DRAG-A-ZINE [UWC RCN’S GENDER WEEK MAGAZINE]
DRAG-A-ZINE [UWC RCN’S GENDER WEEK MAGAZINE]
We are born naked. The rest is drag. RuPaul
EDITOR’S LETTER Ana Flecha Marco
AN INVITATION TO GENDER WEEK Jonathan Nordh+Max Quorning
A GENDER AGENDA Peter Wilson
Ailin Fernández+Maja Svanberg
Arne Osland+Alistair Robertson
YOU TOO ARE A FEMINIST Jenny Kenyon
ETHNICAL FEMINISM: A FIGHT STILL ONGOING Kelly Matias dos Santos
HOMO-SCHOOLING? Marcella Ho
NOT FRIDA, BUT PAULA THIS TIME María Teresa Julianello
IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL? Jace Latore
NOT A BOYS-AGAINST-GIRLS SCENARIO Stina Pettersson
GENDER BENDER Maja Svanberg
REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN Lamis Sayed Ahmed
Y U NO GIVE ME PATERNITY LEAVE Rudy Alejandro Herrera Mármol
BOYS [DON’T] CRY Ana Flecha Marco
Alberto Carrillo Casas
SUPLEMENT: GENDER WEEK SONGBOOK
Welcome to Gender Week Magazine! The word magazine stems from the Middle French magasin —warehouse— and that is exactly what this publication is: a storage room for thoughts, genderrelated articles, images, ponderings and musings created or spotted by RCN students and staff members, and put together by GAS and The Publishing Cabin just for you wander round. It also backs up the series of fortunate events that will take place —and hopefully take you places— during Gender Week. Don’t miss the chance to read, listen, observe, share and discuss! Enjoy the ride! Ana Flecha Marco
AN INVITATION TO GENDER WEEK
In today’s society the general human hunger for categorizing, labeling and stereotyping is like a vicious virus. This virus is infecting the streets, neighborhoods and countries we raise our children in, imposing the pure spirit of them with knowledge claims of how to be men and women. What is forgotten here is that this simplification is only the utter superficial perspective of genders. In this time, in the world that we find ourselves in, there exists so much more to the individual than what is being portrayed in this framing doctrine. Therefore, we will, in Gender Week, launch into an endeavor to ask and find what is lost in the socially translated version of a “man”, a “woman”, and the variations in between. Gender as an essential part of life deserves a thorough understanding and to reach a new consensus towards the question “What is gender?” the term must be approached from as many angles as possible, to strip it off stereotypical ballast and misconceptions, so that we can get to the core. 8
There are many ways of addressing this particular issue, but this introduction found in the search for inspiration achieves to capture the issue with absolute relevance and puts it into a rather interesting perspective: “The hardest stereotypes to break are the ones that are so old as to go all the way back to hunter-gatherer days. After all, how can you argue with biology? Women carry the babies; men have the upper body strength to tackle gazelles. Nobody made that up out of thin air. But if society has taught us one thing, it’s that it becomes way too easy to attach amendments to that bill, claiming that all sexual and gender stereotypes date back to the early days of human evolution.”1 In this doctrine modern society has imposed, the masses strive to reach goals of difference, in relation to how the individual’s gender is to be perceived, but can’t we break the barrier that is put onto us and change this blunt and naive understanding of gender? The indispensable message that is being conveyed here is the emphasis on the victimization targeted against those, our fellow humans, who do not qualify under the social understanding of men and women. This naive act of oppression against unique individuals on the basis of not fitting into the social norm will hopefully be realized and dealt with soon enough. On that bombshell, we wish everyone a pleasant and enlightening Gender Week!
Jonathan Nordh & Max Quorning on behalf of GAS
: Sargent, J.F. “5 Gender Stereotypes That Used To Be the Exact Opposite.” Cracked.com. N.p., 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. <http://www.cracked.com/article_19780_5-gender-stereotypes-thatused-to-be-exact-opposite.html>. 1
A GENDER AGENDA Peter Wilson UK
“I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry as I needed it” John Cage
1. When does gender begin?
“On ne naît pas femme; on le devient”
Simone de Beauvoir, Le deuxième sexe II
“Supposing that originally there was nothing but one creator, how could ordinary binary sexual relations come along?”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
“Man, being a mammal, breastfeeds his young”
A definition often used by linguists considering sexism in language (in this case, the English language, bless it)
“The first question we usually ask new parents is: “Is it a boy or a girl?”. There is a great answer to that one going around: “We don’t know; it hasn’t told us yet”. “Personally, I don’t think any question containing “either / or” deserves a serious answer, and that includes the question of gender”.
Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
“Male domination is so rooted in our collective unconscious that we no longer even see it”
Pierre Bourdieu 12
2. What is gender?
“Society defines gender. Biology defines sex”
Eresi Ann Uduka
“You are not male or female, but a plan deep-set within the heart of man”
Marianne Moore, Complete Poems
“By God, if women had written stories, As clerks had within here oratories, They would have written of men more wickedness Than all the mark of Adam may redress”
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
“Most of the psychological differences between men and women seem to come from differences in their reproductive systems”
Haruki Murakami, IQ84
“Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above.”
