Hello there! So, it turns out that my first post is going to be about gender. Before I proceed, I’d like to emphasize that what I write here is purely based on what I have experienced and the implications that come with/after it. Back then, I didn’t have a courage for being vocal on things of which I take a stand for or believe in because I was worried that my voice would be wrong or not correspond with the outer environment other than myself or might offend certain group of people. But, I eventually decided to let the world know of what I think not because I’m not being mindful for things I do/will say, but because what I believe is worth knowing and spreading. I believe in gender equality that, despite what gender one has, one has every single right to breathe and live in a civilized manner under the roof of human rights.
Ditakdirkan bahwa pria berkuasa. Adapun wanita lemah lembut manja – Sabda Alam oleh Ismail Marzuki.
It is destined men are ruling. While, women are graceful and having soft behavior – Nature’s order, composed by Ismail Marzuki.
Biologically speaking, gender has been categorized as man and woman (this is unrelated to sexual orientation), of which they are often stereotyped by their physical appearance, personality traits, or domestic behavior. Men are often associated with self confidence, masculinity, insensitivity, high physical strength, providing, and practical. While women are stereotyped with weakness, accommodating, emotional, complicated mindset, grace, insecurity, being passive, and nurturing. An example of culture-made gender stereotype is reflected through an old song (shown above), which says everything about traditional concept of gender roles. This concept is no longer suitable in the modern civilization where human rights to live, to act, to speak have become the philosophical underpinning of human’s existence in a society. The gender stereotypes will then inevitably create gender bias, while a failure to repulse gender bias is eventually called sexism.
I hate to be stereotyped based on what gender I am, and I believe anyone else is the same. It is so infuriating if we, humans, were stereotyped because of our genital, religion, nationality, race, or skin color. We succumb to this categorical society pattern that we do not realize we all actually fall into one category, human. Let me give you an example of gender stereotyping. During my younger times, I learned a lot about gender bias, where direction of a relationship is determined by our gender roles and what the society tells each gender to do. Guys got to choose and girls were attributed to being chosen, self-arrogance of a man was supposed to lead the direction of a relationship, and a word of feminine was used only to describe girl’s looks and how she dresses and behaves. In other words, a woman just simply should be being passive, otherwise she is just labelled being needy, a word that is not only very sexist but also offensive, or too aggressive. Well, I think that is what gender bias looks like. Look, I’m not saying that I didn’t like to be approached by men and let them come forward. It’s just the rigid definition of how men and women should act out in partner seeking and relationship is equivocally understood and doesn’t somehow fit into my rational grasp. It was like we are being boxed to a certain etiquette standard just because we are assigned to a specific gender.
And oh yeah, here comes the regeneration part. As women are blessed to have a reproductive structure (=womb) that allows them to give out life, another misconception arises. CNN in 2016 stated that some countries still allow marriage at such a young age, especially in African countries and Middle East, and many offer heart-wrenching reasons, such as poverty or conflict zones. It is reported many parents married off their children to give away the responsibility and safety. Girls/women are doctrinized that getting married and bearing a child are what a woman’s purpose and to fulfill their duty in life. And yes, you are right if you are thinking of a series called The Handmaid’s Tale. The series has similar idea, but exaggerated execution. Although the country I grew up in has adopted freedom and independence idealization, many still have gender-stereoptyping mindset that idolize patrilineality due to hereditary culture-born custom and misinterpretation of religious teachings. I, too, experienced the misery of having encountered with such culture. From having failed to be observed as a human being in a professional interview and society perspective due to my gender assignment, judged by people that I should have been married due to my age, to having faced some harsh questions because of life choices I made. While, people, there are so much that you can take out of this life if you look at different perspective! And this is where the realization of gender equality is important to prevent a gender stereotyping mindset. There is a quote from a South African politician I like.
