in focus kaleidoscope by andy gilmore

in focus kaleidoscope by andy gilmore

Monday, August 18, 2014

On The Existence of Misogyny and Sexual Discrimination
My Ex-boyfriend whom I referred to in my one of my older entries ( always got into fights and disagreements about women related issues with me. One thing that he always objected to was the fact that why there is still so much quarrel about women's rights and feminism; he used to argue that we are not living in the times that women couldn't vote anymore, we aren't living in the days that female students didn't have access to universities and colleges, we live in a world where women have as many choices as men do. I was astound by his point of view; we were not living in a free democratic western country those days, in our country women were bound by law in a million ways from custody to divorce, from traveling to everyday living, a married woman doesn't even have the right to own a passport without permission from her husband, but this aspect is not my concern right now for these are merely governmental laws and many people, man or woman, do not agree with them. What really concerns me, is the presence and existence of sexual discrimination in the subconscious of our society. A simple example: I have studied engineering in university in my country which is fairly common for women to do so over there. I remember various classes in which the professors referred to the students as "...and you, the gentlemen in engineering should be aware that..." or "...a true engineer is a man that..." while at least one third of the class were female students. Now these professors were mostly very good with girls, they took them seriously and were aware of their capability and capacity, but deep inside their mind, they just thought of men as the "true engineer". In another case, I remember my history teacher from high school telling us a very disappointing story. At that time she was a PhD candidate in one of our top universities and she had a class with a few other PhD students with a well-known professor in their field of research. The professor had given them an assignment and was explaining the assessment process of the tasks, he concluded his sentences by saying that "...and this is how I grade the papers of the gentlemen and for the ladies, they can cook me something and I'll grade them based on the taste(laughter of the audience)...", afterwards one of the women there had objected to the professor and the professor accused her of being hypersensitive and lacking a sense of humor. So apparently it is alright to make a sexist joke in an environment of the highest level of academia, let alone in everyday life and other people. To these very small examples add up all the jokes people make about the driving of women: if the man makes a mistake, at worst, he is reckless and his behavior is risky but if a women makes a very slight mistake while driving it is because of  her innate lack of skillfulness in driving. You can find tons of similar examples in everyday life and honestly, in the social level it is not that different in the west(I really do get tired of the expressions of surprise and astonishment of Canadians when I tell them I have a masters in Engineering). So to all of you out there who think we live in a perfect world for women just because we can all vote and go to school, there is yet a lot to be done and a sexist joke is NEVER OK! It is just like making a racist joke, you should never say something nasty like that. A few years ago I was reading " A room of one's own" by Virginia Wolf and there she had objected to women who thought the fight for equal rights is over just because they had obtained the right to vote. From our schools to the movie industry, from our children's toys to our literature, there is still a heck of things that need changing! So go on and start the change, or better, be the change!

P.S. (A Room of One's Own:  )
PS2. I found this article which I think is a very good example of what I mean by sexual discrimination and misogyny in the west. Unfortunately sometimes it is even worse than third world countries:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On the " Teacher and Make up Training course"

