Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mr. Man I Dare You To Hit Me

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A few months ago someone relayed a story they were told by a little girl they know in the Philippines. The eight year old little girl had seen her uncle, 19 slap his older sister, 23. The older sister being the wild child of her family, I can only assume this was some act of discipline on the part of the child's uncle as circumstances would have him being the “man of the house” at the present time. One might think that the slap alone would be enough to send the raging feminist that lies within the depths of me soaring. What really struck the a nerve was what occurred after the slap. Following the incident the young uncle Facebooked his older brother who is an overseas worker a message. Whether this message was to boast to his elder brother or inform him of the goings on back in the Philippines, I do not know. What I do know is that following this message the informed brother had a conversation with another family member excusing his younger brothers actions. The justification was that, “It’s okay. He is a growing ‘man’"

Now, I neither promote gender roles nor do I necessarily believe one must subscribe to them, but when did slapping a woman equate being a man? Some popular descriptions of a “man” I have heard are along the lines of “provider”, “father who tends to his family and children”, “steps up to responsibilities”. None of these descriptions implicate physical aggression on women or another human being as what makes a “real man”?

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Understandably, there is a cultural aspect to consider in this case, but factually slapping a woman is not something the general male Filipino population practices. Nowhere in my subscription to Filipino Weekly does it state the “10 Best Ways to Keep the Filipino Woman In Line Using Just Your Fist.” Maybe this act of physical aggression would make sense in a country that uses force and fear to instill in young boys that physical aggression is the way of life, but this young man was not a - child soldier - and there was no gun to this young man’s head forcing his hand.

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Incidents such as the one in this case can perpetuate a negative cycle for both young boys and girls. Think back to that slap. A young girl in early adolescents witnessed this slap, a slap against a woman, a slap that held no consequences, a slap that was excused as the a norm for a young man growing up in this world. As there are not consequences for such an act, this norm will become her norm. A cycle of the exertion of physical aggression and acceptance of that physical aggression by women is then created, promoting negative norms for what a “real man” is.

A physical act of aggression met with no consequences, but positive justification instills in the boys of the world that this is the proper way to attain a want. In turn arming the worlds young boys with a false sense of power. Because a boy who uses his fist is then making a choice not to use his mind and an individual without a mind is in truth powerless.


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As a product of an individualistic culture, I grew to believe that men and women are equals. Yes, men and women are equals. When I am in a boardroom I want to know that I being paid and treated the same as the some Joe Shmoe who has the same title and does the same work as me. When my children go to school, I want their intellectual and academic potential to be nourished equally without their perspective futures and occupations being encouraged as limited based on gender roles and stereotypes placed upon those perspective futures or occupations. And yes, from where I stand both men and women are all human beings at base.

Despite all the aspects of life that men and women should be viewed as equal, there is one aspect where inequality should be allotted, RESPECT. Women give life. They are the primary nurturers of that life in a child’s early years. These days we work, shelter, and clothe the family and children. Sometimes this is all on our own. Aside from being caregivers women have managed to function, maneuver, and dominate in a world structured to put them in their place, a place that seems to always be five steps behind or beneath a man.

I believe there should be a universal standard for the positive treatment of women. Maybe it is much easier for me to believe that such a standard is possible to maintain because I was brought up in an individualistic culture and am a woman myself. However, we as a society cannot continue to bring up boys who equate physical aggression to being a man. By implicating a positive standard for the treatment of women we can combat the negative standards being established for defining a “man” because a real man understands a woman’s worth.

H&M dress $20 | thrifted scarf $0 | Forever 21 shoes $17

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