Tag Archives: Men

Because she is a woman

gender inequality

I’ve often wondered, what it is about a woman that makes her prone to trouble; just how many undesirable things has a woman gone through and the only excuse given for her woes is, “she’s a woman”…

The other day, when I was leaving class, a friend called me. Apparently she and another guy were involved in a heated debate on the appropriateness of wife battery. My friend, a girl, was of the opinion that it is unlawful and generally unacceptable for a man to hit a woman while the guy thought it was completely alright to lay a hand on her, in the name of ‘discipline’.

“What’s up?” I asked her when I got to them.

“He thinks it’s ok to hit a woman,” she replied, “What’s your take on the matter?”

First I was taken aback. The guy, from my observation, is slightly younger than me. So that thought alone had me perplexed, because some hopeful part of me had imagined wife beaters only exist in the older generations. Somehow, I had let myself believe young people would automatically be anti-battering. Well, shock on me!

“You think it’s ok to hit a woman?” I asked, forehead creased, in utter disbelief.

“Yeah,” he replied casually, seemingly unperturbed.

“Why?” I probed.

He lifted one shoulder in a shrug, his lips curved in a sheepish grin, “Because my culture allows it.”

“Don’t you think that’s an archaic excuse?” I asked. “Aren’t we too civilized to be citing such reasons for such out-dated practices? You know you don’t have to do, or even agree with everything your forefathers did. If something is wrong you change it. If we, as the younger generation don’t do that, then we risk perpetuating things that are basically wrong.”

“But I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he argued.

“Why do you feel it’s ok?”

“Because she’s a woman. Sometimes it is ok to hit them, just to discipline them.”

Whaaaat? I couldn’t believe I was having that conversation with someone who was roughly twenty or only slightly older. Normally that would be a conversation I would imagine having with some much older guy. “What do you mean, discipline them?”

“You know, if she does something wrong and you hit her she won’t repeat it next time.”

“That’s what you think?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, in that case, it depends with the woman in question. Because if you hit me, that would be a Pandora’s Box you’d be opening.” At that point I felt lost for words. This guy, in my opinion, was ignorant and so obstinate; he wasn’t ready to have anyone alter his perception. “You do not treat a woman like a child. Once someone reaches a certain age, they require to be accorded some respect.”

“But sometimes women are just stubborn,” he argued.

“Hypothetically, you’re married and your wife finds out you’ve been cheating on her. In anger she slaps you hard across your face. Would that be ok?”

“No!” He barked determinedly.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s not acceptable for a woman to hit a man.”

“Those are double standards. If you told me it was ok, then maybe I would have also seen the wisdom in your words; that it’s ok for a man to hit a woman. But as long as you hold those double standards, I will not agree with you on the matter.”

Then it hit me, that maybe if he were to look at it from a different perspective he could see things differently.

“If, say you have a daughter, and when she’s of age she gets married to some guy. Then one day she comes and tells you, ‘daddy, my husband hit me’. How would you feel?”

“It would depend on why he beat her. If it was a valid reason I wouldn’t have a problem with it.”
At that point I knew I couldn’t argue him with him anymore. He would have to see someone he loved or cared for being beaten to understand the magnitude of the matter. “Have you ever interacted one on one with someone who has been battered?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied.

“It’s not as pleasant as you make it sound. God willing, when you have, let me know what you think.” And with that I wished them a good day and walked away.

Demeaning cultures: Chinese foot binding

chinese foot binding 2

When I look at the world we live in today, of the things I appreciate most is the fact that women are more independent and empowered; unlike in past eras where a woman’s worth was solely determined by the type of man she could attract.

Sometimes when I look at some cultural practices I totally fail to see their relevance, because if one was to look at the reasons why such practices are carried out, it’s mainly to please men; foot binding for instance.

It’s a Chinese practice that was outlawed around 1912. According to Wikipedia, foot binding, also known as ‘Lotus feet’ is the custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls between ages 4 and 9 to prevent further growth. I wasn’t aware of such a practice until yesterday, when on CNN I saw this elderly woman, who’s one of the few remaining survivors of the out-dated practice.

Her toes were folded in what appeared to be a deformity and as she talked to CNN correspondent, Kristie Lu Stout, she told her it was an ancient tradition practiced by Chinese women and one of the reasons it was encouraged was because it ensured women would always be dependent on their husbands.

Curious, I went online to find out more about foot binding, and I must admit, I cringed as I read in-depth accounts of how the practice was carried out: first each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood; this was intended to soften the foot and aid the binding. Then the toenails were cut back as far as possible to prevent in-growth and subsequent infections, since the toes were to be pressed tightly into the sole of the foot.

