When I was in grade school through high school I got picked on a lot for various reasons. My friends as well got harassed by boys who either taunted us with racial or sexist slurs or try to take things from us or poke us. We as girls and later as women didn't do anything about it. Rather we took the abuse because we knew as 'losers' and racial minorities in the school no one, not even the teachers, would care or know what to do When I watched TV at home of Hollywood's version of high school for some solace and escapism from real school I saw this mantra being played out, 'he's only doing those things because he likes you. He doesn't know how to express his emotions, he's just a guy. Guys mature emotionally slower than girls, you know?' So, being the impressionable girl that I was I believed these lies.
I reminisced with my friend of 14 years and we talked about those 'stupid boys' that used to pull our hair and tease us on the play ground and through high school gym class. Her mom chimed in that they only did that because they had a crush on us. I didn't say anything but I know now that wasn't the case at all.
TV and our parents and friends defend the boys actions because we've given into the illusion of gender for so long. We attribute characteristics and physical traits to certain sexes that don't exist. Men aren't less emotional than women we've just conditioned them to be that way and thus now it is taken as the truth.
A prime example of this is the chimpanzee and the banana experiment. There are bananas at the top of a stair case and the chimps of course go for the reward but they all get sprayed with water repeatedly so they all learn that going for the bananas at the top of the stairs is wrong. They bring in new chimps that don't know the rule and go for the bananas but this time the water isn't needed. The chimps that were there before remembered what happened last time and teach the new chimps not to go for the bananas. This is repeated until after bringing in newer and newer chimps none of them go for the bananas anymore. They just ignore them not knowing why they don't go for them in the first place.
This animal allegory can also be seen in George Orwell's novella Animal Farm where no one learns to read and thus are at mercy to the rules written on the side of the barn. And those who do remember what it says are either too afraid to speak up or silenced. The same goes for gender norms and the normalization of violence against women. Women are so often told that boys mature slower than girls and can't show how they feel so they harass you instead. And we as women are told to take it with the assurance that 'they like us' and thus we should be happy about the abuse. 'I can't believe he likes me better than other girls.' This is just how the media machine wants us to behave. Taking down other women who we call sisters and mothers because for some reason a guy cat calling at us on the street is a compliment.
Women are brought up to be so insecure and competitive with one another that a boy liking us is worth the daily abuse. And sure it starts in play grounds but where will it lead? To abusive relationships where women will act submissive just because to them it's 'natural' to be treated like an object to be hit rather than to be loved. We need to stop making excuses for men to be violent and tell women to 'just deal with it.' That's why breaking down the gender walls of what 'men' can be and what 'women' can be is so important because it has life and death implications.
21 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.