"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, August 02, 2013

changeable women

Now Playing: Les Miserables Complete Symphonic Recording (in my life there is someone who touches my life, waiting near, waiting here)

Women are the changers of our society. We are this generation's radicals and activists; we have always been on the side of change, pressuring for growth and prosperity, throught history.

We do this out of necessity. If you're not a feminist, you're a masochist. If you don't persecute those who wrong you you condemn yourself to a life of persecution. Women have always lived in a world where we are forced to speak out or forced to endure a life of silence. The middle ground is not an option. Indifference is not an option. Ignorance is not an option. Peace has never been an option.

We have accepted women as bringers of change in a way that we have never accepted men as bringers of change. It is scary for a woman to out herself as a feminist; I've been told it's even scarier for men. In our patriarchal society stoicism, a fierce attachment to the status quo is encouraged in men - change is weak, effeminate, a corruption. All of us are expected to work towards maintaining the power and privilege of the hegemon, including the hegemons themselves. Women are given permission to be radical because their radicalism is silent. Their push for change is slow, and painful, and against powerful opposition; and in the end, men can claim responsibility when change has occurred. Look at us, we're so pro-woman. Look at us, we're so pro-equity. Look at us, we're so pro-choice. Let's just forget the bit where I was against it all.

It's not like that for men. Even a very moderately feminist man; even a passing remark by a largely indifferent man, can create a bigger impact in our male dominated society than the most radical feminist woman. And that scares the hegemon. They don't like the idea that the means by which the hegemon retains power - fear, ignorance and abuse - are so repulsive that even those who benefit from this regime feel obligated to question its ethics. Change is only tolerated in those who do not appear to pose a threat. Women are allowed to be changeable; men are not.

But this works both ways. Stubbornness, independence, stoicism - these are all things admired in men and detested in women. No doesn't mean no, in a woman. If a woman says something you don't like, the automatic reaction is not to respect a woman's opinions, or to challenge them in a dignified way, but to attempt to change them. Women are expected to change to suit the tastes of others. If you want a woman to be nice to someone you expect that she'll feel obligated to listen to you; if a woman is aesthetically unappealing, she'll change or face the consequences. Men are pressured into being unchanging when women are allowed to facilitate change, but the tradeoff is that women are expected to be changeable. Women are not respected enough as independent human beings with their own rights, especially the right to make their own mistakes, that we see them as being things we can change, we see their opinions and their circumstances that we, as strangers, have a right to change, or demand that they change to suit us. We expect this of women because women, unlike the hegemon, are not given their own place in society; we live in the margins, and when you live in the fringes sometimes you have to bend, or shrink, or stay silent. That is what marginalization does. We can scream as much as we want, because nobody will hear us. We can try and facilitate as much change as we like, but as people we'll always be changeable women. That is how the patriarchy likes it.

I don't.

No comments: