The One Where I Muse About Sexism And Paradigms

As usual, Facebook is a never-ending source of grief.

The stupid things that people post all the time are… well… stupid.

To me, that is. Because as a wise friend of mine and fellow canvas author pointed out the other day, who gets to say what’s stupid?

But as usual, Facebook, for all its stupidity it always makes me think. And that is a good thing. And man, it has plenty of cats. So that’s why I stay. Because Cats, dude!

This time around, there is a petition regarding the Canadian Swing Championships. And that is a BIG deal for us, swing dancers. It deals with sexism, misogyny, rape culture (don’t worry, no one was sexually assaulted) comments during the event. A blow up doll was involved too. Very tasteless

Bad stuff.

And also as usual, you have the prevailing two poles (why are we human beings like that?): One faction is throwing up their’s hands in horror while another is like, grow some thick skin. If you don’t like the event just don’t attend. It is all in good fun.

Worse of all (although I predicted it last night when link for the petition was sent to me in a private message), it became a witch hunt.

The truth, as it is usually the case, is somewhere in the middle and there are a lot of grey areas there.

Where there is no grey whatsoever is where it comes to rape culture. “All in good fun” is absolutely unacceptable when you are hurting people or condoning inappropriate behaviour. Rape culture is absolutely unacceptable. Sexism is absolutely unacceptable. There are just one of those things were one cannot give in not one inch.

The blow up doll with the “rape me, I’m famous” inscription in permanent marker? No grey area there. Completely unacceptable. Wrong under any filter you choose to look at it.

Pheeeew. At least we all agree on that part. It’d be terrible if we didn’t.

The part about the MCing commentary? I am not sure. It is my personal opinion that sometimes people go too far in their political correctness.

The way I see it, both being too quick to cry “sexism” is as bad (dangerous?) as not acknowledging it when you experience it.

I’ll tell you why, and this is where it gets important for me. I too have had the need to break old paradigms. Coming from a heavily patriarchal society, I found myself at loss in Canada at times. Being gay, for example was one of them. I never had a strong inclination against being gay, but I kinda, sorta, had the notion that it was a wrong thing, because of my Catholic upbringing.

Sexism was another. I remember some Canadian person asking me if I was a good soccer player, coming from Colombia and all. My knee-jerk reaction? Are you out of your mind? I am a girl. Why on earth would I know how to play soccer? That is a guy thing! Incidentally, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why women would want to play that really cool, recently discovered sport called hockey either.

Yes, ladies and gentleman. That was me in 2001. Sad, isn’t it?

But you see, when I was growing up, boy played soccer, girls played other things. My all-girl, catholic school had a basketball team, a volleyball team, a gymnastics team and a field & track team.  Only boys schools had soccer teams. So, naturally I grew up thinking that was the way it should be. That was the status quo.

I also remember later on having a phone conversation with my daughter and she mentioning she had been playing soccer the day before at school. Knee-jerk reaction in my mind again. However, after a pause, I did swallow a big gulp of air and said to her, oh good for you. And I meant it. That night, I had a conversation with myself and I came to the conclusion that I was being sexist in thinking girls and women should not play soccer. And I changed my mind forever. Oh, f I had a dollar for every time I have broken one of my own paradigms…

So back to the “it’s all in good fun” thing.

Now, I marvel at how some women – and men, are ok with sexist jokes, for example. And I wonder why some women – and men, say things like “if you don’t like it, just don’t go, but there is nothing wrong with it.”. Or why some women work in jobs that are demeaning. Like the women that danced in that terrible um… whatchamacallit video…. Blurred lines.

Now women are saying that doing certain things is empowering. That it is reclaiming their right to use their bodies in whatever way they want.