Virginia Woolf 13
3. Anyone for liberation?
“Of all the nasty outcomes predicted for women’s liberation...none was more alarming than the suggestion that women would eventually become just like men.”
“It is time to effect a revolution in female manners - time to restore to them their lost dignity - and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.”
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)
“I am a men’s liberationist (or “masculist”) when men’s liberation is defined as equal opportunity and equal responsibility for both sexes. I am a feminist when feminism favors equal opportunities and responsibilities for both sexes. I oppose both movements when either says our sex is THE oppressed sex, therefore, “we deserve rights.” That’s not gender liberation but gender entitlement. Ultimately, I am in favor of neither a women’s movement nor a men’s movement but a gender transition movement.”
Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power
“We have enough proof that, at least my generation does, that patriarchy and matriarchy are gender-less roles”
Darnell Lamont Walker 14
4. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?
“When a man gives his opinion he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch”
“I would rather trust a woman’s instinct, than a man’s reason”
“Women speak because they wish to speak, whereas a man speaks only when driven to speak by something outside himself-like, for instance, he can’t find any clean socks.”
“It really is something ... that men disapprove even of our doing things that are patently good. Wouldn’t it be possible for us just to banish these men from our lives, and escape their carping and jeering once and for all? Couldn’t we live without them? Couldn’t we earn our living and manage our affairs without help from them? Come on, let’s wake up, and claim back our freedom, and the honour and dignity that they have usurped from us for so long. Do you think that if we really put our minds to it, we would be lacking the courage to defend ourselves, the strength to fend for ourselves, or the talents to earn our own living? Let’s take our courage into our hands and do it, and then we can leave it up to them to mend their ways as much as they can: we shan’t really care what the outcome is, just as long as we are no longer subjugated to them.”
Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women: Wherein is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men 15
5. What’s so funny about all this?
There were 11 people – ten men and one woman – hanging onto a rope that came down from a helicopter. They all decided that one person should get off, because if they didn’t, the rope would break and everyone would die. No one could decide who should go, so finally, the woman gave a really touching speech saying how she would give up her life to save the others, because women were used to giving up things for their husbands and children, giving in to men, and not receiving anything in return. When she finished speaking, all the men started clapping.
“Basically my wife was immature. She’d come in while I was in the bath and sink my boats.”
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninetyseven now and we don’t know where the hell she is.”
And my favourite: “Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: a woman having large breasts makes men stupid.”
Rita Rudner 16
GENDER STATISTICS Ailin Fernรกndez+Maja Svanberg ARGENTINA/SWEDEN
Total at RCN
Distribution of gender in survey
Do you feel like you fit into the stereotypes of your gender?
If you were reborn, would you choose to be female or male?
Are you comfortable with the roles associated to your gender?
How much do you identify with your gender?
Have you ever experienced unfair treatment due to your gender?
Types of unfair treatment due to gender:
Have you ever experienced unfair treatment due to your gender at UWC RCN?
Types of unfair treatment due to gender at UWC RCN:
In relation to your culture, is the attitude towards gender roles at UWC RCN more liberal or more conservative?
What would females do if they were male for a day?
“Medieval sword fighting” “Everything that I normally do but do it without people questioning me, putting me down, or telling me I can’t do it just because I’m a girl. I’d like to be seen as “capable” for a day, instead of having to prove it time and time again and have people question me continuously still.” “I’d pee standing up. That shit must be so crazy.” “Sex, how interesting having an erection might be... I think all the rest I can do equally being a women. Or to pee standing.” ”See if there is the same perception, urges and feelings. And as well, enjoy the muscles.” “I would be a womanizer and hook up with all the HOT girls symmetrically. Oh, and I would also give at least one girl a compliment a day.”
What would males do if they were female for a day? “Go to vagina monologues!!!” ” Feel ashamed of myself” “I would try the possibilities of the female sexuality and eat chocolate.” “Play with my boobs” ” Apply for major in engineering to NTNU” “I’d be glad to do it. I don’t rally know, maybe I’d just chill around seeing the reaction of people and trying to see if my behavior fits more in the female gender.”
For further results, please contact Maja+Ailin Sources: w4.uwcrcn.no “Gender questionnaire”
[ _______ ]
Movember is the month formerly known as November. During 30 days, men grow their moustaches to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for prostate and testicular cancer. Two of our staff members proudly showed their staches during the 11th month of the year (one of them made it into national TV!) and one of them has agreed to tell us a bit about his experience.
Arne Osland NORWAY
‘nuff said. 29
Alistair Robertson SOUTH AFRICA
Much ado about keratin, a fibrous structural protein! Surprising interest among northern cultures in its distribution on the body, especially upper surfaces of the cranial region (apparently, dense concentrations on the back and neck are regarded as less-appealing in certain quarters). Its distribution and density tend to vary with age; intriguingly, one may observe a clear a correlation between lack of cranial keratin and an almost Darwinian process of sexual selection. Many bodily components evolve with age, however, including male-specific glands such as the prostate (rumoured to be the seat of higher-order thinking skills and social sensitivity); some of these changes associate, regrettably, with various cancers. When a bunch of Aussie men banded together to grow their "mo's" (moustache in Aussie lingo) over the month of November, publicising their actions to raise awareness and funds in support of prostate cancer research to spread this practice globally and raising millions of dollars in recent years, one has to concede that "Mo-vember" is a very fine concept from all angles. Especially a lateral perspective... anon. 31
YOU TOO ARE A FEMINIST Jenny Kenyon USA
I used to think that American men and women had become equal citizens around the time that we landed on the moon and integrated schools. I thought that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony had fought the fight, and won. I thought that the United States, as it leapt forward economically and technologically, fully progressed socially and culturally. I used to think a feminist described a bra-burning, unshaved, loud, wild woman. I used to think all of this until I realized I was falling into the dangerous trap of being told I couldnâ€™t do something simply because I was female.
