After the nomadic podcast, here is the sexological podcast.
Ever wondered about pornography, and whether or not it’s good for you?
We have your answers.
Find Lissa at @Lissa Godin
Living as a woman of the world
In this section, we will discuss more theoretical topics that may not be related to events in our lives and pertain to our worldviews.
After the nomadic podcast, here is the sexological podcast.
Ever wondered about pornography, and whether or not it’s good for you?
We have your answers.
Find Lissa at @Lissa Godin
What is gender? In this article we will treat of mainstream gendered matrix, as well as heterosexual encounters.
Many authors define it differently. a materialist definition proposes that gender is a set of socially dictated norms that place two binary poles in asymetric opposition to one another. These poles, masculine and feminine, represent classes or groups that an individual can belong to.
Now, there can be other genders, these binary walls can be broken, and subverted. But the maisntream discourse (hegemionic discourse) proposes the model we’ve just exposed.
This model creates a system which values the masculine over the feminine and is iterated through institutions, discursive practices and identity formation.
We can round this up to patriarchy.
The word. We know it. It has a ring to it that is nearly ominous.
It is, in a sense, ominous. Patriarchy is the source of immense suffering, multiplied by billions of people to different degrees. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you are part of that system.
This is a key information to keep in mind.
This also means that the needs it creates are important, and sometimes necessitate shortcuts. One of those shortcuts is identity politics.
We round up people under an umbrella term that doesn’t completely represent them in order to be able to gain momentum to push some aspect of their rights forward that may have been infringed on.
Women fall under that category. The concept of woman is a controversial one in feminist circles for good reason. Even if a materialist approach recognizes that the category has social weight, it does not mean that all people falling under that umbrella experience being a woman the same way, face the same struggles, or even consider the term to have the same meaning.
This is a great example of linguistic shortcut that has a political aim, and understands its intrinsic contradictions. The benefits seem to outweigh the costs depending on the context.
Other linguistic shortcuts are used often to carry a similar momentum.
The ends justify the means, and we accept that the shortcomings of such shortcuts are a necessary ill to fight an uphill battle.
The problem is that knowledge also gets disseminated this way.
People who had the intention of carrying a complex message through a simple memetic package had that complexity in their mind and stayed careful when they were asked to formulate their thoughts in more detail.
But this is not what gets disseminated the most. Television interviews, soundbites, memes, quotes do not allow for such a complexity.
And since most of the accessible knowledge is that simple (simple ideas carry faster, easilier and reproduce more than complex ones), we end up with many proponents of that simple idea who take it at face value as opposed to the careful flawed reduction that it is.
This is where our orgasm comes in.
I read an article recently that proposed that even though a man could focus on a woman’s pleasure, it may still be testimony of his sexism.
The idea has political appeal.
Real life appeal too. We’ve all had that encounter with the sleazy creep who proposes to give you orgasms, when really, what he’s saying is that he wants to have sex and wants to bait you into it by thinking that orgasm is an obvious tradeoff, with no actual intention or capacity to follow through on it.
It’s usually more of a way to impose his sexual prowess than a true desire to be selfless.
But at the same time, the simple profession of such a desire isn’t in iteself problematic.
The article basically states that men want to offer orgasms to feel rewarded. And this may very well be entranched in gendered scripts about male sexual prowess. But that’s the thing. That’s a filter.
Everyone feels that way about partner pleasure.
The question of reciprocity may be influenced by gendered scripts, but it is still a concern for men and women in heterosexual encounters.
We all want our partners to feel sexually pleased, and it’s not all out of selfless love.
We want to feel validated because sexuality is a very vulnerable time, and we seek any reassurance that comes our way. We also seek to have the encounter again, possibly. What better way to make sure that you’ll have sex again than doing it well enough that it’s enjoyable to the other partner. This does not mean we should feel pressured into faking orgasms, but we also shoudln’t demonize people for wanting to feel validated.
This is where I think it’s important to draw an important distinction that isn’t made often enough.
People cannot be equated to their place in a system, or to how the system affects them.
We are fundamentally more similar than we are different, and the differences that exist do not have to dictate our actions.
Furthermore, participation in the system is relatively mandatory, lest you feel ready to actively fight it.
We can’t blame people born in a system for partaking in it unconsciously.
We can seek to change that system, and we can try to let people see what they are doing so they become more conscious.
But demonizong people over it is a shortcut that doesn’t help us see what can truly be done about a situation.
For instance, considering the urge to feel validated into giving orgasms is fundamentally sexist, and thus makes the person doing it sexist too, is missing the point of the human experience.
It’s a useful template to motivate someone to possibly change their ways, but it certainly doesn’t tell them how to change, since the urge is human to begin with.
We already know that there is an orgasm gap between cis men and women. Women have less orgasms on average than men ( roughly 60% for heterosexual women against roughly 85% for heterosexual men).
Striving to change the gendered scripts may change how men view orgasms and promote better reasons for them to recirpocate. But it won’t change the fact that people care about pleasure reciprocity, and that caring about it isn’t a selfless desire.
Asking people to be anything but human isn’t realistic, and it’s not helping. This means that we need to stop conflating the gender axis, which provides filters of signification, and gender as a cause.
On this note, some women get the orgasm they desire and that’s just wholesome: http://hystericalliterature.com/
Garcia, J. R., Lloyd, E. A., Wallen, K., & Fisher, H. E. (2014). Variation in orgasm occurrence by sexual orientation in a sample of US singles. The journal of sexual medicine, 11(11), 2645-2652.
Frith, H. (2013). Labouring on orgasms: embodiment, efficiency, entitlement and obligations in heterosex. Culture, health & sexuality, 15(4), 494-510.
“My own success would not have been possible without my fantastic mentors, most of whom have been men,” says theoretical physicist Tracy Slayter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She encourages male colleagues to speak up when women are treated or discussed in ways they disagree with. “Your voice has power, in part because of your gender,” she says.
We also need to shake off the idea that physics is a place for the lone genius, says Ágnes Mócsy, at the Pratt Institute in New York.
This quote, taken from an article in the New Scientist could have been a direct quote from my life. I started my career in science with the aim of deconstructing deeply helfd beliefs about myself and my place in the world. During this process, I was faced with challenges upon challenges, most of which were due to a crucial lack of support. This lack of support was both abused and heightened by the specific circumstances of academic surroundings.
Let’s start at the beginning. I am a humanities graduate. You would think that a humanities program would be shielded from the sexism and biases that are rampant in more stemy fields. You’d be wrong. Sexism isn’t only perpetuated by men. Sexism is institutional, and perpetuated by everyone. Everyone, in a sense, stands to gain from partaking in the system in place. It’s game theory 101. If the game has rules, you probably have easier gains by following the winning strategy than by breaking the game so that your group as a whole may benefit.
It follows that women, men, students, teachers will often play the game in a way that benefits them personally rather than the group to which they belong, regardless of where that group happens to fall when the strategies are applied. So you find that, even in female dominated fields, women will possibly be worse off than men because the strategy that they use is one that allows the system to be maintained.
Now, let’s talk about science for a little bit. We see science in society as a field meant only for a select few. Most of us don’t really understand how it works, and if someone labels themself as scientist, and god forbid gives us numbers behind their assessments, we tend to take them at their words, as though a gospel from the mouth of the science God. It follows that we consider the people who call themselves scientists like we would consider wizards. Mysterious creatures with powers beyond the comprehensible. And since most people don’t really understand science (and who can blame them, since it is a heavily guarded knoweldge source: aka a gate that needs gatekeeping), they wrongly assume that the magic resides as an intrinsic quality of the scientist, or more precisely, their intelligence. This is a known bias called the fundamental attribution error. This bias makes us believe that we can judge a person’s character based on contextual data. This makes us believe that only intelligence wizards can be scientists.
But the silly truth is that science isn’t some gift a few people have. Intelligence really helps, and there’s no denying it. : The average IQ for scientists is as follows.
Social scientists: 121.8
Agricultural scientists: 121.6
Mathematicians, biochemists, and chemists: 130.0
As you can see, The average IQ is still way beyond the average of the population. Ranging from 121 to 132, we are skirting the gifted line. So there is a fire to this smoke.
But you don’t have to be a genius either. According to Charlton (2009), creativity and intelligence are being somewhat weeded out by grueling normative processes and politics.
Source: Charlton, B. G. (2009). Why are modern scientists so dull? How science selects for perseverance and sociability at the expense of intelligence and creativity.
And this is the crux of our article. First of all, Science is a process. A method. It requires industriousness and the capacity to care about details. A good scientist is one that can spend a long time doing the same thing over and over again to make a bsolutely certain that the results shown are representative, as well as the method is applied properly. This shapes the way you think.
This is why a GREAT scientist is one that is likely to be very high in openness and creativity, but those two are not very compatible with a rigid system. And so very creative and open scientists may be pushed aside, because they are less easy to constrain in a given normative process. The people scoring high in creativity and openness are also usually correlated with a psychotic nature, and a low agreeability. This does not help with politics.
So let’s once and for all put to rest the idea that science is for geniuses. Being a genius can help, but also hinder your path as a scientist. You’ll have a better time being an average industrious person in that type of work.
