Monday, May 04, 2009

That´s Not Me

Le Chauvinist
Originally uploaded by John.P
"I am not on my way home to beat my wife but to take care of my children."

A comment thrown into the air by philosopher Jukka Relander tonight made me think. I was attending a Green Party meeting as part of a journalistic assignment and managed to catch part of the debate led by Relander who chairs the Green Men. With the comment above Relander was referring to the problem-oriented discourse on men and on something very wise said by Amu Urhonen - one of the candidates to chair the Council of the Green Party for the next two years.

Urhonen assessed that many men do not recognise themselves in the descriptions of men in political debate. Some of the roles thrown easily around are the sleazy middle-aged man and the underprivileged, alcoholic construction worker beating his wife. If a man resembles one of the groups only in terms of looks, political language forces them into a claustrophobic corner where they end up having to defend themselves against perceptions of a chauvinist and sexist cave man without any evidence that they personally would be guilty of such disapprovable action. It´s like the old tricky question:"When did you stop beating your wife?"

Most of these categorisations are done unintentionally and thrown around without really careful thinking. Urhonen reminded the Green politicians of their responsibility in choosing their words and stereotypes carefully. She managed to formulate in 60 seconds one of the core problems of the equality debate - both for women and men. I mean how many women have been pushed to choose between Virgin Mary and Maria Magdalena.

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