Blog #4: Women’s Week

On Thursday March 5th, I attended an assembly where Nelly Bassily, the Director of the Youth Initiatives and International Relations at the Disabled Women’s Network, had the chance to share personal and societal issues dealing with the views people have on women with disabilities. Firstly, she discussed how, when thinking of disability, you may automatically imagine someone who cannot walk properly or someone who uses a wheelchair to help transport themselves. Many of us focus on the physical aspect of disability and completely disregard that you can have mental disabilities which is something that we should be more aware of.

As a woman who deals with depression herself, Nelly understands what disability is like on a personal level and can relate to many who deal with the same thing. She also expressed how people with a disability are often seen as “different” and are categorized as people who need extra attention or need to be treated with more care, which is absolutely wrong. Having a disability does not mean you have to feel bad for that individual or treat them differently because they are just like everyone else and should be treated as equally as the rest. 

As for myself, I learnt a lot about the difference between what people describe disability as and what it really is. I have also mistaken having a disability to someone who is in a wheelchair and after this assembly, my views have drastically changed and I have a better understanding of the whole topic. My friends and I admit that we viewed someone with a disability as different which is sad to say, but as of now, our understanding of it has enhanced and we are better informed of things that we were not fully conscious of before.

As a whole, Nelly’s presentation was very eye opening and made me realize that we should all be treated the same way and have equal amount of respect towards each other whether someone has a disability or not. Having a disability does not mean you are held back from doing certain things nor does it mean you should be felt bad for all the time. I would have liked the presenter to go more in depth about these issues and to know more about the stereotypes when it comes to someone with a disability but I did enjoy the assembly and would attend another one like this.

Blog 5: The Real Power of Men

In many civilizations, the concept of patriarchy was existent but there was no name for it because the population thought that the dominance of the male was “normal”. As we moved forward in time, the concept never disappeared. Most of the families today still have a dominant male and even if they don’t. Male children are still affected by the ideology that has been shared with their friends by their parents who have a dominant male in their homes.

Even if today we have a complete definition of patriarchy, it is still seen as the “normal” way to live in families. Whether u live in a home affected by the patriarchy or not. Male children will always be exposed to the concept and will develop the wish to dominate and not feel powerless even if it is not something they wished in the beginning.

Bell Hooks and Michael Kimmel both have displayed in numerous essays how males are not necessarily in the quest for power and dominance because of gender differences but instead, males are generally powerless in a certain view and society is the main reason why they are seen as dominant beings who use violence and finally how it is possible that they could be “liberated” from the role that has been given to them by society.

In Bell’s essay, he refers to patriarchy as a life-threatening social disease. Throughout his essay, he explains the methods and goals of parents in the system of patriarchy: “to indoctrinate boys into the rules of patriarchy, we force them to feel pain and to deny their feelings”. Patriarchy resolves heavily on the existence of masculine and feminine behaviours. It would be safe to assume that women are the victims in this case, which they are, but they also help promote this system. Instead of fighting back some end up supporting the system by not realizing what the problem is and taking action. Even if both realize the existence of patriarchy, the “psychological patriarchy” according to Bell will be the biggest challenge. Unless most become able to understand it, the misconception that men are the enemies will remain. Thus, making the liberation of men as dominant and violent enemies impossible.

In Michael’s essays, he displays the “manhood” existent in America. It consists of two fears: the fear of being called homosexual and the fear of being called “sissy”; In other words, being associated with what they consider to be weak beings such as gay individuals and girls. Furthermore, he explains how our every behavior and actions are gendered and that they impact the manly cover: “Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language”. People distinguish each by behaviors and actions taken and “manhood” has certain actions and behaviors associated with it and anyone who does not behave in such way would not be seen as “manly”; This indicates that “manhood” is just an image that is shown specific audiences, it is an act. Michael suggests that if people were more open to differences and accepting, this would help men be freer and more open and not necessarily doing “manly” acts as frequently as they did.

Men are seen as the universal human, the dominant ones. I think that if men managed to redefine masculinity in a way where men and women would seem more equal and relatable sexism would significantly decrease. The lesser the difference between men and women, the more chance they have of understanding each other and finding more similarities. This could also affect racism since the image of the “dominant white male” would cease to exist therefore removing differences leaving only ethnic differences and the color of the skin. For the same reasons, homophobia would also be impacted by those changes. The usage of the term “sissy” would drastically decrease.