For as long as I can remember, when I’ve told people that I wanted to be president, I immediately got the response, “Oh you’d make a great first woman!” By the time I entered my sophomore year, I started to believe my peers, educators, and role models: maybe I was just a good first lady, and maybe I didn’t have what it takes to become president.
are still silently ingrained in American society and appear in the little things, like a simple stereotype of job positions. Feminism is not about hating men, it’s not about advancing women at the expense of men, and it’s not even exclusively about women, because feminists understand that the confining and unrealistic nature of gender norms hurts men too. Feminists are women and men, girls and boys, republicans and democrats, and as I came to the realization that gender inequality is still coiled around —and quietly strangling— American culture and society, I realized that I’m a feminist too.
YES YOU CAN
The feminist movement is lively, widespread —and necessary. It’s basic respect for women, and it’s evident in the little things: supporting the women in your life, not cutting them down. Understanding why rape jokes are hurtful. Refusing to denigrate women with the word “slut” and “bitch.” Ensuring that women around you are safe and respected in male- dominated spaces. And feminism is not just the province of straight middle-class white women. Feminism encompasses antiracism and discrimination. Feminism envisions a future where women aren’t demeaned for either embracing or rejecting femininity, but are free to live life on our terms.
“Oh you’d make a great first woman!” I’ve come to learn that this comment is usually not meant with degradation — it’s just the natural response when many people think of “female” positions in the so-called “man’s world” of United States politics. When I started to press the issue of that response with my friends, family, and educators, I found that I got mixed reactions- for many people, feminism is obsolete and represents a hatred of men. However, I believe sexist beliefs
And if, someday, you want your daughter to have the same opportunities as your son, you too are a feminist. 33
ETHNICAL FEMINISM: A FIGHT STILL ONGOING Kelly Matias dos Santos BRAZIL
I am woman. I have African, indigenous and Portuguese blood. I am Brazilian.
has been an important and essential part of women’s development, and the feminist movement in racial mixed societies.
I remember my mom telling me: “You are black, you are poor and you are a woman, you have to work very hard to be able to succeed”. The race factor
What is race? In my opinion, rather than being a phenotypic factor it is a social standard. In fact, we are all 34
equal, but societies persist in labeling us. Even though race is a very singular concept, it was the factor that defined the history of my country and, I would say, who I am.
fragility, they also wondered: what are they talking about? Black women in Brazil have never had the opportunity to live the housewife’s dream, stay home taking care of the children, they had never had the chance to rely on someone else, because that someone else had left when they told him that they were pregnant.
The so called “ethnical Feminism” is important because it shows the women fight has not even started in some societies. When the colonizers arrived in the American continent, the patriarchal view of the European man was spread. The local women were treated just as a sexual tool at first, not honorable enough to sleep with such developed men —but this did not prevent the miscegenation.
Therefore, gender has been an oppressive tool for those women, but not the only one: race as well. The disparity in the numbers among black women and white women at university, in middle school and working are terrifying to someone like me, that believes that race should not be the factor to decide someone’s range of opportunity. Around the world women had realized that gender had decided how they live, but in places of racial diversity, race was also an essential part of the equation. The feminist movement had started, essentially, as an European movement, focusing on the right to vote, the right to education and sexual rights. However, it has turned differently in other parts of the world: it has set women free of racial and social standards; has given them the opportunity to see that, even though society has judged them because of their color, ethnicity or nationality can be whatever they want, it does not matter how they have been portrayed. It does not mean it runs apart from the original movement: it just adds another perspective to the movement, another side of the fight for women’s rights.
In Brazil for many years the black woman has been seen as an objectified human being, the one who would take care of the kids during the slavery time, and slept with the foreman when the ma’am was not feeling well. Right now, they are the ones who dance samba, the ones in the carnival, the mulata “exportation type”: the Brazilian? Not just in Brazil, but in other Latin American countries. I don’t judge the way women choose to work or be portrayed: their body, their lives, but I wonder, is that all? And if yes, why? When the feminists went out to fight for their rights, the black women in Brazil did not understand: they had been working in plantations, as maids, prostitutes and sellers in the streets for decades. When they asked for breaking up the myth of housewife and women 35
There is no shame in saying what I am. I know it, but that was not what I thought when I was younger. I could not see a face like mine on Brazilian TV, magazines and media, though the racial mixed population, people with indigenous, African, and Asian blood, are much more than 50% of the almost 200 million Brazilians. I am a feminist because I want my sisters to grow in a society which gives them the opportunity to be whatever they want; I am a feminist because I believe my race or my gender should not decide my future, I am a feminist because I choose to love myself the way I am.
