Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Feminism and Masculinism - what are we teaching our children?

The Feminism debate emerged again during another World of Warcraft executive interview.  He made a comment that set Twitter and the Blogosphere on fire.  It's not new, the debate of women in gaming, and it feels like the same old arguments are thrown out all over again.  In fact, the feminist discontent is always there, like a low banked flame, but every time a debate goes out, it's as if someone threw boiling oil over it to make it flare hot again.

My take on the whole thing is that yes, they don't do the "women" thing well at Blizzard.  Rob Pardo probably shouldn't have said that it might have to do with the way all the guys grew up with comics and sexualised women - but it was conjecture not scripted, I think, and that was the problem.  The poor guy just said something off the top of his head and everyone jumped on it.  He doesn't REALLY know why there is so little equality in Blizzard, but it's obvious to me - guys don't really get women and they will write or script how their imaginations work.  I'm a woman and I write like a woman, do you really think I can write about how a man thinks or how men should be in the world except from my point of view?

People said Blizzard should fix this lack of females high up in the Blizz management.  I disagree - you can't just FIX it by putting a token woman or other female empathist.  You put the RIGHT person in there.  A lot of people believe that it's by educating everyone about feminism and equal opportunity that it will somehow make it right.  That's not what I believe.  You can't talk about it or write about it - the people listening to you already KNOW all this.  You need to DO it.  You need to make the difference.  If you really believe that there need to be more women CEOs - well go do it!  I believe that women need to be more represented in the upper eschelons of medical heirarchy and rather than complain about it, I went and did it.  I rewrote rosters, organising the disorganised chaos our trainees faced when faced when we started our anaesthetic career; daily allocations were streamlined to follow, and I made some resource booklets for the subspecialty modules so that trainees knew what to learn, who they could go to and what lists were available if they were lacking in a particular area.  Actions speak louder than words. I never complained about the heirarchy, I made sure that I became an essential part of it, and now, here I am.  Writing or voicing complaints about it does not get you anywhere, the people higher up need to SEE and be SHOWN that the person who can make the difference is WILLING to make that step.

This article was on my twitterfeed  - "When Masculinity Fails Men" and it was a great read.  Dr Nerdlove wrote:
I’ve written about this before: the definition of “masculinity” pitched to men – especially young men – is one of violence, social dominance, anti-intellectualism and aggressive, even uncontrollable, sexuality. “Toughness” and stoicism are the only acceptable forms of expression besides anger and danger is the only worthwhile pursuit. Respect isn’t earned so much as taken, only to be given when you’ve impressed others sufficiently with how tough – how manly – you are.
A friend of mine linked a video about how we bring up our sons and daughters, and how the media influences them. Why are boys always depicted as confronting danger and fighting, even if it's in the cause for good?  Why are emotions and caring considered to be feminine and weak?  Why are girls allowed to wear masculine clothes and boys are not to wear anything that hints at being feminine?

There is no inbetween for males - you're either manly or you're a pussy.  Males may have to constantly be battling the threats to making them vulnerable because if people take away your power or status then they're taking away your manhood.  There's nothing in between manly and pussy. And society reinforces this.  And as Dr Nerdlove says, the most common way of establishing this power is violence or the threat of violence. And now they need to re-establish themselves by punishing those who threaten their masculinity, for daring to make them weak.

This is what I want to avoid for my son.  In a world where boys where blue and black and play with guns and tanks and cars, I leave my son open to choices of what he enjoys rather than what society thinks he should enjoy.  I want my son to be an emotionally well balanced individual who acknowledges and accepts and understands the feelings of others.  I want him to be able to solve his problems without intimidation in a world where threatening behaviour seems to be the norm when it comes to getting your way. It seems like a huge ask.

But what am I doing about my daughter, I hear you say. It's much easier for me to raise a well balanced daughter than it is to raise a well balanced son.  She has a mother who is independent, who believes she is capable of anything she puts her mind to.  A mother who doesn't notice who is a boy or a girl, black or white, but judges them on their merit.  It seems to be a natural tendency for my daughter to gravitate towards female hero figures, pink and pretty things, but there is nothing wrong with that.  Her mother does that too!  As long as she knows that its not her sex that limits her, but her dedication, commitment and drive then I will be happy.  People may say "Oh, she'll found out soon enough how rough it is against women in the real world," but in truth, I have never found this to be the case. I have never thought being female was a sign of weakness (except when it comes to lifting heavy things), because my mind is my strength.

And I hope that both my kids will grow to respect everyone, regardless of sex, and be empathetic and understanding individuals and help break this cycle of feminism and masculinism that seems to grip our culture in this modern day and age.

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