The divide between the sexes (and don’t forget gender)

I do not apologise for the amount of blogs I’ve written which discuss the issues in the modern day world as a result of the divide between the sexes. I’ve explained it before, but I’ll say it again. Sex is a biological construct, meaning that a male has a penis while a female has a vagina and breasts. This of course is put very simply, but some people seem to think that these differences between the sexes also govern the divide between genders.

Gender is a cultural construct, meaning that the way a person behaves is supposedly governed by their sex. For example, a woman is considered as emotional, irrational and weak due to natural and hormonal changes in the body (e.g. the menstrual cycle, menopause), which causes periods of hot flushes and, as described by men only a few centuries ago, moments of ‘hysteria’. On the other hand, a man is seen as rational, strong and not swayed by their emotions, but is instead inclined to portray anger and courage due to the levels of testosterone in their body.

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While the scientific and biological differences between the sexes were not fully understood centuries ago, the binary oppositions based on gender where men are seen as superior to women have been firmly and long established within Western society and culture (i.e. the patriarchy). This means that women have been in the background of history, while men have always been in the foreground. Women were expected to be silent and submissive not just to their husbands, but to men in general, so being outspoken meant that women brave enough to have their say were often seen as outcasts. A woman who was reserved, submissive, subservient, weak and in need of protection and safety through her husband or a male guardian was seen as the ideal figure of femininity.

Fortunately there are examples throughout history where women defied the cultural construct of acting like a female. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), known as one of the founding feminist philosophers, is well known for writing A Vindication for the Rights of Woman (1792). She advocates for equality between men and women, stating that women are not naturally inferior to men, but they seem to be because they lack education. Before Vindication, Wollstonecraft wrote Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787). Young girls would have been taught how to be a good wife and behave like a ‘proper lady’ (e.g. sensibility), but they would have not easily received education on academic subjects at the time. This ensured that women remained in the background so that men could continue to dominate and essentially be in control of society. Wollstonecraft’s works were important for the suffragettes when the Women’s Movement started to come into existence towards the end of the nineteenth century. It is probable that Emmeline Pankhurst and other suffragettes referred to Vindication in their influential speeches when advocating for equal rights and votes for women.

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Mary Wollstonecraft

While there have been a lot of changes and improvements in equal rights between the sexes, similar negative views towards women still exist today. You only have to consider that the changes for sex equality are relatively recent. For example, British women gained full emancipation in 1928, where all men and women aged 18 and over can vote. That was only 87 years ago, which may sound like a long time, but it isn’t really when you put it into a historical perspective. Furthermore, equal pay between the sexes was only granted by the British government in 1970, but not all companies and businesses pay their employees equally. You only have to look at the workplace, particularly where higher positions of management are concerned. Jobs with higher salaries, power and authority are still greatly male dominated. While success and determination are encouraged more than ever in British society, women who want to succeed and seek for more in life are downtrodden. Women who are authoritative in the workplace are viewed as bossy and naggy. Men who are authoritative, on the other hand, are seen in a positive light. This implies that the traditional values of gender still exist, hence the negative connotations towards women also still exist and outweigh the ones associated with men.

The divide between the sexes cannot be eradicated since men and women are born biologically different. However, gender can be. Gender in my view is a cultural entity which has negative consequences (e.g. stress and depression). You only have to look at the struggles children go through when they are growing up. I always remember growing up at primary school being a difficult stage of my life, being bullied by other girls for acting like a ‘tomboy’ because I preferred to wear tracksuit bottoms than pink frilly skirts and dresses, watching boy’s cartoons such as Pokemon and Beyblade and playing the games associated with them, arm wrestling with boys to show my ‘boyish strength’ and not complaining about getting wet in the rain because girl’s hair will go frizzy and their makeup will run. I do not know what it is like for children growing up now, but it is good that parents have campaigned in recent years for gender neutral toys, such as shops not organising toys into separate sections for boys and girls.

