Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stella Says…What if women acted like jackasses too?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 June 2007)

Popular recording artist Ciara released a song a few weeks back that touches on a subject women have found intriguing for centuries. The name of the song is, “Like a boy,” and the premise is that women should turn the table on men by treating the guys the way some of them treat the ladies.

I saw this happen just yesterday when someone I know turned the table on her guy regarding a situation in which he had forced her to live non-stop for quite some time, but when the table was turned he could not handle the situation for even an hour.

Even though I have used this tactic to make a point before too, I have to admit that such behaviour seems childish. Women are far better than to resort to the irresponsible and insensitive behaviour exhibited by certain types of men.

Please note that I am being very careful to say “some men” or “certain types of men” since Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon pointed out that I tend vilify all men with over generalisations after I chastised him for his own sweeping remarks regarding western journalists.

He was right. My remarks can sweep all men into one pathetic group when, in fact, there are some absolutely fantastic guys out there. I know this to be true because I am married to a fantastic guy.

Here is a verse from Ciara’s song:

Girl, go head and be
Just like him
Go run the streets
Just like him
Come home late say sleep like him
Creep like him
Front with ya friends
Act hard when you're with him - like him
Keep a straight face when ya tell a lie
Always keep an airtight alibi
Keep him in the dark
What he don't know won't break his heart

There are also lines in the song that talk about having a joint account and another one he does not know about. These lyrics point out some of the many relational double standards that exist between the genders. Ciara ends the song by remarking about how she is messing with the guy’s head again and giving him a dose of his own medicine.

The relational facet between the genders is only one aspect where double standards exist. There are double standards that can exist when it comes to caring for the children, cleaning the house, cooking meals and so many other areas when the woman is expected to act more responsibly than the man.

Ciara’s song reminded me of a book I read recently by Donna Woolfolk Cross entitled, “Pope Joan,” which is a fictional account of the legend of a female pope. The novel touches on the double standards women faced in education and religion during the Dark Ages.

The sad reality is that women are still denied an education in certain parts of the world even today. Moreover, there has still not been a female pope because religion continues to force women to act like second-class citizens.

I think if we ever do face a God in the afterlife, she is going to be very upset about the way women were treated on Earth.

In Pope Joan, a bright young baby girl is born to a family with a canon (local priest) as the father. He is quite disappointed that she is a girl even though he already has two boys. When the girl gets a bit older, her thirst for knowledge is so profound that she encourages the eldest of her brothers to teach her to read, which he does knowing that a beating awaits if his father finds out.

Little Joan is a fast learner and through a series of events, finds herself in the position to switch identities with one of her brothers who is killed by invaders. This is how she ends up in a monastery and her intellect is so keen that even the position of Pope is not out of reach.

The sad part of this whole story is that Joan has to pretend to be a boy in order to use her intellect to its fullest potential. It was simply thought that women did not have the intellectual capacity to be educated or that if they had the same knowledge as men, they might use it for evil - because Eve supposedly gave Adam an apple.

The first argument of women not having the intellectual capacity for academic pursuits has been disproved again and again. In fact, I read on Yahoo News India on March 27 that a five-year-old girl who lives in the “Raima village in Madhubani District of Bihar has learnt the entire Bhagwad Gita by heart and also knows many other Sanskrit verses that she recites with full clarity of the language.”

This is an absolutely incredible feat. If there were anyone who deserved the opportunity to serve as a religious leader, it is this young girl. The sad reality is that she will be told that she needs to defer to some man or another and act less intelligent so that she doesn’t intimidate the men. Potential found and lost, such is the story of women.

Double standards are still a way of life far too often - even in more enlightened nations. This is why women feel it necessary to give certain types of men a dose of their own medicine just to make a simple point.

Some women finally have the opportunity to stand up for themselves without fear of death or social/religious ostracism, so they start to treat inconsiderate men the same way they are treated. The notion is logical on some level, but we all know it is also a lesson in futility.

I contend that women should not resort to the same type of heartless behaviour they resent when it is doled out to them. In his column from Monday, Freddie said, “Women and men are equal in everything in life and philosophy except one dimension; women are the more caring and humane of the two genders.”

I agree whole-heartedly with my colleague and would simply hate to see women begin to stoop to the level of treating others the way certain types of men treat their women. Can you imagine what this world would be like if all women started acting like the mean jackasses they have to deal with on a daily basis?

It is not a world in which I would want to live.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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