HOMO-SCHOOLING? Marcella Ho HONG KONG
In the past two centuries, co-educational schools gradually replaced most single-sex schools worldwide. Hong Kong is one of the few regions which maintain more than 10% single-sex schools. As of 2012, 5.5% of our local primary schools and 14.5% of our local secondary schools are designated for only one gender. Nonetheless, despite the long tradition and popularity of single-sex schools, many people hold strong perceptions on students who are under this system. Students from single-sex schools are labeled as either academically excellent, hetero-phobic (or sexists, radically), or homosexual and its advocates.
Objectively, these claims are not entirely false. Firstly, in Hong Kong, the academic results of single-sex schools are generally good except for a few notorious cases. In fact, some singlesex schools are among the best in the region. Hence, the perception that students from single-sex school excel academically is partially justified.
The reason why single-sex schools tend to have more homosexuals might actually be the system of gender segregation itself. Upon reaching puberty, pre-teenagers and teenagers are motivated by their hormones to engage in romantic relationship. During this biologically-driven process, they might care about having a mate irrespective of his/her gender. Hence, if their social circle consists of people of only one gender, they naturally become “homosexual”. Also, teenagers imitate their peers either to assimilate or seek guidance. This contributes to the high percentage of homosexuals in single-sex schools. Nonetheless, when teenagers move on to the next stage of their life such as higher education or working, many date people of their opposite sex. As a result, some say homosexuals in single-sex schools are “fake” homos. This claim is unjust considering the large number of single-sex schools graduates who continue to date people of the same gender.
However, some say that students in single-sex schools perform better in school because they do not spend time and effort on romantic relationships. This statement is totally incorrect. It is for historical reasons that some single-sex schools have better resources such as teachers and facilities. Also, single-sex schools tend to emphasize on academics so students have better performances. It is absurd to relate academic results to the absence of peers of the opposite gender. Secondly, it is a fact that some students from single-sex schools are not accustomed to interacting with the opposite gender. Yet, this is not a prominent phenomenon. Relevant cases are rare and personal, not to mention that also exist in co-educational schools. Thirdly, there is no official statistics on the relation between homosexuals and single-sex education. However, from personal experience and observation, girls’ schools indeed tend to have a higher percentage of homosexuals than co-educational schools. (I am not familiar with boys’ schools so no comment on that.)
In spite of having seen people being labeled by the misconceptions listed above, I was never aware of the community which is radically against non-heterosexuals. In November 2012, the Legislative Council banned a proposal on conducting a survey on the discrimination against minor/alternative sexualities (homosexual, bisexual and transgender). This ignited fierce debates among various groups in the society. Advocates for the minor sexu alities see the decision as absurd and a 38
revelation of the unfairness in the voting system. Supporters of the decision, nonetheless, deem the move as logical and natural. In January 2013, the Chief Executive C.Y. Leung presented his first Policy Address and described such a survey as of no immediacy. Therefore, there is no plan on when and how the survey will be conducted. Taking a step further, there is essentially no hope of establishing laws to protect the fundamental rights of the groups of minor sexualities.
doubtful if these viewpoints are of the main-stream. Referring to the example of single-sex schools, there are homosexuals but they do not represent the whole school. Labeling all students according to a small group is solely narrow-minded and arrogant. Stereotypes and ignorance are forms of discrimination. In a world where we talk of liberty and equality, discrimination including gender stereotypes and intolerance should be eliminated instantly. I believe, when everyone can freely and safely follow their heart, without the fear of being discriminated for where they received their education or which gender of people do they date, our sky will shed its dust to show a rainbow.
This situation worries me tremendously because I believe the move does not represent the opinion of the major local populace on the minor sexualities. My friends in girlsâ€™ schools are often labeled as homosexuals or masculinephobic but most of these criticisms are rather lighthearted and non-offensive. Occasionally, the conservative population comments on the appearances of people who do not adhere to the conventional image of their gender but I see such occurrences as a representation of human nature. We are all curious towards the unfamiliar. People with a strong perception on the appearance of female or male are sensitive towards people who dress alternatively. The same situation happens on people with sexual-orientation other than heterosexuals. Homosexual couples are often being gazed at in public. Some people disapprove of them as inappropriate, based on personal or religious values. All these opinions are respectable and valid in their own ways. However, it is 39
NOT FRIDA, BUT PAULA THIS TIME MarĂa Teresa Julianello ARGENTINA
Having written about Frida Kahlo countless times as the proto feminist, role model, sister in arms, rousing lefty and absolute original of all times in Latin America, it is now the turn of another female artist that fits the world we are living in right now, when many women wonder if there is still a need for feminism while many discard its importance altogether.
Paula Rego was born in Lisbon in 1935 into a middle class family who sent her to St.Julian’s, a bilingual school in Carcavelos where I have attended IB meetings often. Her upbringing was comfortable and her parents sent her later to London to continue her education after which she attended the prestigious Slade School of Art for four years.
quiesce, shock or look funky, she chose women as her subjects. For most of her life (even though it was lived largely abroad) until 1974 Paula’s personal political life was dictated by a variety of military coups and dictatorships, the longest led by infamous general Salazar. In Oslo and Bergen there are a number of refugees from those days that found sanctuary her early as the 60’s and then decided to stay.