I probably did all of things I did when I was growing up because I did not want to be associated with conforming to femininity, because it was and still is seen as being ‘girly’ and weak. A phrase I used often in my childhood, which I detest now, is ‘man-up’. To ‘man-up’ is to continue giving authority and dominance to men, whose sex and constructed gender are still seen as superior to women. Despite the advocacy of equality, Britain is still led by a patriarchy. It is shameful that there has only been one female prime minister in the entire history of prime ministers in Britain! What is even more shameful is that there has not been one single woman who has been president of the USA! If the world thinks it is far more advanced than its predecessors in terms of being civilised, then it is wrong.

 

Complete equality between men and women in terms of sex and gender is fundamental for a world that wants to continue progressing for the greater good.

Clare Abbott

 

 

Why I don’t wear makeup

I have written a few blogs on contemporary issues including body image, body hair and sex and gender. These are definitely worthwhile to discuss since they greatly shape who we are, how we behave, and also differ between different societies and countries. The next issue I would like to address is makeup.

I have never been a big fan and wearer of makeup. I worry that I can never put it on properly and I constantly worry that it’s smudged on my face or I forget that I’m wearing it and rub my face because of an itch. If it starts raining, I cry or if I’m in a really warm atmosphere, the makeup easily runs. I have felt puny and not mature in the past when female friends have helped put makeup on for me, while they are able to apply their own flawlessly.

The only time I wear makeup is for special occasions, such as weddings, birthday parties, or a night out with friends, but even then I can’t help but worry about how I look and whether I should’ve reapplied the mascara. On these occasions I only wear minimalisitc makeup, applying eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara. I hate wearing lipstick because it tastes horrible if I accidentally lick my lips and it can get onto teeth. A big bug bear I have at work (I’m working part-time in a bar over the summer) is lipstick marks stuck on glasses- they are a nuisance to clean!

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How I generally look on a night out

My mother only wears makeup for similar occasions (I guess it really is mother like daughter) and she and my father didn’t encourage me to wear it on a regular basis when I was growing up. I remember going through a phase where I experimented with my mother’s make up, powdering my cheeks until I had two large red clown style circles instead of my natural blemishes and applying far too much eyeshadow and lipstick. I was even treated to a makeup tutorial a few Christmases ago; as much as I enjoyed the experience, I couldn’t help but see myself as fake.

My parents encouraged me while I was growing up to like my face for how it is and embrace its natural look. I’m glad that I do.

I choose not to wear makeup because it means I don’t have to wake up earlier every morning to put ‘my face on’ and take it off before I go to bed at night, which means extra time for snoozing.

I choose not to wear makeup because I don’t have to fork out money for the latest products which advertisers say you must buy in order to look good and attractive, in order to look like models and aspire to high standards of exceptional beauty. 

I choose not to wear makeup because wearing it conceals what I really look like, who I really am; it hides my natural beauty.

I’m not writing this blog to say people shouldn’t wear makeup. I guess that I’m fortunate enough to like my face as it is and don’t feel the need to apply makeup in order to enhance my features or change them. I already like my eyes and eyelashes, but I feel that glittery eyeshadow enhances my eyes even more and looks nice for a special occasion.

Makeup can give people a confidence boost and it works at making some feel older or younger. I must admit, it is also fun to experiment with to see how one can transform their appearance- it’s amazing what a bit of makeup can do.

Despite these benefits, I choose not to wear it on a regular basis. I spend enough time with hair removal, so I’m not going to waste more of my time conforming to how women should look by putting on ‘a face’. I much prefer a natural look for my bodily appearance, even though I eliminate facial, leg and underarm hair, which surely is natural to have and those who choose to keep these areas of their body free from hair removal should not be discriminated against so much.

Moving on from body hair, it’s no wonder that so many women wear makeup because of how others, men in particular, perceive them. However, there can be negative perspectives towards women who wear makeup as well. I did a quick Google search of ‘makeup memes’ and most of them are really degrading towards women. Here are some examples:

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These are only a small handful of the vast amount of disheartening memes that exist on the internet. They suggest that a woman’s natural look is not beautiful, hence it needs to be adjusted with makeup. If a woman looks beautiful without makeup, then it just seems incomprehensible. If a woman wears makeup, then she is ugly. It’s a no-win situation, and it’s really really unfair.

The viral video called YOU LOOK DIGUSTING by a youtuber called Em Ford was uploaded just over a month ago and demonstrates the struggles women have with makeup, definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

If people loved their natural appearances, loved themselves for who they really are, and loved others for how they look, then the makeup and cosmetic industries would collapse. These industries would then probably change their tactics for people to embrace their natural appearance- will this ever happen? Personally I doubt this will happen in my lifetime, but I’m not a great consumer of cosmetics and makeup, and I never will be.

I used to believe only until recently that I didn’t have the confidence to wear makeup. Actually, I have the confidence not to wear it!

 

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Under Pressure

A few months ago I saw a quotation someone had shared on social media. The quote is as follows:

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This immediately reassured me, as I do feel that the twenties generation faces a lot of pressure of high expectations and achieving great potential from society.

There are many ways to look at this situation, one being that time changes. People used to get jobs and settle into careers, started paying for a mortgage, got married and had children when they were, what we consider now, young (in their twenties). Nowadays, people are starting to do some of these things later in their lives, most notably marriage and starting a family.

One main reason for settling down later is prolonged life expectancy. As humans have evolved, our life spans have increased gradually, mostly due to improving healthcare and resistance to diseases. For example, the vast majority of women in developed countries survive the labours of child birth, compared to many years ago when both child and mother were at a high risk of death. With an expected long life expectancy, younger people do not feel the need to rush into marriage or partnership and produce children if they so desire.

I certainly live my life in this way. I am fortunate to have been born in a developed country, where the expected life expectancy in the UK is 80.54 years. When I do consider what to do with my life, I always think ‘I have my whole life ahead of me’. I feel that I do not need to rush into things straight away, and there is not a sense of urgency either, I feel, in others who think in this way as well.

A popular phrase amongst my generation and younger ones is ‘you only live once’ (YOLO). I remember when YOLO first came about and it was (is) often used in a negative context, such as stupidity and lack of common sense. I’d see images of people on the internet doing chaotic and sometimes life threatening things, with the words YOLO alongside. I do follow the belief that we only live once, but I avoid using the highly contested phrase.

Quite often I have heard my parents mention that when they were my age, they had a house together with a mortgage and were working in established careers. As I’ve already mentioned, times do change. While I would like to have my own place, I cannot afford it currently, as I am studying a Masters and obviously cannot work full-time.

I remember feeling worried when some of my friends I went to university with for my undergraduate degree knew exactly what they were going to do career wise. I still to this day do not know what I would like to do however; I am not seeing this as a problem or something to worry about.

With ‘my whole life ahead of me’, I want to explore before I enter a career. You know what? What I really want to do is travel around somewhere in the world for a period of time (2-4 months) and then take any opportunity that comes up for a career I am interested in, such as media, publishing or journalism. In fact, I want to explore several careers during my lifetime, and potentially study a PhD and enter the world of academia later in my life.

I do believe that we only live once. Since this is the case, I want to make the most of it by trying out different careers, travelling around the world, meeting new people and building networks, and to add to all this excitement, marriage in my later life. If there is one thing I do know, I don’t want children until I’m at least thirty!

Happy reading and blogging!

 

Many thanks,
Clare Bear

Lucky to be alive

Finally I got round to writing about what motivated me to start blogging- the 10km Race for Life on Sunday 5th July 2015 in Leicester, to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research UK.

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Let’s beat cancer sooner

I have always been a supporter of cancer charities, due to my family’s background. Many of my family members have been affected by cancer, the majority taking on the fight, leading to their survival! Unfortunately my grandmother, from my mother’s side of the family, lost the battle against pancreatic cancer when I was around 11 years old.

The most recent survival from cancer is my great uncle (my grandmother’s brother) when he survived from pancreatic cancer a few years ago. He is still the cheeky great uncle I have always known and loved, and I am thrilled that he is still energetic and full of life.

Cancer has not just affected my mother’s side of the family, but also my father. His grandmother suffered from cancer and treatment in the 1960s was, from what I’ve heard, a lot more painful and dangerous than it is now. She endured though and survived as well.

