Seidler Essay, Research Paper
For centuries men and women have been divided over which characteristics have belong to which sex. Men have been associated with power and knowledge, working in top positions. Men are expected to be responsible and take control in any situation. Women, on the other hand, were linked with staying at home, taking care of the children and being emotional, as well as asking for help. Victor Seidler, in ?Language and Masculinity? explores how the suspension of emotions in the masculine world is observed. In the writings of David Gilmore, ?Performative Excellence: Circum Mediterranean, and Nawal El-Saadawi, ?Love and Sex in the Life of the Arab,? the authors discuss how a man?s masculinity is affected when emotions are involved. Each of the societies that the authors discuss believes that in order for a man to be masculine, he must remove all his emotions. However, I believe that when this occurs, a man is no longer a person, but more like a machine. He just works and gives orders, but cannot feel or express what he thinks.
In a world where two sexes coincided and compete with one another, Seidler explores that ?since we identify ?rationality? with knowledge, we systematically deny knowledge to women and children, who are closely identified with emotions and feelings? (Seidler 561). What Seidler is trying to say is that in order to be full of knowledge a person must be rational and since women are considered irrational, they are also believed to be dumb and stupid. They are denied this knowledge because for centuries it was customary that men were the ones that were capable of doing the important jobs such as holding positions, or fixing some technical problem in the house. This was so because it was assumed that women did not have the capabilities to learn basic and complex skills. Women are also ?closely identified with emotions and feelings? because it is the only thing they know how to do. Since they are not allowed to study and learn, they must stay at home and be occupied with housework. As a result, they have no other role but to be emotional and worry about their families. El-Saadawi also explores this idea stating.
How clear it is that the mind of women and their ambitions, whether in science or in culture, has been completely dropped from all considerations, so that man can concentrate themselves completely to such fields of human activity. He furthermore imposes on woman the troubles and disturbances of the heart and mind that result from being occupied with such domestic tasks, after which she is accused of being stupid? (El-Saadawi 472).
The men in this society believe that women are stupid and irrational, unable to make decisions because it will get too personal. As a result of this judgment, they place themselves above women and are convinced that they are the only ones that can gain knowledge. Furthermore, El-Saadawi notices that man puts all his troubles and worries upon woman so that she will worry about it. This characteristic is results of men systematically denying women knowledge. They inhabit them with tasks and chores around the house that keep them busy and do not allow them to leave the house. They are incapable of learning of what is happening in the world, thus they are not able to rebel. I think that because these women are kept inside their homes, they are no aware of the many rights that are awarded to women in other countries. Thus, they do not think they have any reason to rebel. It is very sad to see that while we entering the twenty- first century and history has shown the important role that women have played, such as working in factories while men are at war, females in these nations are still considered to be incapable to doing the manly job.
By excluding emotions and life experiences in the definition of masculinity, we are biased against thought. Seidler says,
Our very sense of masculinity was consolidated as an experience of superiority over our wants, desires, emotions, and feelings. To prove our wants and desires, we had to keep our ?inclinations? in check. We had to learn to dominate our inner natures. But this also meant that our masculinity could be upset or challenged. It was not anything we could take for granted, but had to be constantly proven (Seidler 558).
Men had to hide their emotions in order to prove that they are masculine. Seidler observed that in order for men to prove and keep their masculinity, they must restrain from showing their emotions. Men must prove that they are able to take charge of in any situation on their own with no help from others. However, they will lose this image if their emotions are seen. This relates back to El-Saadawi?s observations. Since women are considered to be the ones that are involved with the heart and mind, men will be looked as feminine if they do the same. So, if they are looked to act like women and act feminine, they will be denounced by their societies. Culture expects men to be like machines that only function but can not express how they feel. As a result, men are also deprived of showing how they truly feel about something. A man has to ?learn to dominate over his inner nature? that tells him to worry about his family when he goes out into the world or into a war. Like women, they must agree with the norm or else they will be criticized and condemned. Gilmore also talks about how a man needs to be out in the world and not be held back by his emotions towards a family. ?A man can do nothing if his hands are tied. If he is going to hunt dangerous game, and like Odysseus, save his family he needs absolute freedom of movement? (Gilmore 287). What Gilmore is saying is that in order for a man to be successful, he needs to be out in the world. He cannot be held back because he has a family and children to take care of. He has to be sure that he has no emotional responsibilities such as listening to his child?s problems. He must not have any ?inclinations? that dominate his nature. While it is true that one cannot fight effectively and efficiently if he is distracted by the images of his family, a man cannot be expected to simply forget them. Again, the idea of a robot is evident, where in order for the men to free of movement, he needs to withdraw his emotions. It is as though the man is programmed to fight and kill, while simultaneously neglect his emotional duties to a family.
Men?s expectations to have ?freedom of movement? are also believed to allow them to hold positions of higher power that are not suitable for women. El-Saadawi claims, ?since men posses more reason and wisdom than women, it has become their right, and not that of women, to occupy the positions of ruler, legislator, governor?(El-Saadawi 476). It has always been said that such positions were intended for men. However, men would not be able to hold these positions if it were not for women. If taken from the view of Seidler?s observations, a man holds these positions because he is rational and is able to make war like decisions due to the suspension of emotions. Women on the other hand would not be able to, because they would start worrying about how many people would be affected or would die. However, in order for a ruler to be a good one, he must have these emotions that enable to worry about his subjects and his country. He needs to worry that the decisions he is making are the right one. If he simply does something because on paper it is the right thing to do, he may be jeopardizing his future, as well as the future and lives of others. This thinking is damage that is caused by what Seidler observes. Men?s obsession with fitting the typical and expected profile of masculinity with suspension of their emotions and feelings causes them to neglect their true image. Because women are occupied with their daily tasks at home and are incapable of receiving an education, which makes them look stupid, they are incapable of holding these positions of higher power. I think that men fear that women will make major mistakes that will cause chaos, because they assume they are unknowledgeable.
Women have been expected for centuries to stay home and raise the children because it was thought that they were not smart and rational enough to hold any other position. Men on the other hand, were trained by society, as well as their fathers and other male members of their family to take control as leaders. They are expected to be firm and harsh when making decisions, and abandon their personal feelings in situations. Although in some cultures, such as those mentioned by Seidler, Gilmore, and El-Saadawi, women have a long way until they are seen as equals, some have already established this. Women such as Catherine the Great, and Queen Elizabeth the First were able to succeed in a man?s world and hold the same positions. They neglected all the comments and criticism and proved that women are just as knowledgeable as men; they rebelled against the norm to live up to the titles as the great women.