A female dancer got crucified -by other female dancers, last year for suggesting that wearing transparent shirts with no bras for a competition was playing along with men’s sexists views of how women should dress in order to be sexy.  They claimed  that they had a god-given right to wear whatever the hell they wanted and that they would show their nipples anywhere if that’s what they wanted. And I suppose one does have the right to wear whatever the hell one wants to wear. But I can’t help but wonder… why do we women wear what we wear? Is it really just because we like it? Or is it because we want to appeal to men? Mind you, the same applies to cover every inch of the female body. A lot of women that wear that kind of clothes say that they are quite happy by doing so. But, what’s wrong with wearing a short sleeve dress in the summer time? To me, that sounds like brain-washing. But to others, it is just an extension of the “women should always wear whatever the hell they want to wear” argument. Sure, but what if they are brain-washed, just like I was about women playing soccer?

And what about make-up? That is another can of worms. I see a lot of “I wear make-up because I like the way I look with it on. I wear it for myself, not for men”. But if you look deep down, do you really do it for yourself? Or maybe it is because deep, deep down, your paradigm is that you will look more appealing to men if you wear it? What is wrong with your pretty, sans-make-up self?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against make-up. I do think it is fun to wear make-up every now and then. I find it amusing to see the faces of people when they see me. But am not willing to spend 30 minutes of every day putting stuff on my face before I go out. I just don’t.  And that is the real reason I don’t wear it. Not because I think that wearing make-up is conceding to the old patriarchal paradigm of female beauty. My no make-up face is not a feminism statement.  I am just lazy. And quite frankly, I like the way my face looks without it. So, there you go. That is the other side of the coin.

But you see what I mean about both extremes being bad? And why there are grey areas in the way we determine if something is sexist or not?

So, what’s the bottom line?

I don’t have one.

But I sure think too many people are out in all sorts of crusades. I don’t like crusades. Too many people die and suffer because of them. And I don’t like witch hunts either.

I just want equality. And respect. And love. Wouldn’t you agree those things are sort of important?

But most of all, I want cats!

(you thought I had forgotten about cats, didn’t you? Ha! Not a chance!)

20140618-185522-68122084.jpg

Gratuitous picture of a cat. #FuerzaTricolor!

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25 thoughts on “The One Where I Muse About Sexism And Paradigms

  1. Sharon House says:

    I wear makeup because I look like a dead goose without it. Believe me when I tell you, you don’t want to see me without it!

  2. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

    Eek, I hate politics. Way to mess up a good thing. I can’t think of a single dance genre that hasn’t got messed up by politics at some point or other. Probably right now, even!

    Hm. See though blouses. Well, I guess the partner might have a bit of a challenge…one time my Latin Dance partner and I had to kind of slither off the dance floor because he had, well he had, you know, what guys get sometimes, and it really, like, showed..Merengue, you know?

    Plus which, I have pretty much stopped using FB because of sh*t like that. Not the Merengue part, the politics part!

      • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

        Actually it was funny. Our problem was how to get off the floor while laughing our *ss off yet staying pegados until we could get to a table….My partner was the son of a Catalunian mother and Mexican father…guapitico, if we were in Costa Rica…but we’re not. Muy guapo. He an I (and another woman–both of us his dance partners, oooh kinky) went to Universidad de Chicago’s infamous Lascivious Costume Ball. The less you wore under your coat, the less the door fee was! Arturo went dressed as Marvin the Martian, in a football helmet with a push-broom on top, a satin cape, and nothing else. One gorgeous woman wore a boa. Not a feather boa, a BOA, as in constrictor. She was being Eve. They don’t allow that campus event anymore :(

        • Summer Solstice Girl says:

          HOLY SMOKES!!! Seriously? Well, of course seriously!

          hahahaha just a boa and nothing else? that’s worse than Salma Hayek in that infamous vampire movie.

          And wait, just a helmet and a cape and nothing else? So everything else was literally hanging?

          • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

            Uh, yeah, you could say that. You know, the 70’s, “Let it all hang out” and like that….