As much as cancer has greatly affected all of my family, the one I take closest to heart is my father. He was diagnosed with cancer in his early twenties, when he was engaged with my mother. My father was rather unwell, and my mother has told me a few times that she thought he was going to lose him.

He had a rare case of cancer at the time, so students were quite often present when he was at the hospital. Visit after numerous visit, my father continued to fight the battle, knowing that he had so much to live for. People asked my mother whether she would still marry my father, to which she always replied, ‘Of course I will’.

My parents became husband and wife while my father was still receiving treatment, and finally it all paid off. I’ve never seen my father cry, but one of the times that he did was when he was given the all clear.

My parents could now start their life together and have what they had always wanted, children. Their first attempt resulted in a miscarriage, to which both were distraught. They were worried that the cancer had affected their chances of conceiving children however, my sister was born!

My sister’s name was chosen with much thought and care. Her name is Zoe, which in Greek means ‘life’. A beautiful name which signifies the battle my parents fought and won.

A few years later I was born, and my grandfather simply called me Clare, saying that he really liked the name. I am proud to have been named by him, as he was such a kind and gentle-hearted individual, who sadly lost his life to a stroke.

Since cancer has affected both sides of my family, both of my parents have been great supporters of cancer charities and have helped others who suffer or have suffered from the effects of cancer.

My mother raised a fantastic total of £64,000 two years ago for Macmillan Cancer Support through endless fundraising and talking about the charity by travelling around the UK, with my father accompanying her as an escort.

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Celebrating my mother’s hard work!

I have helped out where I can for cancer charities, by putting loose change in money boxes, buying badges, going to the occasional coffee morning and sponsoring people who participate in fundraiser events. However, I want to do much much more; that is why I have signed up to do the 10km Race for Life.

While cancer has recently been proven to happen by chance in our bodies, more people than ever are now becoming affected by the disease. This is due to various factors, such as prolonged exposure to the sun without adequate protection, diet and lifestyle (smoking and alcohol), which increases the chances of producing cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer at some point in their lives. That is huge! However, more people than ever are surviving due to the improving treatments and Cancer Research UK’s ongoing quest to find a cure.

If there’s one thing I can reassured of, I won’t get cervical cancer. I remember receiving a letter through the door when I was in secondary school, requesting that I go to the doctor to have the HPV vaccine- I went without hesitation!

So there are some vaccines out there to prevent certain cancers from developing, and people are starting to become more aware of cancer. This awareness means that people are becoming more familiar with their bodies, getting themselves checked at their local GP when something is not quite right. This leads to early diagnosis, and a much higher chance of surviving.

I have actually previously participated in fundraising events that raise awareness for cancer. I had a lot of fun with university friends at the Color Run at Wembley Stadium in July 2013 and I walked 5km at a Race for Life last June at a lovely park in Welwyn Garden City with one of my university friends. I raised about £100 for both events combined, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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Absolutely caked in colour!

However, signing up for the 10km Race for Life this year is a big step for me, a chance to really do some serious fundraising, continue to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK and to change myself as well. I managed to successfully jog 10km non-stop recently on a treadmill at the gym, but I need to practice this outside at some point in the very near future.

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Pretty in pink

Since lifestyle is now having a big impact upon our daily lives, I feel that jogging 10km would be a great and motivating way to change my health for the better, to help in reducing the risk of getting cancer in terms of lifestyle. So I am not just raising money and awareness for an important and worthy cause, but I’m also aiming to become a healthier individual.

So this is the story that motivated me to set up a blog, something I had wanted to do for a while. I must admit, this blog was quite hard for me to write, as I could feel myself getting rather emotional.

If any of you would like to donate towards Cancer Research UK, I have set up my very own just giving page. I have set a target of £200, which I think that I can reach!

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My entry for the Race for Life on Sunday 5th July 2015

I would like to end this blog with a massive thank you to all cancer charities for your continuous supportive and hard work for those suffering from the turmoils of cancer. I also want to thank everyone in my family who have survived from cancer- well done for being courageous and strong-willed!

