Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More musings :)

It is so interesting to consider how much of our lives are built on assumptions.  Everything we define ourselves as takes it's meaning from being the opposite of something, someone, else: women are not men, gay people are not straight, black people are not white, college students are not grandparents, christians are not buddhists, fat people are not fit, democrats are not republicans, and so on.

And we make so many assumptions about the other that we end up limiting ourselves.  If a group we are not a part of always acts one way, we don't do that.  Simply because they do.

But it is a chicken-and-the-egg thing... for example, a friend recently brought it to my attention that women don't flick people off while driving, while men do.  Men allegedly don't yell at other drivers, while women almost always do.  And I realized I DO yell at least once almost every time I drive, even if it's only a 5 minute trip, and have NEVER flicked someone off.  It requires too much coordination, while talking comes easy.  Guys, you'll have to weigh in about the shouting thing... I can't think of guys yelling at people any time I've ridden with one, but then the finger is also makes a very rare appearance.  The funniest thing is that I'm not usually angry, not really.  Sometimes the person did something stupid, but not always.  Sometimes I actually yell for no reason.  Does that really have something to do with me being a woman?  Is it because I'm conditioned by society, or is it hormones?

And that is one tiny example.  Our assumptions are far reaching and often subversive... even as I see them more I know I am missing most of them.  The woman in this picture seems totally different in the two different costumes, doesn't she?  Are the pictures really so different?  Is the only difference the cultural assumptions we make?  Is the second more sexually charged objectively?  We almost need an Indian person to really know what the first picture means to an insider... but I was under the assumption that the sari was everyday clothing in India, and a sweater with nothing under it is NOT everyday clothing here, so they are not just different cultures.  But I don't know that for a fact, that's an assumption.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a frequent flicker offer; very seldom a shouter. However, I have found screaming keeps me from falling asleep at the wheel. You're right you almost have to take a double take at the images to tell it's the same person. But we gauge people by the way they dress and carry themselves. Without speaking with the person how else do we obtain any character information? Imagine a situation with an eclectic selection of people standing in a room in silence, then you're told to make a friend. Generally people will will segregate towards those whom appear the most similar. Now replay that scenario with everyone in the nude, where would you start? Age groups perhaps. And is there a problem with labeling people by the way they dress. I feel I use it as a way to cut through the confusion, if you're looking for the punk rock show do you ask the old lady with the walker for directions or the guy with the blue hair.