Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Guest post 4: More than a label

    I know I’m obviously biased here, but I do look at the female world and wonder what the point is of all those articles on ‘how to please your man’ when the most obvious response would be just to say what’s on your bloody mind, not to hide behind layers of connivance and manipulation and making him guess.  

    I get annoyed at the way women represent themselves. I get annoyed at the way men do, too, but certainly not to the same extent. I hate the clichés, the comments like “ooh, haven’t you got him well trained!” and “Typical man, always doing …” and the batting of eyelashes to jump the queue and the utter refusal to be practical about checking tyre pressures or the gas meter. I hate the snide remarks and the seeming impossibility of being able to ask for what you’d like, simply and without artifice or connivance. I especially don’t like the concept that when you ‘bag your man’ you have to go hell for leather to change him. Then the insult upon insult: when the poor chap does his damnedest to leap through the hoops you hold always just a fraction too far away, you walk on because ‘he’s changed’. The complicity of handing down obeisance to sexualised behaviour from mother to daughter, aunt to niece.

    I do have a big issue with society’s expectations of what men and women are supposed to do, like, think, want, achieve. Jobs, clothes, families, music, haircuts, ambitions, vehicles... a hundred and one ways we’re expected to conform. I hesitate to call myself a feminist, though, because I don’t want to be seen as pro-female at the expense of males, which some feminism appears to be. Far more to my preference is an equality of both genders, and with that an equality of access to any life or needs which a person should have for their wellbeing.

    On the flip side, I do see the grass as being considerably greener on the male side of the fence. I don’t know if this is a reaction against the boundaries society tries to contain me (and women in general) within; or if deep down I feel that it’s a territory that should have been mine by birth. I don’t know whether liking ‘blokey’ things is a way of getting back at the follies of the female lot (as I see them), or at society, or at men in general for being able to claim these things as theirs without question.  

    Take motorbikes, for instance. I despise the assumption that women can’t ride (or can only go on the back). This is perpetuated by women themselves as much as by men. I get annoyed at the expectation that women don’t like getting dirty and covered in oil, or are too weak to wield spanners with impunity. Some men have criticised women for not being able to pick up a bike when it falls. I know a lot of other men who have problems picking up bikes on their own – they’re heavy bits of kit. I can check my oil and lube the chain, but I don’t know how to change them; that’s because I’ve never been shown, not because my gender renders me incompetent. I would like to be as self-sufficient in these things as possible, not to prove to men that I can, or to women that they’re weak for not even bothering, but simply so that I can be self-reliant.  

    What a mess! I know not all women are like that. I know not all men are like that. There are some absolute gems in the world – Jenny’s one, for starters! To conclude and bid you all a fond farewell, thanks all for letting me witter on.  



  1. Thanks so much for sharing this bit of yourself with us Gray! Humanity is a rainbow f colors. It takes all kinds to make a world. Always, to each his/her own. Let us love them all, without judgement.

    Melissa XX

  2. I've got to say I wholeheartedly agree with all you've said. I have found that many women limit themselves to the societal boundaries that have been imposed upon them and don't wish to change. On the other hand I have met a few women who really do buck the trend as it were even to one who rides big bikes and repairs them! And she is no tomboy either! I have met a few guys too who have a whimpish approach to their maleness. It proves we are all different. I often get the remark 'It's a bit strange having a female electrician,' or 'It is unusual for a woman to be an electrician', to which I reply, 'Why? Why shouldn't women be able to do what they want'?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  3. A refreshing view from another perspective and not too unlike the girl I feel I should have been born as! I think some of us get to use both sides of the brain instead of just the usual one. I am sure Jenny will now show you how to change a chain.

    Caroline xxx

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks for your honest and thought-provoking posts Gray. And yes, there is no reason that a girl can't learn to turn a wrench or fix a running toilet (my wife can). Going along with what Caroline said, I feel blessed that I can use both sides of my brain.

    Hugs, Elly

  6. Nice reading that. Very true. :)