And a personal special thank you to my parents. If it wasn’t for your determination and fighting power, I wouldn’t be here. I thank you for giving me the gift of life.

I will jog this Race for Life for my life.

Happy reading and blogging,

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Dear Millennial Lifestyle

I was going to write a blog about the Race for Life today, but I found something else which I just had to write about- I could not let this pass by!

As you do, I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed and clicked on a link for an article which sparked my interest. This led to an external website, which had lots of other articles with links to a whole host of different websites. I saw an article called ‘10 Things Men Find Unattractive’, and out of curiosity and my feminist head on, I delved into another website called Millennial Lifestyles.

Millennial Lifestyle is a site which offers articles about health, fitness, workouts and relationships. This is what they aim to do:

Millennial Lifestyles allows you to stay up to date on the latest health research, fitness trends, and other breaking news relevant to your busy, active life”.

What is striking, and probably intentional to satisfy their readership, is that a lot of their articles are gender specific, such as what mistakes men are making in their lifestyle and what mistakes women are making in their dieting. Millennial Lifestyle’s aim to keep the genders apart is clear here, and just adds to encouraging people to conform to society’s expectations of how we should act and behave.

After reading ‘10 Things Men Find Unattractive’, I was annoyed at the writer, and became further annoyed when I found another article which she had written for the opposite sex, ’10 Things Women Find Unattractive’. To start off, I don’t normally read these sorts of articles. Why would you need to read something which dictates what you should find appealing or not in someone else? Attractiveness is subjective; we all find qualities and features in people appealing which others may see differently.

This is not what bugged me the most though. It is the fact that the writer appears to be unaware that she is a part of a society which dwells on ideological expectations, or that she is aware of it, and wrote the articles in order to fulfil the reader’s gratifications. Through both of these articles, she is dictating how men and women should act in order to avoid being ‘unattractive’.

I wondered after reading both pieces why some behaviours were dictated for one sex but not the other, but then I realised that the author is conforming to the differences between both sexes. For example, one of the biggest bugbears I have is when women are downtrodden for being ‘too naggy’ (e.g. being described as ‘bossy’ if they are a manager), while for men, this is seen as a quality. The article encourages women to be submissive, when the author states ‘If they leave the toilet seat up, quietly put it down’. This implies if women are outspoken, then they will be seen as unattractive.

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A negative vintage ad

I recently wrote a blog about body hair and how women are expected to remove their body hair in order to conform to the ideals of femininity. According to the article about women, ‘Men associate hair with testosterone and testicles so they don’t want to see it on a woman’. As you can imagine, this angered me the most, since the removal of body conforms to social expectations of gender, which is entirely ideological.

Other points for women include not wearing too much makeup, going for natural-looking hair and keeping good dental hygiene. Women have for a long time received a lot more negative criticism than men. They are penalised for trying too hard or not enough; it’s a no-win situation. And surely keeping your breath fresh is common sense, and men should do the same too?

Some other points which dictate how women should avoid behaving include drinking too much alcohol, emitting too much negativity and swearing. Men should avoid drinking too much alcohol as well, since it can have negative consequences on our health and well-being. Once again the author is encouraging women to be submissive by not being negative. This means that women should not ‘complain about the lack of service at a restaurant or how long you had to wait in a line’.

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Really now? …

Apparently ‘Men like ladies with a little class so dropping the f-bomb in every sentence is a turn-off and does not show how sophisticated you really are’. This explicitly states that swearing is unladylike, but why should women have to be sophisticated to be feminine? And what about if men swear? Is it just them being ‘laddish’?

In the same way that ‘10 Things Men Find Unattractive In Women’ dictates what men find attractive in a woman, the article ‘10 Things Women Find Unattractive In Men’ highlights what women should want and find attractive in a man.

The points that the author makes in both articles represent the stereotypical assumptions of the sexes, such as ‘Women want an intelligent guy who wants to go somewhere in life’ and ‘Humor is a powerful tool for any man. Nothing turns a woman on more than a man who makes her laugh’. Once again, intelligence is subjective and humour can be argued to be attractive in anyone, regardless of their sex.

