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The Limbo Within
By Jessica Malo
This essay or piece of my mind is simply a protest; it is a cry of shame or maybe of pride- standing firm and tall against the social tide of gender competition; it is the suicide letter, albeit without the suicide.
But who's to blame? I honestly cannot say.
The society has always been biased towards men; even some women today are biased towards men. I have listened, infuriated with so many women saying that they wish their child-to-be is a boy rather than a girl, for they cannot imagine the difficulty that their daughters will have to endure in a man’s world; that they do not want to relive the battle through them. I am not sure whether to cry or to shriek about this.
I remember very well when I was young how girls were supposed to cover their nudity and to sit straight and place one leg over the other. Even at an early age while boys were celebrated every time they named their penis correctly: some contest they keep winning and keep being awarded. The award of one is the shame of the other. While men are built to find pride in their manhood to use as a weapon, women are facing early and unnecessary body rejection, shamed into a body they will carry for as long as they live, a body they should love enough in order to but not exclusively carry additional life within.
And the curse continues, even today, many young women get pressured into marginalizing their emotions but cashing on their body early. Prostitution, child pornography, and sexual objectification are the mere surface; there are the hushed cries and the everyday bows to reality, as it always will be.
But even closer than all of this, the milder, the more immediate and the less obvious breach of gender roles (let it be known that positive breaches of gender roles are always encouraged and appreciated) is simply the competitive nature in which men have always lived.
Traditionally and psychologically, women have been the pursued, for the stakes are higher for them (pregnancy and all it entails) whereas the men are the pursuers. There’s a certain game to be played, of pushing and pulling, of challenging and wooing that will and should take place. There is where the magic has the opportunity to breathe, it is in that game or gap or rabbit hole or whatever you might want to call it, that’s where the universe puts its weight on convincing or perhaps tricking us, humans, men and women, to keep playing the game, to feed the flame, to push and pull and tickle and laugh, to make love and keep hope alive, to embellish the lies and forge new colors into our grayish realities until…the rules changed.
Now, an example to illustrate:
Online dating applications, sites and dating altogether make me feel as if I am competing with my image and probably losing to myself, to my photo with the face enhancement where my skin is suddenly perfect, to the effect that does not transcend perception to reality. It also seems to me that I am competing with ghosts, with names, with labels, with each and every other woman who uses media or online dating apps and is slightly more beautiful or sexier than me. The competition is surreal, it is ambiguous and it is shady – but it is there. I compete with the other woman who has the bigger rack, or who does not scare men off with philosophical questions, or women who exude a sense of cool. If anything, I lack this newly-required skill of “cool.” When exactly did it become required to play the field and date around? Wasn’t that cheating in the old days? If anything, women of today are pressured to have this “coolness” that I lack. They need to be cool if the guy calls or texts or does not, if he replies or does not reply, if he initiates a move or does not. Women are pressured to become less emotional, less expressive, desensitized.
For some reason, men are loving this. Yes, men have unfortunately been pushed to express less and less until that became the norm. This has reversed the seats. Today, women are competing for the attention of the man; they are competing for his commitment, for his love and affection. And men are sitting around, doing nothing other than scaling women up and down, nodding in approval or the lack of it, swiping more lefts than rights.
Men simply carry themselves as they are, with their faces unshaven and their demeanor even less uncut and women are still drawn to them with the same intensity and zealousness. And instead of the men wanting to play the game of competition like they have always done, it seems to me that they have forfeited. They have chosen the path of least resistance.
If women are to seek their rights as women, to seek equality, then should they seek it based on the rules/values that were tailored and suited for men but not women? We have revolutionized our education systems and methods of testing so that every different kind of student is evaluated and tested according to his/her learning abilities and minds. Why, then, do you ask women to play the game man has created, who wrote its rules, camouflaged its loopholes and decided the wins and losses? When afterwards you blame her for getting too emotional about the game, for falling for the player?
And I am jealous, I am utterly and openly-unapologetically jealous of all the men and of any of them who have taught themselves to shamelessly carry their unspoken heart and chaos, of all the men who have taught their bodies to meet, greet, love, leave, delete and repeat, of the men who celebrate the disloyalty of their memories. I am jealous of their coolness and their renowned patience, of their satisfaction in the path of the least resistance, of their ability to stroke a woman’s back and to forget her odor. I am jealous of their thirst that is quenched by void, whoever her name was, of their trespassing looks, of eyes that gaze but do not see and of their sweet words that commit blasphemy.
But I am not jealous of the other women who are carrying their muffled cries inside, who search and seek what’s at hand; I am not jealous of them, for the pea under the thousand mattresses still haunts my rest. For I am a true soul, a romantic fool, who prefers to quit than to settle.
Let’s call it dibs, for here I am, I forfeit.
#Real #Essay #Gender #Imbalance #Sex #Expectations #Norms #Feminism #Womanhood #Women #HumanRights #Dating
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