Thursday, August 7, 2008

WE KILLED CHIVALRY! Now we want to bring it back...SOMETIMES

The Guardian reported:
Support for gender equality appears to be declining across Britain and America amid concern that women who play a full role in the workforce do so at the expense of family life.

The sociologist, Jacqueline Scott, who did the survey over the past 3 decades said that the "shine of the supermum" is losing its appeal. In Britain, more men and women now think family life suffers if the woman goes out to work, and that sentiment in the U.S. is even stronger.

Skipping through the boring technical bits of the study, it got me thinking about how I have so often heard my working professional female friends (myself included) lament that chivalry is dead. On the other hand, I've also heard my male friends complain that they're confused about what modern women want. If they open the door for a lady, he might risk coming across as patronising and if he doesn't, he's being a chauvinistic pig.

I think we quite live in a befuddled society today, where gender equality is sometimes taken a bit too far to the extent that women want to be treated like princesses but still call the shots like a king.

Are these roles mutually exclusive? Not always, but we seldom think about the greater implications of how we want to be treated. To be treated like a princess inexorably means you're in a position of weakness and vulnerability. To then suddenly switch to being the master, in the position of domination, brings a whole lot of confusion in the mode of interaction between the sexes.

We modern young women scoff at the idea of boxing the female role to that of a housewife. And yet women who are married and have children scoff at other married women who do not have the 'maternal instinct'. Are we women guilty of selectively interpreting the meaning of "housewife"? Is this more about a class complex than a gender issue?

At the end of the day, we women are run by our neurological swings. Some days we want to be princesses. Others we want to be the boss. I'm just glad I wasn't born a boy.

I think I'm about to be burned on the stake by feminists.


Diana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana said...

Ever had the feeling that you were given way too many choices, and suddenly you feel empowered that you can/should be expected to do so much? But then you simultaneously feel overwhelmed that it turns into mass confusion?

Listen, I'm a self-proclaimed princess who aspires to have a semi-academic future in the field of child care & development, but most of all - I want to be a WIFE. I said it. Cat, you better tell the feminist to make the fire pit big enough for two!

(You should know that my definition of a wife may not coincide with yours. But that's going to be an entirely separate blog.)

Here's the deal - I want to work in a field where I know I'll give a damn about and pushes me to keep learning and improving myself for the better good of society. Cause being introduced new ideas, acknowledging my own ideas and efforts, and then proved wrong so I may find better answers makes me feel good.

And to go along with that - I love being domestic. Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I both fear and in awe of Martha Stewart. My scones have never looked better than the ones that have been so expertly photographed in her easy-to-read, ever most practical cookbook. However, it doesn't discourage me from making more scones - it just inspires me to make more until I'm entirely sick of scones period. (This happened about two years ago and I can't even look at a scone for at least another year). This is just a small example of my love affair with being domestic.

A better example perhaps was when my bestfriend had her bridal shower this summer. Her collection of mostly what I thought was useless, yet very meaningful, gifts included semi-pretty lingerie, more sets of picture frames, gift certificates to the spa and so on. Then suddenly came the most exciting present that I ever saw - an automatic robotic vaccuum cleaner. It was a beautiful off white colour with a sleekly rounded exterior (which means it'll be missing the corners - the only drawback) and has a timer and movement pattern options that you can program. I was in awe...I was never so jealous of my girlfriend until that very moment.

In the next few weeks, the boyfriend and I found ourselves walking into a grocery store. And as I was mentioning this most awesome gift to him, he opens the door for me while continuing to listen, like he usually does, to my incessant ramblings about the most random non-applicable topics of conversation. We stood at the front of the store and surveyed the area for what we needed. I turned around to give him a hug and asked what he felt like having for dinner. He shrugs and mentioned that anything was fine, just nothing too heavy. So I compiled a list in my head of what both our likes and dislikes, work them through through a very complex mathematical formula to figure out a compromise, and off I went merrily to find all the things we needed.

And the whole point of this random story is that I don't need anyone to open the door for me. But if someone I know is one of the most caring and loving individual I have ever met did open the door for me - I damn well appreciate it . And I know when I sneak in that French baguette, which he salivates over, at the very end of the shopping trip - he's going definitely going to appreciate it.

Modern society and its gender expectations are so messed up because it somehow missed emphasizing on working towards what makes you happy on the inside. Everyone is told what they should be doing in society - having babies or careers or both! Yet there hasn't been enough efforts into letting people figure out who you are and what's really important to you that can make you wake up everyday feeling like you are going to make a real genuine difference in this world. Making another dollar to buy your fifth Gucci bag is shallow and meaningless. However, there is nothing wrong with liking nice things - but you have to think of them as part of the comforts of life - and not the ultimate goal.

The older I get the more I believe that modern society is simply much regressing in maturity. For example, gender equality is only possible if both men and women are able to recognize genuine respect to one another and what they truly desire in life that would be fulfilling and soul-satisfying. It takes time, patience, and honest, sometimes brutal, reflection of who you are and what you do in this world.

The funniest thing is that I have learned the most on how to be present and appreciate the real things in life from the littlest people ever - preschoolers. My last practicum was at a daycare in an impoverished neighbourhood where people have very busy lives and alcohol, drug abuse runs rampant.

I watch a child slapped another one on the face and the latter just walked away. As my sponsor teacher explained how the children were accustomed to the behaviour at home hence the non-reaction, we both tried to sit down with the kids to get them to know differently.

Yet despite all the things that they should never have to put up with - they are the most lovable, creative, and resilient individuals I have ever met.

Progress is made by moving on to better, more positive circumstances as you analyze what, how, and why things worked the way they did. The love, creativity, strong resiliency, and appreciation for what's real and in the moment are the things that help children grow and survive. Throwing tempter tantrums when things aren't going your way or getting everything you want or being overwhelmed by ridiculous amount of expectations tend to result poorly in both the short and long run for these same kids.

And I can't help but notice how there is such a similarity between the latter description and how people tend to operate in today's society.

So here's my solution - blow some bubbles. But a cheap set of industrial children's bubble solution and wand, and just start blowing or wave that wand around like you've never done before.

Kids love them. You can, too. But since we're adults now - you can try multi-tasking by making bubbles AND thinking of answering questions like:

What do I really want?
What do I think is really of great value?
What will make a huge difference for me and the world around me?
What makes me who I am?

Your ability to DEFINE yourself, and recognizing that this is not static, but a continuous ever evolving experience will allow you to set yourself free of unproductive, frivolous external judgements. Even better - knowing who you are and what you want will motivate you to do things that are meaningful and fulfilling.

Therefore, if you like being chivalrous, then don't be ashame of doing it. And if you appreciate chivalry, then you better show it if you want more!