One of the unattractive qualities in men which peeved me off concerns beauty, that women ‘should never date a guy who takes longer than you to get ready’. This suggests that it is feminine for a man to take a long time to get ready, and beauty regimes should be kept distinct between the two sexes.

An apparently funny evolution of getting ready

A final point I want to argue about from the article concerning men’s attractiveness is flirting. The author suggests here that men are more prone to flirt with other women while he is dating, in comparison to women who are dating. This is the also the final point made by the author, and further highlights the stereotypical behaviour of men, such as this example: ‘So the next time you see a hot girl in the mall, avoid undressing her with your eyes and look the other way’. Not all men are like this, we hope.

I was tempted just to leave the articles however, on this occasion I wasn’t going to let this pass. I’ve argued against the writer, Cherri Parry, in the form of this blog. Millennial Lifestyle posts content on a regular basis, and both of these articles are trending, even the ‘10 Things Men Find Unattractive’ one, which was published on the 19th January 2015, which is a great shame.

Despite their claims that they are ‘keeping up to date’, Millennial Lifestyle’s writers clearly aren’t, in terms of sex and gender. Both of these articles aim to keep its regular readers confined into how they should behave as a man or a woman. How would a transgendered person view this article? How would Cherri Parry write about how they should behave, since they transgress the boundaries of masculinity and femininity?

Regards,

Clare

Happy St George’s Day

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I would have written a blog about St George’s Day, but I haven’t had the time today (I’m procrastinating from essay work right now!). The blog would have probably ended up being very extensive, taking lots of contemporary issues into consideration, such as why St George’s Day isn’t recognised as a bank holiday compared to the other saint’s days, why people in England appear to celebrate St Patrick’s Day but not their own (an excuse to drink, I guess), and how the English flag is becoming a symbol to represent the growing support of nationalism in the UK, particularly with the anti-immigration policies in the upcoming general election, Euro-skepticism and the EDL.

This all doesn’t seem very happy at all; I’ve made it sound like an unhappy St George’s Day. Despite all of this, I hope that one day it does become officially recognised as a bank holiday like the others one are, and for those who do celebrate this occasion, hope you’re having fun.

What should go in Room 101?

When I was in year nine (aged 13), I had a lesson at school once where we were set the task of choosing one thing that should be locked in a place called Room 101. We were told that Room 101 is where our deepest fears or something we absolutely hate is locked in forever. We then all had to do a presentation in front of the class, attempting to convince others why our chosen thing should be kept away from society for the rest of time.

For those who don’t know, the concept of Room 101 comes from George Orwell’s controversial novel 1984 (definitely worth a read if you haven’t already). The characters who are punished for subverting authority are subject to torture in this room, from their greatest fear; for the main protagonist, Winston Smith, it is rats.

At first, I immediately thought of wasps. I was stung by one when I was younger and have been wary of them ever since. However, I’m glad that I changed my mind and decided to go with cancer; it wasn’t worth locking a creature so trivial in there. From what I remember, I made an emotional speech, talking about how my family have been affected by the disease, so I think it was pretty convincing and persuasive.

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How wasps are viewed

It’s funny how you can remember things like this that happened to you a long time ago. It obviously means that they had an effect on you. A few times after this lesson throughout my education through to the present day, I thought about what could be locked in this imaginary room which has had a profound effect upon society (e.g. the TV programme Big Brother, another concept from 1984).

Again I thought of wasps, but as I grew up I realised that they are a part of the eco system. If wasps were completely eradicated, then there would be a knock-on effect within the eco system, which is not ideal. I’m still wary of them now, but I try to ignore them and if you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you (most of the time).

Another thing I thought of, which would be very controversial, is religion. Before any of you start judging, I’m not intolerant of religion. I was once a Christian myself and consider myself an agnostic now, and I have many friends who believe in different religions. The thing is, religion has caused so much pain and turmoil throughout human history.

There have been wars and genocides because of religion and belief, a horrific example being Hitler and the Nazis exterminating millions of Jews. Religion has had a strong influence over how people behave towards others and those from other religions. An example here is the Viking’s belief in Norse Gods conflicting with the Christian belief in just one God when the Vikings invaded Christian countries. This confliction between religions has caused fights between people.