Now, we’ve seen that agreeableness is valued in sciences as well as industriousness, and those traits are associated on average with women. However, we’ve also seen that higher intelligence and creativity is linked with lower agreeableness. So More intelligent women are also more likely to score low on agreeableness. However , it is expected of women that they be higher in agreeableness. That’s a sort of stereotype. Now, what happens when women break the stereotype associated to them? Women will be judged more harshly when they derrogate to the stereotype associated to them, as shown by Heilman, and Parks-Stamm, in 2007.
Source: Madeline E. Heilman, , Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm, (2007), Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace: Obstacles to Women’s Career Progress, in Shelley J. Correll (ed.) Social Psychology of Gender (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 24) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.47 – 77
Men and women will thus not be judged the same if they are being less agreeable. This defacto puts women at a disadvantage when intelligence is on the same level.
Now, how about when they are higher on the agreeableness scales?
Other factors come into play.
The system in which academics evolve is still one steeped in the myths of the genius and other sexist myths.
Women need to have higher achievements than men to access similar positions. They are often subject to sexual harrassment from their superior, or even by people who are not their superiors.They are perceived as being less capable than their male counterparts.
The general athmosphere of the scientific fields is that for the most part, women are still not welcome.
We are at the point where it is difficult to be as a woman in the scientific fields. Add to this the fact that sciences are heavily competitive. Departments and chairs fight for funding, because there is little to go around. But this way to think about the field is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we consider that the best way to assign limited resources is to fight for the said resources, we come to a system of competition. Professors find proteges, departments play cut-throat politics, students become wary of one another. This is partly why people who are high in agreeableness tend to do well in depeartments. Playing the politics will allow you to easily have an edge over the competition. This does not, however, entail that you will seek to help your colleagues. And it is often the case that we don’t. Isolation is a real problem in academics. You spend long hours working on your projects, trying to think, reading. Most of what you do is in your head, and it cannot be a constant collaboration. Adding to that the burden of learning, or teaching while you’re in school or a professor.
But we don’t seem to do much about this isolation. Sure, there are some associations, and there are some events. Some help IS there. But it’s certainly not systemic, and it clearly isn’t benefiting most people. This shows that we fail at supporting each other. In certain fields, there are less than 30% of women, who fight their way against all odds.
There are very few of us, and we could support one another. So what’s happening?
Some people take advantage of the isolation, and this isolation makes many women fall off the scientific wagon, specifically in stem fields.
We mentioned it earlier, the scientific field pushes academics to be competitive. Having an edge will ensure more funding, and a better career. We are status driven animals. Having your name as first author on an article can do wonders for your resume.
But science is a method that doesn’t just build on nothing. Every piece of data that you wish to add rests on countless bricks laid by previous scientists, and even perhaps your peers.
Creativity is believed to be the domain of geniuses (as explored earlier). But not all authors agree on this topic.
Steven Johnson wrote a wonderful book about creativity. Where Good Ideas Come From.
He looked at the environmental factors that surround innovation, and he found that ideas actually stem from a large overlap of data and paradigms. When people share information, and process it in collaboration, the best work comes forward. He even found that the best ideas came from scientific lab meetings, as opposed to when working on your own.
Ideas do not materialize from thin air. They come from a long mulling process and an eventual effervescence based on collaborative knowledge building.
He also found that women tended to collaborate at these meetings in ways that allowed for more creativity, tending to see the possibles of a new idea, as opposed to shooting down any novelty to pursue known areas.
Women are socialised to be social. Science is intrinsically a social endeavour. We should be better at supporting and fostering one another to produce better innovation and science. Making those spaces and giving them importance is key to finding a better space in academia.
I’m so done with poly-shaming:
“If you love someone you’re not possessive. True love is not the desire to possess”…
I come accross this sort of comment on facebook group dedicated to help and support new members of the community, as a response to cries for help. It happens too often.
Polyamory is nowhere near mainstream yet. Which means people are raised (for the most part) in a society that only promotes one type of love, one type of relationships, and idealises it until it is all you can see, all you desire.
Success, in your mind, is the capacity to fulfill that ideal, and it will feel good when you do.
But humans are also programmed to respond to other types of stimuli, and being surrounded with all types of love, many relationships can also feel very very good.
For many long-term practicioners of Polyamory, it can feel so wonderful and fulfilling.
The missing gap here is that it takes a crazy amount of work.
you will probably have to break yourself over and over to reform what you considered to be ideals.
You will have to break what you thought was love, and what you thought was self-love.
It takes time, it takes hurting, it takes learning.
The process is sometimes a dirty one, but you can come out on top, and discover emotions you never thought you could feel.
And you can also fall off the wagon, because relationships are also messy, and people are not perfect, and we hurt one another even if we don’t always want to.
Some people become quite good at transitioning, and feeling compersion for one another.
Others were much luckier.
They seemed born this way.
Whatever happened, they never had a problem having compersion, and letting go of other people.
And that’s truly wonderful.
But then they fail to have compersion for other people outside of their polycules. They judge harshly people who struggle to find these burgeonning emotions in themselves, and get carried away in the difficult path. Fall off the wagon.
For a community who prones compassion and compersion, what a disconnect! What judgement!
I came accross the comment up top, one morning:
“If you love someone you’re not possessive. True love is not the desire to possess”…
That’s not the full comment, i don’t want to put it exactly as it was, because I wish for this person to remain anonymous. They’re not the point, and I don’t wish them harm. I just want to fuel a reflection on the topic.
TRUE Love … There is no “true” love. There are people, connections, past, traumas, memories, moments.
Two people do not live the same thing, even in a relationship. What is more, it is possible to live many emotions at the same time, including Compersion and jealousy.We are not monolithic, and we can have fears desires, which are not rational.
To want to possess someone is to want to respond to insecurities, and it is natural. We may want to work on it, try to refrain from guiding the life of the other because of our own insecurities, to grow, but that does not make the emotion as such “bad”. And that certainly does not invalidate any love there may be.
There must be no confusion between abusive relationships which are indeed ONLY based on the desire to possess, and which consider that they are entitled to, with relationships that have as one component among others: the desire to possess.
This kind of judgment is not positive, and it makes it difficult for those who are new to communicate these feelings. It also makes their progress more difficult if they aim to diminish this kind of possessiveness. One does not improve if one has to be made invisible and repress difficult feelings because the host community tends to be recalcitrant towards the less experienced members. It’s pure and simple shaming.
It’s ableism, and it considers that neurotypicals (or a specific ideal of them) are the desirable norm.
I am more and more disappointed with marginal communities I come accross who simply reproduce mainstream oppressive structure, with their name tag on top.
[Edit: someone pointed out that I am not clearly enough laying out how ableism is at play. Here is a bit of the answer.
Ableism is at play here in that it promotes a view of the possibles and expected from everybody, based on a normative and ultimately impossible ideal of mental health.
It shames people for not living up to it without flaws.
It also assumes that the work to put in to repress possessiveness requires the same energy for everybody, and demonises those who struggle to maintain this level of energy.
This does not minimize in any way the emotional labor being put in by people who are neuroatypical. In fact, it is a recognition of that work and of its great cost.]
Be better, accept flaws and novelty.
Accept failures and attemps.
Accept pain and difficulty.
Use the compassion you so often preach.
Étrange monde que le nôtre pour y faire pousser un marmot.
Énorme responsabilité que celle de créer un environnement favorable à un enfant, que de lui donner ce qu’il y a de mieux quand le reste du monde semble s’acharner à te compliquer cette tâche.
Égoïste geste que de choisir d’être parent quand cela signifie que ton enfant se retrouve balancé dans un système qui déteste et rejette toutes les différences, quand ces différences sont pourtant ce qui construit le système.
Toute cette histoire de féminité, de maternité, puis de parentalité aura engendré chez moi un ouragan de questionnements, et semé les graines de réflexions infinies sur ce qu’implique cette aventure d’un point de vue individuel et sociétal. On remarque bien que les jeunes parents semblent n’avoir plus que des histoires de gosses à raconter ( et c’est souvent relou pour les autres ), mais il faut l’avouer : c’est passionnant.
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
Pourtant le regard posé sur la maternité est erroné, parfumé âprement des fragrances d’un patriarcat qui n’y a pas sa place et d’une moralité surannée et rétrograde parfaitement difficile à vivre pour les nouveaux parents, et insupportable pour une femme.
Ce petit morceau de vie raconté ici reflète ma vision des choses et ne se veut en aucun cas être l’étendard de la vérité. Il s’agit de mon vécu personnel, mais qui, je le pense sincèrement, est un bon exemple de ce qui se trame en France, et de la façon dont la société pense la maternité.
Ces 10 commandements de ta vie de femme-mère sont les miens, et sûrement ceux de beaucoup d’autres femmes, et auront été ponctués d’absurdités moralisatrices et misogynes toutes plus ridicules les unes que les autres. D’en prendre conscience, avant, pendant et après contribue à mon sens à enrailler ce système désuet et dangereux.
PARTIE 1 : De la femme à la mère
1/Tu enfanteras. Et plusieurs fois.