Cotton bandages were prepared by soaking them into the blood and herb mixture. To enable the size of the feet to be reduced, the toes on each foot were curled under then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes broke.

The broken toes were held tightly against the sole of the foot while the foot was then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch forcibly broken down. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the inside of the foot, and around the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot.

At each pass around the foot, the binding cloth was tightened, pulling the ball of the foot and the heel together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch, and pressing the toes underneath. The girl’s broken feet required a great deal of regular care and attention.

The most common problem with bound feet was infection. Despite the regular care, toenails would in-grow becoming infected and causing injuries to the toes. Sometimes, for this reason, the girl’s toenails would be peeled back and removed altogether.

The tightness of the binding meant that the circulation was cut off, and as a result injuries to the toes were unlikely to heal and were likely to worsen gradually leading to infected toes and rotting flesh. If the infection got to the bones, they would soften and eventually some toes would fall off. This, however, was seen as a benefit because the feet could be bound even more tightly. Girls whose toes were fleshier would have shards of glass or sharp tiles inserted to deliberately cause injury.

Disease inevitably followed infection, meaning that death from septic shock could result from foot-binding, and a surviving girl was more at risk of health problems as she grew older. Older women on the other hand were more likely to break hips and other bones in falls since they could not balance securely on their feet and were unable to rise from sitting positions.

In Chinese culture, bound feet were considered erotic and a woman with perfect lotus feet was likely to make a more prestigious marriage. Qing Dynasty sex manuals listed 48 different ways of playing with women’s bound feet.

pair of red lotus

Sadly, men preferred never to see a woman’s unbound feet, so they were always concealed within tiny three-inch ‘lotus shoes’ and wrappings. They understood that the symbolic erotic fantasy of bound feet didn’t correspond to its unpleasant physical reality. The fact that the bound feet were concealed from men’s eyes was considered sexually appealing, because an uncovered foot would also give foul odour as various microorganisms would colonize the unwashable folds.

A feature of a woman with bound feet was the limitation of her mobility, and therefore her inability to take part in politics and an active social life. Bound feet rendered women dependent on men and became an alluring symbol of chastity and male ownership, since a woman was largely restricted to her home and couldn’t venture far without an escort.

chinese foot binding

As I read this all I saw was excruciating pain, and I kept asking, was it really worth it? The Chinese women went through intense pain and sometimes succumbing to the resulting diseases just to fulfil some male fantasy. What did they gain from having their feet bound? In my opinion, nothing really! In any case, it robbed them off their freedom, making them just property, that men could lay claim to.

They were left taking care of self-inflicted deformities, and all for what? Just to impress men, who didn’t even want to see their bound feet, because they knew behind the beautiful lotus façades lay smelly wounds and deformed feet. Honestly, I’m so glad the practice was outlawed, because women shouldn’t live at the mercy of men.

When I think of such practices, I feel girls/women should be educated; because I have a feeling such demeaning practices would be mainly attributed to illiteracy on their part. It’s the only sound reason why loving mothers would put their daughters through such agonizing pain just so they could be eligible for marriage.

Women are gold diggers: part two

In my opinion, men are right when they say women are gold-diggers; but only to some extent. This said, I feel they make a grave mistake when they assume all women are gold-diggers. It’s extremely offensive when an honest woman is treated as one; as a gold digger.

Last month my sister was trying to find a company where she could intern. A friend of hers, who works in a bank, helped her secure a position in one of their branches. When my sister told him she had gotten the internship, he light-heartedly told her she owed him a few drinks.

Friday, that same week, he called her in the morning before she left for school asking her out later in the evening. They had never gone out before as he was engaged when they first met and was going to tie the knot in a few weeks; however he and his fiancée split up last year. Thrilled, my sister agreed to it, thinking he wanted to take her out as it was her birthday.”

When my sister came back home, she wouldn’t stop complaining how unchivalrous the guy had been. Apparently they had gone to two clubs and in both places she had paid for all their drinks.

“I know he had said I owed him a few drinks for helping me get the internship,” she complained, looking visibly disappointed, “but he asked me out. And this was our first time out together. He should at least have offered to go dutch.”

I tried pacifying her, even though I found myself lost for words. I was of the same opinion, that since he asked her out he should have paid for the drinks. I reasoned, if she had asked him out it would have been okay for her to foot the bill, but he asked her out; plus that was their first time out together.

Sometimes I like to think of myself as a little traditional. Maybe I’m wrong; but first impressions really matter. I have no issue paying bills or going dutch with a guy, just not on the first date. And if I do it, I would love to be the one who offers to pay half or all of it, and not because I was pushed to it.

“I’m never going out with him again,” she vowed. “He let me pay the bill, and he knew it was my birthday.”