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Would eradicating all religions stop conflicts between people?

I could go on with many more examples, but I decided against locking religion away in the dreaded Room 101. Despite all of the conflicts that have happened and still do happen, religion is fascinating. I find it incredible that people to this day still believe in something which came about thousands of years ago. Some religious beliefs have died out, such as the Roman and Greek Gods, but those that have prevailed are influential in people’s daily lives, hence why they are still recognised and worship happens today.

Religion serves many benefits for people, such as finding comfort and feeling a sense of belonging in a community. The literature from religions is fascinating, including interesting stories as well as forming the basis for how people should behave. British law, morals, and ethics stemmed from the Ten Commandments of Christianity. I believe that people are becoming more accepting of people’s religious beliefs and in the UK, there are places of worship for those of different religions (especially in Leicester).

What I believe should be locked in Room 101 is the action of being judgemental.

If there’s one thing university has taught me, people are very prone to being judgemental towards others. I learnt this in particular when looking at the representation of gender within literature. A person who is judgemental will stereotype people into categories, and then this leads to negative attitudes, such as racism, sexism, ageism and the list goes on.

I understand ‘being judgemental’ as making an assumption about someone or something without due consideration or thought about their circumstances. For the case of gender, an example might be seeing a person you conceive as a male, and they look feminine to you. This might cause you to assume that they are gay because they seem to fit that category of sexual identification. If they speak to you and their voice sounds higher in tone, then that might affirm your judgement that they are gay- they fit the bill.

If you got to know this person and maybe become their friend, then you might start to understand who they really are and their circumstances. This male might not be gay; he might indentify himself of a different sexual orientation. He how appears and dresses is comfortable for him, and even if it is deemed as feminine in society, it should not bother or concern anyone.

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In the words of Walt Whitman

Making judgements about a person makes us feel more comfortable in being able to indentify someone, what category they fit into. Some people might also aim to be a stereotype by adhering to the characteristics, in order to feel socially accepted in a group of people. However, being judgemental has negative consequences, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough people stereotyping others and seeing the need to categorise.

Another thing I have learnt from note taking in psychology is that we are complex as human beings. Our behaviours are often difficult to predict. For example, a person might judge you for being too outspoken on one occasion, but you might not be an outspoken individual on a regular basis (not that anything is wrong with being outspoken, to an extent). Close friends and family are able to predict how you would behave in certain situations, but then again, we surprise ourselves and act differently to how we might have expected.

One type of stereotyping which I loathe is identifying people as sluts/whores. Quite often, particularly for women, if you are wearing a short skirt or short dress, people will judge you as someone who sleeps around and are easy to get hold of i.e. ‘she was asking for it’ (I absolutely detest that phrase).

People should not be so judgemental. If this was lessened or eradicated, then all of us would confidently embrace our individuality, without fear or anxiety of being judged. We are told on a regular basis not to care what anyone else thinks about us, but it is often on our minds.

You may have been in a situation with a group of people where they all agree on something, but you have thought differently and might not necessarily agree with the majority. However, to feel accepted and a part of the group, you agree with everyone; it’s easier to accept than to defy something.

This is not the right action though. Don’t be afraid to speak out on what you feel. Individuality is important to embrace, and it’s what makes us all different and interesting people. If everyone was exactly the same and agreed on everything, how boring would that be?

individuality

I mentioned before that I chose cancer to be locked in Room 101 for my school presentation. Of course, cancer is a valid thing that should be eradicated. It destroys lives and tares families and friends part. If I could choose two things to be locked up, I would include cancer as well.

To make the world a better place, everyone should have a go at not being so judgemental towards others. We would all have a better outlook on life, and maybe even start accepting people for who they are. If there’s one thing humanity is not great at, it’s learning from mistakes. Past actions which have been frowned upon occur today unfortunately (genocide being one), but humans are adaptable as well; that’s why we’ve got to where we are today- isn’t that incredible?

 

Happy reading and blogging,

 

Many thanks,

Clare Bear