Her career has always been prolific and successful and having decided to make London her home base, along her long life she has exhibited in many venues around the world and has been the recipient of honors such as an honorary doctorate from Oxford University and been named a Dame of the British Empire in 2010, apart from art fellowships and many awards. Her dealer is Charles Saatchi, owner of the top gallery for modern art in London.
Paula’s paintings depict the life of Portuguese women in situations related to gender, sexism, domination and submission in a claustrophobic world ruled by males. There is The Policeman’s Daughter polishing her father’s boot, whose arm has become the boot stuck and asphyxiated. There is the harrowing portrait of The Family where the women help dress the father resting on his bed as if he were a king.
So how does this pampered, successful, well off woman who had access to education, who could live off her art comfortably, who had support from her family, who is healthy and has been living in peace in a center of world artistic development and business for many years make the cut as a symbol, of feminist consciousness?
There is the social comment of The Maids, where servants live a dead end existence of subservience and duty while envying the luxury of clothes and jewels they handle and yet cannot attain. There is the chaos of Celestina’s House where a mayhem of rules, religion, symbiosis, abuse and ultimately madness are buried in an urbane profile of people as they should be in the eyes of a society groaning under the chains of dictatorship and Catholic superstition.
Look at her paintings: instead of playing safe with watercolors to decorate living rooms of prospective buyers; instead of the vagaries of abstract art; instead of lofty topics or pickled animals or neon flashy whatever to ac41
While Frida made most of her art personal, Paula chooses the other, the women. While Frida went public in group political struggle as her husband Diego painted his historical murals, Paula has remained inside those haunting houses, in rooms sometimes with open windows and blue skies beyond where the loneliness, the longing of women is more poignant.
Yes, it has changed for me and many others and Paulaâ€™s life hardly went through it. But to ignore what is still happening, what is coming back when we thought it had gone away, needs our attention and our involvement. The more kudos to this brave, wise, unassuming Portuguese lady for keeping the plight alive through her art and her dedication.
Why did she choose these subjects? Why does she still paint these women? Because feminism mattered then as much as it matters now. While the world sees women still struggling under a variety of yokes as we see in her paintings, her art has a relevant voice: today it is the women in Mali where the Ahmed Baba library holding 20000 invaluable manuscripts has been burned by Islamist fanatics; the young girls in sweatshops all over the world and in major EU cities who make the clothes dumping of rock bottom sales we inanely love possible with their pitiful salaries; it is the girls brutally trafficked to the brothels; those left in orphanages because their families think they are bewitched and all those women in every piece of news we care to read. These women of all ages have men of all around them and these men need them healthy, educated, adjusted, happy. The plight they still have as old as the history of the world has not changed and the fallacy that it has is a sad veil over our eyes. 43
IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL? Jace Latore UK
to wear, their personality traits and the fact that different sexes show their emotions in different ways. In society, especially in the west, the media take every opportunity to accentuate these differences, so when children absorb all these influences, and then on average fit into their gender norm, we should not be surprised. When a person walks into a clothes shop they have to decide whether they want to go dress like a man or a woman. Similarly, we constantly expose children to stories which so deeply define antiquated gender roles.
Gender roles have been set into society throughout history. The relationship between men and women is not static; there have been many different types of societies, in humankind’s existence so far. There has never been a society where everyone is completely equal. I do not think discrimination is natural to human nature. As history has shown us, it is often taught. Every single person in the world is different in some way or form, and therefore can of course be discriminated against or thought different of. It just comes down to what you think is too different to tolerate. Someone could teach a child to think someone who has a different hair colour should be hated, and then assign people with that hair colour negative personality traits and then make sure to highlight them whenever they happen to show and ignore them when they do not.
We have now in western society got to the stage where most people seem to have accepted that people of different races are equal, and where we understand that differences mainly come from external influences. Why then in an age of supposed enlightenment have we not decided to destroy the biggest myth of all, that there are two main types of humans: men and women? We continue to build a society on encouraging people to fit into one of these two groups. Imagine the outrage if someone walked up to a black person and told him he needs to act more like his race. However if someone walked up to a woman and told her that they don’t act feminine, most people wouldn’t see anything wrong with that. For true equality, the notion of gender has
I feel the same can be said for how in society we have separated male and female. We have decided to limit each sex’s abilities before they are even born, by saying what men are supposed to be good at and what women are supposed 45
to be dismissed as a defining factor in how we perceive other people. A genderless society would take away all preconceived gender roles. Just because a mother carries a child for nine months, it doesn’t mean the parents of that child can’t be equal. Just because men in history predominantly ruled, that doesn’t give future generations that right. The gender-based society is built on making sure genders feel they have assigned roles within that society. To shed this mentality would liberate so many people from boxes they can’t even see they have been put in. People may think that being in a genderless society, would take away from their identity by not allowing them to express themselves within that gender. However, on the contrary, it broadens the possibilities —instead of having to be a man or a woman you can be free to be an individual. Why let future generations have such limited options? Give them the opportunity to be anyone they want to be!