I couldn’t blame her for her decision. If I was in her situation I wouldn’t either.

While they were talking about him getting her an internship, he told her teaching was his first love. Even though he worked in a bank, he worked part-time as a lecturer and would love to get a permanent teaching job. She asked him to apply for a job in the university she goes to.

After their night out, they rarely talk. Yesterday he sent her a copy of the CV he had sent to her school applying for a position as a lecturer. In the CV he had indicated how much he makes per month at the bank. He could be the next multi-millionaire in town for all I know; if he’s not one already. After getting over my shock, I started wondering why he would bother to send her a copy of his CV when there’s nothing she could do to help him get the job, as much as she wanted to return the favour. I just assumed he wanted to impress her with the money; anyone could be lured by that enormous figure. Maybe I was wrong.

He could be a generous guy, but the thought that he let my sister pay for their drinks on their first ‘date’ and on her birthday, had me thinking he’s just stingy. He had the chance to make a good first impression, but he blew it. In my opinion he broke at least all rules of dating etiquette. My sister already vowed to never go out with him, simply because she deduced he was ungallant; tight-fisted. If ever she went out with him again in future, it wouldn’t be for his charm but solely for the money.

Luckily for him, my sisters and I know in life there are things that are far more important than money. It may sound hypocritical to some, but truth is money is not everything. I know of guys who earn meagre wages but never miss the chance to treat a woman like a lady. Not all women are money-minded; chasing men only for their wealth. All they hope to get from a man are the small gestures, like him pulling out a sit for her, paying the bill-even if it’s only on the first date…

In short, not all women are gold diggers. In the process of trying to impress a woman with his wealth, a man could actually end up losing her because if she’s not after the money, that will be a real deal-breaker.

Women are gold diggers: part one

Women are gold diggers. That’s what many men seem to think nowadays. Are they right? Or it’s just a ploy to make women come off as unbelievably materialistic

Wikipedia defines gold digger as: slang for a greedy person (stereotypically a woman) who only dates (and subsequently marries) wealthy partners with the (typically) sole intention of exploiting said wealth. The term is usually pejorative.

I have this cousin, who I’d only seen once when I was five and never met again until I was a teenager; I wrote about our encounter in Belinda. When I first laid my eyes on her, she seemed to have a very soft demeanour, and was quite shy; she had trouble looking someone straight in the eyes. From what I gathered, that was her first time in the city as she and her family lived in a farm in the countryside.

When they visited, she was accompanied by her mom and elder brother; it was just a normal courtesy call. Two days later, when her mom and brother left for their home she was left behind. Her mom-my aunt-wanted mom to have her enrolled in a school as she had dropped out for lack of funds. Mom had refused because at the time we were also having some money issues; my aunt therefore, requested mom to find her a job then.

We knew it would be difficult to get her a decent job since she didn’t have papers; nonetheless, mom said she would try. Seven months down the line, mom hadn’t managed to find her a job. Afraid that my cousin would take more time before she found a job, mom called my aunt and suggested that my cousin go back home. Eventually she did.

During her stay with us, I realized she was somewhat introverted. At first I thought she was still feeling nervous around us-my sisters and I-since we were practically strangers but as weeks passed by, she didn’t seem to loosen up. If we were doing karaoke we would ask her to join in but she would diffidently refuse; she didn’t have the guts to stand in front of us. We would playfully drag her off the seat to come sing with us but she would giggle, covering her face with her hands. She really was shy.

As months passed by, it occurred to me, she wasn’t the demure lass we had all assumed her to be. For instance, she could actually sing. Once, I was walking to the kitchen when I heard her singing in the living room to Celine Dion’s songs. I treaded softly to the living room and found her singing blithely; she didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

“So you can sing?” I said, shocked and impressed at the same time.

She swung around swiftly, clearly stunned to find me standing there. Assuming her timid self, she plonked herself in the nearest couch. I thought maybe she was afraid of me or something, so I told her, “No, carry on. You really have a beautiful voice.” I made sure my voice came out soft, in case she was scared. She didn’t sing again that day though.

Weeks later, my big sister bumped into my ex. He wanted to see me, so she invited him over for lunch the next day. When my sister told me we would be having a guest I gave my cousin a brief explanation about who he was so she wouldn’t feel out of place when he came.

The following day my ex came, accompanied by one of his friends, who was also an acquaintance. My sister and I prepared the food and later set the table. When the four of us were sitted, my cousin showed up, dressed in a revealing top and fitting pants, and her face completely made up. Again, I was shocked, yet impressed at the same time.

