Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Gender’

OK, guys, go easy on this stuff, it’s all in Beta stage! Read the commentary afterwards for this to actually make sense and see what I was on about!

Freedom from Paradise

 

‘I can’t be found writing this, but I feel as though I must. It is important that in years to come, when this oppressive regime has come to an end, when people can love as they please, when people can love who they please, that you can read my struggle. That you can read my pioneering for the quest of equality within sexuality. And if this letter is found and the laws stand as they are, well, I hope that my words might convince some of you. Reach into the hearts of those of you who are curious of what the love of the opposite sex could be like and allow you to see in these words that I write, that it is natural. You are not an abnormality.’

 

Adam got to his feet and crossed the room to check outside of his front door for anyone that could be looking in through his window. The streets of London seemed as they had done since he had checked ten minutes earlier. The sun had set ten minutes lower into the Thames casting its deep viridian glow through the skyline that sat upon the water, making the cobbles along Whitechapel high street appear like individual emeralds littering the lane. Emeralds covered in the excrement of humans and animals. A well dressed man appeared to be vomiting into his hands across the street as his equally intoxicated partner seemed to be kneeling to an appropriate level for an attempt at receiving fellatio, whilst another watched them in shadow from a coach of opulent splendour.

 

As Adam took in the street’s happenings and the stench that flooded his house, he felt his moral superiority soar inside him. It pleased him to see these sights, to reaffirm him of his purpose to enlighten and inspire. He heard a noise a few feet away from that made him start, but realised it was just the couple who lived next door to him; two middle-aged women returning from work, the setting sun’s ray making them appear as two indistinct reptiles.

 

He closed his front door with a snap and walked back to his desk in the corner of his room reaching for the decanter of whiskey he kept in the drawer; it was empty. With a pang of annoyance at himself he remembered he had not picked up any alcohol tokens from the Hall of Benevolence, but quickly rid himself of embarrassment as he displaced it upon the government. This spurred him to sit and continue writing.

 

“This society I live in, the depths of its malevolence cannot be fathomed. Just at this moment I desired a drink whilst I wrote, but alas, we are permitted but a measured amount of alcohol a week. If we are partial to alcohol, tobacco, opium, chocolate or anything similar, we must first collect tokens from the Hall of Benevolence. The society I live in, that what I put into my own body must be mediated and surveyed, and that is not all. Reader, I bury this noble account of one man’s struggle against tyranny to perhaps help hundreds in the future, and will tell you of the society of today.

 

After the War of Unity, heterosexuality came into being. Now not for a minute am I suggesting that it did not exist before, it did, it happened, it just didn’t have a name. It was not particularly widely discussed, but it happened, I know it happened as there were many men and women who made a decent wage selling themselves to its cause. The Greeks were known to do it, the Romans too, and until the outbreak of war that brought all nations together, I did it too. It existed, it just was not placed upon a podium, labelled, dissected, analysed and then forbidden.

 

Before, to love someone of the opposite sex, whether it be emotionally, physically or an amalgamation of the two was certainly not exactly a condoned act. It was always seen as strange, unholy (when there was a church) and for the lower classes (when there was a class system) but not illegal. That was until the war.

 

In 1879, there was the outbreak of what is now called ‘The War of Unity’. It is named as such because after the revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy, they did away with nearly every facet of what was Britain and united all citizens. Religion, Monarchy and a class system were the first things to go; anything that they felt could spark a threat to their rule or could cause innate human emotion to boil over was eradicated. The Negros were liberated and have become our equals as a result of the liquidation of the hierarchy. Substances and sensations previously banned were made accessible and Hedonism was encouraged, as long as, that was, it was in the form of which they approved. Adultery was eradicated due to marriage also being a thing of the past. Individuals were precisely that, and were able to be with how many partners they wished, on the condition of them being ‘normal’. Education too was altered, no longer was academia pursued or appreciated. To be seen reading Shakespeare, Swift or Virgil on the streets of London in 1880 was to be frowned upon. Now, eight years later, it is to be arrested and interrogated. They do not trust the educated, the deep thinkers, the free thinkers; we are the threat.

 

It has been common knowledge since the days of old that the differences between the sexes ran beyond looks, and that unities lead to more anger, jealously and distraught than conventional same sex relationships. People partook in it for procreation, it was merely for those purposes.