NOT A BOYS-AGAINST-GIRLS SCENARIO Stina Pettersson SWEDEN
The feminist ideology is surrounded by hate, and is also often deeply misunderstood.
the norms we are supposed to follow for one simple reason – they limit us extremely as individuals.
Firstly, there seems to be a common misconception that feminism and feminists blame all unfairness and inequality, as well as the current power structure, on men. This puts a lot of people in a defensive position and at the same time, feminism is dismissed and said to be a man-hating ideology. I understand that this misconception is common. There is a lack of communication and knowledge but most of all, it is difficult to express yourself clearly. Here is my try:
I do believe that there are biological differences between the sexes. But I think the differences within the sexes are greater than those between them, and therefore the differences become less relevant than other things that shape us. I believe that interests, culture, etc. are much more decisive factors in our personalities. I think that if certain things come easier to us (like sports or empathy) because of biological reasons, a society’s role is to balance it out and provide alternatives. This is something that we are NOT doing when we are forcing norms down people’s throats, through toys, jokes, expectations etc. and using the “IT’S BIOLOGY!” excuse to justify it.
Feminism, like most ideologies, has progressed since its foundation. In fact, it has changed so much that it is today often divided into three “waves of feminism”. Just like all capitalists don’t share the same opinions or have the same definition of capitalism, feminists are very different within the movement. Fighting for women’s rights differs within different countries, religions, cultures, social classes etc. What often unites feminists is the belief that women share a history of oppression, and that equality has not yet been reached, and, most importantly, that it can be reached.
While feminism is based on the beliefs that women are disadvantaged because of their sex, and that this disadvantage could and should be overthrown, I think both genders would benefit from increased equality. This would lead to more diversity, more freedom and more openness. That’s why fighting for women’s rights will improve men’s life and fighting for men’s right will improve women’s life. They are both feminist issues.
As a feminist, I try my best to approach people in the same way, despite of their gender. I do not expect men or women to have certain characteristics because of their sex. I strongly dislike
It is very one-sided to only talk about men as oppressors and women as 50
oppressed because the norms and rules in society, that maintain the patriarchy of today, consist due to both men and women. This means we, together, have a shared responsibility for it and the undesired maintenance of it.
Guys are often punished more ruthlessly if they do not follow the norm. Acting, dressing or prioritizing in an unmanly or “girly” way is degrading, because in the patriarchy, being a girl is degrading. This is not the kind of society feminism wants.
Admittedly, the feminist movement is perhaps known for typical women’s issues. Some would argue that even the name shows that women are “worth more” in the movement. I do not think it is provoking to fight for women’s right to vote or to their own bodies (typical feminist issues and part of a proud history), but a lot of people see these as reasons to dismiss the ideology. They are refusing to call themselves feminists because of it, arguing that “feminism hates me, it’s trying to take away my rights and I think we are all equal, feminists only care about women etc.”
I am sure there are other stress factors about being a guy that I don’t even know exist. And that is why I do not really talk about it as much, or engage in it as much as I do in things that I know about from my own life. I lack the knowledge and most importantly, the experience. I know what it is like to be a girl and to have to live with the demand of “girlyness”, because I have had to do that my entire life. But it is important to understand that I am not pushing one group down just because I am fighting for the rights of another. It is not a “boys against girls” scenario.
I have a limited understanding of what it is like to be a guy, burdened by norms and expectations and a provoked need to show manliness to get respect. I can imagine, but never truly know what it is like to grow up in a world that dictates that I should constantly be tough and strong, where I am emotionally limited and if I were to show emotion I would constantly be “accused” of being gay. I don’t know what it is like to be a boy and be expected to fight more than girls in my class, to be expected to objectify women, or what it is like to constantly exist in a threatening “macho” environment.
Men’s inequality issues are of vital importance. In order to break the patriarchy the male role in society and how we look at men needs to change a lot. I think it would be great, and I encourage more guys to start fighting for their equal rights –concerning their children, their emotions, their superficial interests etc. (all things considered “girly”) Start debates. Ask questions. And call yourself a feminist while you are doing it!
GENDER BENDER Maja Svanberg SWEDEN
REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN Lamis Sayed Ahmed EGYPT
Women in Egypt… Are they strong? Are they effective?
On February 11th 2011, Mubarak left and the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) took the responsibility of ruling Egypt; as they are Mubarak’s men, they did the same as their master. The SCAF attacked Tahrir many times, arrested many young men and women and tortured them. At that time, the army doctors performed “virginity tests” on the girls they arrested, which is inhumane and illegal.
The women in Egypt started participating in marches and demonstrations in 1919, when the people were asking for the decolonization of Egypt. I’ll not speak about its historical role, as what happened in the last decade is clearer and stronger. In 2000, took place one of the demonstrations against Mubarak by a group called “6th April”. The police started to sexually harass the girls in the demonstration in an organized way.
They thought again that they had won their fight and that women would stop participating in protests against them, but as usual the women showed them that they are not afraid of their weapons or inhumanity.
Since that day, it became normal to attack the female protestors in every single march against Mubarak and his government.