Shocked, because she had actually done her own make up given that I was always the one who was doing it as she didn’t seem to know how and had never shown the interest to learn; and impressed because she had made the effort to look nice. She was a girl of many surprises. Those innocent acts convinced me she wasn’t as coy. I got the impression she had so much concealed beneath her introverted façade.

When she left, we didn’t keep in touch. I only heard she had found a job in the city. After that I only saw her once. Her mom had visited and she came to see her at our place. The next time I saw her was at grams’ funeral last October. She showed up with a very cute guy, who after much prodding, she introduced only as a friend. I had a few questions to ask about ‘her friend’ but I wasn’t in the mood for it.

This past Monday, mom called her mom to check up on her. While they were talking mom asked about my cousin. Turns out she’s looking for a rich man to marry. Mom asked my aunt about the ‘friend’ my cousin was with. My aunt just said my cousin didn’t want him because he wasn’t loaded.

Mom didn’t know what to reply to that. She only told my aunt, “Just tell her not to get anyone’s husband.”

So, if women are gold-diggers? Based on my cousin’s choice of men, I can’t refute the claims.

MEN IN ‘SKIRTS’

men gossiping

Some things have become so synonymous with others-like skirts with women- that trying to interfere with the unwritten laws feels utterly wrong; but lately there seems to be some major revolution; things have taken a one eighty degrees turn from how they used to be: My maternal grams for instance, finds it unconceivable when my dad serves her tea, because she was raised in a very traditional setting, where women were supposed be submissive to men, who were deemed superior to the women; demigods of some sought. Wives were supposed to feed their husbands, run their baths… not of their own free will, but simply because that is what the society required of them.

Today, responsibilities have shifted remarkably; activities that our forefathers- literally- would have spat at have now become a norm. I’m thinking, if I were to tell my great grandpa, who exited this world long before my parents conceived-this crazy fruit of their love-me, that my dad cooks and does his laundry at times, he would spray on me whatever drink he’d be sipping at before exclaiming angrily, “what?’

I’m also imagining he would then convene the council elders for an impromptu meeting to discuss his grandson’s ‘malady’ and some possible remedies which I imagine would include dragging my old man into the forest so he can hunt down some big cat, decapitate it and subsequently have him display its head in his living room as a trophy, just to remind him that men don’t partake in petty household chores; that men should be macho, and that anything contravening that would amount to tremendous emasculation.

Personally, I delight at seeing my dad cooking… it makes me proud that he can walk into the kitchen and fix some snack; I perceive it as him trying to bring down the partition our forefathers so painstakingly erected, to divide men’s responsibilities from women’s… it fills me with hope that in the near future, simple acts as such will finally obliterate undesirable traits like male chauvinism, which undermine women dreadfully.

Irrespective of that, there are boundaries that should remain intact; gossiping for instance… that is one of the few things that should be left exclusively to women. In that regard, men should focus on perfecting their punches… not sharpening their words. Gossiping is just something that men should never be caught dead doing- ‘never’ being the operative word. From a woman’s perspective, it’s grossly unattractive.

My mind always goes blank when I find a group of refined men engrossed in a deep conversation, dissecting and analyzing a certain individual-for whatever reasons- so animatedly; high five-ing each other, using coded words and analogies so that whoever is not part of their conversation doesn’t understand what they’re saying, whispering in each other’s ears, laughing like rabid men… It is totally obnoxious! The revulsion such actions afford me wouldn’t be any different if I happened to sight two manly guys indulging in an affray, with one guy lying on his belly and the other sitted on his back pulling his hair, demanding that he apologizes for ,say, calling him names… that is so girly! They might as well go rock skirts.

Talking about other people is inevitable, and it would be ‘inhumane’ of me to discourage my brothers not to do it, but if they must, a little discretion would be in order. The infamous market women earned that term because they continually make it obvious they’ve no problem getting under people’s skin; they made it their business to callously stick their noses in other people’s affairs. I don’t know if there’s even a soul out there that’s pleased with them, but somehow we all manage to put up with them… I don’t want to imagine men being part of the scuttlebutt group. There’s just something so wrong with that picture. I guess it’s partly because they tend to overdo it… and still insist on being revered as men.

We’ve been busy breaking away from traditions which our forefathers put in place; women are now wearing pants, husbands babysit gladly… all that seems okay, but I’m thinking a guy won’t just walk into his wife’s closet and pick a skirt because his pants won’t fit or something of the sought; because it’s just wrong… if it’s not a kilt, then no freaking way.

That is what gossiping is; a skirt; reserved strictly for women. Manly men have no business giving women a run for their money on this one… it’s a no-go zone. Whoever wishes to partake in it can denounce his balls first; then there’ll be no qualms. Only then, can they wear these skirts.