Gender differences

The past week i was incredibly distressed over certain events that had occurred. I was losing sleep and had absolutely zero motivation to study and so i did not. The guilt did not help. I was not vigilant enough to brace myself for the encounter that catalyzed this spat of philosophical misery and it was only on hindsight did i realize what had really happened.

I met a patient last week, a very sporty young looking lady not too far from my age. When i found out that she was a police officer, i was immediately filled with immense respect, i suppose, the kind of respect that people usually bestow on me when they discover that i am going to be a doctor. I was very happy to have met someone like her even though she was a complete stranger, just because i could identify with a lot of common characteristics – sporty, female, and in the police force (under different circumstances, i would have easily joined the ranks of law-enforcing officers or the military, but Medicine happened to be the path that was opened to me). And then later on, my consultant told me a bit about her rather traumatic social history. She is a homosexual. Immediately i was crushed with disappointment. Before you go off your rockers shrieking that i am homophobic, just calm down and let me explain. Let me first declare that i am not homophobic and i am not adverse to homosexuals.

I was disappointed because this particular patient made the stereotype come true (there is truth to stereotypes). As a female training in BJJ, dabbling in contact sports and having an apparently aggressive attitude to boot, a lot of people have mistaken me as a lesbian. I certainly had my fair share of homosexuals hitting on me – i am not boasting; there really is nothing to boast about. I was very tired of this stereotype. At that point in time, i sported short hair, and i guess that just did not help the image i was unwittingly portraying. Eventually i grew my hair out, just to diffuse this masculine image that is hanging on my head. It helps a bit, at least on first impressions. People do not immediately jump to conclusions about my gender preference. Hence when i first saw this patient, i was glad and relieved – because now i FINALLY met someone who’s like me. When i realized not, i guess i was really disappointed. You have no idea just how difficult it is to find like-minded females who love sports and martial arts. Sure i met many girls eventually, in my soccer team and my martial arts training, but they are not in the white-collar professions so there were still some levels that were difficult for us to empathize with one another. It is challenging to be able to toggle seamlessly between soccer conversation topics to medicine topics or office work politics (for them). Anyway, this was not the big issue.

A day later i happened to read on a Homeland forum about the behaviour of men. I found out to my horror and repulsion that many men from my Homeland still entertained the notion that women are meant to stay home, cook good meals, provide fantastic sex, and bear brilliant children for their male counterparts. They should not be going out to work; should not be desiring more. They added that since Homelander women are flat-chested, they should be wearing mini skirts to flaunt their legs and draw attention to their more appealing body parts. Homelander males who were contributing to this forum further said that since Homelander women are so demanding (i.e. wanting to work, wanting the husband to share the household chores and split the child-rearing duty, and terrible in bed), they will look to women from lesser developed Asian countries because these women are lesser educated and therefore have lower aspirations and are contented just to service their men.

You have no idea how sad i was to see the society i left six years ago not only did not progress, but may have actually regressed in their mentalities. And we are a developed nation. And i guess the most grievous thing is that a few of my male cousins behave in a similar fashion and my female cousins subscribe to the same behaviour. Initially i thought perhaps the problem merely lies within my extended family, that we are more conservative than most, now i see i may have been gravely wrong. It was just a bit too much to take. I was so distressed that i was a bit taken aback by myself.

And then you know what? The next morning, i was up early to help prepare for a presentation ceremony for my soccer club. Somehow we chanced about the topic of me being able to cook. I said i could not cook and i just order home-based meal delivery for the convenience. The vice-president, a chauvinistic South American (another strongly patriarchal culture) was aghast and the first comment out of his mouth was, “How can you be a good wife then?” I stared at him, “Do you have to know how to cook to be a good wife?” Of course the other local females told him off. This is a Western country and a liberal one; they tore into him (he’s not popular and is going to be ousted soon i reckon), but i just lacked the energy to retaliate. I simply dismissed him as one of my psych patients and ignored him. I think the problem is i completely understood where he was coming from whereas a lot of my local friends have never experienced this sort of gender discrimination.

With this barrage of incidents bowling me over, i was a little overwhelmed and frankly very upset. To the point i actually considered for a second, if i should take up cooking classes! Of course, the more rational part of me was incredulous – even if i know how to cook, where the hell am i going to find time to do so? And where is the bigger picture in all these brawls? Why is everything about sex and men? How about helping the needy, the poor and the destitute? I was appalled and saddened again.

So you see, i have been feeling pretty miserable. I spoke to a few close friends. Both were extremely tickled by my self-induced sadness. I am glad they saw the lighter side of things because their laughter drew me out of the cocoon of despair that i had wrapped myself in. I guess this is just one of societal ills that is happening during my generation. Certainly, sexism is on the decline, but i think my generation of free-thinking females will have to cop the price of being the minority by being single a little longer than necessary – till the guys sort themselves out at a more mature age. It just peeves me that men with such horrific mentalities get away with their actions because there are women out there who encourage such behaviour. Far out.

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