            What’s the Salma Hayek movie? I haven’t seen it and I adored her as “Freida,” whom I loved before anyone knew of her…she was a big crush of mine when I was in art school…Freida, not Salma, although she would have been, like Caroline Zeta-Jones! (Or is it Frieda? Probably, right?

            • Summer Solstice Girl says:

              hahahaha it is Frida Khalo. And yes, she was quite something else.

              I think I first heard of Salma in Fools Rush In with Mathew Perry. No, wait, I watched From Dusk Till Down before that.

              I think Salma Hayek is drop-dead gorgeous but Sid has a BIG crush on Catherine Zeta-Jones. Which makes sense to me since I kinda look like her…. hahahaha anyway, Catherine is in Sid’s famous people you are allowed to date card (Friends reference).

              There you go http://youtu.be/UYxxgvA8rlM

              • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

                Thank you!!! I’ll watch it tomorrow after the drugs (already took ’em tonight) wear off. Right-o, it’s Frida! But I think it’s Kalho (pronounced Kal-yo like Brazilian Portuguese). Her father was a German Jewish immigrant, rather, refugee, who ended up in Mexico. I read the gigantic biography, fascinating, but I was on a lot a lot a lot of the wrong psych drugs at the time and don’t remember much of it. Will have to find it and read it again, now that the drugs are the right ones and my memory has grown from gnat to fly :-P

    • Summer Solstice Girl says:

      Oh, on the other hand, that happened to a patient of mine at the hospital during the physical examination. That wasn’t funny. I was like, um… I think we’re good for today. I’ll see you tomorrow and left

      • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

        HATE IT when that happens…the poor guy, right? I’ve had that happen with many a 16-year-old…the poor little dudes can’t help it, it’s like a boy puppy who gets started humping the air and can’t stop…then again, the discomfort of that situation for US is horrible. Now if you’re telling me this guy was over 25 and still couldn’t keep it under control, then I’m gonna say…welllll, my dear, you are just beautiful and the poor guys, and they’re like, WTF??? There’s this gorgeous woman and she’s…..and there it goes. Guys often think with their “little heads” instead of their big ones (not you, Sid, right?).

        • Summer Solstice Girl says:

          HAHAHAHAHAH

          YOU’RE KILLING ME TODAY! gosh, I really needed the laughs. Yeah, the poor teenagers. It was so frequent with them. But this guy I’m talking about, he was a man. And I am sure he had a crush on me. Yikes!

          • Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

            Yikes and yecccch. I always wanted to do something rotten to those guys, but of course that’s unethical, so you have to put up with them. And I imagine yours was the same if not worse, but my schooldays were one big hazing. I got in big trouble more than once for complaining about harassment, but they knew they couldn’t get rid of me because I did a lot of public speaking and they knew I would just go to the news media if they tried to retaliate. So it was a standoff. Glad that’s over with, though there were parts of it I loved. Med school I mean.

  3. IdealisticRebel says:

    Why is politics allowed in dancing? Why allow it? Start a different FB page and let the pond scum swim together. Ot just quietly bow out for the care of your own soul. Hugs, Barbara

  4. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    Man, you were on a roll. I was sad to see the post end.

    First of all, you are the last person on the planet to need makeup. You are stunningly and utterly gorgeous with the face you wake up with.

    Second of all, I probably tend toward one of the poles when it comes to what women will do to “empower” themselves. Don’t know if I’m right or not, but don’t seem to care. Contributing to the demeaning and objectifying attitude society has toward the female body is, in my mind, a terrible thing. And yet with every passing decade we see more and more of it, via seeing more and more of the women in question.

    I see a fairly direct connection between the pop culture view of women, and the rape culture of societies like, say, India of late. Women aren’t objects. Period. They are not to be seen in strictly a sexual view, and they are not to be handled wantonly as such. So does wearing a slinky outfit or a pile of makeup contribute? I don’t know. It just seems like it does, to me.

    Great post, Lentil.

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