Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Because You Think Being A Girl Is Degrading"

(Above) Do androgynous models catch flack for rocking the very concept of
gender binary to its core? Well, if they do, they're probably too
busy making snow angels in piles of cash to notice.
When I was in 8th grade, my teacher wanted to liven things up by giving us a debate topic that was a tad more risqué than usual, at least by middle-school standards. The topic was: Is it better to be a girl or a boy? Not "which sex is better?", but literally "which sex has the better end of the deal?"

I remember being excited by this question. As a little feminist-in-the-making (which at that age probably translated to "Woo! Girls rule!"), I had my answer perfectly formulated before anybody else had time to blink: 

Obviously, girls have it better because we have more freedom when it comes to doing the things we want. Girls can play sports and do other "guy stuff" and people think it's cool. But poor boys, if they want to knit, or bake, or do stereotypical "girl stuff" people make fun of them for it.

I was confident with this answer. It felt rock-solid, and I didn't think anybody would be able to come up with a good counter-argument when it came time to duke things out in the classroom. Truth be told, I can't remember what words were exchanged that day, but I do remember feeling utterly betrayed when my friend — a Korean chick who, to this day, is still one of the coolest and funniest people I know  sat on the boys' side of the argument. I just couldn't understand why she thought boys had a better deal in life. What happened to sisterhood?

Looking back, I realize now that my friend (who I'll call Ki-Jyeong Mung for legal reasons) was smarter than all of us. While the rest of us girls sat in smug satisfaction that we had a pretty good set-up in life (We could choose to be tomboys or girly-girls! How liberating!), we didn't understand the deeper implications of our opinion. When a girl is admired for kicking tail on the basketball court but a boy is called every number of degrading names for wearing a holiday sweater that's too "feminine," what is that really saying about the female gender?

After all these years, I finally get it. And I think this picture (which quotes a Madonna song) sums "it" up perfectly.


  1. It's true! And I never would have thought of that.

  2. I reached the same conclusions a few years ago. I had, up until that point, thought the same as most males seem to; tom-boys - great, feminine-boys - not so great.

    Then, following an accident, I lost my testicles. I do still consider myself very much a man. However, the loss and the subsequent interactions with a few male and female confidantes opened my eyes a bit. I found that, generally, women were less hung-up on my physical state and more focused on who I was as a person. Most of my fellow men seemed to think me less-than-a-man and, more importantly, believed that that determination was important.

    I have steadily become more accepting of gender diversity. I even consider myself a feminist. I also see that feminism is actually closely aligned with humanism and benefits men as well. A friend - a women - has said that she thinks I'm a better man, now, than I was before the loss of my testicles. I'd agree.

  3. Very good point. I recognize the photo on the right- male model Andrej Pejic. However- I felt that you mentioning your Korean friend is trivial. Does it matter that she is Korean? Do we need to know her alias ("Ki-Jyeong Mung") to see her point of view?

  4. @xiziluo

    I would hope you know me well enough to know I didn't mean anything offensive by that. :(

    You're right - my friend's nationality and "alias" have nothing to do with her point of view, but I wanted to describe her in such a way that she would know EXACTLY who I was talking about.

    She's been one of my best mates since 7th grade, and I threw in that "Ki-Jyeong Mung" part precisely because it's so absurd (I just rearranged the beginning letters of each part of her name).

    Considering her nickname for ME is Fronk (random, yes?), that's the type of stupid humor we use with each other . . .

  5. @xiziluo

    I am Ki-Jyeong Mung.

    Just so you know, it's a joke~ And is it so bad that she wants to show off one of her greatest(?) friends? She didn't mean anything by it; I'm just ecstatic that she even mentioned me haha.

    PS. Elleinad, keep showering us with your amazing pieces of work!

  6. Exactly! My story! You basically put my experiences so amazingly into words! I'm real thankful!

  7. So true, unfortunately. It's how it's meant to be I guess... though I wish people wouldn't think of it as "degrading". "Different" would be nicer? We're built differently. We could pretty much be a different species if you think of it that way.
    How are we different? Here's a little example: My brother's karate instructor was against girls sparring with boys, only because he says while guys fight with strength, girls fight with finesse. I'm not saying a girl can't be like a boy, but we're made differently and that's how it is.
    Tough topic I'd say!

  8. I wrote a huge reply, but I'll just say this instead: being a girl isn't degrading. The reason people don't insult girls for acting like guys is because feminists fought for their freedom, and people respect that. You can find fault with anything if you're looking for it.

    Guys are still bullied for failing to conform to society's expectations of "manliness" because nobody cares about "men's rights". I didn't even know there was such a thing as "men's rights" until a few weeks ago because I've never heard anyone talk about it.

    Like everyone else, I never got to choose my gender (or race). I'm sure everyone can empathise with me when I say I don't like people making negative assumptions about me because of things I have no control over.

  9. I liked reading this particular blog. And I am like your Korean friend: I have always seen boys having much more freedom simply because they are male. They've had it easy pretty much since the evolution of the genus 'Homo'. Women have had to live in submission for years - and in some places still do - and only in the early 20th century did they radically change anything. But men do have it hard - those who wish to be more feminine are looked down on - but I feel, in comparison, they have it nowhere near as bad as women have had. Women have been written out of history. In an Archaeology lesson, our teacher tasked us with naming famous female leaders and male leaders. We probably only got to ten for women, maybe just over.
    But, I like to see how other women view things as I rebel against social norm by not dressing how society wants women to.


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