Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I really should be sleeping.

I was over at Dr.Isis's today to copy the link for todays first post. Since I had already logged out of Reader and have not yet updated my bookmarks (why update bookmarks when you have reader??), I did a quick google search to find her blog. I saw her blog and clicked to one what I thought was todays post, but which ended up being a very interesting post from a couple weeks ago. Since I thought I've kept up with all dr.isis's writings, I did not initially notice it was an older post. Apparently it was written during the storm, which is still a blur. Of course I had to comment, which started to get too long, so here I am posting my way too long comment. At 11:46 pm I am writing about feminism and my relationship with it instead of sleeping. I guess not sleeping for 2 nights due to a sick monkey makes you not need to sleep on the 3rd night when he is actually sleeping? I should be sleeping because monkey is finally sleeping. But I digress.

As a young teenager I was a proud and adamant feminist. The type that is born of rebelling against cultural stereotypes and having an older brother that I idolized yet hated. I idolized in that I would do anything he did. If he was skateboarding, so was I, if he was cliff jumping so was I. I hated him because he was allowed to do so many things that I wasn't. Because I was a girl. I was a South Asian Girl / Indian girl. He could have multiple girlfriends and be promiscuous because he was a boy and boys do that. I could not, good indian girls do not have boyfriends and are not sexual. Through high school I largely kept to that behaviour, especially because promiscuous girls of any skin colour were looked down upon and labeled, unlike the boys. Rightly or wrong as a teenager I bought into the idea of a "good girl". I was always sexual, I always had sexual thoughts but I never acted upon them.
Then I went to university.
In the first semester of my second year, my best friend died. Unexpectedly. It changed me. I refused to wait to live my life. I was always a studious person and figured I would travel, hang out and chill after I finished med school*, when I met the "right" person. His death ripped the blinders off my face and made me realize how unpredictable life could be. I may plan to do x,y and z when I am n years old but I may not make it to n years.
I started exploring, I had a few boy toys. I did not sleep around (its amazing what religion indoctrination can do) but I was also no longer a "good" indian girl. And I liked it. I still like knowing that I can get Mr.SM to do whatever I want with a wink wink nudge nudge. I enjoy dressing well. I enjoy knowing that when I dress to display my assets it gets noticed. It was this enjoyment that lead to my estrangement from feminism. The feminism that I knew looked down upon sexuality because it was the sexuality which was used to oppress us (and is still used in more nuance ways). I was proud and excited about my new found sexuality. I was not a man hating lesbian. This is such a WRONG view of feminism. Feminists are NOT synonymous with man hating lesbians. I know that now. I am a proud and active feminist. But then I was not.

What does this have to due with Dr. Isis post? Its about the conflict that we has women feel. My view of feminism now is that its about choice, freedom, and equality. As a scientist I should be judged on my science. My beauty (I am pretty, and being south asian am somewhat exotic in my biomedical area) should not be a factor. But it is. When I started at my current institute, I consciously had to dress down. I did not put on my nice shoes, dress trendy or do my hair because it would've negatively impacted the impression I was making. Talk show hosts like Tyra like to have shows demonstrating that when they alter their appearance to look less attractive and /or be overweight they are treated poorly compared to their "real" selves. In science attractive women have to work harder to demonstrate their intelligence. We have to think about how what we are wearing will impact how are science is viewed. What does wearing heels or a skirt have to do with the data? Nothing. If I am sexual or not doesn't impact my ability in other areas. Yet women are judged on it. I don't know a male whose qualifications were questioned because he was "hot". I wonder how many readers looked at what dr.isis wrote about her hooters and cringed.
My view of feminism is that the same standard should apply whether you are male or female.

1 comment:

Roaming With A Hungry Heart said...

I just wrote a very similar post after reading a Newsweek article contrasting France's new First Lady with the Presidential candidate's wives. I totally agree with your opinion that it's hard for women to be taken seriously in the professional world if they are seen as too attractive or dress nicely.

Newsweek article:
My Blog: