Society…social….

I thought I’d start this section of this 6 part series with shorts. We have two pairs of shorts:

My daughter turned 11 years old and wanted a pair of shorts that she “felt comfortable in”. These were her exact words.  I couldn’t think of why she wouldn’t feel comfortable in shorts.  The kids that grow up in that state (especially on the coasts) grow up wearing shorts, tank tops, and flip flops.  So, why the sudden “I’m uncomfortable in shorts?”

So we went looking for shorts at the “Mart” stores. It’s an easy place to shop and usually cheaper than the specialized or mall stores.

Suddenly I was face to face with my daughters “uncomfort”.

STOP – Look at the pictures of the shorts again.

My daughter, and many girls, do not want to wear what they call “booty” shorts. According to her and her 11-13 year old friends, “booty shorts” are shorts that only cover your booty and nothing else. (Note – If you look at the picture on the left of this article, you will see “booty shorts”.)

When she showed me the shorts section I was flabbergasted!  Not only did they ONLY have these kind of shorts, the only variety you were able to pick from was:

Jean, cloth, or khaki booty shorts

OR

Booty shorts with things written on the butt like – Juicy, Booty, Flirt

As an adult male, I figured there had to be other shorts available for her to wear. NOPE! So, we moved into the women’s section….booty shorts throughout the “shorts” section…until you got into the plus sizes. (I guess plus sized women are not suppose to wear these kinds of shorts. Another problem in our society…but that’s another blog)  So even if the girl/woman doesn’t want to wear these shorts (or the flimsy tiny bathing suits for that matter) they don’t have any other options. Forced sexualizatation of women and girls!

Then I did something radical, and my daughter so didn’t want to follow me. I crossed the tiled walk way…yes I did. I walked into the boys/mens section. You know what I found there….racks upon racks upon racks of shorts that started at just above the knee and went all the way down to mid-calf. What? Where are the booty shorts?  Nope, they all looked like the picture at the upper right of this blog.

We went to 5 different named stores that carried a variety of clothing for both women, girls, men, and boys and the story was the same in every place.

This is how society dictates and tells you how to be in your gender. So how did the shopping end….I bought her three pairs of boy shorts and she loves them and she is the envy of all her friends (Note – Her friends’ parents refuse to buy them “boy” shorts”. There’s a societal comment for you.)

Society tells you how to act and how to see your gender. Society tells you how to dress and how to take care of yourself. We become so ingrained in our societal teachings, we begin to thing they are our own beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. This happens to such a degree that even when you ask and speak to the people in their society, they can not fathom that these ideas and thoughts were not their own.

Let us take something simple:

A group of brothers weren’t selling enough of their product and they needed more people to buy it. So they hired a doctor to put ads in specific magazines about the health of the readers.  They asked the doctor to tak about how if you used their product more, the readers would be healthier…even recommending they use the products constantly. The brothers even went so far as to have doctors show how before using their product the reader was boring and ugly, but after using the product their were happy, lively, and attractive.

Who were the brothers?  The Gillette brothers.

What were the magazines? Women’s magazines.

What were the messages?  Shave, shave shave. Shave your underarms. Shave your legs.  Shave your private areas.

Now this simple act has become so much a part of our society…it is a social faux pas to not shave your legs and arm pits if you are a woman. But for men, it’s OK to shave wherever they want.

But we don’t have to do this as shown in this article.

Then the messages start being displayed in the toys that we play with. The shirts that our parents put us in.Boys get trucks, cars, etc. Girsl get dolls, houses, etc.

So I walked through some stores and wrote down what the toddler shirts say…since this is our 1st introduction to this socialization:

Toddler shirts for boys say:

“Ruff and ready”

“Mommy’s little monster”

“Boys will be boys” (Harmless in itself. Unless the shirt has skulls, broken items, and destruction and violence)

“Dadd’y MVP”

“Don’t mess with me.”

“I’m in control”

Toddler shirts for girls say:

“Mommy’s little princess”

“Fairy girl”

“Future bride”

“Cute and pretty”

Interesting, we are already telling the kids who they are suppose to be.

These depictions of what women are and what men are is in everything we do, see, and react to. We are constantly being told how we are supposed to dress and act compared to the gender we are:

Boys dress in earth tones, girls dress in pastels.

Boys in blue, girls in pink.

Boys wear pants or shorts. Girls wear pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, etc. (but their stuff has to be shorter and show more.)

Boys are sexy when they wear suits. Girls are sexy when they wear as little as possible.

Boys who have many partners are cool. girls who have many partners are gross.

Boys always look good. Girls only look good when they are the right weight, size, color, and depending on the clothes they are wearing.

Boys are tough and show no emotion! Girls are soft and emotional.

These social standards that are around us all the time are used in every form of communication and every form of advertising and every form of media that exists. We are taught these societal man-boxes and societal woman-boxes from the moment we are born and are upheld till the day we die.

When we live in a society that state that women and men must be a certain way, the inhabitants begin to see themselves in relation to these rules.

When men are seen as tough, dominant, and all powerful…whereas women are seen as off-balance, emotional, and in need of maintenance the end result is obvious. The powerful gender must teach and lead the lesser gender. This creates an imbalance of power and an inaccurate view of gender itself. People of the “power gender” begin to look down on the people of the “inferior gender”.  They begin to see the “inferior gender” as merely children and things. The more thing-like the power gender sees the inferior gender, the easier it is to force, destroy, and commit violence towards the inferior gender.

Our society teaches that the power gender is the male population and the inferior gender is the female population. If the above paragraph is correct, we would see more violence, double standards, abuse, and control toward women by men….and that is exactly what we see.

The way our society views women promotes abuse and inequality….this must be stopped. We must change the way our society sees both genders.

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