As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional options – Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka
Especially for women, these points are really important to shape their mindset for understanding who they are, how they are worth, and what they really want to pursue in life so they are capable to have choices. I believe I was born to this life for a purpose (and it is not bearing a child) although probably I don’t quite understand yet but I know I’m trying to get there, to get out of the stereotype mindset that has shaped my society, our society for so long.
Going back many years, I remember I had a group debate in high school of which we discussed about sexual harassment. The other group insisted that a woman’s way of dressing (showing off some skin) is one of contributing factors for sexual harassment to happen. I, of course, defended my own gender by mentioning men should be the one who control themselves regardless what women are wearing. Okay, I know you are all thinking that it is such an immature judgement. I’m not proud of myself either. At that time, my conviction was just based on a philosophy that is not well-developed thus seeking a safe haven by incriminating one gender over the other. However, sexual harassment is something that can never die out if individuals own gender stereotyping plus a violent mind. Although other’s experience is different from my own, the concept of sexual harassment embedded in our society is not rigidly defined and will always get in a wider context. As long as gestures, including verbal and non-verbal, are conveyed without respect, the women’s voice over their harassment experience will not stop echoing.
Cases like Larry Nassar or Aziz Ansari are a reminder for us that fundamental perception of human interaction, such as respect and self-worth, is still often overlooked. And this sometimes would lead to a misread of interaction cues, for instance being friendly is mistakenly perceived as being flirty and not saying no is misunderstood as a yes. I remember one of Nassar’s victim said that power without respect will turn into abuse. A better understanding of how we should treat one another with our ability to have empathy would remind us that we, regardless of gender or any other individual assignments, are human. And hopefully, by recognizing this idea of humanity, the hurt that one might cause can be prevented. Also, in contemplating of such unfortunate incident like Ansari’s, young women should be encouraged to know what they really want and have an inner courage to say no and leave if they think and feel what they are encountered is against their will.
Oh, a memory just swift back from a conversation with one of my good friends. She mentioned something about how men dominate the chances of career advancement in a global workplace. At the time of conversation, I tried to explain the factual reasons why women often struggle in the process of sustaining a full time job in a skeptical and cynical way. However, I realized that these perspectives are the fundamental reasons of why women are often overlooked in keeping and advancing a full time job. While it doesn’t have to be that way. The pattern of men domination in a workplace can change if we change our perspectives in perceiving the entity of both genders in a society.
A report issued by United Nations proved that women are less likely to be employed in a full-time job and more likely to be contributing domestic work with the occurrence is more common in several parts of Africa and southern Asia (UNSD, 2015). Good news is, it is also stated that the gender pay gap has slowly decreased and paternity leave has been increasingly practiced, but they are more prevalent in developed countries. Well, I of course realize that in marriage life, dealing with compromises is something unavoidable to help better balance work, intimacy and household. Making compromises with the right person who allows both to grow, create abundance and enrich life-nurturing experience is a matter of necessity here.
But for now, I am really grateful that I was born and raised in a supportive family that one’s uniqueness is somehow perceived as supernatural powers. It is strength, it is gift, it is blessing, it is value, that we were encouraged to believe in one trueself investment and not to normalize to surrounding culture. This does not imply of inflexibility and being anti-social, but rather of self-preservation. To bring this to an end, I would encourage for both men and women to learn and recall the combination of their common sense and soul-sense*, which shape personal value system. Therefore, we would be capable to stand by empathy, understanding, and self-empowerment for placing ourselves in the society.
Held, A. (2018). Larry Nassar sentenced to up to 125 years additional prison time. National Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org
Narayan, C. (2016). Every 7 seconds, a young a girl becomes a bride, report says. CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com
UNSD. (2015). Chapter 4: Work. The World’s Women. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org
Way, K. (2018). I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life. babe. Retrieved from http://www.easybib.com
Wikipedia. (2018). The Handmaid’s Tale. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org
*(combination of common sense and soul-sense) The phrase was cited from Women Who Run with The Wolves by Clarissa P. E.