Sunday, May 6, 2007

Say 'Nice Chicks'

In the course of our seminar series women's rights and gender relations were eagerly discussed (A big thanks to Bruce for his blog posting in this regard!). These discussions came into sharp focus this afternoon as I went shopping at my local mall. As I walked across the parking lot two young women, dressed elegantly in skirts and high heels, went into the opposite direction. At the same time, three young men crossed our path, one holding a two year-old boy in his arms. All three men looked eagerly at the young women and the one holding the child belted out with a loud voice towards his child: "Say nice chicks", while indulging in an oily grin. I had to pause for a minute to verify if I really saw what my eyes seemed to have registered - I found the entire episode quite odd. Why? Perhaps its a good thing to live in a country where the attraction of women is appreciated, but I also find the public and even confrontational display of gender related excitement disturbing, especially if transmitted to a two year-old boy. Where does welcome consideration end and harassment start? How is this related to men punishing women at taxi ranks for wearing trousers or skirts that are deemed too short? How does the young boy's education about how to relate to women look like?

5 comments:

Susan Mwangi said...

It is quite sad to witness a poor little boy being 'miseducated'like that.

Can we depend on the education system or his female relatives to help this child unlearn the attitudes and behaviours he saw (or sees) being displayed towards women?

But for the grace of God...

Thomas Blaser said...

Perhaps not much we can do about this one child. But I think many (men) are not quite aware of the implications of the things they do and say or/and that there are more structural aspects that control women and keep them in their place.

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

I agree with you Thomas. Most men feel that they are only 'appreciating' a woman's beauty not taking into account how offensive such public 'ogling' is to most women. I think it is a bit extreme here. In Nigeria men appreciate beauty as well but in a more subtle manner. I really get offended when a member of the Wits gardening staff says 'how do you do sweetie' or 'eeesh you're beautiful'. The steam just comes out of my head. Susan as you say there's a need for re-education or CPR!!

Anne said...

If I might be honest, as a woman, i think many factors are to be taken into account.

Yes, sometimes a compliment can be flattering. Yet, depending on who is doing it, in which context, on what ground, the vocabulary used as well as the tone, it can also make one want to shout at the person who does it.

Yet, is it a male/female problem? I am not sure. I have heard women doing the same things to men and to women... A gender issue or simply miscommunication or social misbehaviour?

Thomas Blaser said...

A good point Anne. Often in macho society the women are also macho! But I think overall, grossly generalizing of course, its more of a male thing.