Parce que apparemment, c’est un putain de devoir quand tu es une femme.
De mon côté, je n’ai jamais douté de cela. Je voulais faire un enfant. Résidu de mon éducation en solo avec un papa qui m’adorait et à qui j’ai donné vie autant que lui m’a donné naissance, ou semblant d’injonction sociétal ou hormonal imposé par mon corps et mon genre, peu importe. Le tout était cohérent et évident pour moi.
Passée la question de l’égoïsme assumé de cet acte, la sécurité de la solidité d’un couple qui nous donnerait un ciment heureux pour l’aventure, et nous nous sommes lancés. Idéal non ?
Sauf que je n’ai par conséquent jamais remarqué ces petites questions insidieuses qui parsèment la vie d’une femme. J’ai fait un enfant, ok. J’ai mis mon égoïsme devant le reste et j’ai balancé un môme dans un monde qui peine déjà à nourrir les siens.
Et à peine 6 mois après la naissance de mon fils, les premiers « et le deuxième c’est pour quand ? » ont doucement bourgeonné. Dans tous les milieux, toutes les bouches (des amis encore étudiants et sans le sous à la famille de classe moyenne bien éduquée en passant par ma prof de français-philosophie de collège) : partout. Mon moral et mon utérus traînait encore au sol que tout mon entourage se jetait sur ce deuxième enfant imaginaire tandis que le premier, abordé comme un élément de décor joli mais bruyant, ne nous avait pas encore offert notre première nuit de sommeil.
Photo by Laercio Cavalcanti on Unsplash
Ce n’est pas la question de faire d’autres enfants qui me pose problème, mais bien l’obligation informelle qui en découle, et qui m’est épidermique.
C’est en écoutant cela avec mon oreille neuve que j’ai repensé à avant, quand la question sur les lèvres qui m’était adressée concernait mon premier enfant hypothétique. Si ça n’avait pas choqué la Morgane du passé, le trouble est grand aujourd’hui. Qu’en est-il de ma copine qui n’a jamais voulu d’enfants? À qui, dès la seconde, on assénait des « tu changeras d’avis plus tard ! » ou des « tu es encore trop jeune pour savoir » à sa décision? Qu’en est-il de mon copain homo qui veut des enfants mais qui doit se contenter de regarder les autres poser cette question à ma copine agacée et ignorée, sans jamais avoir l’opportunité d’y répondre lui-même ? Quand tu sais que la ligature des trompes est légale en France, mais refusée par la quasi majorité du corps médical parce-que « vous êtes jeune, vous pourriez changer d’avis et vouloir des enfants » ou pire « Vous allez peut être finalement vouloir d’un deuxième, ou d’un troisième enfant, attendez donc votre ménopause ! ».
Une femme ne doit pas avoir d’enfants. Une femme doit pouvoir choisir la vie qui lui sied et cela n’a rien à voir avec le fait d’enfanter ou d’être mère, un point c’est tout.
2/ Tu emmerderas ton entourage pendant ta grossesse, mais tu t’en fous car tu seras épanouie.
« Et ça va, Morgane n’est pas trop chiante ? »
Par ce copain qui s’adresse à mon mec quand j’agonise en sanglotant du haut de mes 8 mois de grossesse, étalée sur le canapé comme un vieux cachalot échoué.
Sans déconner, cette phrase je l’ai entendue une bonne dizaine de fois pendant ma grossesse, de façon plus ou moins détournée.
Oui, j’étais chiante. Pas plus que ça, mais j’étais bourrée d’hormones et d’angoisses, coincée dans un corps qui n’était pas le mien et qui se transformait en prison au fil des mois, bannie de tous les plaisirs qu’on s’offre pour compenser habituellement le mal-être. Pas de bouffe, pas d’alcool, pas de clopes, et à la fin, même pas de possibilité d’aller pisser toute seule. Le sommeil se délite pour n’être qu’un vague souvenir et la jalousie s’enflamme sur mon mec qui peut glandouiller pépouse et ose se plaindre de mal dormir la nuit à cause de mes gémissements. Je ne sais pas quel genre de femme s’épanouit pendant sa grossesse, si ça arrive j’en suis heureuse pour elles, mais il faut arrêter de répandre ces clichés à tout le monde et de continuer de perpétrer cet idéal de sérénité et de féminité dans la maternité.
Alors, tu demandes parfois à internet si ce qu’il t’arrive est normal, et les sites comme MagicMaman, ou BabyCenter t’expliquent que c’est important de prendre conscience que tes maux ne sont rien comparés au bonheur d’être une future mère, de t’accorder du temps pour toi, de faire ta baby shower, ta manucure, et de ne pas oublier de sortir avec tes copines faire du shopping pour te détendre. (!!)
Quand tu as la chance de pouvoir avoir de jeunes parents dans ton entourage (ce qui n’était pas du tout notre cas alors), tous semblent victimes d’amnésie collective et t’assurent que tu oublieras tout une fois venue la naissance du bébé. Je pense sincèrement que la faute incombe encore une fois à notre société, construite de tabous, qui t’interdit de t’éloigner de ce moule patriarcal, archaïque et désuet qui impose aux femmes d’être mères en leur assurant que c’est la seule façon pour elles de s’épanouir.
C’est faux, et c’est inadmissible de continuer de propager ces stéréotypes. La grossesse n’est pas un moment qui doit forcément se vivre bien, et rassurez-vous, ce n’est pas grave. Ces 40 semaines chaotiques sont primordiales pour passer de l’état de femme à celui de mère, longues et courtes à la fois, et elles ne devraient en aucun cas être vécues en solo, tes angoisses prisonnières des tabous sociaux. Elles devraient être partagées, entendues, écoutées et transmises enfin. La grossesse n’est pas ce que l’ont croit, et d’en parler rendrait les futurs parents plus éveillés sur ce qui les attend, les futures mères justement plus épanouies et en phase avec le bouleversement qu’elles vivent ou vivront, et leur entourage plus compréhensif aux chamboulements vécus et donc à l’attitude empathique à adopter.
3/ Tu oublieras tout quand tu tiendras ton enfant pour la première fois dans tes bras.
La fatigue, exacerbée par les nuits blanches de tes derniers mois de grossesse, atteint son paroxysme à ce moment. Je crois que je n’ai jamais frôlé la folie d’aussi près de toute ma vie, et je doute m’encanailler encore avec elle de la sorte.
Je ne parle pas de l’accouchement qui est finalement le seul moment dont on parle à peu près honnêtement et auquel on s’attend. Ça fait mal, c’est long ( bon, oui, sauf ça, parce-qu’on pense que ça fait comme dans les films : pouf, tu perds les eaux, poufs, tu arrives à l’hôpital et pouf, quelques minutes d’agonie plus tard à insulter la sage femme ou ton mari qui te soutient, c’est fini!), c’est pas romantique, c’est hardcore, mais comparé à la grossesse, ça passe « vite », une petite quinzaine d’heures au bas mot pour un premier accouchement sans complication.
La suite en revanche. Quand on te pose ton enfant sur le ventre. Cet autre qui n’est plus toi. Toi qui a déjà bien galéré pendant 9 mois à accepter de vivre à deux dans un seul corps, qui a du apprendre à oublier ton intégrité. Tu te retrouves brutalement divisée, déchirée. Ton ego se transforme en alter ego et c’est un traumatisme.Tu n’oublies rien, rien du tout, et au contraire tu accumules. Alors oui, c’est beau, vraiment, c’est unique, c’est intense, mais c’est aussi irréel, parfois cauchemardesque, souvent très dur.
J’ai tout de suite « reconnu » mon bébé et même si j’ai été complètement perdue et déboussolée, je l’ai accepté et aimé dès le début. Ce n’est pas le cas de tout le monde. Certaines femmes bloquent pendant un temps plus ou moins long (de quelques secondes à plusieurs jours, semaines, ou années dans des cas pathologiques) et n’identifient pas cet enfant comme étant le leur, comme étant réel. Certaines encore admettent plus tard que de faire un enfant était une erreur magistrale et ce malgré tout l’amour qu’elles lui porteront.
Ensuite, fourbue de douleurs, mon gros ventre vide pendouillant lamentablement entre mes seins gonflés et mon sexe déchiré que je n’osais plus toucher, emplie d’une fatigue d’une intensité inénarrable, je me suis dis que non, je n’oublierai jamais. Je suis passée par une jolie petite dépression post-partum légère que j’ai traité par la discussion avec mon cher et tendre, j’ai repris du poil de la bête, et je suis passée à l’étape suivante. Mais jamais je n’oublierai, et j’en parlerai autant que je le peux autour de moi.
Ta vie ne sera plus jamais la même, pour le meilleur et pour le pire. Ton Moi d’avant n’existe plus, il est transformé, transcendé. La grossesse te consume le corps, l’accouchement te déchire la chair, et les premiers jours ( voir semaines et mois ) te brisent l’esprit. Il est primordial de savoir cela, d’en prendre conscience et d’en parler avant d’évoquer enfin le bonheur de la reconstruction qui s’en suit et les apprentissages fantastiques qui ponctuent la vie des jeunes mères.
