Traditional beliefs perpetuate gender bias

Здравствуйте (Hello)

20140628lastworldThis is literally the only word I have been able to pick up in my first two weeks in Russia.

Hopefully that changes over the next month.

I’m staying in small city in the south called Krasnodar. My friends were alarmed when I told them I was going to be without my husband for such a long period. Concerns were partially raised about my duty to my husband as a wife most were surrounding his inability to function in the household without me. It was the implication of the thought that bothered me the most. I felt the insinuation to be one of a submissive nature. You are a wife, so that automatically means you are your husband’s fulltime babysitter, somehow. You are a wife so that inevitably means you are the only one in the house who can operate the dishwasher.

I felt so guilty for wanting to go about my life but guilt aside, it got me to thinking how much implied stigma we try to avoid because it may make us seem weak or inappropriate, according to society’s standards whatever they may be. We avoid stigma in several ways, for example through our actions and through our choice of clothes.

I personally believe that choice of clothing is possibly the most interesting avoidance strategy for several reasons. Reluctance or a lack of open-mindedness to certain trends can signal that we want to be viewed in a certain way by society. For instance, I grew up hearing that when one becomes a mother, one’s mode of dress should somehow evolve and one’s style should lean towards

Modern dress
Modern dress
Conservative dress
Conservative dress

conservatism. I grew up hearing it’s a bad example to dress revealing if you have ‘girl children’ and even when they are grown it’s still not okay to flaunt your curves, thighs or cleavage.

Older women who I was once surrounded by associated being scantily clad with being loose and vulgar. They said that more than likely the offspring of women who dressed like that would turn out to be loose just like their mothers. I am afraid of older women who think like this and who have sons. They unconsciously set the stage for their sons to think that certain clothing is an invitation to approach or harass a woman, as opposed to being a woman’s independent self-expression. Vice versa for girls; it allows them to create classes among themselves as regards who is more worthy than whom.

To some extent, it is true that these traditional beliefs of what a marriage should encapsulate can be seen as a reflection of the way we dress and operate, but the most alarming thing is how normalized it has all become. I even managed to find myself in such a state. These ‘values’ and ‘principles’ dominate almost all aspects of our society; they are even prevalent in the church – the establishment that is supposed to pass the least amount of judgement on you.

If from a tender age children are taught that mode of dress or personal style can result in them attracting certain ‘titles’ doesn’t this create a damaging effect? Because they are being taught to use mode of dress as a yardstick to determine respect. Think about it, a mother, or any woman for that matter, should be able to strut her stuff in the clothing she is most comfortable in and continue with a career or lifestyle choice she enjoys. These unwarranted ‘titles’ shouldn’t change a person’s personality, identity let alone personal goals.

I never considered myself to be a traditional person. The traditions I grew up around were very submissive and after I moved away for university, I learnt the difference and was made aware that such environments are damaging for personal growth. It is necessary for us to be always conscious of this.

I will try to bury myself in as much Russian fashion as possible for the upcoming week. To keep up on the trip follow me on Instagram @theonlinerunway.



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