Surprise! Your mother isn't a female robot created for the sole purpose of washing your underwear and feeding you. You would assume that someone's humanity isn't something you would or, indeed, could forget. But we do- all the time. This is especially true within communities that rely a lot on gender stereotyping. A woman is seen first and foremost as a female before she's a person, and because of this, basic human rights are easily lost. This isn't an issue that is restricted to women, men are also dehumanized as a result of over-gendering. An example of this is how boys are told from an early age that it is un-masculine to cry, when crying is a basic human characteristic. Maybe even a basic animal characteristic. I don't know, do other animals cry like us?
Anyway, that's a topic for another day.
Another example of over-gendering is asking boys, who will eventually become fathers by the way, to not play with dolls, as if they have no right to explore their paternal instincts. I mean, what does that even say about our expectations of fathers? Basically, it's sending the message that girls are expected to show affection towards babies but boys should be disinterested. Do we really want society to produce generations of men who become un-affectionate, un-involved fathers? Heaven forbid a boy plays with a doll, he'll become effeminate...This is my response to this stupidity:
Unfortunately, women tend to get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to over-gendering- especially in patriarchal societies. A lot of times, I just wish men would put themselves in the same shoes as women and treat them as humans. But many men, unfortunately, are socially conditioned to see women as different species to them.
Women are domesticated animals who prefer staying at home.
A woman restricted to taking care of kids for weeks, isn't going to go crazy because she's biologically wired to do these things.
Women are natural home-makers who are simply attracted to all things soft and beautiful.
Of course, women who don't fit these stereotypes are considered atypical, strange and unnatural.
If you're a man reading this, these are some ways you may have dehumanised a female you know:
1- Expecting to be served
You just finished dinner and leave your 60 year old mother to clean after you. Honestly, it's ridiculous that I need to point this out but here goes: A vagina doesn't stop you from aging.
Have you no shame? No shame? Why would you think it's okay for a sixty-year-old to serve you? How is is okay for you to drink tea while a sixty-year-old PERSON washes your dishes? Would you let a sixty-year-old man clean after you? Of course not.
2- Complete lack of sympathy
It's 50 degrees outside and you're wearing shorts. Your sister/wife is a hijabi and you think it's a good idea to rant over some clothing choice of hers. So...you're so hot, you need to wear shorts but if her hairline is showing or if she's wearing lighter clothes or whatever...that's completely unacceptable and gives you some divine right to interfere. Do you not realise that we get hot too? Seriously, men would not survive one hour wearing half the clothes Muslim women wear. I know what you're thinking, this is about following religion correctly. All I'm going to say to that is: if many clerics weren't so patriarchal and didn't dehumanise women also, our understanding of hijab, would be very different. In fact, I challenge men to wear a scarf for a day. Maybe I should start a hashtag or something... #manhijabchallenge, emmm... #manjab? #Iwearittoo #malehijabi #inhershoes #inherhijab- oooooo I kind of like that last one.
3- Not being able to speak or behave normally in front of a woman
This can be applied to women too. I admit, I've had issues with behaving normally around men and it's because I've been conditioned to see men as males first, then people. Personally, I feel quite disrespected when men talk to me while staring at their feet. Seriously, if you can't look me in the face like a normal person without getting turned on, I don't want to talk to you at all. I'm all for lowering your gaze, but some men are so aware that the person in front of them is a 'FEMALE', it can be so awkward but also dehumanising on some levels. As a woman, I don't have a heightened awareness of my own womanhood. I'm just me, a regular person. So when men send 'omg this is a female' vibes, I just wanna say, 'no, I'm Alwia- who happens to be a woman.' Talk to me like a person, not as a woman.
4- Not understanding or accepting that we want the same things and hate the same things- well most of the time
We want to work like you. Go out like you. Nap instead of doing the dishes, like you. Have friends, like you. Travel the world, like you. Be independent, like you. Go to the gym, like you. Be taken seriously, like you. Be respected like you.
5- Babying women
I'm an adult human being, not a baby puppy and I'm perfectly capable of surviving the world without your guidance. Seriously, some men will not even allow their wives to use taxis. This is not only patronizing, but also dehumanising. Women are not objects, owned by men, hidden away under clothes and locked inside houses.
Need I point out that we are also NOT objects that exist for your pleasure. We are mothers, sisters, wives, not walking pieces of meat.
I have to admit, women dehumanize themselves too. We like to sacrifice our own needs and reinforce gender stereotypes. We ask our daughters to clean and expect men to wait to be served. If men behave in an unacceptable manner, we say: 'Men will be men.'
men will not be men. Men will be what their mothers bring them up to be. And it's about time women raise their sons to view them as humans and respect them as humans.
Food for thought in this week's post. I'd love to know what you think in the comments section. See you next week!