Monday, 12 November 2007

In a way, I am like Larry Craig

Really, I should be studying for the mid-term exam I have tomorrow: Pre-calculus. I'm pathetic. I've only done one section of the review questions so far, and out of these questions, I've been unable to answer a good three-quarters of them! Factor this, graph that -- I can't. My brain was simply not built that way. But I'm not stupid! I'm good at other things: just now, I've been straying from the immediate math to read up for a sociology essay that's due Tuesday; I'm doing well in my social work and writing classes. No, I'm not stupid -- I'm just an utterly stereotypical girl, and it pisses me off.

(Here comes the rage: Are you saying, Shane, that girls can't be good at math? Or politics or economics or physics? No, of course not! Many are; many excel in these male-dominated fields. I don't.)

Once, our friend Jordan and I were talking about the gender composition of our respective fields of study. He studies interior design, I study social work; they are both heavily female-dominated fields. He was telling me that often, it's possible to see the difference between his designs and those of the girls in his class -- not that his are better, simply that they are different. People will look and be able to say: "A man designed that," or "a woman designed that." (I wonder if you have had that experience Sofie, and how you felt about it.) I said, "You know, it would bother me if someone looked at something I designed and was able to guess correctly my gender because of it." He said, "Really? It doesn't bother me." Hm.

Now, my mother is a staunch feminist. I am too: I use her last name as well as my father's; I know that I am as capable and entitled as any man; once I got in a fight with a guy in Chandigarh because he called me "honey" (remember Else?). I know that our cultural devaluation of the feminine is wrong! I know that traditionally female fields are just as intellectually and practically valuable as traditionally male fields! I've seen the Vagina Monologues three times! So I can't explain why it bothers me so much that in my social work class of twenty, there are no male students, and in my sociology class of about the same number, there are two. Nor can I explain why when choosing courses for next semester, I have purposely and consciously disregarded courses I find interesting that I know will be filled with girls. It's not because I want to meet guys, no! Despite my feminist consciousness, I absolutely hate it that my interests and my strengths are so stereotypically feminine.

Paula England, in an article about gender desegregation in US universities, writes about our "cultural devaluation" of all things feminine. I guess I'm a good example of its effects -- although I know intellectually that women are as smart and as capable of men, I devalue my own self and interests on basis of their femininity. I know that's bad, but I can't help it. I also feel that there are bigger issues in this world for me to think about, but it seemed particularly relevant to me after reading this article. Sofie, you're in a field I associate more with men -- what do you think? Else, what is your philosophical view point?

Back to pre-calculus, time to whip my feminine brain into shape.

1 comment:

Sofie said...

i wrote a long response to this, but the computer said it couldn't publish it, and now i'm a bit sad but i will get back to this issue and write my reply again at some point soon.