C’est une chose magnifique que cela, je me sens personnellement heureuse et amoureuse de cette nouvelle vie qui est la mienne, mais il est aberrant d’omettre de parler de la moitié de ce chemin, si l’on veut savourer l’entièreté de ce qu’il implique et offre.
4/ Tu apprendras à être mère, seule en 4-5 jours top chrono.
C’est le temps que tu passes à la maternité quand l’accouchement et les premiers jours se déroulent normalement. Tu seras accompagnée et « testée » : sauras-tu faire prendre son premier bain à ton enfant malgré les violentes contractions de ton utérus qui se reforme ? Parviendras-tu à changer les couches alors que tu n’oses pas quitter ton lit ? Parviendras-tu à allaiter ton enfant malgré un manque consternant d’informations et d’accompagnement, dans la douleur, l’angoisse et la culpabilité de ne pas y arriver ? Sauras-tu passer outre la déferlante chute d’hormones qui te plonge dans un état dépressif et quasi catatonique ?
Mieux enfin : Sauras-tu passer toutes ces épreuves, SEULE ?
J’étais la seule mère de la maternité, sur une vingtaine de jeunes et pimpantes mamans, à avoir mon mari avec moi. On a demandé -imposé- un lit de camp, et monsieur a squatté ma chambre toute la durée du séjour. Pas un seul bonhomme ne restait dormir, même la première nuit. Que ces messieurs bossent, soit, je comprends bien que la vie des autres n’est pas aussi libre que la nôtre ( mon mari ne bosse pas, il est père au foyer sans revenus, et c’est un choix volontaire – mais on y reviendra plus tard – ), mais comment est-il possible qu’on laisse les choses se dérouler ainsi ? Que ce soit le père, le compagnon ou la compagne, ou même un.e ami.e, ou de la famille, nous devrions toutes pouvoir être accompagnées sans avoir l’air de transgresser les règles des maternités ! Sans oser parler des 11 pauvres jours de congés paternité qui sont censé suffire à prendre ses marques en tant que père, à épauler la mère épuisée physiquement de son accouchement, et à se remettre de ses émotions…
Passée l’épreuve du séjour à la mater, dont j’ai à peine souvenir tant cela a été un calvaire, tu devras ensuite rentrer chez toi, et tout savoir faire. Dormir 4 fois par jour par à coups d’une heure. Compter les minutes sur la pendule qui te donnera le seul et unique repère temporel pendant au moins un mois. Accueillir les 120 membres de ta famille, tes amis, en étant dans un état lamentable. Si tu allaites, tu devras te cacher des regards ou essuyer des commentaire graveleux, si tu n’allaites pas tu seras répudiée et culpabilisée à la fois par ton propre regard, mais aussi par celui des autres, du carnet de santé de ton enfants, aux pubs pour lait infantile, ou à l’encart de ta PMI qui te démontrent à quel point ton enfant serait en meilleure santé si tu n’avais pas échoué.
Maintenant, connaissez-vous le syndrome du bébé secoué ?
Il survient lorsque l’on secoue violemment un bébé ou un jeune enfant, ce qui peut causer des lésions cérébrales importantes et être fatal. Chaque année, plusieurs dizaines d’enfants très jeunes en sont victimes, à la suite de secousses pratiquées par des adultes de leur entourage, le plus souvent exaspérés par ses pleurs (père, mère, nourrice…).
A première vue, comme ça, on se dit juste « quelle horreur ! » ou « comment peut-on en arriver là ? » ou même « quelle bande de tarés ferait ça ? ». Et quand tu rentres chez toi, avec ton bébé, souvent avec un mec absent, tu comprends.
Coup de chance, ma sage-femme m’avait prévenue et m’avait dit que j’aurais envie de balancer mon bébé par la fenêtre (oui, ma sage-femme était exceptionnelle). Sur le coup je me suis dit « ben voyons ! », et quand j’y suis arrivée, je l’ai remercié de tout mon cœur de m’en avoir parlé de façon humaine et objective, car c’est grâce à cela que j’ai pu conscientiser mes gestes et mes pensées et contrôler la folie sous-jacente à l’asthénie.
Un humain, quand il est privé de sommeil trop longtemps ne se contrôle pas, ou mal, et peut friser la démence. Une mère, qui a traversé toutes ces épreuves, souvent seule, peut perdre le contrôle. C’est normal. Le sujet est grave, mais une fois abordé il peut être enrayé. Il faut impérativement parler de cela avec les femmes, futures ou récentes mamans, les sensibiliser elles, et surtout impliquer le reste de la société afin qu’elles puissent être accompagnées. Ça n’arrive pas qu’aux autres, aux cas sociaux, ou aux cas pathologiques. Nous, nous sommes des gens sains d’esprit et de corps, éduqués, et pourtant, j’y ai pensé, mon mari y a pensé, et c’est déjà énorme. Encore une fois, discuter, partager, transmettre est essentiel et contribue à faire évoluer et à mettre à jour ces tabous ridicules qui loin d’arranger les choses, les transforment en abcès. Ces tragédies peuvent être évitées si l’on prend simplement la peine de les énoncer, et qu’on commence à porter un regard empathique et humain sur toutes ces femmes perdues et délaissées, si on ne les force plus à avoir un enfant parce-que-c’est-comme-ça-et-puis-c’est-tout et qu’on abandonne pas une fois qu’elles sont mères.
C’est ce que je m’évertue à faire ici, et ailleurs, et ce malgré le regard mortifié de ceux qui reçoivent ce discours et qui me pensent probablement être une bien piètre maman d’avoir autant de mauvais souvenirs de cette période.
5/ Tu seras mère, tout en n’oubliant pas trop ton devoir conjugal non plus. Ni ta vie domestique. Ni ta qualité de femme, faut pas déconner.
J’ai « du bol », si on peut appeler ça comme ça le fait d’avoir un mec très présent, qui m’a accompagnée dans chaque étape de cette aventure, qui est pro féministe et avec qui je partage chaque aspect du quotidien. C’est môsieur qui m’a encouragée à arrêter de m’épiler ou de me maquiller si je n’en avait pas envie, de couper court à ce qu’on m’a appris devoir faire et être en tant que femme, et à vivre de la façon qui me procure du bien-être à moi et non aux autres. Ça devrait être normal et ne pas relever de la chance, mais dans la société dans laquelle on vit, en l’occurrence, j’ai du bol.
Ce n’est pas le cas de tout le monde, et le net regorge de forums recevant les témoignages de femmes désabusées et perdues, forcées par leur compagnon à ouvrir rapidement leurs cuisses à nouveau. J’ai été consternée quand j’ai pu lire des horreurs telles que « mon mari en a marre et a vraiment envie, depuis le temps qu’il se retient, le pauvre » à une nénétte ayant accouché quelques jours avant.
Le sexe, n’est-il encore aujourd’hui vu que comme l’assouvissement du plaisir des hommes, vraiment ?
Comment est-il possible de s’épanouir sexuellement quand les hommes sont élevés avec ces valeurs, et les femmes avec le devoir de s’y plier et de les perpétrer ? Comment peut-on continuer à nier nos choix, notre propre plaisir sous prétexte que c’est comme ça ? Comme le sexe est triste vu sous ce prisme…
Parce que c’est à ça que doit ressembler ta vie maintenant, tu es une mère, mais tu ne dois pas oublier d’être aussi une amante, et une « femme ».
MagicMaman ( encore lui ce coquin!) insiste : « tant pis si votre ménage n’est pas bien fait pendant quelques jours, prenez du temps pour vous, allez chez le coiffeur pour être désirable et vous sentir belle !». Mais va te faire foutre, MagicMaman ! Laisse moi et mes cheveux gras, mes cernes de 10 kilomètres, et mon ménage pas fait depuis 2 semaines tranquille ! Tu ne peux pas plutôt m’enjoindre de juste… communiquer avec mon mec et lui expliquer, dans le cas où ça ne lui paraîtrait pas évident, que mon froufrou vient de subir un gros choc et que lui et mon cerveau ne sont pas trop dans le mood ? Ne peux-tu pas t’adresser autant aux femmes qu’aux hommes en leur rappelant que les plaisirs sexuels n’impliquent pas forcément une pénétration, et qu’au pire, si ces messieurs sont vraiment en chien, il existe des techniques révolutionnaires qui n’impliqueraient qu’eux-même ? Ne peux-tu pas m’inviter à partager mes épreuves avec mes amis ? Souffler de la façon qu’il me sied sans impliquer forcément une paire de godasses neuves ou une manucure d’enfer ?
Je vous mets au défi de trouver le moindre site de conseils sur les bébés francophones qui s’adresse au père, ou au deux parents. C’est établi : on te tutoie, on te prends pour une pimbêche vénale et dépensière et on te parle au féminin uniquement. Dans notre cas c’était insupportable pour deux raisons : déjà car passé l’agacement relatif à la superficialité induite de ma personne, et ben, ça te fait culpabiliser, toi la mère qui ne t’occupe pas de ton enfant à plein temps.
