Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gender stereotypes: do you subscribe to them or challenge them?

The original tagger called this "Sinners Against Gender Stereotypes" and explained it, thus:
Please list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.

The tag is called ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’. And you must tag twelve blogging friends or else you will be cursed to wear blue pants if you are a woman and pink shirts if you are a man – for next twelve years.
I'll point out two things at the outset:
  • I'm not a big fan of the word "sin." And using it in this context is a little offputting to me, since the lifestyle I've chosen and the individual I am is not a result of my sins against anything. It's just who I am.
  • I won't tag 12 blogging friends, but I invite you -- man or woman -- to share your experiences/anecdotes of ways in which you've charted a path for yourself that's against conventional ideologies of what men and women should ascribe to.
  • Also, bear in mind that I am, in now way, saying I’m better than other members of my gender who subscribe to the stereotypes that abound. I’m just sharing with you who I am. Take it or leave it.

    That said, here are some stories from my life that expound on this topic:

    1. I never played "house." While many four-year old girls around me brought out their utensil sets pretending to have tea parties and elaborate dinners, I sought to play doctor or lawyer or mechanic. Ladles and saucepans bored me. So did dolls. I was more intrigued by board games and building blocks.

    2. I'm competitive. To a fault. Most women I know give in when it comes to their loved ones. Not me. Stubborn as a mule, I will not let up on my position even for my mom. (Sometimes, especially if it's my mom.) I like to win and I don't believe in conceding for "the greater good." If you don't have the chops to play fair and play hard, then don't play with me. Also, don't be a crybaby when you've lost.

    3. I like speed. If I were in India, I'd say speeding, too. I wasn't ever reckless, but enjoyed the thrill that comes with weaving in and out of traffic and pushing one's vehicle to the limit. It's such a great adrenalin rush. Don't think I'll ever drive again in India (and yes I conform to the laws here even at 2 a.m.), but I do want to drive down the Autobahn once before it gets regulated.

    4. I don't fancy malls. Almost every woman I have known loves spending time in the malls or doing window shopping in "boutiquey" towns. I can't stand it. And I don't understand it. Why would you want to tire yourself walking for endless hours inside an air-conditioned enclosed structure when you could be out there taking in beautiful views hiking up a mountain? Retail therapy is lost on me completely. Read my confessions of the "non-feminine" kind here.

    5. I talk straight. I won't say "you know...the male part..." coyly. It's a penis. And it's fine to say that word. So, is saying breasts or clitoris or vagina. They're all body parts. Get over it already!

    6. I do not know my fabrics (organza, cotton, chiffon, polyester – they’re all the same to me). I also do not know my castes, religions, or religious observances. And I certainly do not fast unless ordered by a doctor.

    7. I won't allow you to shut me up in the name of our culture. I have a voice and a distinct identity ... just because you think I am supposed to be a demure, shy, spoke-only-when-you're-spoken-to domestic servant, doesn't mean you're going to get that from me. I am all for respecting our elders, but don't expect to use your age as a way to dictate to me who I should be. You'll be disappointed.

    8. I don’t like manicures, pedicures, facials, or waxing. I get the last one done only because I am borderline hirsute (at least I think that) and the monthly ritual makes me feel clean.

    9. I will not use my womanly charm to get anything done or receive favors. I rely on my intellect, sharp wit and occasional humor. Also, I’m a big fan of earnest hard work and equality.

    10. I believe in myself. I don’t need a male figure to tell me how good I am. I already know.

    I could go on and on, but it’s time I pass the mic.

    What do you have to share?

    P.S. This post can also be found on my blog and at Desicritics -- hop on over to see the comments there. Also, if you're so inclined, there is a Facebook group dedicated to Sinners Against Gender Stereotypes.