You know, I’m an opinionated git, and not normally averse to sharing these opinions when the occasion arises. I do like to think though, that I am willing to listen to the other side of an argument and examine my opinions to see if they are still valid when challenged.
I realise that some of my opinions are formed from my prejudices. My prejudices are usually formed from personal experience and experiences of people I know. I think this is the normal way of things. Also some views are more firmly entrenched than others. If there is something in the past that had a great effect on your life, that was pervasive and shaped you and your character it will have a deep rooted effect on the way you see life.
Life is simpler when you have a firm opinion on any topic and extremely simple when you have evidence to back up your views. The next best, of course, is to be in the majority. On Twitter your views are often in the majority, at least among the people you follow because you tend to follow people with views similar to your own.
A couple of times recently I’ve had some of my firmly held views challenged. People I like and agree with have tweeted things that directly oppose my long-held opinions. I suspect one of the root causes is age difference. I know many people on Twitter who are a generation younger than I am. The world has moved on and the way of looking at it has moved on from when I was young and impressionable.
One of the things that has shaped my view of the world is feminism. I grew up in the 60s and went to university in the 70s. Germaine Greer was a lecturer at my university, though I was not in her department. Abortion had only just been made legal and in some clinics you pretended to be engaged to get the pill. Women were still fighting to be taken seriously. I knew two girls who were made to leave school at 16 because there was no point in educating girls beyond that point. I believe that from my sixth form the girls going to university outnumbered boys for the first time. This was considered to be a major breakthrough.
Anyway, things that relate to this get my attention. I’ve had lively discussions on the way women present themselves. Yes, I think women should be able to please themselves how they dress without being accused of asking for it. Yes women should have a free choice about what they do and how they live their lives, but I still feel that performing as a singer while scantily clad does women in general a disservice and risks us being reduced to objects rather than fully rounded people and to describe women who do this as feminists seems to be adding insult to injury. I struggle with the concept of breast augmentation to “make me feel like a real woman”. I cannot conceive of having my identity as a woman centred on part of my anatomy. It all sounds like women attempting to live up to some idea of womanhood perpetuated by the media rather than from reality. Who on earth wants big knockers anyway. they’re uncomfortable, awkward & make it difficult to buy clothes. I suspect this is one view I am not going to change even though many people I chat with, including my daughter, feel differently. We are going to have to agree to differ on that one.
What made me think recently though was the issue of male victims of domestic violence. I had been sceptical of this. I believed that the proportion of domestic violence victims who were male was small. The thought of a woman being able to hurt a man when most men are still significantly larger and more powerful than most women seemed odd. I tend to class men who complain about this alongside those men who claim they are being discriminated against as trying to “get in on the act”. They see one small advantage being given to women and they perceive it as unfair. They want a piece of it. But someone I like to think of as a friend tweeted that we should talk about all domestic violence, not just against women. I thought this seemed reasonable and I set off to find statistics to see if I was actually right in my belief. I found this National Centre for Domestic Violence and a Guardian article from 2010
There are more female than male victims, but the difference is not as big as I thought. I’m having to rethink my views. I have known several female victims of domestic violence, but that may just be that I know more women than men, or because men are less likely to admit to being victims. Are my views shaped by 70s feminism which tended to paint men as oppressors of women?
We just need to remember to recognise our prejudices and keep an open mind.