saying that you get along better with guys is fine I guess everyone has a preference. But isn’t it odd how no guy has ever said he’d rather be in a friendship group of all girls? Sometimes when girls say this it sounds like they aren’t even open to the idea of making female friends, and I get that we can put each other through hell but at the end of the day this is a patriarchy, so if you think only having male friends will solve your problems you are mad! I’m kidding, sort of, I just think it’s important to keep an open mind.

Having a solid group of girls allows you a safe space to complain as much as you want about other girls. And I don’t mean gossiping about superficial things. I mean talking about times where we have been put down, shamed or scorned by other women. We should be able to do this publicly and openly but this can be difficult when at the same time we are trying to take apart certain narratives. Especially when it comes to black women. It’s not fair at all but it is life, for now. Having this safe space to rant can allow us to let go of the bitterness we might be harbouring.

On a lighter note. When female relationships are good they can be so amazing. There’s nothing like bonding over whether you prefer pads with wings, talking about your first sexual experiences, talking about plans to disassemble the patriarchy, encouraging one another, holding one another accountable, sharing makeup for a night and pretending like it’s hygienic because you don’t always share makeup. I could go on, I really live for moments like this. I get that life isn’t a movie, but having that bond is genuinely life-changing.

I’ve talked a lot about why female relationships are important. I just want to touch on two more things lastly. The first thing is that this doesn’t just have to be within our own age group, look to those who are older AND younger, you can learn so much. Secondly, I know I’ve talked about female relationships like they’re just something you can pick up from the shop. I don’t mean to come across this way and I know that it is easier said than done but I just want to encourage you to put yourself out there if you feel like you could really get along with another girl. You might surprise yourself.

To all of my girls reading this, I couldn’t love you anymore if I tried and I’m thankful for all of you every day.

Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.

Advertisements
Standard
Faith, Feminism, Sex & Relationships, Sociology

So what’s the furthest you’ve gone with a guy?

Honestly, there is a lot to unpack here.

Questions like this tend to have underlying misogynistic roots. Often times what it sounds like is “let me assess what this girls sexual experiences are so I can figure out what kind of treatment I think she deserves”. As much as society has progressed it would be a lie to say that women who are as sexually liberated as some men are treated the same. You might not even be explicitly thinking this, but what if the female you’re talking to has what you consider to be a lot of sexual experience? Are you going to treat her exactly the same as the one who has less? You might think yes, but your subconscious may still be unlearning the values you’ve picked up during socialisation.

Despite there appearing to be a shift in attitudes surrounding ‘sexual purity’; in a lot of cultures and religions shaming women in particular for engaging in sexual activity is normal and even encouraged. Having views on what context you think people should be having sex in is one thing, but shaming others in an attempt to control is not okay. Especially when it comes down to some religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism mainly) where premarital sex is seen as a sin. Faith and salvation are personal and shaming someone for engaging in what you believe is a sin isn’t going to make them repent. In fact, it just makes you (someone who is also not living sin free) look dumb and nobody wants to look dumb. I really want to highlight here that shaming isn’t the same as what some believe is correcting someone in their faith. Shaming is telling your brother/sister in Christ/Islam/etc. that they aren’t good enough and that their faith means less than yours because they have “sinned differently” to you. That is also not okay.

Also, this odd obsession with virginity and purity can be really problematic. Someone being a virgin doesn’t make them any more or less vulnerable than anyone else and finding this attractive is very questionable. Even in saying this, ideas around virginity and the way it is socially, culturally and biologically constructed mean that what it is to be a virgin transcends discussions around just sex and relationships.

ANYWAY.

Even if your values don’t align with the stereotype, this doesn’t take away from the matter at hand. How you treat others should not completely depend on their perceived sexual experiences.

Don’t get me wrong though, this works the other way. It’s important to think about the purpose of invasive questions regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.

Maybe it’s not that deep, does that justify asking someone invasive questions out of the blue?

I think not.

Maybe you’re asking because you want to know what the person might be comfortable doing with you. But if this is the case, you could actually just ask them what they’re most comfortable doing with you in the given moment in an appropriate context. What they have done with someone else won’t necessarily be an indicator of what someone is willing to do with you and this applies outside of a sexual context. Also, making someone else feel like they’re being irrational for not wanting to answer is borderline mad.

Well, what if you’re just curious? That’s fine, I’m sure we’d love to know lots of things about the people we are getting to know but are you going to put your curiosity over someone else’s comfort? It might be the case that the person you’re talking to wouldn’t mind answering, but your best bet is minding your business unless you’re actually talking about your sexual experiences. What the furthest you’ve gone with another person is not a 21 questions type of question, it’s not a question you ask after ‘wyd’ and it most definitely not a question you ask to someone you barely know.