Ce n’est pas moi qui reçoit la plupart des câlins, et non, ce n’est pas « maman » que mon fils a dit en premier ( il ne le dit d’ailleurs toujours pas). Ce n’est pas moi qui était la plus fatiguée car je me levait peu la nuit. Ce n’est pas dans mes bras que mon fils se réfugie quand il a peur, est triste, ou a mal. Voilà donc de quoi faire turbiner le cerveau et la culpabilité injustifiée de toutes ces mères qui ne sont pas le parent 1…
Et d’une autre part, n’oublions pas que cela nie également complètement l’éventuel rôle d’un père au foyer. Lui n’est mentionné nul part, ou seulement comme gros boulet qui ne comprend rien puisqu’il ne s’occupe pas du gosse, qui n’est ni doux ni patient, et qui ne pense qu’à queuter sa dame (si il n’est pas trop dégoûté de savoir qu’un bébé est passé par la porte de son temple privé).
Et encore, je suis mignonne avec mes agacements, mais je suis quand même bien tranquille dans mon couple de jeunes français blancs cisgenres et hétéros, hein, je passe au travers de moult filets injustes…
Tes seules solutions seront de passer outre ces subtilités de langages, ou de chercher du côté de sites anglophones qui ont tendance à parler aux parents de façon plus générale sans passer par le cliché de maman materne et papa bosse.
Bref, Mesdames, Messieurs, bousculez les règles, révolutionnez la société en secouant simplement l’intérieur de votre foyer. Partagez tout, et le monde s’en portera mieux.
Quand elle est réfléchie, choisie et partagée, la maternité est vraiment une aventure magique, unique, fabuleuse et d’une richesse incroyable. Elle est ce qui peut permettre de transcender un corps, un couple, un cœur, et apporte un bonheur incommensurable et si puissant qu’il est très difficile à expliquer.
Mais dans le meilleur des cas, avec des bases aussi saines et idéales, elle n’en reste pas moins extrêmement difficile, bien plus complexe que l’image qu’elle véhicule. La grossesse et la maternité sont dures, parsemées d’embûches et de doutes, et effroyablement mal connues. Elles sont une petite mort et un deuil violent de ce qui ne sera plus jamais, et bouleverse jusqu’au moindre atome du corps et de l’esprit d’une femme.
Il suffirait que chacun prenne le temps d’en parler, d’être compréhensif, ouvert et indulgent, et surtout honnête envers soi-même et dans son rapport aux autres pour débloquer bon nombre de situations tragiques, pour endiguer ces clichés obsolètes qui ne permettent aux femmes ni de choisir ce qui est bons pour elles, ni de les accompagner dans leurs choix.
Transgressez, communiquez, et révolutionnez ! Que vivre soit pour vous et non pour ce que vous devez supposément être. Ce ne sont que des petits pas, un joyeux mélange de riens, qui ne changent pas grand chose mais qui j’en suis sûre, contribuent à faire avancer ce grand tout.
Now, as a liberal, you might tell yourself that you must uphold a certain type of values and principles. That anyone breaching them is a direct threat to you, and you should either push them aside, prove them wrong, or avoid them altogether.
You might tell yourself that this is better for a certain purity of thought.
But I’m here to tell you that this is not necessarily a sign of integrity.
Integrity is being able to look at yourself and finding that you have respected an ideal that you identified with.
But that does not mean that you shouldn’t accept to change ever.
Perhaps your ideal will change. Perhaps you will find that somethings are not the way you thought.
That you have been wrong.
This does not mean however, that you are always wrong.
And having this capacity to doubt yourself can sometimes also lead you astray , and fall prey to predatory people.
Now, remember how predatory people can be seductive? That’s right! Being mentally challenged can be so envigorating, stimulating. Having a conversation makes you feel listened to.
That someone takes you seriously enough to take the time to disagree with you means that they actually considered your point. This can be very charming.
You can mix all this with the fact that anything taboo is enticing. We fall for the bad boy, for the forbidden. As a liberal, certain things have become avatars of “evil”, never to be touched, never to be frequented. What better to way to make something appealing than to make it out of reach?Easily then, you will find a liberal mind weirdly , and sort of against their own better judgement, attracted to an ideologically opposite predator.
This is when your defense mechanisms kick in.
You notice certain patterns you are already aware of, that you have studied . You are in fact always aware of it when it comes to situations outside of yourself. You fight those daily. But we humans are funny little creatures. We can know about biases, and still fall prey to them. We’re in fact more likely to fall prey to them, the more ware we are of them, because to us, it doesn’t feel like a bias. This is called the Bias Blind spot.
|Bias blind spot||The tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than in oneself.|
“This is more evidence for the “bias blind spot”, a term coined by Pronin which refers to the head-spinning fact that we have a cognitive bias to the effect that we’re uniquely immune to cognitive biases. Take the famous better-than-average effect, or Lake Wobegon effect, whereby the majority of people think they’re above average on any number of measures – their driving skills, their popularity, the quality of their relationship – when clearly they can’t all be right. It turns out the bias also applies to bias. In other words, we’re convinced that we’re better than most at not falling victim to bias. We seem to imagine we’re transparent to ourselves: that when we turn our attention within, we can clearly see all the factors influencing our decisions. The study participants “used a strategy that they thought was biased,” the researchers note, “and thus they probably expected to feel some bias when using it. The absence of that feeling may have made them more confident in their objectivity.”
Back to our liberal. Remember how you’re numbing yourself to not constantly be in a fight? Well, if you’re aware of certain red flags, yet do not feel them from your numbness, you may tell yourself that they are not, in fact , present.
This is especially true if you are in the process of falling in love, or making friends, or living surrounded by people who become part of your everyday life.
Why would you fall in love with people who put up red flags? Arguably, these red flags should be distasteful to you, even if you choose to not suffer from them.
It’s not that simple.
Humans crave motion, drama, emotion.
While being relaxed may feel good once in a while, we are inherently social beings, and we enjoy the tumult that comes with social life.
If anything, drama is entertaining. It’s physically enthralling, when you start producing adrenaline and cortisol.
Some dramas are harder to control, and while you probably won’t be able to pry your eyes away, you probably won’t seek a drama that is dangerous to you.
However, controlled dramas such as lively conversation is most of the time very pleasurable.
It’s a bit like an emotional superstimulus.
The risks are higher, but the reward is also higher. We are wired to focus on dangerous things, as much as on pleasurable things. You can find both in social interactions.
Challenging people have a greater effect, and allow to maintain your attention for longer; You focus by anger, or by joy, by curiosity or simple entertainment. But regardless, you are focused. These people make you tick in a way that is a little bit addictive.
Not everybody has addictive tendencies, and in this sense, not everybody falls prey to ideological predators. Similarly, an ideological predator is not exactly playing an unfair game. Everyone takes part in the same superstimulus, and everyone uses different tools to achieve their goals, but it must be highlighted that in certain situations, you can come out a little hurt from interactions that are not inevitable.
These challenging people are thus superstimuli.
And what is love if not wanting more of the contact with a person or a thing? The feeling of craving their presence, their existence in your vicinity?
To be continued in part 3.
Following your gut when interacting with predatory people
Existing in a setting that does not apply your value structure.
The ideological predator is a person that seeks to replicate their ideology in an aggressive and universal manner. This is a simple the structure. You see it in any type of ideology which seeks to take precedence over others without integrating them towards a larger picture. It is a linear type of thought that creates hierarchies in which the summit is the one the person arguing holds. Sexism is a type of ideology that uses the predatory structure. The sexist seeks to diminish the other until disappearance. The ideological predator does not seek to have discourse, they seek to establish dominance in a field via the discourse. Usually , a type of structure of thought is habitual, which means you don’t just hold that type of structure for one thing, and one thing only. We think with analogies. We replicate patterns, we attach knowledge.
Some people think in social terms, others think in positivist terms. We can hold different patterns of thought in our heads, but it’s unlikely each thought, each ideology we touch on will have its individual structure. This is why science often comes in paradigms, which permeates various fields. Knowledge leaks through from field to field and help us have a more unified view of reality.
For example, someone with a constructionist structure, will tend to doubt their own certainties and question every piece of data presented to them. This meta epistemology will force the interlocutor to hold back from certainty, and give more credit to voices who have experienced a phenomenon as opposed to a positivist recounting of quantitative data.
So an ideological predator, while they might not will themselves into predation, will tend to adopt similar structures for different ideologies. The ideological predator may not be directly in a sexist interaction with you, but may let you feel rather quickly that this sort of structure is in their mind.
An ideological predator is not in himself a bad person. In fact, it may be very interesting and challenging to speak to someone who does not hold back and truly makes you think. This is where our article comes into its meat.
What is being a liberal today?
Today, a liberal is a person that seeks to protect and defend those whose voices are least represented, and seeks to improve individual empowerment. Any factor that may detract from individual empowerment is fought against. This usually means that the liberal mindset is one on the margins. It is a mindset of counter-discourse against an oppressive majority, by definition already empowered. Usually, this aligns with ideologies such as feminism, anti-specism, anti-racism and so on. This is not to say these ideologies are fundamentally better. They simply serve a purpose that we as a society claim to find more noble.
Helping the weak and the poor etc.
