Monday, 3 October 2016

Prejudices, duties and power

Age is such a good thing. It indicates where you are in life. Are you 15, you go to school, maybe you play football and like going to the cinema with friends. Wild and free! (With some pushes from home to do the homework.) Are you 30, you probably have been working for several years in the same field and have started mounting a career, got married not too long ago, have a toddler and a mortgage. Stable and settled, with clear life goals! And of course, at 67, you are a bit obese, have retired and have a squeaking back and can not walk very fast, but you enjoy your grandchildren and the family dinners on Sundays a lot. Calm and caring, with wisdom to offer should anyone ask.

As predjudices, or an image of what people usually do, theis description works quite fine. It is also, of course, not true for everyone, and that is a very important point. 

First, what is common maybe should not be common. The habit of acting a certain way can be a historical remnant that no longer fits in our modern lives, but it is not always easy to look outside of the society box and knowing there is a box at all. Second, if you do what everyone else seems to be doing, when are you going to start making decisions for yourself? Why should you be "acting old" when you are in your seventies, just because you are a septuagenarian? Is there a RULE saying you should not continue fulfill your dreams, take pilates classes and maybe embark upon a completely new hobby? One of the best quotes I ever heard was from a man thus year who told me he "had no idea how to be retired", so when his wife went to work, he took the bike to the woods to pick mushrooms and stumbled upon a - you could say - society club where he has been working since.

Why I write this is because there is a wave I see on Swedish blogs on reflections about the expectations on a woman. She has all the right to be free and not do everything in order to fit in to the expectations of what a woman should be like: soft, giving space, pleasing to the eye, taking care of the household, taking care of the kids (because why would her husband care? He was there at the reproduction moment, wasn't that enough to ask?). The modern woman is still posed the same questions. At 25 - why are you still single? At 31 - why are you not married? At 37 - why don't you have kids, is something wrong?

What is much more meaningful to ask a woman, and probably much more interesting: what is your current project? Have you discovered what makes you happy? Have you been to Madagascar? Are you planning to embark on a second master? What is the most recent provoking news, you think? Do you have a motorbike? Which author would describe what happened to you today the best?

And listen with interest when she speaks, without interrupting and without prejudices but an open mind. Maybe even without thinking about her age, not even for a second. 

2 comments:

  1. "expectations on a woman" sounds strange... I think we have always expectations from others, it feels strange to link it to a genre...Do you think I should go and cut some wood in the forest with a nice red plaid shirt? :-P

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  2. Does it? Expectations we have on people in general of course exist too, but my focus here is to widen the narrow frame of "should bes" that are often assigned a woman. For example: look pleasing to the eye (makeup, clothes and nore), have a quiet voice and temper, choice of profession. A woman that doesn't comb her hair, talks loudly and works as a guard patrolling the streets is not the typical image of a woman and can provoke comments such as "why doesn't she comb her hair" and doubts on her abilities to perform the task. Replace that image with a man instead, and no such comments will be heard because he "fits in the 'wider' frame" of what a man could look like and could be doing.

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