I'll preface this article by explaining the title, In Conversation. I am going to start a new column type situation where I take real conversations that I have with friends, mentors, in class, strangers, etc. and transcribe them here. Whether it be about what we're experiencing at school, our debates on socialism vs capitalism, a cool experience, or whatever I find interesting and important, I'll be sharing, in article form, here.
To kick start this said new "column", I'll be sharing conversations I had this week in class and with my wonderful roommates regarding abortion, gender roles, slut-shaming, and the ever-present toxic masculinity we recognize in history and is still very present today.
In my International Cinema class this week, the topic was Sexual Politics and Gender Roles. We watched two Italian films from the 1960s, Divorce all'Italiana (Divorce Italian Style) and Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well). The first movie was a satire of masculinity in Italy during this time period. We discussed issues from the legal ability of a husband getting to kill his wife if she cheats on him to every day normalization of gender roles i.e. the position of women as solely maternal figures. The second film presented a feminist approach to a progressive woman at this time. However, it showed the saddening disillusionment of a young, beautiful woman only being valued by her face and body in the film industry.
After watching these 2 films, we got into a discussion of some of the ridiculous social rules in Italy, and let's face it, the rest of the world at this time. One rule we especially harped on was holding all of a family's value on the honor given by preserving a woman's virginity. The contradiction to upholding this idea of a "pure woman" was combatted by the hypermasculine routine of men bragging about all the women they sleep with and holding their personal honor to their "body count" and conquests.
What doesn't add up here is that men want to say they sleep with all the women and yet they want all their women to be pure. So, who are they sleeping with? Please tell us how this double standard makes sense especially when the number of men in Italy outnumbers the number of women at this time?
Anyways, we realized that this insane double standard still rings true today in the form of slut-shaming and the male tendency to overcompensate (i.e. Small Dick Energy). What my friends and I have noticed is that women can't win. What I mean is, men still want to boast about how often they sleep with women yet when they hear that a woman has slept with more than just them, she's disgusting, a whore, and a slut.
How does it make sense to normalize men sleeping around but horrific if women do the same with the men that it's normal for? It's all a stupid example of a cat and mouse dichotomy!
This goes on to the insane stigma there is around women getting pregnant, especially when it is unplanned, and being labeled a slut as well as for wanting an abortion. What doesn't make sense here of why woman are blamed for getting pregnant is that: IT TAKES 2 TO TANGO. How do women get pregnant? Do they inseminate themselves?
If women can literally not impregnate themselves, why are we automatically shit on for getting pregnant? Why are we looked down on and lose our respect and "honor", for the 1960's Italians, when it is literally not our fault.
This then brings me to question why men don't feel responsible for using contraception. Why is it on the women to purchase and use birth control? Why do we have to go through putting chemicals into our body especially when a man refuses to wear a condom because they are "uncomfortable"? Why is there still such a negative stigma around pregnant women when men can get away with LITERALLY fucking everything up?
To my friends and I and, hopefully, most of the people that read my articles (Hi NYU friends), all these points make sense and seem almost mundane. But what strikes me, and what my roommates have agreed upon, is that when we're outside of our like-minded, liberal bubble, people are still so against these ideas. People are still guilty of pushing these insane standards and disrespect towards women.
The problem in our discussions and what we will continue to talk about regarding these topics and among so many more, is how do we get people outside of our bubble to listen, respect, and want to educate themselves outside of their own viewpoints and ideas?