This also ensures that these ideologies, as long as they find momentum, quickly find the high ground.
If a society finds a sort of sacredness to human life, it cannot rationally justify to sacrifice a majority of those lives for the privilege of the few.
Regardless of these values, the liberal mindset is one that seeks to challenge the majority view because it needs to make sense of the suffering of the human, as something other than inherent personal failing.
If life is sacred, it must be inherently valuable. Thus, merit should not be dependant on failure or success. It also seeks to challenge the idea that any one thought can be all encompassing. This is where we come across the ideas of intersectionality or standpoint, where knowledge is situated within power struggles.
What does it mean to be a liberal then?
It means that you are in a near constant state of offense and attack. Until the situation is not solved, you are fighting some kind of a fight. You are hurting with the rest. Empathy is your greatest tool. What this also means is that you can try to shelter yourself during key times against attacks. You cannot fight all the time. Even soldiers rest.
This has several unfortunate effects. One of those effects we are very familiar with. The silo effect. Or echo chambers. This is the attempt to protect yourself against those who would make you feel attacked, or the need to attack by surrounding yourself solely with people who think very similarly to you, or perhaps with a similar structure, since we do not all share the same knowledge.
This can have the perverse effect of weakening your very capacity to attack or defend yourself. When you are not familiar with the opposing rhetoric, you can’t possibly reason through it. You are left barren against such claims when they do arise. Or at least, you can’t reason through it fast enough to be efficient.
The second effect it seems to have is that you may not be able to notice an argument meant as an attack when you make yourself numb. You try to let things go by, when you lack the energy, and you become susceptible to alternative structures because you are not in a state to really think through anything.
Now this may not be a bad thing all of the time.
Openness is a wonderful quality that allows knowledge to be spread and discovered. If people were not open, they never would be able to find out if some part of their thought process is wrong, or they would not be able to create new and better knowledge. Openness simply means that you can take in data, without instantly resisting it.
That is fundamentally a good thing.
But it can be used inappropriately. Or more to the point, it can be used consciously by people who do not themselves seek to create new and better knowledge, but simply to spread their own structure of knowledge. It’s a purely asymmetric endeavour that does not necessarily lead to better knowledge.
The liberal mindset can thus be completely closed off for fear of being taken advantage of, which also closes them off to better knowledge, or susceptible to this type of tactic and taken advantage of.
By this point, the liberal mind has reached a temporary structure that resembles the ideological predator. The fundamental difference being that they are not actively seeking to spread any one single type of rhetoric.
What happens when a liberal mind, numb from battling all the time, meets an ideological predator?
The numb liberal can find it simply interesting to interact with the predator, and willing themselves to numbness, not want to fight and simply let the predator take a certain amount of space, win a certain amount of power battles, and not take a specific offense to it.
Again, this may be on some level very positive. It paves the way for a real discourse in which the points are heard for themselves, and not for their political weight.
It also means that dynamics are set in place without really anyone noticing.
You only really notice what bothers you.
But if you are numb, and unwilling to make anything into a conflict, you stop being bothered by small things.
You try to not let yourself be bothered.
This can take many forms.
It can be trying to find reasons for the behavior, finding excuses.
It can be denying any sort of difference and pretend that nothing is amiss.
This can be the optimism bias. The Optimism Bias
To be continued.
Morality to most people sounds like an obvious topic. It goes without saying. You have an obligation to be your best self. A good person. That narrative is so prevalent in our society that it is a tension line in many of our portrayals, and it guides our self-reflection.
How can I be a good person?
Even the question: How can I be a good person? You’re not wondering how to choose the best course of actions. This is your identity. YOU ARE the good person, or you fail to be it. Many people think one can even be reduced to one’s actions. Functionally, there’s really no difference right? Since all I can see of you is your actions, how could anything else matter? You are what you do.
Others are not so certain of the answer to the question, or even that the question is the right one at all. Morality in itself is still an open question. What is one to do, and how?
There are several schools of thought, and this piece is not to discuss a possible answer. I will leave the reader to decide this for themselves.
However, we will discuss here how certain aspects of morality are intrinsically linked to other areas of identity portrayal. Specifically, this piece seeks to look at the fluidity that seems to interact across various axes of identity.
But first, let us lay the groundwork.
You know what a normal person is supposed to be. Even if you actually can’t really pinpoint a true image or even point one in the streets, you know when you act how far you are from a normative line. We have books and diagnoses meant to act as guidelines within which to act, or more specifically, away from which not to stray.
This being said, you probably didn’t read those books.
You probably integrated norms via media and socialisation. This self-reinforcing cycle created a near infallible template for you to follow without actually making conscious the details of the rules. Beautiful osmosis.
Media has a nifty way of giving you the rules, like it would help a machine learn.
It gives you countless examples, and brands them as positive, or negative (I’m oversimplifying), and you get to infer the rules on your own. The beauty about all of this is that you do it subconsciously, since the examples are niftily hidden in entertaining narratives.
But can those examples truly give you a specific set of rules? Certainly they can’t be that similar?
That’s where archetypes come into play.
Writers can be original, but they use plot devices that are meant to make us understand their intents.
Intelligible codes that allow you to see the underlying messages and follow an action along without wondering if the poetry is about fish or transcendance.
Archetypes are the type example of a concept. Like a perfect bundle, the prototype of a category. They are the most intelligible part of a code, and are thus a self-reinforcing recognizable pattern.
The more recognizable it is, the more it is used, the more recognizable it is. Archetypes are thus attractive methods of representations.
We have many archetypes on different subjects, but usually one at the top of a hierarchy for each.
When writers of a show on TV create their characters, they use those archetypal templates and fill in the gaps with details useful to their plots.
The archetypes of interest here are those related to gender.
You’ve probably heard of the Whore/Madonna dichotomy.
Women can be placed within these two (again, this is an oversimplicfication, there are other archetypes) categories, and their associated characteristics will follow the template of structure.
The whore archetype is a highly sexualised character. She is not reliable, and considered to be an object. This type of character is usually very strongly associated to loose or negative morals. Usually, those morals are anti-conformist, anti-traditional, and end up leaving her off with negative consequences.
But she is not outside of the value structure alltogeher. This type of woman is still desirable,and conforms to an esthetic. She willingly partakes in the pleasures. She is still fragile and to be protected, or at least would need it. This type of woman may be against a certain form of purity, but is not necessarily entirely villified.
Whatever happens, this type of character is fixed. The whore is the whore, and cannot be the Madonna. Only a drastic cut can turn her into something different, but more likely than not, the character will stay within the whore paradigm.
On the other hand, the Madonna character is not desired but highly valued. The Madonna exudes purity, conformism and tradition. This is not a sexualised character. Her morals are spotless, and in fact act as a guide for others to follow.
Clearly, these characters embody different aspects of the virtue ethics.
They are people to be or to avoid being. They are good intrinsically because of the virtues they embody, or bad intrinsically because of the virtues they fail to adhere to. The good or bad that befalls them, or even the people around them is not the main focus. The rules they follow are also not imperative. It is what they are.
And so these archetypes integrate morals and virtues in the character itself. In its personnality.
This is where we find the importance of purity.
If a character is pure, they fulfill this most important virtue.
Purity is achieved by certain ideals which are always contextual but considered to be universal.
For instance, virgins are understood to be devoid of sexuality and thus emblematic of purity.
Sexuality is considered to be sullying. For a woman at least.
In this way, morality and gender intersect keenly. Since purity is a state that is supposedly perfect, there is no way to achieve it once it is lost.
You can strive towards it, but it is a constant effort.
You have to constantly strive upwards towards purity if you wish to profess to that virtue. You cannot at once be both pure and impure, but you can tend on a continuum, and people will recognize the striving towards one side or the other, simplifying the state to the intent.
You strive to be pure? Your actions speak to that? Then you are functionally pure.
The same is true on the other side.
The gender archetypes are not just for the feminine side. There are also masculine archetypes.
Those are allowed more variety.
This variety still strives upwards, but it does so over a hierarchical pyramid. Arguably the same is true for the feminine archetypes, but the extremes are much stronger.
This pyramid goes as follows.
The top of the pyramid embodies a certain amount of virtues, all in one big bundle.
There are many masculine virtues such as strength, courage, will, intelligence etc (please note that I am not suggesting women cannot be or embody such characteristics, simply that they are majorly portrayed in media and literature as masculine traits, which in itself is problematic). Sometimes, some of the virtues are a bit contradictory. For instance, a man supposed to embody the virtue of strength should try to rely on this virtue instead of his intelligence in order to resolve a conflict.
So the archetype of the perfect virtuous man can be broken down into subsets of virtues, creating a lower tier of archetypes. The second level of the pyramid thus has men who embody some virtues, but are also lower than the top because they do not have the other virtues. This creates a number of subcategories of archetypes.
This can go on with even less embodied virtues, and thus more subcategories, and levels of the pyramid.
Regardless, if a character is one of those archetypes, he is supposed have these virtues intrinsically, or strive to develop them more. Whatever movement is shown basically just confirms the virtues alsready present in the character.
There is no real movement.
At least, most of the time.
Morality as the underlying justifying foundation to the hierarchy, illusion of validity.