If you watched videos of the demonstrations against the army, you’ll find that a woman or a girl is leading the whole march and the people are chanting after her. So, in the morning of December 16th, the army broke into Tahrir square, shot many people, arrested lots of youths and attacked a girl, hit her with no mercy in front of the cameras. Even the woman (Azza Helal) who tried to help the girl and cover her got
During the 18 days of the revolution, the people put tents to sleep in Tahrir square and because of culture prospective, there were separated tents for girls; the majority of the attacks were against the girls’ ones. They thought that the girls would be scared and would return home, but they didn’t! 66
shot in her leg and attacked by seven or eight soldiers.
changed nothing and didn’t start any trials or punishments to the people who tortured and killed the Egyptians. Groups of men attacked the female protesters and sexually abused them and/or cut off their clothes. The government said that the protesters did that. The majority of the Egyptians believe that the policemen sent these men as usual to annoy the women and to show that protesters as not respectful.
After all of these actions in front of our eyes, the government spoke in the media saying that it’s her fault to wear clothes which can come off easily and it’s her fault to go and stay in Tahrir square. Amnesty, HRW and many other organizations asked the army to apologize and to punish the soldiers who did so, but the SCAF generals said ther was nothing to apologize for. The next day at 3 pm. after working times, Cairo was full of women from different classes, religions and even political parties. There were about 300,000 women only in Cairo protesting for women rights and expressing their anger about what happened. After two hours of protests, the SCAF chief posted a paper and sent it to all media , in which they apologized about what happened and assured the public that whoever did that would be punished. On February 10th 2013, the judge closed the case and recorded it against Anonymous!
Will the women in Egypt stop protesting? NO. Will the government stop annoying them? Maybe. Can we help to stop that? Yes. How? By spreading what’s happening and by participating in the campaigns against women abusing to put pressure on the government.
Morse took the same actions against the protesters, the policemen attacked the people in the demonstration outside the presidential palace, and many women got injured by direct beating (one of them is my mom). On January 25th 2013, the women went to the streets to protest against the new president Morse because he 67
Y U NO GIVE ME PATERNITY LEAVE Rudy Alejandro Herrera Mármol GUATEMALA
sure my nephew is happy. And I mean anything.
On August 25th 2011, my first nephew was born. Needless to say, he gets everyone in the family to do what he wants because he’s become the center of attention. The thing is, he knows this, and he takes advantage of it as much as he can. I’m ok with that for now. But he doesn’t seem to know yet that he was born into a family where women are very important and make most of the decisions in the house.
I don’t think I have ever been this passionate about anything to be honest — one more reason why I admire women’s determination. What impresses me the most is that women have been doing this for as long as we’ve lived even though in most societies we have treated them unjustly, given them less rights, and undermined the importance of their contributions.
My grandmothers, aunts, and mother are a group of kick-ass women who have worked hard, contributed financially, academically, and emotionally to their homes, and had the final say of whether or not we got permission to go out on a Saturday night. Well, now there’s a new member of that club of kick-ass women: my sister Madeline.
Take my grandmother, for example. She was born in a country that didn’t give voting rights to all (illiterate and literate) women and didn’t guarantee maternity leave with paid salary until she was 30 years old. And although those changes have occurred during her lifetime, together with my sisters, mother, aunts and female friends, they still live in a country with serious challenges. Although they represent 51% of the population, for every Guatemalan woman with a job, there were two men who had a job. Female representation in congress doesn’t reach 15% and if we go to a more real threat, Guatemala has the second highest rate of female killings (92.94 for every million people) according to a 2012 report
I grew up with Madeline, so I have seen her gradually develop into the outstanding woman that deserves to be part of the club. She is no longer the sister who left me a three-week scar after running around the house hitting me with a belt buckle for no serious reason. She has transformed into a safety-concerned, future-oriented, and kind caregiver willing to work hard or do anything necessary in order to make 68
from the UN —second to El Salvador and followed by Lithuania.
only the mother has the right to take time off from her job once the child is born. By having only maternity leave, the government makes it more difficult for fathers to establish a stronger bond with their children and, worst of all, sets an example for the kids.
Having grown up there, I experienced this male, or macho, dominated culture in everyday conversations all throughout my life, and all of the previous statistics make me feel worried for my close relatives and friends who are at home. However, as an economist, I am also interested in the curious relationship between policy and outcomes. In this case I am interested in the way our policy on maternity leave may serve as an incentive to change people’s behavior. That’s why I would like to advocate for getting paternal rights up and running in Guatemala so women are better treated.
In fact, I think there should be a minimum number of days that fathers should take off from work. We too should stay at home and help with raising children, because it’s a tough and demanding job that should be shared. I have learned this by seeing how much attention must be given to Juanmaría, and anyone thinking otherwise better be kidding (pun sort of intended) her/himself.
Yes, I am advocating for women’s rights by asking for paternity leave for men (including myself ). Paternity leave, when used by both men and women, takes away some of the discrimination in the labor market. Imagine, for example, being an employer in a company. You must decide between two candidates who are both equally qualified but one of them is definitely not going to ask for time off (with pay) while the other one may. This factor may serve as an incentive to hire one over the other for productivity reasons —remember, we said they are both equally capable.
And this is exactly what my sister Madeline thinks too. She wants Juanmaría to grow up to understand that some of women’s contributions are not recognized and that men, including him, have a long way to go in sharing some of these tasks. He should feel comfortable cleaning, cooking, and helping raising his children. I think he will learn this thanks to the kick-ass women’s club in my family. The challenge now is to take this beyond our family and make the government see this. In the meantime I’ll keep asking my congress(mostly)men, Y U NO GIVE ME PATERNITY LEAVE?
