When I was growing up, I was a tomboy. I didn’t want to be a girl – except maybe Xena – I wanted to be Lestat, I wanted to be Stanley’s Alter Ego. I wanted to be Michael Jordan. I didn’t want to be Maxie. I mean, our shows are nothing alike. I digress. I would look at Helen Reddy in “Pete’s Dragon”, and I wanted to be Elliot instead. When I played pretend with a group of girls, I always volunteered to be the male. When I played pretend in a mixed gender group, I would only be the Pink Ranger.
Now, let’s look at these two female role models – Xena and Kimberly. They were gymnasts, martial artists, and physically attractive. They didn’t have to pick one over the other. They didn’t have to choose whether or not to be just strong, sexy, or flexible. They didn’t have to be the Archetypal Gaming Sorceress, only having points in a few skills. They were Capable.
More often than not, we see Capable Males – and they are clearly capable of – Saving a City, Saving the World, and Getting the Girl. People have hawed and hollered about this fact, demanding more substantial and leading roles for women, referring what is known as the Bechdel Test as the standard of female-friendliness:
- It has to have at least two [named] women in it
- Who talk to each other
- About something besides a man
I think we’ve been going about it all wrong. As Morgan Freeman says in his now ever-popular interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes:
Ladies, don’t let a little thing like a penis stop you from looking up to someone, and don’t let it be a reason to look down on someone, either. Vice-versa, if you look up to Nelly Bly more than Anderson Cooper, so be it! I just happen to be talking to the Lady-Folk who, I believe, aren’t doing much besides making a hypocrite of themselves… and I find that to be a problem.
Yes, bemoaning a lack of chivalry then rudely shunning someone sincerely offering you help (not talking about the creepazoids) because they aren’t cute enough (you were saving the ‘damsel in distress’ act for the single new hottie a few doors down who you may have noticed comes home around a certain time every day) or you’re still pumped up from a night of man-bashing disguised as ‘Female Friendly’ doesn’t make you progressive, it makes you a terrible person who uses a person’s gender to justify your disrespect. Bigots can be bigoted about anything, from where someone is from to the car they drive.
We are HUMANS. If women act like gender doesn’t define a person, maybe if WE quit bringing it up as a dividing factor by painting men with the same wide brush as “we” claim “they” paint us with and call it progress (it isn’t – it’s a juvenile reaction to what we would colloquially refer to as “a troll” or “an asshole”, both of which are gender-neutral terms, if you’re not one of those Pro-Females who INSIST on putting ‘-ess’ at the end of every word*), maybe a person’s gender wouldn’t be such a big deal.
Playing up the gender divide does not a “Gender-Divide Go-Away-ing” make.
“But, He’s a he!” “But, She’s a she!” Hell, I’m for making gender-neutral terms the law of the land, but I’m also for not pushing my agenda on people who are unwilling. Something about “being influenced by Wicca”.
When it comes to Gender Inequality, instead of waiting for the same people in charge of keeping the status quo patriarchal to give us a bevy of female role models, let’s stop thinking about it as Women Role Models and Male Role Models. If you look up to someone, male or female, they’re a Role Model, they have some quality you wish to emulate; emulate it!
Whether it’s having confidence in yourself despite your past failings, making the impossible possible by redefining your life paradigm, or putting in the time necessary to achieve everything you Dream of Achieving, do it.
*Seriously, though, on a Vampire Freaks forum WAY back in the day, someone got up in arms about how all the “Ranks” on the site were masculine in nature and, therefore, they took it upon themselves to do what I just said – add “-ess” to the end of everything. There was a debate about how ‘Vampire’ is a gender-neutral term and, therefore, while Count and Countess was viable, “Vampiress” was just silly and unnecessary.
I’d like to take this to another level – what if we called everyone “Sir”? Or “Ma’am”? Gender wouldn’t be the first thing we’d have to judge in order to avoid risking offense. Maybe the Russians had the right idea with the whole “comerade” thing… “Comradess?” Doesn’t have the bite.
Don’t get me started on the whole “Goody” title.
Perhaps we need a whole new word instead of Sir/ Ma’am, as the dichotomy reeks of – well – dichotomy, which is already deeply imbeded in the subconscious minds of those around me. Especially in Government: We call Supreme Court Judges “Your Honor”, male or female (perhaps as a testament to the whole ‘justice is blind’ saying); however, we say “Mister” or “Madame” Speaker, Mr./ Mdme. President.
Some people aren’t interested at all – some women are willing to take the small injustices in order to keep enjoying what I refer to as “Protected Class Privileges”. Women are allowed to get away with bad behavior in a way men aren’t, in a social context. The WWYD episode should explain more:
“Female aggression is usually seen as not very important, not very deadly, nothing really to react to.”
Insert Double Standard Here.
I was once in a courtroom for a Domestic Violence situation and was asked to leave the room. They were asking the jurors, “If you thought you heard a slap from the neighbor’s house, what would you do?” One of the answers inflamed me: “Well, I don’t know, it might just be the woman hitting the man.”
This was said by a woman.
This is what I mean by “Female Privilege”. This privilege, of course, doesn’t apply to those who choose to outwardly (and convincingly) identify as male or “butch”. Sometimes your level of attractiveness enters into it, depending on the context, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…