Thursday, September 21, 2017

where impunity is granted and related curiousities

Because I am conscious of gender dynamics I am sometimes overly cautious to tag something as gender related, careful about bias when I can be because I will be biased often enough.

Talked with someone a few days ago who will tell me if what I see as gender-based is not when I over-assign. And this time, I was not on a gender question but he said I think this may be a gender thing. After a couple of days noodling around on it, although I am resistant to acknowledge it, he may be right.

Here's the dynamic*.

In the social rules and protocols of one of the tribes I belong to, there is a general expectation of personal strength; the strength to protect oneself and others in your care be they family or otherwise. The idea of strength is to a degree physical but at the broader scope strength is assigned a much broader meaning.

Within the social expectations of the tribe, women are expected to be as strong as men. At the physical level there is acknowledgement that the bodies women and men live in are designed differently and as a result, the expression of physical strength is going to be different. Not "lower" in regards to, let's say, standards of achievement, but different. The women who reach physical benchmarks are proud to have passed the same types of 'tests' that the men pass. Shoulder-to-shoulder and all that.

Interesting though, there is perhaps a deep and unconscious social script in which personal strength in the expression of the broader idea of strength - protecting oneself and those in your care, setting boundaries, etc. - runs on a gender divided set of expectations in which the men have more permission to express strength, than the women. It's a struggle to acknowledge this exists due in part to the powerful overt messages within the tribe to the contrary - and I like those overt messages. A lot.

At the moment I am watching something unfold in which a female member of the tribe set a few boundaries and there are male tribe members who have previously set the exact same type of boundary. I don't know the full back story of course, I don't know if the male members of the tribe might have gotten private communication admonishing the boundary setting. It's possible and if it happened then this is no longer a gender dynamic (but still something to be curious about). I know the female has gotten some subtle - and less than subtle admonishments. Implications of being difficult, or that she needed to take different action, like repealing the boundary.  Even that repealing the boundary was the right and more ethical action than holding the boundary (and I'm paraphrasing so keep that in mind).

Interestingly, the remark about repealing the boundary came from a male tribe member who has set the same boundary on more than one occasion. And none of this means our female is right (or wrong). It's just a really interesting dynamic I hadn't considered until now:

Rule for Male Members of the Tribe - you may set a boundary about who/what you feel is best for the people you are responsible to
Rule for Female Members of the Tribe - if you set this boundary, you will do so without the same degree of impunity

so curious what the purpose of this rule would be -

*because I am a member of several tribes who focus on making people stronger I have kept this post super generalized on purpose. It's not about the tribe, it's about the social rules and being curious.

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