Archive for the 'society’s expectations' Category

28
Jan
15

Get out of your way!

Get out of your wayDo you find that most of the time the thing that stops you from pursuing your dreams or reaching your fullest potential is yourself?

It’s that one voice inside that tends to drown out all the others with words like can’t, don’t , shouldn’t, wouldn’t.  It tells us not to do it.  What is “it”?  Well, think back…when was the last time you wanted to do something that would help you grow or take risk (that wasn’t about being practical and responsible) and you didn’t do it?  Whatever it was, that was the “it.”  It could have been signing up for a class, starting a business or simply choosing to spend time or money investing in your own personal growth.

There are so many things that I want to do and experience in my life that I fear I won’t have the time to do them all.  I certainly don’t need to put another obstacle in my way, but it continues to be a battle to drown out that inner voice of doubt and judgment.  However, I recognize that I am not alone.  The universal power of this conflict was once again brought to my attention while reading a book about women in the mid 1960’s.  The overriding struggle of the women in the book was with that voice, but for them the voice was also more externally pronounced.  In the time during and after the Cold War, many women felt trapped by prescribed social roles and didn’t pursue their dreams for fear of looking like a bad mother, doing something at the expense of their family’s well-being or seeming unfeminine.  Does this still sound familiar?

Despite the fact that that way of thinking was over fifty years ago, it was still only fifty years ago.  In other words, it takes time to change the thinking and/or perception of a society’s gender norms.  And that change begins and ends with us.  We must be the first to believe and say “no” to that voice from the past which tells us no!  It’s a constant battle to retrain the brain.  Why does it seem easier to tell others what they should think or do?  Most times we can see things more clearly from the outside of a situation which is why it is vital to have trusted friends who can encourage us to combat old patterns of thinking.

We can’t erase the past, but we can recognize and identify our mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes it can be easier and safer to listen to that inner voice.  However, if we do, we not only deny  our true selves, but we perpetuate a false social philosophy which prevents us from obtaining the freedom which we all deserve.  If we are torn within ourselves, we will not be unified outwardly with others.

So let’s get out of our own way!

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08
Jan
15

Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon

 

Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

03
Aug
14

I’ve got you in my pocket!

i've got you in my pocketCan the pockets of our clothes reveal our self-perception and society?

Sitting in a movie theater watching the pre-show reel, my husband voiced his concerns for my cell phone.  All possible pockets on my person were bulging because I did not want to bring a purse for this event.  As a result, the only optional home for my cell phone was my back pocket.  This was quite worrisome for my husband who keeps his phone in his front pocket.  When he suggested that as an alternative in order to avoid crushing or breaking the phone (of course he assured me that this was in no way a reflection on the weight or size of my buttocks), I told him that it was impossible.

How is it possible that it should be impossible?  After all, he was able to put his phone in his front pocket.  When I revealed that the front pockets of my jeans were not equipped with large pockets like those on the back, he appeared shocked and confused.   In fact, he stuck his hand in my front pocket to see/feel for himself.  Scandalous, I know.  However, we were not thrown out of the movie theater and continued our discussion.

“Sexist pockets,” I said jokingly.  Can such a ridiculous thing exist?  But it got us thinking about why clothing is made the way it is made.  Everyone’s body is different; shape, size, age, function, etc.  However, designers have discovered a way to classify and label clothing according to a specific standard. The questions that follow are:  who chose the standard, how was it determined and why?  Throughout time the ideal form for the human body has changed.  Has the human body changed drastically over time?  If so, have bodies changed due to some form of adaptation to the environment or in order to accommodate or mimic the trends imposed by society?

Whatever the answers may be, the clothing of our present society reflects certain expectations of different kinds of bodies.  Why do some bodies need or deserve large front pockets and others do not?  Or one can take the opposing perspective and ask why are some bodies are burdened with large front pockets and others are not?  Why are some fabrics used for one body and not another?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this:  are we allowing society to fit us into their predetermined pockets or are we choosing to fill whatever size pocket we want with who we are?

16
Apr
14

looking past the difference

looking past the differenceAre we really all that different?

