Things We Need to Stop Saying

After reading this article and ignoring all the little flaws like 1. did this even happen as described and 2. God didn’t make anything, genetics did   I still find it unnerving that even in comments and social media replies, people are still blaming the victim.

I think it’s time we start cutting certain verbal habits from our daily dialogue.  Sexist cliches only serve to reinforce hostile environments for all females.

1. “Fathers lock up your daughters.”

This phrase is used as both positive reinforcement for boys (a man so attractive he can sleep with anyone he wants) and negative (uh oh, pervy Mr. Swanson is coming to town!).  In each case the assumption is that girls cannot help themselves and need to be “protected” from men and that men cannot help themselves so locking them up would just be a crime.

2. “Boys will be boys.”

Another Nature vs. Nurture argument that assumes genetic drive is 100% un-maintained by environment or social norms.  Also, false.  “Boys” assuming the already incorrect attitude that there are predefined binary genders, will not “be boys” unless they are raised to act that way.  In this cliche case: aggressive, overtly sexual and unfaithful.  Not only does it insult and question the worthiness of any male who does NOT wish to act this way, but it excuses bad behavior and choices.

3. “… for a girl”

This one is usually tacked on to the end of a genuine compliment.  Rather than accepting that a woman can be talented at something in an entire field, the speaker decides they should be ranked against ovary bearing competitors only.  Never mind that many female athletes, entertainers and scientists have surpassed their male counterparts throughout history, there is still this need by some to say “she could have done even better if she had a penis.”

4. “Look so pretty when you smile.” “Just smile.” “A smile is so much nicer.”

I understand that this is a genuine truth.  People ARE more attractive and inviting when they look happy.  The reason I include it is that I never once heard this phrase uttered to any of my three brothers.  Never once to my dad, my boyfriend or any male character in a show or film.  So why this silly stigma that women need to be giggly perky 24/7?  The perpetual cheerleader stereotype.  The waitress, stewardess, secretary etc.  Unless that is your NATURAL personality, having false delight forced on you is cumbersome and constantly frustrating.  I once had a manager tell me I should be “smiling more” while washing dirty trays.  Sure, if I want to look like a crazy person!

** I will add more as I come across them. **

So please, make a conscious effort to scrub these cliche ideas from your vocabulary.  Future generations would be thankful if they knew. 😉

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My Little Pony and Society Assigned Gender Roles

So after reading this poorly worded diatribe calling male My Little Pony fans “terrifying” : http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/04/25/my-little-pony which for the record is factually accurate:

1. The show creators admitted it was rewritten for a broader audience than previous versions and Lauren Faust herself said she doesn’t buy into the stereotypes of gender.

2. The image and references this author used all obviously refer to the older series.

But that all aside, because as I’m about to point out, it shouldn’t even matter which version he’s referring to nor who the writers “intended” their audience to be.

First off, let’s break down his idea of “immaturity”.  By my definition, immaturity or immature entertainment is something enjoyed for purely youthful reasons.  Like slapstick, toilet humor and the ignorance of consequence.  So you could easily see why I’d consider any hobby one does purely for enjoyment’s sake and not for profit or deep, philosophical reasons is “immature”.  That includes but is not limited to: all sports, any science fiction or fantasy fan base, comic books, model construction, collectors and of course anything enjoyed as a child and later retained into adulthood like cartoons, parties, and dessert. In other words, WE ALL HAVE AN IMMATURE HOBBY.  It’s what keeps us sane.  Can you imagine trying to live life like a robot?  Running on 100% efficiency, not doing anything for purely FUN’s sake?  Me either.

Second, gender roles as defined by what we are expected to like and find for hobbies are not defined by some predestined hard-wiring.  They are defined by societal “norms” and reinforced by treating anyone who bucks the trend as an unwanted outsider.  So women who enjoy hobbies which are targeted at men are considered weird or at the worst called lesbians.  We get accused of trying to fake it to meet a guy or get told we’re bad mothers for wanting to pursue careers in these fields.

And what do men get for enjoying things targeted towards women?  They get called gay or pedophile or permavirgin.  And by who?  By other men who generally share an equally “immature” hobby.  By men so insecure in their own sexuality that they think gender roles are defined by the 1950’s stereotype of the nuclear family.  Fact is, most men can’t even admit to enjoying a show, animated or not, if the main character(s) is female.  The only way I even see this happen is when they explain it off as a crush on one of the actresses.  So let me get this right:

1. Women can enjoy shows and movies targeted at men because over 80% of programming is targeted at males age 18-34 so our selection is limited.  But if we are overly enthusiastic for something which is ultra “masculine” then we are called geeks, freaks, posers and lesbians.

2. Men are only allowed to like a show or movie with a female lead IF they want to have sex with the actors.  So any man who enjoys an animated cartoon with female main characters must be a pedophile since the characters portray young girls.

I hope I don’t have to point out how ridiculous this is.  People like things for a wide variety of reasons.  For example, I am a fan of anime mostly because the plots tend to be twisted, dark and funny.  I like that sort of writing.  Much like George R. R. Martin, many animes spend a lot of time building up and making you fall in love with main characters right before the writer decides to do something horrible to them.  It’s great emotional writing and I appreciate the genre for that.  Now there are anime fans who enjoy it from an artistic standard and pick their animes based on visual appeal.  Some people love robotics and are in to the sci-fi animes.  Some people are very attuned to musical scores and choose anime with great music.  And yes, there are some guys and girls who are overly hormonal and chose shows based on sexual attractiveness of the cast.

These same standards get applied outward to many hobbies.  We all find a hobby we enjoy for such a varied list of reasons that to paint an entire community of fans as an archetype is just irresponsible, fear-mongering journalism.