 

It was through medicine that they rationalised it. Through investigation and research: the heterosexual was born. After a prominent figure within society, who was far more open with his preferences than the rest of us, caused particular offence to the new regime, they introduced a further paragraph into their ‘Criminal Amendments Act’. From then on, any man or woman caught engaging in ‘gross indecency’ was liable to prosecution and medical attention. After calling it an ‘inversion’ of sexual preferences, the ‘affected’ would be admitted for treatment and, the majority of the time, never seen again.”

 

As Adam finished this sentence there was a knock at his door. He froze, his fountain pen poised between his fingers and thumb as he turned to stare at his door. The heavy rapping sounded again. Fear pumped in waves through Adam, as if it were in his very heart being expelled around his body. Had he forgotten the schedule of the advisors? He couldn’t have, he had been so sure. The rapping did not sound again, and Adam slowly and quietly got to his feet, and crept towards his window. He saw the familiar backs of two men, Charles and Nathaniel, walking down the high street, their hands held. This caused a prickle of jealous anger through Adam. They were acquaintances of his, Nathaniel was perhaps more, and he worked with them at the Halls of Justice, although he had not known that they were now lovers. They disappeared into the now nearing dark of the evening and Adam felt relief surge through him like the antidote to the panic that had so recently swept over him. He knew no one would call for him now, the streets of London were not for citizens at night. Once the sun sets like an apple hiding behind its leaf, the street’s allegiance changes from the people to the animals, and the Ripper, one and the same some would argue.

“Freedom: that was what we have been informed we have been given. Emancipation from the tyranny and oppression of the monarchy and the church. We are now, apparently, free to do as we please and live out our dreams, just as long as we do everything they tell us. This includes weekly inspections of our homes by lifestyle advisors, the heavy handed enforcers of the new regime, who ensure our freedom from any comprising contraband or evidence of conflicting ideals. Weekly visits to the Halls of Gratification are also expected, to pay the percentage of our earnings to the upkeep of our nation. A monthly visit to the Halls of Preservation to donate your sperm into containers if you are male or to chance conception from said containers if you are not. The Halls of Education are also a monthly treat, here you are taught of the goodness of the society, new and innovative ways to achieve happiness, newer and simpler literature (if you could call it such) and the evil and crime against Britain that is the heterosexual. The Halls of Benevolence are a chance to receive your allowance of tokens for your drugs of recreation and your allowance depends on your donation to the Halls of Gratification and Preservation. Finally there are the Halls of Records; here one is expected to visit monthly to sit and record into your file, the activities of your week. This is said to encourage reflection, organisation and productivity. What really is encouraged is to include your sexual exploits and partner’s names, literature read or music listened to, hours worked and suggestions for the regime. I feel this last encouragement to be an aesthetic only.

 

There were some who resisted once, places one could go. Those that did so went to underground clubs, met with those of their choosing, listened to Beethoven, read Shakespeare, and were themselves. But the officers of the regime found them, and suppressed them.

 

This is the society I live in: one of surveillance and mind control, all projected as beneficial and consumed willingly by the masses. But the masses is not a term for the entire population, there are some of us, a brave few, who resist. Because it is not natural what has been force fed to us and, before the new regime, heterosexuals were not uncommon and were so by birthright. I am one these.

 

In 1872, when I was 12 years old, before the hypocrisy and the control, my family and I went on holiday to Brighton. The Bank Holiday Act had been introduced the previous year and I found myself excited to be on a train for the first time to see the beaches, sea and attractions that it was so rapidly taking me to. Whilst staying at the hotel, my fathers happened to meet by coincidence acquaintances of theirs from work, two ladies by the name of Pyne whom also had brought their daughter, Annabel. I remember a tirade of feelings washing over me instantaneously the moment she smiled at me in greeting: confusion, attraction, apprehension, arousal and additional confusion.

 

My parents had told me there were people in the world that were attracted to members of the opposite sex but it had been a mere mention, they had not gone into detail and I had assumed it was something rare and that would never affect me. But I was wrong, not only had I found the first person in my life that I felt both emotionally and physically attracted to, but I found that she reciprocated in this admiration.

 

The week that I spent there was one I will never forget, as it verified to myself who I was. The experimentation of our feelings for each other, and the varying feelings we could impart upon each other, resonates with me to this day, and since then I have been committed to staying true to myself.