As we can see, these characteristics are mostly believed to be intrinsic to the character. It is what the character is, not what he chooses for a while.
That’s an easy plot line.
How do you identify good and bad, if they are simply functions of contextual choices?
It becomes difficult to uphold a system if people in themselves cannot be held to morality standards, and their actions are simply those on trial. You cannot punish an action. You can try to stop an action, but you can only punish a person.
Therefore, it is much more convenient to assign the goodness or badness to the person themselves.
We can punish them or value them at will, and easily follow them as examples.
Our hierarchy of archetypes is based, as we saw, on virtues.
Why are these characteristics specifically considered to be virtues?
They are useful. They serve a purpose. To make matters simpler, we say they are good.
As a general rule, we consider someone is good if they are brave. Our hierarchies are not just accepted as. We justify them by the moral structure that we apply beneath it. This whole structure is thus static, because a static structure is more easily intelligble. When things don’t move and repeat, it’s easier to read them.
There’s possibly a social imperative for consistency through time. Iinearity perhaps?
As the archetypes are intelligible, so do our actions need to be.
One single action is not meaningful on its own. Actions and codes are meaningful in a structural frame, in relation to other actions codes. Thus, it builds on itself to go in one directions.
There is more to it than simple intelligibility. There is a strong incentive to keep you in a single category.
Meaning, you are strongly adivsed to be good, but if you failed at some point, you are branded rather permanently, to keep you away from the “good side”, lest its pool be tainted. Since these catagories are supposedly intrinsic, fluidity from one side to the other is a troubling notion. If one can move, then one IS not something. One just does something.
The moral and gendered boundaries are thus strongly enforced.
Where you are on either side of those lines gets integrated in your personnality, and you begin to identify with it and justify it for yourself. Just like Nietzsche proposes, where you are on a side becomes the good side, no matter what flip you have to make to your perception in order to be on the “good” side.
People become ensconced in their positions and enforce others to stay with them on that side. Groups are formed around these archetypes.
Specifically it seems people are either one or another type of morality.
One is either good or bad, and is intelligible in this way.
We respect a criminal with a code (Ocean’s 11, The godfather).
It might be perhaps another way to promote commitment, and reduce social empowerment and mobility. You don’t want too much unrest.
Too much mobility.
But like we should know by now, the human cannot be easily contained.
It is possible as we saw to move within the boundary of a morality line. You can become more of the same thing.
More rarely, you can cross that line once. Either you fall from grace, or you can be redeemed.
But usually, this can only happen once. People will not believe you can be redeemed twice.
“Fool me once”… etc.
Now, once you change, as we’ve seen, you lose your group. Hence strong morality lines serves as cohesive for group membranes as well.
Kegan proposes stages of moral and value appraisal. The first stages are not absolute morals, but they are enacted as absolute rules.
The later stages are a gradual abstraction for morality rules dictated by a group to dictated by the self, until an individual is capable of making decisions without having to rely on a set of rules. Arguably, very few people reach the last level (level 5) within which an individual may in fact mix and match his own set of rules when it is useful to him or to a purpose she sets herself.
Kegan and his 5 stages portray the difficulty to simply adopt a different set of morals, and how different genders are associated with a different hierarchy of morals.*
You can read about Kegan’s 5 stages of development here:
How to be an adult – Kegan’s theory of adult development.
The 3 last stage of kegan’s development are the most interesting ones.
But they have also been criticized for their gendered hierarchical nature.
Indeed, the 3rd stage is the stage during which an individual cares most about the value structure of their own group, and acts in order not to be expelled from the group. This entails that the values themselves are not specifically important, and were they to change within the group, the individual might change accordingly.
This does not often happen, but it may.
This level is associated to pro-social behaviors that women tend to favor. Hence, according to this theory, women are usually at a lower level of development.
In level 4, the individual disassociates somewhat from the pressure of the group and integrates the value structure on its own alleged merit. The individual upholds values because he believes them to be good, and may even draw the ire of a group if it is in line with his moral values.
This is a level associated to potentially anti-social behaviors favored by men.
According to this theory, men are thus higher than women on the developmental scale.
But we are still left with this elusive 5th level, during which an individual may shed the necessity for a strict set of values and make their own set, understand that values are rules that can bend and may be shed when necessary.
We will return to this point.
The most important idea here, was simply to show that the hierarchy of morals was connected to the hierarchy of genders. Usually, these hierarchies and positions within them tend to stay relatively fixed, but the system seems to have built within it the possibility for movement.
So far, we have mostly been talking about normative representations. But what of non-normative representations? Although rare, they do exist and allow for beautiful paradoxes in the system to be highlighted.
Marginality in general is often portrayed in conjunction with rebellion against the mass, and thus with often alternative sets of morals.
Marginal, non-normative individuals tend to be ambiguous in nature. After all, normativity is simply another word for intelligible. The more intelligible a concept is, the more likely it is to become normative. If it does not become normative, it becomes a stereotype, and can thereafter be reinterpreted and owned by the group it targets (take for example the term “Queer”), but nonetheless, it is part of our stated reality. It is normative NOT to be the villified intelligible sides of reality.
On another note, usually, what is intelligible but villified is often erased from public exposure. Invisibilisation is one way that the normative mass may enforce a certain way of being, highlighting once again the importance of intelligibility.
Marginal individuals will tend to stray out of the intelligible in rebellion against the most common discourse. They will embrace novelty. The invisible will become them, and thus they create a new form of discourse. When they are portrayed (however rarely), it can be tricky to make them intelligbible. How do you portray what does not exist as a code to be understood by most. How do you portray “glubnark”, if no one knows what it is? How do you make people understand “glubnark” without minutes of exposition, and weave it into your narrative?
(playing with this notion, Rick and Morty introduce the Plumbus, and leave the audience mystified).
So ambiguity can be presented by mixing around already known codes.
For instance, mixing around codes belonging to masculinity and codes belonging to femininity.
And so we find that when there exists a hierarchy of masculinities, associated with its set of moralities, and femininities, associated with its set of moralities, and that these two system also exist in relation to one another, on a hierarchical stage of morality as well, it can become clear that ambiguous characters do not really permit clear morality lines.
Just like genes swap sides in the formation of sex cells to mix up the arrangements of your parents genes, so do the morality lines associated with each system.
These systems of gender exist structurally, which means only in relation to one another, and not as absolutes. Take the system apart, and it has no absolute meaning, and somewhat starts to fall apart.
Hence, the ambiguous characters exhibit the limits to that system, as though there existed clear sides to morality and only certain people with oddities could exist in the in between.
There exist multiple examples, in various genres, of the sort of ambiguous gendered and moral characters.
We have seen above the wonderful “HIM” from the powerpuff girls, although he is perhaps an exception as he is radically portrayed as evil (Mind you, evil from a very specific moral standpoint, which we will not delve into here).
We can start by looking at the clever Bugs Bunny.
He responds to contextual needs by applying gendered norms appropriately. He will interact in a semi-sexual manner with different genders as suits his needs. But you could not quite label Bug Bunny as a “GOOD” person. He delights in hurting his foes, sometimes unprovoked. He toys with them needlessly. He oscillates from prey to predator in each episode. He will avoid or enact violence as suits his will.
Bugs Bunny clearly shows that his morality lines can shift, enough that he stays surprising to the viewer who expects a constant morality line.
Bugs Bunny has a hierarchy of moral puzzle sets that he can take in and out. Rules within rules that can be plugged in as seen fit. Bugs Bunny is one example of Kegan’s 5th level of development.
Tara, from United States of Tara is another example of shifting morality lines in direct relation to her gender.
She shows it even more plainly since her gender does not simply oscillate from male to female, but also within the gender pole hierarchies as well.
Whe is at times a mother, and at times an adolescent “loose girl”. She can be a loud but overall peaceful man, or a murderous young predator.
Her attitudes towards sex, relationships, institutions, violence and truth can and do shift with her various gendered personalities.
Her character though, is oddly unified.
All these aspects of Tara are contained in one body, and one group relationship, that surrounds the mental health of Tara. She is the ambiguous line shifting character.
Bugs Bunny and Tara are not the only ones. We will not examine them all, but we can still name examples such as Jack Randall from Outlander, or Jessica Jones.
There exist more.
If one comes to your mind, do not hesitate to mention them!
Arguably though, contextual morality might be useful and in fact closer to the reality of people’s actual inner lives. People are not, in fact, truly linear. People most of the time try to bend their own understanding of the rules to match what their innermost desires would want them to do. Or they simply decide that they can sometimes be exceptions to the rules. Simply in terms of gender, people negotiate their own daily, in every interaction and context they encounter, even if perhaps not in extreme variations.
But if you promoted this sort of idea, then you’d need to teach people how to apply their capacity for change, lest they become too uncontrollable. If you think you have leeway (at least through rationalisation) , you might be tempted to make things easier for yourself and reduce cognitive dissonance, align you life constantly with desires, and refuse to follow a social order.
It is thus logical that our mainstream discourse is one that portrays linearity as the common ground.
When you’re happily in a relationship, you forget what a privilege it is to share time and space with someone who is willingly doing it.
