Search this blog

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Society's Double Standard


When we’re in school we’re told not to waste time focusing on boys because we need to be thinking about our education.
When we’re at uni we’re told not to waste time thinking about boys because we need to be focusing on our education.
When we start work men are too busy to have a relationship and women need to be thinking about our careers.
When we’re thirty society asks us why we’re not married with children and it’s because we saw no time for relationships because we were focusing on our careers.


I’m twenty years old and I’ve grown up seeing this mentality everywhere. It’s not stopped me from having boyfriends. It’s made me think I don’t know if I ever will get married if I’m just busy with my career and men are busy with theirs. I don’t want to have the kind of relationship where the husband is away working all the time and I’m by myself in the house not getting laid.

At fifteen my dad seemed repulsed when I had boyfriends. At eighteen he said maybe having a boyfriend would make me feel happier. At twenty he barely blinked when I said I had a boyfriend. At twenty-five if I’m single he and my mum will probably worry for me. At thirty if I’m single they’ll really freak out.

I don’t get it. I don’t feel that different to when I was thirteen. Slightly more mature and worldy-experienced, but personality wise I’m exactly the same. Up until recent years I looked very young for my age and still have hang-ups about it. Most people say I look my age but I still worry people are going to look at me and think ‘who is this little girl wearing lipstick trying to look like an adult?’ 

My experience has been that girls are taught from a young age that having a boyfriend should not be the most important thing in life. I agree to an extent; you should focus on being happy within yourself and boyfriends/girlfriends will come in their own time. But why are young people told to place less value on relationships with others and more value on ‘achievements’? It’s not human to ignore social relationships with others. ‘Spend less time with your friends, more time on your GCSEs. It’ll pay off later.’ Maybe it will when you’re a high-flying lawyer earning 80K a year, but it also won’t when your only ‘friends’ are your work colleagues. 'Focus on careers, they'll be so much time later for boys.' Would you say that later they'll be 'so much time for friends'? Friendships in school are about as fickle as relationships; few people stay friends forever after school because of emotional maturity.

There is this quote from Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie:
'We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much, otherwise you will threaten the man....we teach girls to aspire to marriage, always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important thing.'

Erm, no? If anything's it's the opposite. From my experiences, growing up in school girls were taught to aim high in terms of ambition and not focus on having a boyfriend. Why are girls taught this? Why are girls taught that having a boyfriend or wanting a boyfriend is so wrong? Is it because of sex? Will sex corrupt girls in some way? Or is it because otherwise you'll become a stupid stay-at-home mum with no career who has to depend on a man for everything?

Most young people aged under 16 are unlikely to have sex with their partners. Most relationships prior to the age of 18 are not serious or significant anyway. (You do get those cases of people staying together since the age of 13 but that's extremely rare). But so what if young teenagers are having relationships and/or sex? Why does that disturb people so much? There are far worse things teenagers could be doing; drugs, stabbing people, graffitying racist messages on walls, joining a gang, self-harming, attempting suicide, bullying others, shooting people in their school and then killing themselves...

Child sexuality is something that disturbs people. In Psychology when we learned about Freud, the person to bring up the notion of child sexuality, like everyone else I was disturbed. But actually he was right. Sex is one of the most natural things about humans and of course a young child is going to explore their sexuality. (Prior to Freud's work children were assumed to be asexual). They may not understand what they're doing from an emotional or intellectual level, but they'll feel something physically. I had a friend who engaged in sexual activity with another boy when he was only eight. Perhaps this is more common for homosexuals, but even so why is that so shocking? As long as no one is getting raped or abused or engaging in something that makes them feel uncomfortable, why is something like this seen as 'bad' to many? This is one of the reasons the famous underage sex scene from Stephen King's 'It' was horrifying to many. 

Capitalism is all about striving for achievement. One of its biggest cons is that it places more value on money and success than it does on people. As a result of this people end up having less time for friends and family and partners. In our British capitalist society, money and careers are valued higher than relationships.Yes, it’s good to aim to be successful. But it’s also important to remember to spend time with those who love and care for you.