So if anyone does ask you and you don’t want to tell them, always remember that you don’t owe them an explanation.

Some might disagree with me and that’s okay. Part of me was reluctant to write this but I had to get it off my chest. Perhaps I’m just writing this for myself out of frustration so that the next time I’m asked I can just send a link.

You can’t force someone to respect you, but you can refuse to be disrespected.

Standard
Feminism

Feminism & Men

A while ago I watched a TED talk by Brittney Cooper called ‘The racial politics of time’, despite it being about race something she said really stood out to me. She said “Those in power dictate the pace of the workday”. It stood out because although she talked about this in a racial context it can generally be applied to all social issues regarding marginalised groups. In essence, higher ups in society dictate the rate at which social change occurs. Sometimes it seems like when marginalised groups of people start causing unrest in society out of a desire to create change, those in power get together and say “Maybe we should give this group rights now? They’re acting up so if we pass this law that should settle them down a bit”. Perhaps I’m being too cynical here. Either way, the point is whether or not the intention to create changes in society are pure the change happens because a body of power says so. This is not to take away from the importance of legislation in the quest for social justice but if we’re being real these laws, at first, can often be described as de jure since they are only progressive on paper and not in society. Societal attitudes take longer to change than laws and those in society who have privilege should act as catalysts in order to ensure that the two align.

If we look at who the higher ups in society are it’s typically men. I’m sure we’ve all heard this before but it’s true. Some might argue “but what about *insert an exception where a woman is placed ahead of a man in society*” which is why I have made ‘typically’ bold. Anyway, in my opinion what makes feminism so great is that for the most part women are empowering each other. This isn’t just women showering one another with compliments. This is women mentoring, encouraging and creating opportunities for themselves and their female counterparts to succeed in a way that they may not have been able to alone. An amazing example of this is Women on Wings this organisation supports women in rural India gain financial independence which in turn allows them or their children to become more socially mobile. So what about men? Well here’s the thing, women have done an amazing job at mobilising themselves to get the rights they deserve but the reality is that a person who is in a privileged position acts as catalyst. The catalyst is a man. Now this may seem fairly obvious, if the man is typically in a position of power then his influence will allow the progression of women to happen faster or easier. I’m not sure if a lot of feminists are happy to accept this (this is just an assumption I’ve made) but often times the focus is put on who is involved in making changes rather than what changes are happening. Is it fair that a man can probably make changes easier for a woman than she can for herself? No, but that does not mean that we should exclude men. Now, in no way am I saying that feminism excludes men, but some feminists do.

What exactly does making room for men in feminism look like? This is very subjective. But here’s what I think; I think it means including men in discussions, conferences, talks etc. on feminism. Making room for men and keeping women at the forefront of feminism are not mutually exclusive. But in making room for men we are also making room for potential mistakes, some men have only talked about women with other men and this can often breed ignorance. Not that men are ignorant, but it’s often the case that when a group of people talk about another group of people that they can’t empathise with, they are bound to misunderstand certain things. It’s also worth noting that making room for ignorance does not mean we are making room for nonsense. It’s making room for genuine curiosity, allowing men to ask questions that we might think are dumb, it’s educating men on how we feel on certain topics so that they can empathise which allows them to be better supporters. Also, it’s crucial that men understand how to address issues they think are present in the feminist community. I don’t think it’s a matter on whether men should or should not have an opinion on a matter concerning a woman, realistically they will have an opinion. That being said, opinions men have regarding women are often shared in an entitled way which is extremely annoying and a lot of the time they don’t have to be shared. There is a difference between having an opinion and sharing it. So, before you share an opinion think about whether what you’re saying is helpful, consider your tone and evaluate your intention. It can be the case that some heterosexual men think they are commenting on feminism when actually they’re just projecting ideas of what they think the ideal woman.

On a final note, yes society has progressed a lot and women can acknowledge that. However, we can still do better and this isn’t nit picking.

I found this initiative online and I think it’s a great idea:

http://www.goodladworkshop.com/who-are-we/

Their mission Statement:

The Good Lad Initiative aims to promote “Positive Masculinity”, and in doing so, to enable men to deal with complex gender situations and become agents of positive change within their social circles and broader communities. To achieve this fundamental objective, GLI seeks to engage with organisations and individuals of all genders and backgrounds.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of ones ignorance. – Confucius

Standard