You can take for granted every little aspect of possibilities that get added when you are not a human alone.
Not everybody has these privileges, and there is an entire culture dedicated to trying to fix this gap. Dating apps, and websites, groups and events. Advice books and columns. Therapists, retreats, gurus, pickup artists.
Everyone has the magic solution, if you could just follow these easy steps.
The problem is, there isn’t actually a magic sauce.
Theoretically, you could see the strength in numbers. Statistically, the more you date, the more likely you are to find someone willing to spend some time with you, but there are some issues with this idea as well.
In truth, dating, and love, are fields just as intersectional, if not more, as the rest.
Attraction is the most justified scene of all our prejudices and cultural notions.
There are ideals of mates, and there follows a hierarchy of potential qualities, or lack thereof.
In dating we have the epitome or the nexus perhaps, of our cultural codes, put in action for their very own sake. This is where they come into light. Every other field within which hierarchies can form attenuates it by its own idiosyncratic set of norms.
For instance, the workplace does show to be influenced by racial or gendered norms. But those are only moderators over the norms of performance and the workplace hierarchy (however skewed and replicating patriarchy it lay be). You may be as normatively beautiful as you could, if your performance (or use of soft skills) is null, you may not last very long in that particular hierarchy.
However, dating is where all hierarchies take their meaning.
We are evolved.
Evolution pushed us in a direction of sexual selection.
How this one is done is a complex process which has become heavily codified by millenia of meaning making.
Regardless, at its base, we seek to maximise our profits when we select a mate that may also entail offsprings.
All the codes thus serve for us to find who may be the best fit as a potential mate.
Now, keep in mind, these are somewhat subconscious processes.
You may not look for someone to conceive with.
You may simply be looking to get laid.
But these are recent developments. The codes are a coat of paint on a very very old machine.
If dating is easy for you, this is wonderful news. But it may highlight a sort of privilege you may not have been considering.
Your general adherence to the cultural ideals.
I had the chance to speak to a Metis Native, Trans lesbian woman, by her own identification.
She did not want to be identified by name , however, this is how she depicts herself.
Having spoken to her, I believe this is actually pretty accurate.
She shared with me the specificity of her situation when it comes to dating.
Her identity places her at the intersection of many axis of complexity.
Being Trans, fitting the normative ideal associated with cis femininity is an issue.
Being a lesbian, she struggles with the simple issue of finding partners that also identify withing that sexual orientation, which is a minority to this day.
Being metis native, she struggles with latent issues of racism, namely the potential dismissal as a potential partner or the ftishisation of her identity.
I initially responded to one of her posts on facebook, and she decided to answer my questions.
For the purpose of the article, let’s call her Mira.
I keep going to clubs thinking it’ll be fun and I’ll meet fun people. Optimistic me needs to stop being so fucking delusional, no one’s interested.
Mahault Albarracin :What kind of clubs do you go to?
Tonight specifically, Unity. Which now that I’m chill and not anxious and overthinking, makes it obvious. I don’t know why I was surprised no one cared I existed, it’s the Unity.
But generally, any place not straight.
Mahault Albarracin: What do you mean no one cared? no one came to pick up on you?
Just a generalized experience. No one ever seems “into me” or and anxiety makes me think people move away when dancing because I’m bothersome or ugly or something, which I know is just my mind being a jerk. Not that I would care normally, it would even suit me that no one would approach me in any other situations. But seeing others in my life getting approached so often and so easily makes me feel like there’s something wrong about me.
Of course, this is almost made worse by being aware that this is purely just extrapolation and exaggeration of my mind trying to justify my lack of luck, when it’s very likely just that, lack of luck and me just not encountering people who are interested by people like me, probably. Chances are I didn’t do anything wrong at all, and neither did anyone. They’re just not interested in me. Me attempting to be social, dressing nice, dancing well, etc. will do nothing to change that.
Ah, the joy of ease of access to social media when being emotionally compromised.
My relation to dating in general is very, well, dull in a way. I’ve simply just never been very lucky save for one absolute blessing (which honestly is also not perfect, and things I can’t change still affect this relationship in ways that are hard to handle.)
One thing I figured with time is that luck, coincidences, or lack of either is the primary source of relationships.
There is inevitably someone somewhere that is into what and who you are. And I’m not talking about somewhere in the world, but somewhere locally. But the chances of them meeting you in a context where you’re both emotionally available, with the proper will to meet someone new, and good circumstances giving a reason to socialize with them are low.
Some people are luckier than other, whether social and emotional availability is more common for them due to their nature (extrovert traits, neurotypism, natural attractiveness, etc)
Others, which is basically my case, have the opposite of luck. I’m not particularly visible/noticeable nor beautiful. I’m an introvert by nature. I’m on the autism spectrum. Dressing well, developing dancing skills, and so on to attract people doesn’t really work in my case. I’m surrounded with people who are sexually successful, with people consistently being attracted to them. Some of which being of the lucky type, but others being like me technically with only slight variants. Which brings my mind to wander in odd places.
I’m autistic, ‘gifted’, trans, and lesbian. I guess whatever mixes best haha
I’d say this is very much so a direct result of what happens when high intellect, queerness and and desire to be sexually active crosses path.
Having strong logic and analysis skills makes handling a biological/emotional situation worse, sometimes. Because you know exactly what causes you to feel the way you do, but it also means you’re aware there’s nothing you can do about it. Ignorance can truly be bliss, I suppose.
Very often, I become victim of what I jokingly call “nerdzoning”. People connecting so strongly on an intellectual level with me that they cannot see themselves being physical with me.
Thank you for your interest in my experience by the way, it’s odd to have someone be interesting in my nerdy rant against the dating world.
As you can see, dating is a function of how one perceives themselves in a complex dynamic web of interconnected codified interaction cues.
Even within the circles that advertise themselves as open to your specific brand of existence, it does not mean you will actually fit the norms.
Every scene has its own set of specific hierarchy idiosyncrasies as well.
You can see this in Bear gay bars, or Kink clubs for example. The types most favored differ with the sub-community you are part of. Nonetheless, certain greater ideals always shine back through the tapestry and make it difficult for some people to connect.
The ending of this article may seem bleak, but the truth is I’m not sure yet how to get around this.
As I mentioned before, attractions seem pretty justified for those who live them, and are often subconscious processes.
Being aware of our own prejudices is a first step, but I’m not certain it actually changes the way you perceive others along this codified hierarchy.
Perhaps it will allow you to see other people for who they are on your own hierarchy, one that you choose, as opposed to one chosen for you.
Knowledge is power after all.
Women with disabilities are one of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups – they experience double the disadvantage because they face the challenges and barriers created by society in relation to being a woman, in addition to the social attitudes towards people with disabilities. The intersection of gender inequality and disability creates a situation with multiple levels of discrimination and disadvantage. Women with disabilities experience high levels of disadvantage in all areas of our lives – health care, overall wellbeing, support services, employment, social relationships and housing. Being a woman, we live with daily challenges relating to sexism, gender inequality related to our careers, education and opportunities. These challenges are severely magnified when you are a woman who has disabilities.
Research has shown that women and girls with disabilities are TWO times more likely to experience violence throughout our lives. Did you know that approximately NINETY per cent of women with intellectual disabilities have been sexually assaulted? Yup, that’s right – 90 freakin’ per cent. And all women with disabilities experience alarmingly high rates of all forms of violence and abuse from a range of perpetrators – they continue to be assaulted, raped and abused at twice the rate of women without disabilities and men with disabilities.
As a woman, I am unfortunately another statistic. I have been in situations of gender-based, indecent, family and intimate partner violence and assault. I have been hurt and sexually harassed by strangers and have been assaulted by a current partner, and as a person with disabilities and complex health needs, I have felt (and believe that I was) undeserving of respect, love and human dignity. I accepted the mistreatment at the hands of people who claimed to have loved me, thinking it was okay because I was not good enough due to my disabilities and surgical scars.
One of my disabilities and the reason for my chronic pain is actually as a result of the gender based violence I suffered at the hands of someone whom I said loved and cared for me but ‘just had temper problem’. I excused his actions and protected him against persecution because I normalised the behaviour. I didn’t stand up for myself because I believed that it was okay, that it was acceptable and it was a normal part of life for people like me.
In Australia, intimate partner violence is the number one greatest health risk factor for women aged 25-44. It is the single largest driver for homelessness for women and takes a profound and long-term toll on women and children’s health and wellbeing, and society as a whole.
As recent as 3 days ago, it was announced by the United Nations that the ‘most dangerous’ place for women is inside their own homes, as more than half the female murder victims from last year were killed by their partners or family member. The gender-violence related study revealed that women comprised 82 percent of intimate partner murders. SIX women are killed every hour of every day in the world and in Australia, each week a woman is killed by their former or current partner.
Understanding violence against women, particularly women with disabilities and the challenges that we face is just one part of working towards a world where people, specifically women with disabilities are respected and violence for all women is stopped. The significant social problem is entirely preventative but to prevent and reduce violence faced by women, we need to understand it.
I hope this article has helped to enlightened to challenges and struggles faced by women with disabilities around the world.