Art Discussion : Seeing The Other

once we truly see eachother light

Once We Truly See Each Other / 2013 / 18×24 Watercolor, Ink, Embroidery Thread

At a young age, I began to notice the different ways in which men and women were viewed and treated. Ever since I first voiced confusion at this incongruity, I was answered with more questions such as “Why do you have such an issue with men?” “Why do you think men should be treated as less?” etc., etc., etc. These questions always left me with the disconcerting feeling that I’d somehow been shot into a parallel universe unbeknownst to me, where words that you spoke meant the opposite of what you’d said. How does equality mean one being treated as less than? The math just didn’t add up. Especially as one that tended to have an easier time talking to guys or tomboyish women than other “typical” ladies, was best friends with her younger brother, and generally thought men and women were equally awesome; how ever did someone get the impression that I wanted to bring anyone down?

As it turns out, social research is finding that when we as a society get used to seeing inequality for so long, any steps towards even partial equality are seen in an exaggerated light. An article from In These Times critiquing the fear of a “feminized society” , an anxiety that apparently is somehow all too prevalent, hits the nail on the head as to how this phenomenon occurs.

“So how do you get from some feminism, some of the time, to a feminized society?

The heart of the problem is one of the strangest manifestations of male privilege: It actually seems to interfere with men’s ability to count women. Specifically, it creates a tendency to actually see more women—or hear more female opinions—than are actually present at any given time.

Geena Davis Institute for Gender In Media found that, in crowd scenes, women tend to comprise about 17 percent of any given crowd. She’s argued, based on outside data and her own interpretations, that this imbalance relates to and reinforces the way men perceive the actual number of women in any given room.

“If there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50,” she told NPR. “And if there’s 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.” ” (By the way, love Geena Davis. I watched and re-watched A League of Their Own I don’t know how many times as a kid, and I hate all sports, especially baseball.)

This same phenomenon happens where speech is concerned as well. You know that whole perception of “Hoo boy, women sure like to talk, yak yak yak!” Turns out it is just that, a perception. In mixed company, and especially in a workplace setting, women may be hard pressed to fit a word in edgewise according to a PBS series on language myths.

This same thing happens when it comes to race as well. People are always in self-preservation mode, and fear that by lifting one group  up the scales will be tipped so that they lose out. Or, I wonder if some don’t subconsciously fear that when we are all on an even playing field, they may sometimes get treated how they have treated the other for so long.

In reality, we are not living by the rules of the animal kingdom in this modern age. We are human beings with pretty solid cognitive and reasoning abilities when we choose to use them, and there is no rule that someone always has to be underneath the others’ foot. We need 100% of our society working together, and we need a collaboration of everyone’s ideas, not just 50% of the population’s ideas. By seeing each other for who we truly are, without the guise of archaic preconceived notions based on gender, everyone is lifted to a higher playing field.

This piece, titled “Once We Truly See Each Other”, is about support, and it involves men too. When striving for equality not just in our own backyards but across the world, it is a mistake to leave out men because they can be some of our biggest allies, and they are effected negatively by rigid gender expectations also. If you are ever in doubt of this fact, check out  the completely eye opening documentary, The Mask You Live In.

In my piece, women of all ages and ethnicity are illustrated as doctors, moms, members of the corporate world, musicians … Men are depicted as businessmen, athletes, artists, stay-at-home dads… The 3 cliffs are symbolic. Sure, men have started out on a historically higher platform as far as societal advantages are concerned. But, notice that third platform, the third and best option of all. In the piece, men are partnering to pull the women up. From there, the women are also helping the men up to reach their full potential. Equality requires that we invest in the lives of our fellow human beings, men and women both.

To me, equality is about allowing every individual to reach his or her full potential, whatever that may look like. No, women are not “settling” by choosing to be stay-at-home moms if that is their dream and what is important to them. They should have that option. No, the woman who wishes to rise to the top of her company and expects to be respected the same as her male colleagues is not an angry pink Godzilla hoping to kick every man in the balls with her shiny metal foot. She should have the chance to prove herself free of prejudices. And by the way, the same goes for men.

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4 thoughts on “Art Discussion : Seeing The Other

  1. I hope you don’t mind my dissenting view but your major fault is inadequate research and your failing to see what is happening in today’s society. No one is against equality for both genders,what we (I and a lot of people) are against is the propagation of women’s rights at the expense of men’s. Try to view things from a male perspective; how would you feel if you were to give up half or more of your possessions to someone who’s probably earning more than you are in the event of a divorce? What I’ll advise you to do is carefully research the laws pertaining to human rights in a lot of societies; the US is an excellent example(I’m assuming you’re American here). It is this new inequality that’s driving men to increasing suicide rates, dropping out of school and all the other nasty things happening to them in today’s world.

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    1. I agree that we need to work harder on equality from all ends. I too am against the example you mentioned above, as well as the fact that in child custody cases often the child will go with the mother, regardless if she is the more fit parent. That is certainly still inequality, and does not help anyone. My issue is that we as people are far too eager to place people into boxes and categories based on preconceived notions based on one facet of who they are as a human being, most normally gender and race. Even the above examples of unfair treatment towards men are based on the assumption that due to a woman’s gender, they are automatically more capable of taking care of a child, and due to a man’s gender, they are more likely to be the primary breadwinner. Prejudices hurt both sides, as is widely discussed in the documentary I linked to. People do at times go about equality the wrong way, through reverse inequality which is never a productive solution. It is a complicated issue, but what really needs to happen is that we as human beings need to take more time to actually get to know the other rather than categorizing them and assigning them a list of traits before even speaking to them. Basically, we need to care about the lives of others outside of our own and be willing to put ourselves in the other’s shoes, which I know not everyone is going to do or wants to bother with. All we can do is as individuals do our best to treat others with as much openness, humanity and respect as possible.

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      1. Unfortunately, in any ideology, belief, social issue, etc etc, the ones with the biggest mouths are usually not the best representation. People are so polarized right now, it is quite rare to have a slight difference of view actually be discussed in an intelligent, calm manner >_<.

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