You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!

Is Being A Girl Degrading?

“But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, ‘cause you think being a girl is degrading.”

These are the lines from Madonna’s song, “What It Feels Like For A Girl.” When we had the last discussion, we tackled Episode Twenty of Matthew Lipman’s Lisa entitled, “The School Holds a Beauty Contest.” During the discussion, I raised one question that grabbed my attention – “Is being a girl degrading?”

I came up with this question when we talked about treating women “special.” Some say that it’s a gesture for making women feel special; others say that it’s subliminally telling them that they’re weaker and therefore needs to be treated specially. During the discussion, I noticed that most of the girls were not giving their ideas; the boys (especially JP and Franz) are the ones debating about this “sexism” issue.

Clinging back to our history, most women were deprived of their rights; (I give exception to some civilizations like Egypt, where women were treated equality). They say that women should stay on their homes and do the house chores, as they don’t belong to a “man’s world.” However, during the 19th century to 20th century, women have the time to voice out their rights to economic, social, and political power (Freedman).

I strongly agree that women are equal to men. They have the right to stand on their own and have the same power as men have. They should establish themselves in the society as one of the people voicing out their opinions. They should be entitled to exercise their freedom socially, economically, and politically. Given these, I can truly say that women should be treated as equally as men.

But why being a girl, degrading? People use femininity as a way to degrade others. For example, when women wore masculine shirts and jeans, it is okay for most people; but on the other way around, men are being insulted because of how they look. I think this issue talks about being conditioned in the society. The social requirement for a man to wear ‘male clothing’ is part of this conditioning. The reason behind this is biological; if he strayed from the path of this conditioning he would be socially ‘ostracized’, thus leaving him with a smaller chance of getting a suitable mate.

On the other hand, women undergo such conditioning too. Depending on the culture, women have kinds of conditioning to find their mate. For example, social stereotypes like burping in public; one could think its degrading to act like a man. The reason women don’t burp in public because such behaviour could loosen their chance of procuring a mate in the society we thrive in. They have been conditioned all their lives to accept this and to adapt to it.

The same thing goes to multiple-gender specific behavioural cues. What determines why certain things are important for men and certain things for women have something to do with our biological development. Because of this, there may evolutionary reasons as to why cultures have their own way of stereotyping, and these are different for each gender due to the biological roles in increasing reproductive fitness.

To elaborate, there are many biological reasons to why males and females are conformed in these kinds of standards. When it comes to mate selection, the prevailing preference for a female is social status of men. Women are really good at gauging the social statues of males. Therefore, social status is the attributed to men used to paramount their mating success. When it comes to male preference for female traits, fertility is the main indicator. That is, men are more turned in to women that have the most potential to bear their child.

In the case of clothing, women who wear men’s clothing will pose no problems to most men as long as they’re attractive and retain their figure. It helps them gauge their fertility better, especially when some men are turned on by women wearing men’s clothing. However, men wearing women’s clothing could turn off a woman since they see a man as not that powerful and masculine for them to have their mate.

It’s not as explicit as it seems to be, and I’m trying to say that no misogyny is happening; but there is a certain amount of misogyny in our culture as to why we’re saying that men’s clothing signifies dominance. Even the powerful women like Hillary Clinton, Gloria Arroyo and the like often wear clothing based on traditional male attire. This is a result of our biological history, as to what I said before.

I believe that these are the reasons why this stereotyping is happening. Our biological disposition is the inherent reason why our decision with who to mate has standards. We should fight sexism and gender stereotyping. Doing that would be to acknowledge that there are gender stereotypes on both sides that are considered degrading for the sex to do in a social context. An example is for a man to wear a skirt today, but it is also degrading in many cultures for a woman to ask a man’s hand in marriage. Neither of these cases is anyone actually reasoning that they are being degrading or stooped down to lower level. All that they are doing is leaving behind culturally- enforced gender roles.

1 blog comments below

I just thought to throw around a couple of ideas/thoughts.

(Hypothetically, as I have a stable partner) If I was to overlook a feminine guy, it would be the thought that he was gay, rather than any kind of social status idea. In fact, the most masculine men are the ones who work as tradies, not fancy pants business men in suits.

But the idea of 'gayness' works in with your theory that it does have an evolutionary basis.

And people do dress according to the partner they are seeking. If I were looking for a male partner, I may wear heels and a skirt... if I were looking for a sex partner, I would wear a short skirt and revealing top and heels, if I were looking for a female partner, I would crop my hair and so on. It is a public indicator of preference.

That doesn't explain why feminine men get teased though, and it is more other men doing the teasing, not women. And furthermore, my actual partner has a definite feminine streak. And I notice he is more than willing to let it come out when there are only women in the room, and they really like him, but as soon as a man walks in he will put on macho airs, he would even go and look at cars and so on.

And also when I look at what gay people wear, they choose clothes that are much more appealing to women. I don't know how many times I've seen women admire the clothes of a gay man, or try to convince their partners to wear something nice that the partner considers 'too gay'.

It isn't about being attractive to women, the macho thing, I don't think. It has something to do with other men.

And then, this goes back to the idea that it is other men that think "being a girl is degrading".

Another reason women don't burp in public is because it reduces the chance of anyone, male or female, of getting a mate...

I agree we need to fight against gender stereotyping - and it does affect both men and women. I would have major trouble if I had to conform to the standards of femininity 50 years ago, and my partner too would have to hide or supress his feminine traits even more than he does now... but fortunately for me women are less gender stereotyped and now it is more a problem for my partner than it is for me.
Hello_World on Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:13 am

© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.