It’s amazing how similar circumstances and experiences can bring people together.  On this trip I have a roommate who I’ve never met.  She’s from a state on the east and I’m from the west.  There’s an age difference and we’ve been brought up in different households with varying dynamics.  And yet…

We are here for the same reason; we share the same passion-theatre art.  Through that we’ve discovered how much alike we are; in our personalities, interests and even behavior.  Had we not had this opportunity under these circumstances we would never had met.  And even if our paths would have crossed at some other time, who knows if we would have hit it off the way we have now.

That’s the thing about people.  We think that we are unable to relate to each other when the truth is that we have much more in common than we think; not even on a deep down level.  Everyone has a story that follows a basic foundational resemblance; we were all born, had some kind of initial upbringing by someone, struggle to find identity and a place where we belong and need friendship.  So why does it seem so easy to see all the differences?

Perhaps it’s because we tend to put up walls to protect ourselves from being judged by one another.  When in reality, if we would just drop our guard, I think we’d find that we can all get along in mutual respect.  Something that does hinder relationship is the power struggle; the capitalist, classist society which strives to categorize and departmentalize people. But we’re not a product and if we don’t stop labeling ourselves as such, we’re going to miss out on all the wonderful people and possibilities that are out there just waiting for us.

Like the one I’m having now with my roommate!  It’s a smaller world than we imagine if we see all that we share…

08
Apr
14

independent together

independent togetherWhy does society view independence differently for men and women?

When my husband decided to go back to college later in life I was 100% on board.  However, the only way to logically do it so that it wouldn’t take ten years, was for him to quit his job which demand all of his daytime hours.  Thankfully, I had a job and we were in a financial position which allowed me to support us during that time.  I had no problem with it because after two years into it I decided I wanted to go back to school as well and was eager for him to finish.

Unfortunately, others weren’t as accepting of this arrangement, however egalitarian as it appeared to us.  Many were surprised and seemingly disappointed that he did not work at all, even part time.  After all, it was his “role” to be the provider; to contribute something financially.  We were the ones who were disappointed because we felt betrayed by those who would condemn us for investing in ourselves and our future.

Now that the tables are turned, no one seems to have a problem with it.  Yes, there have been two men who have accused me of being a trophy wife and mooch to my face, but after hearing my story they shamefully retract their statements.  No one even really asks me if I work.  Once I say I am a student, that seems to be sufficient to fulfill my “role,” whatever that is to them.  Things are back to “normal” and our relationship makes sense to them once again.

These kinds of attitudes blow my mind.  One is aggressive and one is passive but they both have the same effect; sexism.  Why do we as supposedly advanced human beings box ourselves into these little and truly patronizing roles?  Why can’t we all understand, male or female, that having a loss of independence is difficult for both sexes and not acceptable for one more than another?

Why can’t we celebrate and fight for our independence together?

05
Mar
14

the cost of time

the cost of timeWhere does the time go?

I had all these things planned today that I didn’t even get close to doing.  Good intentions like planning some future meals, making dinner, putting away laundry, and studying for an exam next week.   All down the drain!  “What did you do all day?” asked my husband.  School work which I thought would only take me the morning to accomplish.

So what makes it so difficult to budget time?  Has my generation just been taught to do the job and get it done whatever time it takes?  Is it the perfectionist in me that refuses to settle for anything less resulting in an in ordinate amount of time dedicated to everything I do?  Perhaps it’s my obsession with detail and paranoia which make me check things a hundred times?

Many people would say these are good qualities.  It results in good work.  But at what cost?  Tonight it wasn’t that big of a deal; the meal planning will be there tomorrow, we picked up some dinner while we were out, the clothes are clean which is what is most important and I still have time to study later.  In the future however, as I look back on my life, will I regret investing so much time into doing things well?  Will I realize then that I much rather had spent my time watching the sunset, calling a friend or simply appreciating being alive?

How do we pursue our dreams without letting them take over our whole lives?  How do we find the balance and enjoy all that life has to offer?  Or are we as humans destined to focus on only a few things all of our lives until we “retire” and then truly begin to live the life we always wanted?  How can I live that now?  The time goes by ever so quickly, I don’t want to waste another second!