I wouldn’t tell young girls not to think about having boyfriends. It’s normal and part of hormones and growing up. All I would ever say is have a balance. Balance time between friends/boyfriends and work. Don’t make one thing more important than the other. 

5 comments:

  1. It's interesting about what you said about the husband working all of the time and you as the wife not getting laid as a result, as it is usually the opposite. When both people in a marriage work they are less likely to have sex than if only 1 works - especially if it's just the male. This is especially because women's sexuality is so emotionally-affected so stressful days at work often lead them to not wanting to have sex whereas staying at home mostly relaxed all day leads them to be more open to sex when their husband comes home and needs/wants it. (And when both partners work, the chances of one of them cheating are higher as well than when only 1 works as well as their chances of divorce go up when both work. Obviously I'm not saying it always leads to that; Just that it does make it more likely, mathematically.)

    "But why are young people told to place less value on relationships with others and more value on ‘achievements’?"

    Simply put, because when they are younger, the VAST majority of people are not ready for such intimate relationships yet. Achievements help keep food on the table and a roof over our heads though.

    'Focus on careers, they'll be so much time later for boys.' is mainly sourced from Feminism rhetoric as they do place career over family at any age. Before Feminism, girls of school-age were already taught how to get a man's attention, how to make a man happy and how to keep a man etc. the respectful (madonna) way. Today, women tend to only know how to do those things the non-respectful (non-madonna) way. Men, on the other hand, never stopped being told these things about how to please and attract women.

    Simone De Beauvoir, a French Feminist icon, said, "No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction." I believe that answers your question on why women are so discouraged from relationships/family over career.

    About children being sexual:
    (1) Most children under 12 aren't that curious about sexuality unless they have been exposed to sex at a young age and/or were molested and/or raped. This is part of why people get horrified at children being sexual because it usually means something really bad happened to them as a child.
    (2) It's politically incorrect so it's never really brought up but some races do have tendencies to engage in sexual activity younger. For example, Black people are far more likely to engage in sex under years old than any other race; Native American people are more likely to start engaging in sex shortly after becoming a teenager; White people tend to start engaging in sex more in their mid-older teen years; Asian people tend to wait the longest - especially the women, as they do tend to capitalize more on the whole virginity thing (using it to get the highest quality man they can get).

    Overall, I agree with your message of balance, of course. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I mentioned 'the husband working all the time and me not getting laid' I was saying it in a more jokey way, like referring to the stereotype of 50s married couples where the husband is always working and the housewife is by herself bored at home. (I meant it as a joke, of course not all housewives are 'bored at home').

      I don't mean just romantic relationships, I also mean friendships too, like in school teachers emphasise studying as opposed to spending time with friends. Sure, it's true that people mature as they get older and friendships become more meaningful and less 'situational dependent.' Are you familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? He states we have 5 core needs: physiological (oxygen, food, water), stability (house), belonging (friends, family, lovers), success (achievements, careers) and that all of these things lead to self-actualisation. I think in my case I've often placed too much emphasis on number 4 and missed out on number 3, like in sixth form we were all encouraged to study really hard for our A levels and I noticed a lot of my peers (and myself) feeling lonely and stressed out due to being in the library all the time and not socialising enough. Partly that was my choice, but just pointing it out.

      I don't know much about De Beauvoir, although I've always been curious to read The Second Sex and I know she was married to Sartre? That's a really ridiculous thing to say, of course women should always have a choice.

      Delete
    2. Just letting you know. :) Sometimes the stats back the stereotypes and sometimes they don't; this one doesn't.

      No, I'm not familiar but you only named 4 Needs (not 5). Sounds really interesting though.

      What she said was really ridiculous to most people but pretty standard for Feminists - especially in her time.

      Delete
    3. Self actualisation is the fifth 'need' and it's basically all the others combined.
      https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

      Delete
    4. Thanks for attaching the link! :D Now that I see that triangle, that picture does look familiar but it's not anything I've ever studied or read about in detail.

      Delete

If you enjoy my posts and want to support this blog, consider becoming a patreon by clicking on the tab at the top of my page.