 

I suppose,”

Adam paused and looked up from his desk. He wasn’t sure how he could say it without compromising his image. He wanted more than anything for you to believe him and not think him weak willed, confused or indeed that the society he lived in might indeed be the right one after all.

Moments past as Adam thought upon what he could write; he got to his feet and washed the plates that he had used earlier and lit a fire in the stove before returning to his desk and staring blankly at his paper. From the high street, the sound of wolves howling could be heard against the noise of the city. This seemed to rouse Adam from his inactivity and procrastination, and he dipped his fountain pen back into the ink and continued.

 

“I suppose I have had doubts. I have had relationships with men, all of them failed however, and I would like that point stressed. There were boys at school, men at work, most of whom I was approached by and, I suppose, I got confused. It is easy to forget yourself in the constant overload of ideology that is washed over one. Reader, you must believe me, I am true to myself.

 

My only hope is that one day someone may dig this up. My labour, my oppression and my struggle may be read by you; perhaps one day people may use this to know just how severe it was to live in this society. Perhaps one day you’ll know what it was like to be me.”

Read Full Post »

Companion

The writing of my creative piece, ‘Freedom from Paradise’ had certain key intentions behind it. Firstly, I aimed to create a short story that was postmodern in its style, and attempted to include numerous elements commonly associated within postmodern literature. I adopted many of these from Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, the intertextuality of which aided me in the formulating of the postmodern style. Secondly, I wished to explore the theories of essentialism verses social constructivism within gender and sexuality. I focussed principally on the sexuality element of this, and drew influence from the homosexual and lesbian short stories studied on the module such as: ‘Martha’s Lady’ by Sarah Orne Jewett, ‘Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself’ by Radcyffe Hall and ‘Arthur Snatchfold’ by E. M. Forster. Using these texts and much of the theory that surrounds them, I lastly intended to explore the attitudes towards homosexuality within the late Victorian era. In this companion I intend to explore my intentions within regards to the context of the module and my primary texts, whilst drawing on secondary research that had helped shape my understanding of these elements. Due to the restricted length of this companion however, I will only comment briefly upon the ones I feel most integral.

 

Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges I was faced with when writing my piece was to attempt to create a short story that was postmodern in its style. This is largely due to the facets of postmodern literature being ones that are largely debated between critics, unfixed and difficult to distinguish from modernism. It is therefore a highly difficult style to accurately distinguish and imitate. Bennett and Royle state that ‘there is perhaps something maddening the ‘postmodern’. Indeed, the postmodern appears to welcome and embrace a thinking of itself in terms of multiplicity.’ (Bennett & Royle 279) It is chiefly due this that I feel my piece embodies elements of both modernism and postmodernism, for example, the piece is largely melancholic towards the dystopian society it is set in, alike to much modernistic literature, as opposed to the postmodern. However, I learnt from the module and my secondary research that many of modernism’s traits are often found within postmodernism which allowed me more freedom.

 

Bennett and Royle suggest that ‘The word ‘postmodern’ itself seems odd, paradoxically evoking what is after (‘post’) the contemporary (‘modern’).’ (Bennett & Royle 279) which, when applied to considering texts that can conceived as postmodern and set in a dystopian society, Carter’s The Passion of New Eve for example, I presented with the possibility that if I was to combine these two elements, setting my piece in the future would be vital. This presented a problem to me due to so much of my piece wanting to reflect much of the Victorian attitudes towards homosexuality. However, after considering other elements of postmodernism, I realised that its reoccurring alliance with literary devices such as magic realism, left me free to do as I had originally planned. Time is often something that is played with in postmodern literature and, as Bennett and Royle go on to say:

…strictly speaking, the postmodern should not be thought of as a term of periodization: the postmodern challenges our thinking about time, challenges us to see the present in the past, the future in the present, the present in a kind of no-time. (Bennett & Royle 279)

 

Postmodernist literature, some critics have agreed upon, share some reoccurring traits which I have attempted to introduce into my creative piece. One that I have previously mentioned is magic realism. Wechsler suggests that ‘Magic realism does not invent a new order of things; it simply reorders reality to make it seem alien.’ (Wechsler 293)  The plot itself to a certain degree is an application of this technique, and additionally, the application of the sun’s colour and the indication of animals that roam the streets at night all combine to create this effect. I found this difficult to introduce without it becoming more alike to surrealism, however, they are all described in a very matter of fact manner, with anchoring to realistic elements. For example:

 