Additionally, from a Guatemalan man’s point of view, the policy tells me that taking care of the baby is definitely not one of my roles at home. After all, 69
BOYS [DON’T] CRY Ana Flecha Marco SPAIN
When we talk about gender issues, we tend to automatically think of women’s oppression, women’s liberation, male chauvinism, feminism, skirts, lipstick, mops, (veldig) bra-burnings, pregnancy, birth control, sex, assumptions. Assumptions. Let me talk about that. And let me talk about boys.
I come from the country that put the word macho into the world. Creative as we are, we also came up with the fortunately less known word marima-
cho, which is used to describe —or rather denigrate— masculine women. Because, as everybody knows, there’s nothing worse than a woman who 71
looks and behaves like a man, right? Well, there actually is someting: an affeminate man.
tation and alround discrimination, we tend to forget about how much a growing boy has to live up to: he has to be handsome, fit, successful, tough yet tender. He has to be able to grow a beard, but shave it off every morning. He has to be a gentleman, but only when it is acceptable (when is that? well, he’ll have to find out! We are not their mums!). He will also be required to be understanding towards everything any woman would say or do at any given time. Just because that’s how women are and that’s how a real man should be. Well, there turns out to be about 3.5 billion different women on the planet, and just as many individual men. Most of them are nothing like James Bond, and some of them luckily don’t even want to be that way. And all seven billion humans, regardless of their gender, are as real as it gets.
But what does it mean to be feminine? and, if we expect half of the world’s population to be feminine, why is it a complete no-no for the other half? If you google feminine, you’ll get a lot of pink, a couple of skirts, some perfume and, last but not least, intimate hygiene soap. If you google masculine, you will get a bunch of fit men and Patti Smith. I’m disappointed, no cars. I thought I knew my stereotypes. But this is completely off-topic. Or maybe not. Maybe it is exactly the kind of focus I need to make you (yes, make you) see how utterly absurd and random gender roles are. If we took traditional gender roles seriously, men wouldn’t be expected to pretty much have feelings. Imagine being convinced of the fact that you are a completely rational being and then notice that you are actually sad for no reason. Or that you are scared. That must be tough! Luckily, and as you all know, boys don’t cry. They are physically and physiologically incapable of even shedding one tear. That’s why they have no lacrimal glands. Some of them don’t even have a heart. Which by the way goes against the common belief that all boys are the same, but let’s discuss that a bit further.
Now let me address the boys directly, because they too read magazines: believe me, we women don’t want to take responsibility for all the feelings, all the tears, all the empathy, all the tenderness and all the colour-matching. Everybody is allowed to be vulnerable from time to time, no PMS needed. And no, showing your feelings doesn’t mean you are weak; it means you are human.
Worried as we (more than understandably) are about women misrepresen72
COFFEE CUP Alberto Carrillo Casas SPAIN
People stare. “So, how?” “How?” “I mean this, you, how?. When did it happen?” She pointed at her skirt. “Well I guess that when I was a kid... it wasn’t a decision, more of a feeling you know... On the weekends I used to wait till’ my mum went to work. Then I would go to her wardrobe and wear her pajamas”. She said, smiling like a person who remembers good times. “And then you played to be her, or a model, or a princess, didn’t you? I did the same thing” “No”, she smiled again. “No?” “No, I was just me. That’s why I wore pajamas, purple ones. I used to go bed again, wake up and change my clothes. A dress or jeans... and the shoes, mum’s shoes were just beautiful. Then I would read, have some tea, watch TV” “I’ve never played that game...” “It’s called living”. 73
[ _______ ]
GENDER WEEK SONGBOOK
[a journey through gender roles in pop songs]
SOME GIRLS ARE
BIGGER THAN OTHERS
SOMEDAY I’LL GROW UP I’LL BE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN SOMEDAY I’LL GROW UP, I’LL BE A BEAUTIFUL GIRL BUT FOR TODAY I AM A CHILD FOR TODAY I AM A BOY
ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS
I’M A BOY I’M A BOY AND MY MUM WON’T ADMIT IT
YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN
WHAT A GIRL WANTS WHAT A GIRL NEEDS
GIRLS WHO ARE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS TO BE GIRLS WHO DO BOYS LIKE THEY´RE GIRLS WHO DO GIRLS LIKE THEY´RE BOYS
GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN
DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND
BUT DON’T YOU STOP BEING A MAN
[NO MATTER IF YOU CRY]
WELL I’M NOT THE WORLD’S MOST MASCULINE MAN BUT I KNOW WHAT I AM AND I BET I’M A MAN [AND SO IS LOLA]
YOU’RE A WOMANIZER, BABY
IT IS A MAN’S WORLD
GIRLS, YOU KNOW YOU BETTER WATCH OUT SOME GUYS, SOME GUYS ARE ONLY ABOUT THAT THING
GUYS, YOU KNOW YOU BETTER WATCH OUT SOME GIRLS, SOME GIRLS ARE ONLY ABOUT THAT THING
have a bra!