It was a few years ago, a lovely fall day in my beloved hometown. I had this job interview in  the " M" English institution. My interview was at 5 p.m and I had classes all day at university so I just went to the interview straight from school. I entered the office of the manager and owner of the place, a middle-aged man, tall and slender with gray hair. After usual greetings and introduction I had already came to this understanding that his speaking skills in English are noticeably weak; he spoke with a very bad accent, his choice of words were limited and yet he claimed that he had spent 20 something years in theStates having a job that had something to do with teaching English. On the other hand, I had a fairly good CV, I had previous teaching experience in a well-known institute, an outstanding academic IELTS score and I could communicate in that language way more fluently than he could and the only reason I went to that interview was the fact that I thought I wouldn't have to pass another Teacher Training Course known as the TTC since I had already passed this course somewhere else. He told me my resume was very impressive and he had assessed me as a very capable teacher but yet I have to pass their teacher training course. I replied I've already had this course and I'm not willing to pass it another time. He gave me a sly smile and said, My dear, in our TTC course not only do you learn about teaching English but also you would learn how to be presentable in the class. I guess he realized that I needed further explanation from my surprised expression. He continued, you know what I mean, I will teach you how to wear proper make up since you don't have any right now ( I was already wearing foundation and a burgundy lipstick as I usually did which was apparently labeled as inadequate by him), I will teach you how to dress and wear high heels for a teacher must look professional and pleasant. He then called out a teacher that was passing by his door and flirtatiously asked her to come closer for a moment while telling me, you see "S" here, she is one of our very best teachers here, now don't get me wrong, my wife and daughter are also working here and we have a very friendly environment but all teachers must uphold the dress code.  I looked towards the direction he was pointing to and saw this young woman wearing heavy make up and uncomfortably pointy high heel shoes At this point I had an ambiguous feeling; I was angry and amused at the same time. There I was sitting in front of this manager that barely spoke English as he tossed away my CV  and told me I should put layers of make up on and high heels in order to be a good teacher.I told him I don't think I'm interested in the position anymore. He gave me a "your loss" look and we said goodbye.
I wanted to tell him I really like putting on make up and high heels and dressing up, but for a night out or a party not for being a good teacher. I wanted to yell at him that I believe looking like a professional has nothing to do with having blue and green shades on my eyelids and that all the years he spent in the US has taught him nothing and he will always remain a man from a third world country with a pathetic institution that lacks knowledge and integrity. Of course I didn't tell him anything and anyways I earned a lot more money by teaching English privately with my own set of rules.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On being called a Slut

A few days ago I was talking on the phone to my Ex-boyfriend-which is objectionable enough-and things got ugly between us, I said something that upset him, he said something that upset me and so on, then he called me a slut and said he respected me when I turned into a "slut" . Although I'm not sure in what way he has respected me, the fact that he had the nerve to call me a slut baffled and insulted me but most of all made me think about it. After I hung up the phone in a moment of utter anger, I reflected about my past and all I had done that gave him the right to call me that. Yes, it was indeed true that at some point in my life I had made mistakes, mistakes that I still regret, it was true that I was no Saint Mary or anything like that and it was true that I was a flawed human being who learnt some lessons the hard way while living abroad and alone for the first time, but yet it made me feel humiliated and frustrated. I went online and looked up the word slut. In the Urban dictionary's website people had given definitions about that word, some obviously based on their own life experiences. The first one was as follows:
        a woman with the morals of a man
          by sally May 11, 2003
Now thank you sally for your definition but it more confused me rather than giving me an insight through the word, so if it is a man with the morals of a man, it's just called a man, but a woman with the morals of the man is a slut? Don't get it. Another one of the definitions was:
A derogatory term. 

Refers to a sexually promiscuous person, usually female. 

One who engages in sexual activity with a large number of persons, occasionally simultaneously. 

Also refers to one who engages in sexual activity outside of a long-term relationship within the duration of said relationship. ...
by DJ_nTRANCEr May 01, 2003 

Most of the definitions had nothing to do with me and were not a bit anything like my personality but unfortunately this one did because I was in a long term long distance relationship with my ex boyfriend and I did fall for someone else, but yet I know better than any person what made me make wrongful choices, what led me to behave in certain ways and that no one has since felt more sorrow for my actions than me. I saw different point of views and definitions, there were people who despised the word and also people who fancied it in one way or another but in what ever way you regard this matter, the S word is not used to glorify anybody. Being called "slut" was something I never imagined that would happen to me. I had always been the good girl, even sometimes the prude one and now suddenly I had descended to a slut. Nonetheless right now I am not that furious about this since it made me believe that no matter how you chose to live your life, whatever you wear and what choices you make, there would always be a person who would want to degrade you, bring every step you take under scrutiny and try to renounce them, all you got to do is let them go and do not ponder on why they said that. We as human beings are prone to making mistakes and what matters is the lessons we learn from them, of course we have all done stuff that doesn't make us feel proud of ourselves but no one has the right to castigate us. So to my Ex-boyfriend: I do not miss the abusive relationship I had with you and I am not ashamed of my very dear self!
Leave a comment about your own experience of being called a slut.