Gender, double consciousness and societal expectations. Part I
When reading this, I will try to bring up a very important topic that needs to be discussed more.
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She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another. — John Berger
This kind of sight is brought up by W.E.B. Du Bois as well, referred to as “Double Consciousness”, he discusses it in regards to the souls of black folks, however, this is accurate for every group that is marginalized, worsened when you are not cisgendered, or white, or heterosexual, or able-bodied or a man.
Who am I?
Du Bois explains that double consciousness is the “experience of always needing to measure oneself through the eyes of the dominant cultulre in society and being so aware of it that you feel obliged to minimize who you are.”
Du Bois spoke of not only race, but also gender, sexuality and class. This concept continues to be relevant, not only due to the dominant white culture, but also due to the standards of the patriarchal society.
Women, from a young age, are and have continuously been judged on how they adere and respond to the standards around them. How quiet they are, how often they smile, how they dress. As they grow up, as David Humm explains, they begin to be judged by their skills.
Marginalized folks’ identities become dependent on how others view them, the value they are given from the colonial and patriarchal norms and how they fit in accordingly.
Media emphasizes this, and this emphasis leads to the misunderstanding of the depth of our identities.
The myth of the Chill one and well, sexism.
As we grow up, folks from marginalized groups hit a phase of wanting to fit in with everyone and not wanting to cause a fuss in order to be accepted. This phase can very much change according to the complex identity of an individual, however, in this section of the article, we will dive into gender. This phase is referred to as the Chill girl, or the Cool girl, but for gender neutral purposes, I will be referring to it as the Chill one.
It is this period where folks, growing up, often feel confused and unsure about their own boundaries, especially when growing up with female as their assigned sex at birth. People all around want to be seen as chill, cool, we want to fit in. This, however, even if it is not intended to harm others, includes the practice of dodging issues, ignoring what matters to us and avoiding the fact that we do not necessarily even know our own values since we have been expected since birth to make sure we adapt and do not disrespect others. All because we seek to avoid making others uncomfortable, anxious or confused.
We wanted and, depending on the person, we may still want to be seen as laid back, cool and not.”problematic”.
The Cool Girl, according to Flynn, loves football, dirty jokes, and cheap beer. She never argues or gets upset. Don’t get me wrong: There’s always a time and place for football and beer. But the ideal of a girl who never gets upset feeds into a bigger problem: the toxic abyss surrounding gender norms. The Cool Girl ideal tempts women into claiming they’re “not like other girls,” by which they mean, “I’m just one of the boys.” It tricks them into internalizing misogyny.
News flash: you can be masculine and be as much of a woman as others.
You can be a cisgendered heterosexual man and still be feminine.
You can even be neither, in-between, or a little bit of both, and still be loved, appreciated, and seen as the chillest, most fun person to be around by those who truly matter.
Since childhood, boys are taught to reject the emotional, to reject what might make them feminine, and focus on the masculine. In Canadian society, growing up, boys often do not learn how to accept being vulnerable, how to be okay with crying, how to address their emotions and are often ridiculed if they aren’t acting like the other boys.
Even as adults, cisgendered men who don’t act “manly”, who instead, choose to show care, compassion and understanding for others get called a “wimp”, “f*g”, “p*ssy”, and more.
Cisgendered women who establish their boundaries, whether it is in a place of work or, at events, with friends, or even with family get called names for being too “bossy”, “prissy”, “picky”, “too difficult”, “dramatic”, etc.
Growing up, we do not mean to do this and unfortunately get sucked in very easily to these societal expectations of our identities, however, as an adult, not facing ourselves and our own needs is unhealthy. Having expectations, values and needs is not a problem. Everyone is meant to have the three and if they are disrespected it is not a “chill” situation and that is okay. It is okay to not keep our “cool”, it is okay to be anxious, to be upset and to express your feelings.
In the name of chill-ness, how many of us have become acquainted with the acrobatics needed to avoid unsavory labels: a “clingy” romantic partner, an unfriendly coworker, a difficult woman. Not taking up too much space or making a fuss is the mandate and, frankly, it’s awful. We are each so deliciously complex and messy; what better way to pay homage to these multiplicities than to feel, to express, and to carve out space to navigate as our purest self? — Martine Thompson
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Setting boundaries: Why grown men love girls (TW)
Let’s unpack the whole older man, much younger woman thing
How I Learned to Stop Being a “Chill Girl” and Start Being Me
Debunking the myth of the Cool Girl
A Point of View: The ‘Double Consciousness’ and Women | The Inclusion Solution
The Double, Double Consciousness: Gender Construction in America — Vol 3, №1 Winter/Spring 2021 — African American Studies Journal — CCSU Newsletter