…the sun had set ten minutes lower into the Thames casting its deep viridian glow through the skyline that sat upon the water, making the cobbles along Whitechapel high street appear like individual emeralds littering the lane. (Beatson 1)

 

Carter’s text influenced me greatly in the writing of the city due to her description of the New York in The Passion of New Eve. ‘The skies were of strange, bright, artificial colours . . . from those unnatural skies fell rains of gelatinous matter, reeking of decay’ (Carter 12) The indication of the colour of the sun fits perfectly in with a surrealistic style but by having no further exploration into it and positioning alongside real life places and scenarios kept it within the boundaries of magical realism. By including these elements of magical realism, I was able to create ‘the loss of the real’ (Barry 86) that postmodernism creates.

 

Further techniques that I have attempted to adopt that are archetypal to the postmodern style are those of pastiche and the challenging of high and low culture, the breaking down of boundaries such as the ethnocentric, metafiction and intertextuality. Examples of these are the names that I have chosen, such as Annabel Pyne, the first name being synonymous with Humbert’s sweetheart in Lolita and the surname being a reference to Harriet Pyne, the lady that evokes Martha’s essentialist love in ‘Martha’s Lady’.

 

‘Approaches to metafiction have appeared whenever storytellers within a fiction result in an inner frame,’ (Wood 1) Within my creative piece is my attempt to consistently draw the reader’s attention to the fact that it is a piece of fiction, similarly to Lolita. I have also imitated, to a certain extent, Nabokov’s application of the unstable narrator. Despite Adam’s self-proclaimed superiority and noble intentions to his diary and claims of his innate sexuality, he still becomes doubtful and unsure of himself, and the use of the intrusive third person narrator shows his hidden feelings to the reader.

 

 

I attempted to place my story within the time period of my choosing effectively, therefore researching the historical context around my piece was essential. I attempted to recreate the homophobic society of Victorian England and therefore I used certain details collected from my study on the module and from secondary research.

 

‘After the War of Unity, heterosexuality came into being. Now not for a minute am I suggesting that it did not exist before, it did, it happened, it just didn’t have a name.’ (Beatson 1) I have attempted add liberal amounts of references such as this one to Foucault’s theory that homosexuality was created through discourse. McNay states in his critical introduction on Foucault that:

 

far from a discursive paucity and even silence on that topic, a ‘veritable discursive explosion’ is in fact revealed.  The Victorian era represents the culminating moment of an obsessive interest, first emerging in the early eighteenth century, with sex as a political and social problem. (McNay 75)

 

I attempt to demonstrate this within my short story combined with Foucault’s theory of taking power through social control, which is precisely the way the government works within my piece. Furthermore, by mentioning that heterosexuality became a medical issue and an ‘‘inversion’ of sexual preferences,’ (Beatson 2) I include reference to the works of Kraft-Ebbing and Havelock Ellis.

 

The Criminal Amendments Act of 1885, a short time period before my story’s setting, made any acts of homosexuality, privately or publically punishable by law. Women were not included in this clause due to them being far more non-sexualised. In the society within my story all sexes are the same, therefore all sexes are punishable. Additionally, this is another element of postmodernism; the breaking down of the phallocentric patriarchy.

 

I decided to introduce the story to be set against the killings in Whitechapel in 1888 by the serial killer Jack the Ripper, this was mainly to anchor the story more firmly to historical events, whilst displaying that despite the regime attempts to regulate citizen’s emotions and behaviour, some inhibitions cannot be controlled, strengthening the argument for essentialism.

 

The aim of the new regime and governing body within my short story is to control people’s emotions by completely prohibiting heterosexuality, claiming that it is an illness and that due to conflicting hormones, less strife will be found within the country. The protagonist is arguing that he is born heterosexual, and cannot help the way he feels, whilst at times, he is witnessed to have had or still become confused with his feelings for other men. The story is an exploration into the argument between essentialism and social constructivism. There is evidence to support both within my creative piece deliberately challenging and blurring the two and, therefore making the piece slightly more obscure and chaotic. The evidence that there are others similar to Adam, and those that resist the social constraints are evidence of essentialism, yet Adam’s occasionally drift towards homosexual desire and those around him present the argument that it is your surroundings that can shape your sexuality. I had strong influences from near to all of my primary texts in this stage of my creative piece. In particular, The Passion of New Eve, which demonstrates more of an argument for social constructivism and the short stories of Jewett and Hall, which supports an essentialist point of view. The method of Adam’s continual and uncertain switch between sexualities is an attempt to highlight both sides of the argument, as well as providing a further style of postmodernist literature. As Barry states:

 

we show that elemental categories as heterosexual and homosexual do not designate fixed essences at all…we construct instead an anti-essentialist, postmodernist concept of identity…a kind of amalgam of everything which is provisional, contingent and improvisatory. (Barry 14)

 

 

 

Bibliography

  • Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literature and Cultural Theory. Manchester: Manchester University Press (2009) 132-149
  • Bennett, Andrew & Nicholas Royle. An Introduction to Literature and Criticism and Theory. Harlow: Pearson Education (2009) 279-288
  • Carter, Angela. The Passion of New Eve. London: Virago Press (1982)
  • Forster, E. M. ‘Arthur Snatchfold’ Gender, Sexuality and Writing Module Reader. (Bristol: Department of English, Writing and Drama, UWE, 2011) 22-37
  • Foucault, Michael. The Will To Knowledge. The History of Sexuality: Volume One. London: Penguin (1998)
  • Hall, Radcliffe. ‘Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself’. Gender, Sexuality and Writing Module Reader. (Bristol: Department of English, Writing and Drama, UWE, 2011) 11-20
  • Jewett, Sarah Orne. ‘Martha’s Lady’. Gender, Sexuality and Writing Module Reader. (Bristol: Department of English, Writing and Drama, UWE, 2011) 1-8.
  • Koertge, Noretta. ‘’New Age’ Philosophies of Science: Constructivism, Feminism and Postmodernism.’ The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 Oxford: Oxford University Press (2000) 667-683. Web. 30th April 2012
  • McNay, Lois. ‘Power and Repression.’ Gender, Sexuality and Writing Module Reader. (Bristol: Department of English, Writing and Drama, UWE, 2011) 75-78.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. London: Penguin (2000)
  • Orwell, George. Nighteen-Eighty Four. London: Penguin (2004)
  • Wechsler, Jeffrey. “Magic Realism: Defining the Indefinite.” Art Journal 45.4, The Visionary Impulse: An American Tendency. College Art Association (1985) 293-298. Web. 6th May 2012.
  • Wood, Barry. “Malcolm Lowry’s Metafiction: The Biography of a Genre.” Contemporary Literature. University of Wisconsin Press. 19.1 (1978) 1-25. Web. 6th May 2012

Read Full Post »

This is they way of things now, Wolf.” Said Red.

As he tried to clamber to his paws, the wolf glanced up in terror at the two women standing over him. He couldn’t understand.

One was an elderly woman, she was haggard in her face, a hunch in her back, but that did not cause him sympathy. Now this could have been for a few reasons. It could have been due to him being a cruel and heartless wolf, it could be that a wolf’s sympathy is not seduced by such things, perhaps. Or perhaps it could have been due to the heavy spade that the frail old dear was raising, to hit him again across the snout.

One was a girl of the age wherein childhood is but a repressed memory and womanhood a tentative cycle journey away. He felt nothing but pure dread when regarding the girl and her rosy hood. Now this might have been for a few reasons. It might have been due to the fact that despite being where he was, he felt such an affinity for her, it might have been from her long dark hair to that repulsively rapacious rouge robe that seemed to pursue him through the very wood in which he dwelled and through his very soul. It might have been this rebuked compulsion, perhaps. Or perhaps it might have been due to the eight-inch knife that he assumed the girl intended to use to remove his other ear.

This had been waiting to happen he thought. Fate had been hinting a change of play, in the way that it did, the unrelenting, unfeeling director that it was. Girls just weren’t what they used to be. No longer did they marvel at his propensities and their utilities or even fear from straying from the path. Perhaps he was no longer something to fear but a rite to simply conquer before continuing down along the passage.

He wondered why this was happening. It was in his nature to pursue and dominate (the wolf: a strong essentialist) but that didn’t seem possible these days. He even missed the huntsman. As he noted the absence of the third killing entity he noted its presence now obsolete.

As he got to his paws, the wolf looked up in terror at the two women standing over him.

“This is the way of things now, Wolf.” Red said.

He understood.

The End.

I just knocked this together in a few minutes. I’m writing a re-imagining of Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland for my dissertation at the moment, investigating the gothic stereotype and female sexuality within the traditional fairytale. Yes, before you ask that is precisely what I ought to be doing right now.

This takes a slightly different route (obviously) in looking at the rise of feminism and the wolf as a symbol of male lust (as is pretty standard within the interpretations of LRRH), the male gaze and, perhaps, misogyny and patriarchy.

From Charles Perrault’s LRRH with its message at the end to girls to keep on the path and beware of wolves of all types makes it quite clear that to stray off the path is to lose your virginity and to keep clear of men who will try to charm you into bed. The story is a rite of passage within many different versions. Other versions take different stands, Angela Carter takes a feminist approach for example, The Brother Grimm another; the wolf usually embodies male lust and killing the wolf either symbolises repressing female lust and sexuality for safety, or setting it free to celebrate it. Nothing new here.

I suppose this represents that times have changed. The wolf speaks the voice of masculinity, intimidated by stronger women, being over-ridden and destroyed and highlights the crisis of masculinity found today. The wolf used to be the one that preyed on Red, she was the damsel in distress and fell prey to his dominance unless she behaved in a very puritan fashion. But now, despite the fact that her entrancing and arousing nature over the wolf has not changed, she is in control and exerting her femininity and sexuality over the wolf that causes him to fear her. He wants what will destroy him. The grandmother takes revenge on the wolf from her days of suffrage and it acts a form of ritual between generations as a rite of passage.

Red doesn’t require the huntsman (or any man) to save her or awaken her sexuality. Homo-social worlds are a thing of the past in this story.

The wolf presents an essentialist view upon gender and sexuality. He is confused as the lust and drive to hunt is something he was born with and therefore he is confused (to begin with) as to why he is being punished for it. Red presents a more social constructionist view upon gender and sexuality, and is performing the role she performs in every pro feminist reading of the original text(s).

Please leave comments on any other interpretations you took from it, it’s packed full of imagery and metaphors so that one and all can have (hopefully) an individual view of it!

Post Script: Sorry for any spelling/grammatical errors and stuff that doesn’t make sense, I’m in a rush and need food.

P.P.S: Thanks to this site for the image: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2010/12/the_10_sexiest_mcfarlane_toys_action_figures.php

Read Full Post »

So I sit a module in University (when I attend) called Gender, Sexuality and Writing. Sounds like fun right? Half right I suppose. It is indeed filled with interest and probing, (no pun intended) questions and ideas.

As one may envisage, much of the discussion is generated from the oppression of women over the centuries, feminist criticism and general damning of those with Y in their chromosome’s construction. Still sounding like fun? Well, I thought there must be other chaps out there besides myself that would also be on this course and I was correct. Gazing around the lecture hall I can in fact pick out three other guys, out of around seventy odd. And, surprise surprise, none of those chaps happen to inhabit my seminars. So these happy one hour sessions include fifteen people; fourteen of the female persuasion, and me. Definitely still sounding like fun isn’t it?

At the beginning of academic year I found myself to be worrying about the end state of self-esteem and my genitals after enough of these sessions. I mean surely, me sitting there, discussing the damnation of the male race would make most men want to chop their general and two colonels? Either that or I had strongly anticipated some sort of sacrificial castration eventuating at one stage or another. However, I have found it to be one the highlights of my week.

One or two here may know me in ‘real’ life. I am an antagonizing and irritating (though of course simultaneously witty, charming and modest) degenerate. But a degenerate blessed with the skill of being able to argue extremely proficiently about any given topic and generally tie people in knots. This aids me in great lengths within these heavenly hours, as I am forced to defend the male race alone (the tutor is also a fervently furious feminist) as feel I ought to.

Now before I continue further, I would like it to be made known that when it comes to my own personal opinion on feminism and all of that, I am rather asexual. I argue for both sides of the equation and want nothing short of equality, equally. However, there are just certain things that have been thrusted to my attention that I wanted to explore. I’d also like to make it crystal clear that when it comes to my historical and theoretical knowledge on these things I am, in the grand scheme, a perfect novice, so do not destroy me too thoroughly.

