Our world will slowly turn into something better, but it definitely takes some time. In the more civilized parts of the world the Zeitgeist is slowly shifting as more and more people realize the problems arising from sexism.
Sexism, to put it simply, is what used to put the ‘woman’ in women and the ‘man’ in men; this is the idea that used to separate the two sexes completely. Nowadays – at least I hope – it is becoming less and less fashionable to hold on to your sexist views, mainly because in the past few thousand years women were abused by men in every way possible. No other group of people endured so much oppression, haterd, abuse and violence throughout history as women, and not just physically but ‘culturally’ as well (if this is the right way to put it). Just think about how even on the tiniest scale imaginable, for example on a grammatical level in most languages, men are preferred to women! Males feeling superior to females is something that is – just barely irreversibly – burnt into our culture, our way of thinking, our way of life, in nearly all cultures in the world. The realization of this fact is one of the most important issues of humanity today.
For a lot of reasons the word ‘feniminism’ can have a lot of negative connotations to a lot of people, even though the word itself is defined on Wikipedia as
a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
I can safely say that anyone deeming themselves civilized and modern will have to be a feminist. Being a feminist simply means that you agree with the (recent) idea that women are not inferior to men. That’s why I can safely say that I am a feminist, and so should be everyone. But, strangely, the fact that I am supporting this idea had some weird effects on my life, as I realized lately. Let me just briefly explain it here.
What I truly think is that my support of feminist ideas is not something I, at some point of my life, decided to do. I was always that way, or more precisely: I was never the other way. I never ever thought that just because girls are girls they are less or worse than me. The same applies, of course, to any minority facing the same issues in the past or present. I just wasn’t brought up that way to feel superior to other kinds of people – if anything I always felt inferior to others. But this feeling of inferiority is actually the result of the sexism present in my social circles.
The way I always interpreted feminism – even before I heard this word – was the following: I never really thought girls (you see, I was quite young most of the time) should feel obliged to be “girly”, or that women should feel some sort of pressure to have exceedingly female looks. But this way of thinking was a direct consequence of the fact that I never felt exceedingly male in the first place. I never actually felt that I am a man or, at a younger age, a boy; except for my obvious physical appearance I never thought of myself as a male person. Furthermore, I always felt quite frustrated when people around me expected me to be manly, to act manly, to do manly things or to like manly things. For a start, I never had great athletic or sport skills, I’ve always been quite bad at handling balls (please, do yourself a favor and try not to come up with a hilarious gay joke), I sucked at football or any other sport. And funnily enough this whole frustration with sports comes from one single occasion when, at the age of around 7 or 8, we were playing football in school and I couldn’t kick the ball the way I was expected to kick it, and after accidentally kicking it out of the sideline, my teacher exclaimed: “You idiot!”. It was quite a harsh experience to me and I always recalled it when getting near a football pitch or a game later in my life.
You see, I should have kicked the ball properly because – I guess – I was a boy. And boys just do that, they play football, and they play it well. Actually, boys should be good at almost any type of sport, but especially team sports. Moreover, boys should have good handling skills when it comes to nearly anything. This goes for sports as well as (as Jeremy Clarkson would put it) “manual labour”, but in a broader sense of course: boys and men have to be good at practical things as in repairment works around the house, physical activites and everything that can be associated with the skills of your hands.
I was despised by some elements in my high school only because I sucked at sports. I can clearly remember the looks and frowns of certain people whenever I was around them. I’m pretty sure that they laughed and pointed fingers at me a lot – luckily, bullying never went further than this. But there was a very hostile atmosphere created only because I lacked certain “values” society would deem manly.
Of course my general appearance lacked any kind of stereotypical male qualities – I wasn’t muscular, I never had a very masculine face and I still don’t. You could argue that in high school most people, especially guys, will lack all these qualities simply because they are very young. But even to this day I feel that I could be much, much more masculine.
