Gender politics can complicate relationships

Gender politics can complicate relationships

I got into a somewhat heated debate with one of my best friends, who felt that I alway take “the guy’s side” and think from his perspective whenever she complains about a “boy” problem. I like to think that I try to be as impartial as possible most of the time, however I realized that I do tend to do that, regardless of whether it is the right thing to do in the that situation. She said that I tend to try to “understand” and “find excuses” for the boy by saying “I might do the same if I were him” or “think about if you were him.” She said that I always try to paint a picture of the girl and the boy being the same, existing on an equal playing field — but that is just not the case. She said that guys ought to do more in relationships, such as paying more, avoiding selfishness and apologizing first (to a reasonable extent) because society already favors men just for being men. This is an interesting point that I’d not considered before. Our society, despite recent progress towards gender equality, is still a patriarchal one. We shouldn’t live as if these differences and privileges do not exist, because they do. Maybe a more realistic way of being independent, or rather, being “woke,” is to not be a “strong, independent woman” but rather to acknowledge that men and women are not viewed equally and to fight for our rights by letting guys “do more.” 

My personal philosophy had always been that even though I knew gender inequality is real, I refused to live under the shadow of it because I do not wish to live with that mindset. If I were to, I could lose the only opportunity to not only feel like, but more importantly live as, an equal counterpart to men. I refuse to be reduced to a product of discrimination and inequality and live under the bitterness of it.

Yet, who is not a man/woman of his/her times? The same principle applies to racism: How does one fight for his/her rights without “spoiling” their life and reducing it to a product of discrimination and inequality? I realize that this is a sensitive topic, and of course this is privilege talking — I’ve not faced significant or enough discrimination, and that is why I can sit here and say “how do we stay unaffected?” 

Studying in an international school and in the U.S. has taught me to fight, to fight for the things I deserve …”

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Of course it is virtually impossible to stay unaffected. I am more reluctant about letting boys pay for me even if I’ve paid for him numerous times before, out of the fear that I am not being “independent.” And I am scared that if I say yes to something my boyfriend wants I am succumbing to him. And I find myself without these fears when I am dating a girl: in these relationships I feel comfortable giving and accepting. 

When I was a kid, my parents have always told me that whining about how unfair and stupid certain rules are is useless. They reminded me that it is more important to think about maneuvering these conditions and avoiding getting hurt. Yet studying in an international school and in the U.S. has taught me to fight, to fight for the things I deserve, to fight against taking the consequences of something that is not my fault; to be angry, angry so that I will do something, angry so that something will change. 

It would, of course, be wonderful to not have the problem of inequality in the first place — we could have more eased nerves and less political correctness. However, in an imperfect country, society and world, what do we do? I think it is important to see both sides. It is impossible to ignore the imperfect reality, the inequalities and discriminations —  and we shouldn’t, because that is the only way that it will ever change for the better. Yet, should we not allow some space and leeway for a better and improved future? So that we don’t forget that we have more things in common than different, so that we don’t fall into the trap of identity politics, so that we don’t avoid having real conversations out of the fear of offending someone. We can have it better one day, only by beliving and acting like it.

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