I happened to share today a link that indicated I wished to watch The Fault in Our Stars in the coming week. For those who do not know my personal habits - I've made it a tendency of mine to watch new release films on a weekly basis as they are released for watching or dvd purchase. I was busy watching Edge of Tomorrow (a superior film adaptation in my view to many that I have seen recently) this past week, and playing Mario Kart 8, hence the reason I have not seen this film yet.
Anyway, one of my mates basically jumped into the conversation with some friendly joking advice about staying away from 'teenage girl films.' All of which caused me to start thinking about branding, literature and stories.
I'm assured enough of my own masculinity to not feel threatened by the idea of something being 'too girly' to watch. As all men should be - and I also feel that women should likewise be able to be confident enough in their femininity to not view anything as too 'blokey' for them. I know men who enjoy what have traditionally been called feminine pursuits - knitting, cooking or embroidery for instance - and yet they are some of the most masculine men I know. The reverse goes for the incredible women that I know. The important thing is that these individuals around me are self assured in who they are.
I've read widely enough to know that I do not know anywhere near to one percent of anything that I could know. Yet there are two things that I do personally believe. The first is that I could never truly call myself a feminist. This ties into the second, which is that I believe equality is a myth.
The reason I could never label myself as feminist is not because I disagree with the aims of feminism today. On the contrary, I agree with the aims - striving toward equality in areas that demand and need equality. Yet I disagree with the stigma of the label of feminism and believe that to label myself with such a label would be to attach the stigma to myself. Such stigma often falsely existing and holding connotations such as metaphorically castrated men under the rule of tyrannical women.
It is, therefore, in this case, the label that I disagree with more than anything. I believe that labels do not create the kind of equality that feminism strives towards, but that labels create banners for segmented separation.
I mentioned however that I disagree with the idea of 'equality', yet at the same time I say that I agree with the equality that feminism strives for. I disagree with equality as it is used as a blanket label. The way of nature is not equality so much as it is balance. Men and women are - taken as a whole group and talking strictly biologically - not physically equal. Men, due to testosterone and other sex-based hormones become physically bigger in bulk and have a higher tendency towards aggression and risk. Women become capable of bearing children and develop bodies naturally for this. And of course there are exceptions - all professional female athletes would be stronger and physically more capable than I am. It's a fact of their training. But within the same disciplines, very few women would ever be taller or stronger than the men - it's a matter of biological inequality. Even gender aside, I will never be equal physically to Lebron James for instance. But I may prove that I can think on a level that he can never equally think. As I say, the way of the world is not 'equality' but balance.
It is this balance that gives me a reason to support the equality feminism supposes. Because while I may not believe in 'equality' as a utopian ideal, I do believe that there needs to be a level of human equality. Equal pay, equal work opportunity, equal representation, equal consideration and so forth. It is an issue of balancing out the scales which for so long have been dominated by a dedicated patriarchy.
I digress, however. I was discussing the concept of how the idea of a 'teenage girl film' led me to think on branding - or labelling. It is a part of our nature, or society, to brand and to label. To categorise and sell something to someone else. How often have you seen a book or film being compared to something else which is familiar? How many times do sci-fi films draw upon recognised ideas to show something which is foreign? It is who we are.
But what I wanted to express - for myself and for anyone reading this - is that branding, labelling, should be questioned and challenged. Are their concepts or stigmas attached to labels which are unhealthy? Do these labels lie, telling us that video games are 'men only' or that romance is the domain of women? Because I can stand here - well actually I'm sitting, but that's beside the point - and state that I have enjoyed many romances and actually find the gorier video games - the 'male targeted' games - disgusting.
Labels are essentially lies - though, warning they may contain traces of truth. The essential lie is that those who market such labels, who peddle and deal in them, will tell you that it is the other way around: that labels are truth and may contain traces of lies. It is a contradiction, one of the many that I strive to point out to myself and to others. Because the point is that we should not fall back on labels, but should instead fall back on the reassurance of who we are.
Who am I? A man, affirmed by his faith, his God and the people around him and who doesn't need to worry about labels. The funny part of all this is that I still so often do.