One especially hot topic these days is beards. And I’m not sure if this is something that has to do a lot with fashion or sexism, or both, but I have to be honest, my teenage frustrations seem to have a weird resurgence because of it. Thanks to the everlasting influence of pop culture dominant web sites like 9gag, beards are everything today. If you don’t have a beard, you’re simply a nobody – obviously this is not how the actual, real world works, but in pop culture it is more than a trend to show off your beard, and – more painfully – to diss people who don’t have one.
Because, let’s face it, not everyone is able to have a glorious beard. I am, unsurprisingly, one of those people. My beard just doesn’t grow, or when it does, it does not look good or manly at all. And I, once again, have to put up with this side of sexism nearly every day on social media. “There is a word for people without a beard – They’re called women.” I’m sure this only started out as a joke, but for some men it can be a real pain to see trends like these. Mainly because some men don’t want to be defined by their manliness at all. I don’t, that’s for sure!
Another interesting point is that according to nearly everyone (at least where I live), it is socially unacceptable for a man not to make the first move when interested in a woman. Even the most liberal people would agree that if you’re a man and you’re interested in a woman you have to make the first move. Even women agree with that, strangely! And not just some women: all of them. It was always like this and it will always be like this. And people can come up with quite convoluted reasons and explanations for that, and they will defend this opinion to the end of times, but clearly, isn’t this just a prime example of sexism towards men? Why would I have to be the one who initiates, apart from reasons like “just because”? The answer is simple: there are no good reasons for things like that; these are social standards that were burnt into our culture a long time ago, and trying to stand up against them will leave you an easy target. There was a bizarre case a few years ago in my country, Hungary, when a young man openly attacked the socially accepted phenomenon that in clubs men have to pay a higher entrance fee than women. I thought this was a no-brainer, but interestingly nearly everyone shared the view that this guy was a total jerk, an idiot and most probably gay. Apart from the fact that women having to pay less for entry is a simple marketing decision by clubs, the social and cultural implications of it were rightly realized by this guy. Still, when he decided to bring his opinion to the public, he was demolished not just by social media, but by the mainstream media as well! (I remember one host of a popular radio station dissing the guy as a lunatic)
I always hoped that I could be someone who is more than just a man, the same way I hope most women realize that they can be more then just women. Being judged by some ancient standards of your gender is something we cannot have in a modern society, at least that is what I believe in. I’ve always believed in it, and that’s why I never showed any sign of being a boy, or a man. And I know exactly what kind of effect this attitude had on my life. I think that, thanks to this, I never had the same impact on the opposite gender than people who actually endorse their gender stereotypes. And that is simply biology, and I completely understand it and I’m aware of it. Still, I never wanted to be someone I could never be: a man. Because I’m not. I’m a human being, and if I will ever be judged by others, I hope they judge me based on the set of skills and knowledge I acquired through learning, studying, reading, and also by things I done and created as a would-be artist. But as of today, sadly this is not the case.
For several reasons I bought a pack of cigarettes lately, and I intend to finish it. Without going into the pros and contras of smoking (there are no pros, I know), I just want to tell you a funny but revealing story. Whenever I smoked a cigarette in the past I always went for those very thin ones, and moreover, cigarettes that have some sort of an artificial taste in them like mint. There’s a simple reason for that: that is the only type of cigarette I can inhale without coughing. I like the fact that I cannot feel deadly smoke burning my throat and filling up my lungs, and regular “thick” cigarettes make me feel this exact way. So that’s why I’m preferring the thin ones. But you know that thing about the thin cigarettes? It’s only smoked by girls. At least, according to urban legend. And when I was smoking one of these on the streets while talking to a guy, he, after seeing the thin cigarette in my hand, immediately turned to me and asked, in the most serious way possible: ‘Are you gay?’
I don’t really think that sexism towards men is such a striking issue as sexism towards women. Women had to endure thousands of years of aggression towards them, so it’s definitely not a 50-50 share of the problem between men and women. But whenever you expect a guy to be manly, whenever you expect him to act and look masculine, you should consider the option that he simply doesn’t want to. Why? Because he’s gay? Because he’s weak? Because he’s a whiny little prick? No. Most probably because he just hates the idea of being called a ‘man’. He prefers to be called a human. And so do I.