I was wiling away time, as one does, on a popular social networking site the other day when I realized three things.
1) with anonymity comes power.
2) our concept, as a society of gender roles and feminism needed a major update and,
3) I really needed a hobby.
I was introduced to ask.fm about a year ago, when a friend and I decided to start an account for a laugh. Joining ask, I assure you is no easy feat, it requires courage and reasonably fast internet speed. Regardless of how “popular” or “cool” you may claim to be, there are a few standard thoughts that cross your mind;
what if everyone sends me hate?
or worse still,
what if i get no questions at all?
I struggled with these doubts and insecurities for nearly four months, until one day, armed with my wit and laptop, I decided to dive headfirst into the murky, virtual depths of ask.fm. At first, the only questions I received were from close friends, who I bribed or emotionally blackmailed so as to protect the little shred of self respect I had left, but as the weeks rolled by, I started getting questions from people I didn’t know. these questions ranged from being incredibly flattering to extremely demeaning.
while I got my fair share of- you’re so pretty’s and i like you’s ( i didnt send them to myself, i swear) I also had people calling me a “slut” or asking me for sexual favors. Now the fact that i have the sexual experience of a rock and the only serious relationship I’v ever had has been with my refrigerator, is besides the point. What really bothered me was that these people thought it was okay to slander reputations anonymously. They of course, were safe and protected behind the virtual wall of the internet, while I was left to deal with the trail of destruction they left behind.
I would be lying if I said the questions didnt phase me. they did. But if you know me, you would know i dont take things lying down. I typed my heart out in response to those offensive and ignorant claims. Their choice of words, made me wonder whether feminism was a dead ideal.
The oxford dictionary defines the word slut as a woman “with many casual sexual partners.”
If a woman decides to have consensual sex with more than one man, its her decision, not society’s. Its her body, not society’s. Unless she’s forcing herself on a man, you and I have no right to pass unnecessary judgement.
This also raises the issue of hypocrisy within society, a man who sleeps with multiple women is idolized and glorified, while a woman who engages in intercourse with more than one man is somehow a “whore.” As women, we have been brought up to suppress our sexuality, to hide it beneath a film of poise and composure. We are restrained by a grid of rules, created and patented by society.
Being a woman is hard. Being a teenage girl is even harder. You’re already dealing with feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty, that come with puberty, and then once a month, just to make things a little more interesting, BAM! your hormones surge and you have blood gushing out of your privates. What fun.
All of this coupled with social expectations, and you’re probably wondering how we don’t just spontaneously combust under pressure. We don’t because we can’t. But once in a while, it gets too much;
The fact that I don’t sit with my legs crossed isn’t an invitation for your opinion,
The fact that I’m wearing a short skirt isn’t an invitation for your dirty stares,
The fact that I have a boyfriend isn’t an invitation for rape.
Being a man, comes with its own hardships, its own share of expectations. A man should be strong. A man should be able to support his family. A man can’t cry. These unfair and ridiculous presumptions are smothering a man’s ability to freely express and be himself.
We are all products of the culture we have been brought up in. Our ideas of what is right and wrong, of what we are meant to be or meant to do, are all shaped by our community’s supposed beliefs, when in fact, we should be shaping our culture and the world we live in.
so cry if you want to,
wear that skirt,
become a writer even though you might not be able to “support your wife and kids”
because it’s your life not anyone else’s and the rest of us just have to deal with it.