Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gender Role Gentrification

So, for those of you don't know, I'm in law school now. Let me just go ahead and disclaim that it is NOT all it's cracked up to be. Namely, in some of the types of people that attend law school. The know-it-all, the "I'm just here on daddy's money" types...the personalities run the gamut. (Read more about the people you meet in law school here.)

But I digress. I was having a conversation about relationships with two of my classmates; for some reason, people assume I'm some kind of relationship anomaly because I married before I turned 30. In talking to them, I began to see why; I had one friend tell me that she "would have a hard time performing wifely duties with a man I'm not married to."

My response: "What exactly is a wifely duty?"

She looked at me like I had 3 heads...but couldn't give me a straightforward answer. I was under the impression that, with this being the age of hyper-feminized, independent women, we--as a gender--wouldn't still perpetuate such dogma. My classmate went on to explain that a wifely duty was: " know, making sure his dinner is prepared when he gets home, making sure that he's taken care of intimately so that he doesn't step out. Wife stuff."

I think I could literally hear my eyes roll.

As if women don't sustain these illusions enough themselves, the internet is overflowing with "research" that these dated ideals are actually good for a household. One such article (a term I use loosely) on entitled, "Do Traditional Gender Roles Mean a Better Relationship," not only says the traditional roles are alive and well, but encourages them. "Much media attention has been given to a handful of studies that demonstrate that husbands who do more housework get more sex, as their happy wives are more inclined to acquiesce to their husbands’ needs.  Researchers from the Juan March Institute and the University of Washington, however, suspect that the reverse is true.  According to their hypothesis, husbands and wives who do more gender-related tasks tend to experience greater sexual frequency." 

In other words, women should slave away all day cleaning, ironing and taking care of home while their more important husbands enforce their dominion over home by handling the more substantial tasks, like fixing the car and mowing the lawn. Thus, in sticking to their roles, they have more sex.

I HAVE ABOUT 1898758674873HJKJDFH9 PROBLEMS WITH THIS ARGUMENT, but I will reduce it to two.

One. Marriage, and relationships in general in my opinion, is all about duality. In order for there to be one thing, there must be an opposite to balance. In terms of roles, there must be one for both parties. Hence, if there are wifely duties, there have to be "husbandly" duties too. However, in adhering to this idiocy, the wifely duties are almost always clear and defined. Cook. Clean. Take care of the children. Maintain the fire and passion in the relationship to keep your man interested--because everyone knows if a man cheats, its the woman's fault (but even if he isn't, it's okay because he's a man). And oh, Lordy, make sure you perform oral sex on him at every turn (as actress Niecy Nash advises is the best way to keep your man). Where are the husbandly duties? After he completes his three tasks for the day and passes out in front of the TV watching the game, where is the rule that says his wife deserves attention and appreciation for all she does? That, God forbid, he has to maintain her attention so that she won't cheat? Where are the scholarly articles that say she needs oral sex to, as Nash colorfully mentions, "keep the divorce attorney away"? 

Two. This myth perpetuation passes on to children, which turns into expected behavior in their subsequent relationships. If Dad is doing nothing and objectifies Mom into nothing but a cleaning, cooking, domestic sexpot, there's a pretty good chance that becomes the son's attitude toward all women. His sister, his wife, his receptionist, etc.

Just gonna sit that right there.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Media Response: “bell hooks Calls Beyoncé a Terrorist”

Just a bit of background info before I start: bell hooks (punctuation omitted purposefully) is an African-American author, activist and well-known feminist. One of her most famous works, Feminism is for Everybody, digresses on how the women’s movement for equality isn’t just for die-hard, rebel feminists.

So, first of all, let me say: I am by no means a Beyoncé stan. I think her music is catchy and highly marketable, but that’s about the extent of our auditory relationship. I think blogger Curls 4D Gurls said it best in her article "Bey is for Basic" : “Beyoncé is Queen Bey….of the Basics. She is easily one of the most basic women in the history of the music industry. People give Beyoncé credit for a lot of things that I don’t think she herself has much to do with. She isn’t very deep, as a matter of fact I would venture to say she could be shallow. There’s not much there.” Welp.

Now that the proverbial elephant has been addressed, let me also make myself even further transparent: I am not here to bash Blue Ivy’s mom. I want to make clear that bell hooks damn well may be on to something. You know that older relative we have that knows what everyone is thinking—that super rude or shady comment—but has the nerve to say it anyway? Well bell hooks deserves the biggest literary award I can think of for her most current over-the-top, borderline Marxist comment. She further stole my heart with four little words: “Beyoncé is a terrorist.” hooks made her assertion at a discussion entitled “Are You Still a Slave?” at the New School in New York, featuring fellow feminists Janet Mock, Shola Lynch and Marci Blackman.

Sensationalist? YES. Probably making everyone uncomfortable in her unflinching convictions? ABSOLUTELY. That’s why I love it.

The reasons on why people abhor the singer run the gamut. She’s beautiful, she (supposedly) pushed out this human being and was back to her banging figure in a matter of weeks, she’s beautiful, her face is quite literally plastered everywhere (I’m still waiting for her visage to be marketed on urinal cakes)…etc. However, hooks has a LEGIT REASON: she’s poisoning the minds of our future little feminists. While “Run the World (Girls)” had a lovely, flowery message of women’s empowerment, it was contradictory in portrayal:

·         If you’re “raising a glass for the college grads,” it’d be awesome if you didn’t refer to me as a girl. “Woman” suits me just fine;

·         The lyrics portray women just as history does: sneaky beings who use the art of seduction and sexual connotation to gain power/money while simultaneously bashing men. With lyrics like “Some men think they freak this like we do but no they don’t” and “see, you better not play me oh come here baby, Hope you still like me, F' you pay me.”

hooks goes on to defend her stance related to Beyonce's mostrecent photo on the cover of TIMEMagazine: “Let’s take the image of this super-rich, very powerful black female and let’s use it in the service of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy because she probably had very little control over that cover—that image.”

Feel free to read the article on bell's comments and views in their entirety here.