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Hear ME Roar, January 5th, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: January 5th, 1997
"Hear ME Roar" [permalink]
    keywords: gender, men, women, cybergrrl, internet, world wide web, blogs
    soapbox #: 66
    written: January 5th, 1997
    words: 1185

"Hear ME Roar", an Essay

I'll probably receive some mail for this one. So before you go furiously searching for that mailto: link, remember that the person I support is the individual -- I am not sexist, etc. etc. In looking back at this essay, I don't think I have covered all the points thoroughly enough, but I've said what I basically wanted to get out. Besides, these essays are not intended to be comprehensive -- I'll save the comprehensive explanations for when I'm trying to write a book. For now, you just get brain food, 'kay?

It is customary for me to talk about things either far before the majority of people hear about it, or to talk about them after all the hype has passed. In this case, I have waited long after the excitement and huzzah has died down. Wouldn't want to take advantage of an over-hyped topic. :P

There was a time on the Web when every other site being announced had to do with the celebration of feminism. Most notable were the CyberGrrls, women online who had punky attitudes. Other sites quickly popped up and certain women like Tabatha Holtz were promoted to CyberGrrl immortality status. These types of women made it into Internet magazines, interviews, and articles in paper magazines. I think even Project Cool and Cool Site of the Day selected some of these feminism sites.

I don't claim to know much about this female cyberculture. The CyberGrrls are more just an example than the specific subject of this essay. I think after that period of hearing things about it from everyone and visiting a site or two which basked in hype, I got sick and went back to visiting sites which did not dwell so much on the importance of genders.

Don't get me wrong -- I am all for the identification of people with their genders. I am for clubs and groups which bond similar people together so they can identify with one another. I would never participate in these groups, of course, but that speaks more of my personality as an introverted, angst-ridden realist. But when those groups are elevated to some kind of earth-shattering, break-through-the-walls, deified status, I get annoyed. Some people made it sound like the CyberGrrl culture was a way for women to let the world know they existed. Rubbish.

Groups very often start out because of noble causes, but some soon develop into a snobbish, high-brow, exclusive, cliquish, separatist collective. Sometimes people within the group consider themselves better than others, and their group is superior to other groups.

What rights activists sometimes do is heighten tension. Although prejudice and discrimination still run rampant, rights activists are able to pull examples of discrimination from thin air. They assume everyone is holding them down, that everyone is to cause for their own failures. There are male chauvinists out there, no doubt, but of course there are sensitive men too. I've run into a good number of women who are the sweetest and most sensitive, but they carry a big chip on their shoulders about men. They are convinced all men are out to get them in one way or another and that women must group together to survive such a savage world. People of race sometimes think they're being discriminated against (which may certainly be the case), when in fact, they just failed the test or whatever.

Look at this from my perspective. I believe firmly in the individual, and I think an individual's deeds either help or hurt society. I think everyone makes a difference in a philosophical sort of way. I believe that the individual should take responsibility for his errors and sins (Christianity tends to mistake people into thinking their mistakes can just be removed by God). I forget where I read this, but some Japanese businessman said, "When Americans make a mistake, they think it's someone else's fault. When a Japanese person makes a mistake, he thinks it's his fault and he was to blame for what happened." I identify with the Japanese way of thinking, at least from what this quote tells us.

Part of the problem of barriers between sexes and races is that people are grouping off into their own groups. The groups want everyone to know that they are what they are ("I am woman. Hear me roar!"), and in the process, they separate the sexes even more. I guess what I'm basically trying to say is that everyone's trying to prove something to everyone else.

Well stop it, dammit! If you truly believe in what you are doing, you don't have to prove anything to other people. If people hold you down, then yes, that is discrimination, but give everyone a fair chance to prove what they are made of before you judge them. If you are going to generalize bad things about a whole group of people, then you should analyze the source of your problems more deeply... Take pride in yourself for yourself, not for others!

Screw double standards. They exist for everyone. You don't think so? Sure, sexual terms for men have good connotations and sexual terms for women have bad connotations. That is indeed a double standard, yet also a deeper story if you get into the linguistics of it. But what about this double standard? Sites promoting feminism are lauded, but what if a site celebrating the male was announced? People would be offended! Women would feel held down again! Blah blah...bleh. That political correctness thing would kick in. Heck, I'm white and Asian. Double whammy, as far as getting into a university seeking "racial diversity" goes. I may be more qualified and intellectually well-rounded than a competing applicant, but schools want fewer whites and Asians these days. Color, not qualification (I will try to sidestep affirmative action here, but I think it did serve some good), I guess.

I cannot even fathom the concept of a site celebrating either gender anyway. What I am interested in the site of one person -- what one person is thinking, how that person thinks, and, of course, how their traits like gender has affected their development. Perhaps that's why I view gender-specific Internet sites so cautiously -- the Internet was supposed to make real world inhibitions less restrictive, so you didn't have preconceived notions about how a person would be. It was your personality (or at least, the one you were showing) that let other people judge what you were like, not the color of your skin or the presence/absence of a Y chromosome. No one visits my site because I'm part Asian and part British and they are too, or because I'm male. People visit my site because they want to see what I have to say.

Gender, race, sexuality, etc. are not what define us. They merely help mold us into adults.

People can only offend you if you let them. Remember that.


 
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