Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gender vs Ethnicity

I wish our attitude towards gender started approximating the way we treat ethnicity. This is not to say that racial and ethnic discrimination do not exist. Unfortunately, they do. We have, however, learned to feel bothered by racism in public speech. If only we could feel the same outrage about the kinds of discourse that marginalize women.

Imagine, for example, a study similar to the one I discussed the day before yesterday. Only instead of women imagine the article talking about, let's say, the Jews. Just think about this headline: "A Study Proves That Emotional Intelligence Is Necessary for Jews to Have Good Sex." As a Jew, I can tell you that this would be very disturbing. As a woman, I am just as annoyed by the proliferation of articles, TV shows, or pseudo-scientific studies that go out of their way to create the vision of gender as an immutable, God-given set of characteristics that you cannot escape.

When this is done for the purpose of controlling female sexuality, it is even more disturbing. The saddest part of this, though, is how eager many women are to support this. The reason is obvious. Presenting women's emotions as the dominating force in their lives infantilizes women. And an infantilized, immature image can be very useful. For instance, it helps to shelter you from responsibility.

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