Gender Inequality

Picture taken 5/15/17 for re-posting of this blog
black eye 2015 Joelle White
Bruises are fun!!!

Earlier this week (Week of September 20th, 2015) I failed to adequately protect my face while sparring, and yep, I have bruises.  It’s been 20 years since I’ve had a job in an office, not in a swimming pool.  I didn’t think about what would happen the next morning.  It’s a good thing my new co-workers know I’m “into” Karate.  Still, one lady was a little taken aback by a teeny tiny little bruise on my lip.  I began to think seriously about makeup.

Then I realized something.  I landed this job without makeup.   My previous job, the very first time I met the potential employer I was in a swimsuit and absolutely covered with livid bruises (talk about awkward).  Why would one little bruise on my lip make me think about something that has not been a part of my identity ever since the day I forgot my makeup and my boyfriend (now my husband) said I look just fine without it?

The answer is that all my life, I’ve been told that women have to be beautiful like the dolls I once kept on hand for when friends visited (I played with Star Wars action figures).  Don’t get me wrong, ladies – I appreciate beauty in all its forms and I don’t mind one bit if you look drop-dead gorgeous in your makeup and with your shiny long nails, dyed hair and perm.  More power to ya!  It’s just that form of self-expression is not for me – never has been except on very rare occasions.  What’s hard for me is society’s expectation that I ought to be wired the same way you are.

There’s definitely gender inequality.   If a man comes to the office with a black eye, everyone assumes he’s been doing something macho, like a bar fight or a Karate class, and it’s OK.  If a woman sports a black eye, the automatic assumption is she’s being abused at home.  Fortunately for me my co-workers can go to the building next door during lunch hour on Mondays and Wednesdays  to see that I really am a karateka.  But the complete stranger at the supermarket will assume the worst simply because I am a woman.

I know this attitude stems from concern.  I appreciate that.  So riddle me this – why is that same concern not generally extended to men?  If a teenage guy has a bruise on his face, is it because “boys will be boys,” or is his father abusing him?  Gender inequality again.

People – stop assuming.  Do ask – many a life has been saved that way.   But please – don’t treat me any differently than a guy who has a bruise.  Either that or don’t treat guys who have bruises any differently than you’d treat a woman with a bruise 🙂

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

10 thoughts on “Gender Inequality”

  1. Very topical here in Australia at the moment. We now have a woman as minister for women as a result of the recent leadership spill and cabinet reshuffle. Her first job is to refor. Family violence laws. She is copping a lot of flack about the bias in perception thing. I have been to work with bruises and if anyone ask I tell them it was probably training….that or clumsiness.

    1. Cheers to your new minister 🙂 And to you 🙂 In my case, sometimes any given bruise is due both to training and to clumsiness, LOL!

  2. Love how you approached this topic – gender equality working both ways. There is an idealised standard that men and women are expected to conform to. And the pressure and criticisms to those who don’t – be it female or male – is just terrible.

    1. Logen! Good to see you here – thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting! I always wonder what’s so terrible about me not wearing makeup. If I didn’t shower, that really would be something to criticize…

  3. Love this post Joelle! It reminded me of when I was my sister’s bridesmaid and she tried to ban me from training for a week before the big day in case I wrecked her photos with a black eye 😉
    Your post also made me think back to when I started training, about 15 years ago. In those days, I was so self-conscious about my skin and looks in general, and never went out without foundation and make-up. But to my horror I soon realised that I couldn’t actually wear make-up in training (aikido), as it ended up embarrassingly smeared all over other people’s white gis!
    It sounds like you’ve maybe always been more confident in this regard? and as you say your husband rightly affirmed your attractiveness regardless of whether you were wearing make-up – but it was so hard for me at that time for me to be up so close to people with no make-up on. But guess what – I soon forgot all about it as training was so enthralling, and became very used to it . . . and fifteen years later I can’t even be bothered with foundation and actually feel more attractive and radiant without it. So I believe that slipping outside the societal gender expectations about being “dolled up” that you describe, has been yet another awesome, liberating by-product of training that I never would have expected at the start!

    1. Ossu, Kai – sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! What a great story! I can’t help but remember a T-shirt that had the imprint of a made-up woman’s face and the caption, “I ran into Tammy Faye Bakker at the Mall!” Oh wait, am I dating myself here? Sigh… Anyway, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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