The module is named Gender, Sexuality and Writing, but as far as I’m concerned Gender and Sexuality means that we ought to discuss all genders and sexual orientations. This is sadly not the case for we touch briefly on male literature and homosexual writings but it seems to be there for formalities sake, to make room for the overwhelming feminist literature, lesbian writings etc. We studied for instance, H. Rider Haggard’s imperial romance She, a superb novel directed at men, discussing homosocial worlds and drawing on societies fears of and reacting to the emerging New Woman. This was the inclusion of looking at feminism from a male perspective, however, we were ushered to criticize it in an attack against this way of thinking. It seems that feminist writers are allowed to attack men and the patriarchal society but when a male writer wishes to write anything that could be construed to isolate women, or have women as femme fatales or negative roles of any kind, this is unacceptable and sexist.

It is one hundred percent clear and understandable to me why there is feminism, and frankly, I’m glad there is. I dread to think of life if we lived in the type of society we do today but with 19th century views towards the treatment of women and their rights. Emmeline Pankhurst was a heroine in my opinion and I could name you hundreds of female authors that depicted women struggling for equality whilst they too struggled with the same hypocrisy and torment, and I stand behind them well and truly. However, although women still do not have perhaps equal opportunities today, neither do men.

I’m aware of a few employers that are forced to hire women over men who are in fact are more qualified due to the lack of diversity and fear of law suits. Employers who are continuously taken for ride from female employees that exploit maternity leave. There are countless stories of women complaining about sexism and the lack of equality that are all taken extremely seriously (and so they should be) but you rarely hear the same complaints from men. Despite there being a good amount occurring in society.

Girls are now allowed to join Beavers, Cubs and Scouts but boys are not allowed to join Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. There even complaints emerging about men’s organisations grouping together to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer with events such as the ‘Movember’ scheme. The complaints stem from women stating that they too have lost close ones to prostate cancer. Well this is very true, but men are not allowed to contribute to breast cancer organisations and race for life events despite that they too have lost loved ones and that men can in fact also contract breast cancer.

I do not believe in set gender roles and all that rubbish and sexist views that women have had to confront since the beginning of time. I do however, believe that some feminists, need to take a break from attacking men and attempting to have everything that men have and allow women to have it too (whilst not allowing the process to be reversed) and come to realise that men and women are, in fact, different. On the majority, women are often more intelligent than men, so that should be reflected in them securing jobs over those that do not qualify as well. They are also often more apt at teaching younger years, and therefore it should be no big deal that more jobs are given to women to become primary school teachers. It also shouldn’t be a big deal that, on the majority, men tend to be larger and physically stronger than women. It is not always the case, but often this is the way. Therefore there should not be these day to day arguments over women feeling they are being oppressed because men are being allocated higher ranking roles in areas that require a higher physical demand. I decided to poke fun at this exact point within one of my seminars. The tutor had been doing her routinely damning of men and how women can do everything the same if not better which of course was a lovely hour to sit through. As we were leaving however, she was struggling to pick up the entirety of her files and papers. I strolled past and commented that I would of course offer to assist her, but that I wouldn’t want to undermine her femininity and oppress her in any way. I’m sure this comment contributed in my low marks of the next assignment.

I’m also not saying for a minute, that women now have equality and that the examples listed above are the indication of that now we men are oppressed. That would be silly. Women still struggle daily, but the point I’m making is that now, so do men. It’s very hard to conform to societies wishes. Heterosexual men are now required to be sensitive to women’s needs and allow them to be their own person and pursue their own lives. But, we are also still needed to be protective, decisive, confident and often things that completely contradict the first set of requirements. Many of us are plodding through life, with our heads continuously looking over our shoulders, terrified of our own shadows and attempting not to be sexist.

To be honest this post probably doesn’t make much sense, and I’ve most likely managed to offend some people. For this, I apologise. Alike to all of my posts, this one was not planned or thought out, I simply write as if I were speaking. I’m sure if I had thought more or taken more time over it I may have been able to come up with a more fluid and well balanced argument. I have not though.

Therefore, I’m sure that it is accurate to assume, that due to men having it rather easy over the centuries, and women being horrendously oppressed over the centuries, that it is man’s time to suffer. But if that is true, then think about all we’ve done to earth and the animal kingdom. Trust me, it won’t matter what gender you are; when that day comes, we’re all screwed. There’s nothing I want more than for things to be equal between men and women, but unfortunately, I just don’t think it’ll ever happen. That’s because we are in fact different. And these differences aren’t always a bad thing. Who says it’s a bad thing for a man to be the one to drop down on one knee and propose? Or a woman to be the one who is proposed to? After all, the differences we have, often complement each other extremely well and result in grand things. In the words of Rodney King and Mars Attacks: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Read Full Post »