[This piece was never intended for publication. It started simply as a means of studying and making sense of my own feelings and perceptions of women as a male. I came to the realisation that I perceive women differently now to how I have in the past. I can still recall these perspectives and wanted to find justifications, or at least reasons, for these feelings. I also conjecture as to why males in general might perceive girls and women in this way. This essay is not a critical assertion that what I postulate is true of global or even Western society, but only a truthful account and sincere analysis of my own cognition, psychology and experience. This said, I think it is helpful to view this work as an essay by myself, now as an adult and feminist, informed and helped by myself as a child and teenager as part of a personal process of self-realisation or development. By publishing it I hope it may be of some interest as part of contemporary feminist discourse as a sincere account of male attitudes towards the female as my personal views have changed but it is plausible that this is a general masculine perception of women that the majority of males never question and therefore never overcome.]
The Transcendental Woman
To the man, the woman is unreal.
As a young child I didn’t, as far as I can recall, view girls as so different from myself or other boys. As boys grow and mature reaching puberty girls' ethereality grows and perceptions change drastically ending with males eventually seeing females as totally opposite, unfathomable and unreal.
There are many facets of today’s western culture that seem to demonstrate and perpetuate these perceptions. I believe the separation of girls from reality starts early in childhood.
[Cultural/feminist theorists have noted before the presence of sexist ideology within toys, but here I try to explore the reason why and how toys might possibly engrain delusions of hyper-reality.]
Toys present children with a false reality. If we look at a broad selection of girls’ toys from a variety of eras we observe that they are nearly always pinned down to the real world, with their toys and recreational activities usually mirroring real life situations and recognisable day to day scenarios. Whether they are menial, household chores like cooking and ironing, family role-play (caring for babies and rearing children), or fashion and beautification (styling themselves or their dolls), there are very few toys aimed at girls that do not have this basis in the perceived reality of everyday (adult) life. We define the aforementioned artefacts as "toys" but in actuality they do not function as such. We can see that girls toys are not in fact toys as we know them (Typically involving and encouraging such human traits as imagination, fun, competition... and so on...) but we observe that they are only simulators; merely training aids for modern adult feminine life. As soon as the girl is born she is conditioned and moulded into her roll as a woman.
We notice that these toys/simulators have an apparent foundation in reality (real life settings) however, they are in one sense real and in the other, illusory. (for now, forgetting that the commodities and appliances of everyday life are all modern human technological props and constructs) They present the young girl with reality. But his is not the reality of the young girl but rather that of the depressive stereotype of the oppressed adult housewife whose dwelling is the patriarchal, nuclear family home. But if we look deeper than this obvious setting we see the reality is just a cover. In appearing as 'real' they cloak and shroud the child’s natural human, reality; A reality that should involve play, discovery and imagination, extremely well and very effectively. As toys, they are just a mirage but the girl is en-cultured and sold the idea that they are indeed toys and are in fact very fun. This is of course an illusion that I believe the young girl must realise, on some level, and comprehend. There may be some subliminal or conscious psychology working on the part of the young girl that realises these artefacts are not toys. Realising or not, the girl keeps up the charade of playing (training) and thus separates herself from her childhood reality by donning the mask of femininity.
In this sense they are not real at all as they present the child with a false and illusory world that is quite different from their natural or biological one.
On the other hand, boys’ toys, games and recreational activities rarely have a foundation, basis or context in the real world, or the reality of day-to-day life. Conversely, boys’ toys, on the surface, deal with otherworldly concepts of sci-fi, history and fantasy. They seem un-real but they are only unrealistic on the level of their abstract setting. The toys actually involve the players in skills that are more realistic (natural) for a growing, developing child’s mind, exercising imagination, honing conceptual thinking and developing independence and competition.
It is possible that children understand these differences and that this is one phenomenon that adds the male delusion of feminine ethereality.
School and Playground Mythology
As age and self-awareness increase, so do delusions of the transcendental woman.
Myths surrounding women and girls, and their bodily functions are commonplace among boys and men alike. Uncertainty about menstruation, for example, starts at an early age. Boys conjecture about what it entails and this persists as they are not taught about what happens to the girl except at a brief and cold biological level. Boys wonder about weather it lasts for one day or a week or a year!?? …and exactly what goes on during that time is a mystery. However, at the same time as they are curious, they are also scared and sickened by the thought of it and do not really care to know. The subject quickly gains the connotation and moniker of disgusting and the fact that the topic is never discussed openly further promotes myths in young boys minds that quite probably last until adulthood in many cases. This keeps a veil of mystery surrounding an intrinsic function of the female body and this veil further adds to the unreal-ness of women, as perceived by boys.
[Furthermore, ignorance and naivety is seen as a failure among males and always has huge impacts on the masculine ego. Most male interaction within groups is played out as an unspoken battle for superiority. The games are always played out; egos fight to be king of the proverbial castle. The alpha male ranking is the sought after position and the melee is won with the weapons of knowledge, trivia, anecdote, comedy and ridicule. He who is funniest, toughest, most knowledgeable, quick witted; He is the winner. Any display of ignorance will end in 'piss-taking', ridicule and persecution within the group. Hence discussion of on these subjects is quite likely stemmed further within masculine interaction in order to prevent this situation (the displaying of ignorance).]
A girl having bodily functions of any kind is quite a distasteful idea to boys and I think even most men. I remember discussion and conjecture amongst male childhood friends with some believing (or at least wanting to believe) that "girls don't poo or fart" when they were really too old to really believe in or voice such mythology.
Little girls are not encouraged or allowed to speak of such things, whereas parental idioms such as "boys will be boys" ensure that males are left with more freedom to talk about and even boast about flatulence and other such bodily functions and features. Another example is pubic hair. Pubescent boys are very proud of their pubic and facial hair and the more you have the better. These very natural things become sources of pride for boys, exclusively. A part of the boy’s natural masculine identity; the signs that he is growing and maturing. This is not the case for girls. Girls are made to feel embarrassed about such things and must hide the fact that they are reaching puberty and maintain the image of the pre-pubescent girl for the rest of their lives. Any bodily hair for example is sheared off instantly as it is seen as disgusting. A hairy woman is disgusting, grotesque and un-feminine. Men’s perception of women is that they are indeed naturally un-hairy. This is of course absolutely untrue. Now living in South-east Asia, where it is not seen as unsightly for women to have body hair, women can often be seen with just as much hair on their legs and arms as the men. Thick facial hair on the jaw is of course a masculine trait. But there is not such a pronounced difference on the rest of the body, if left natural.
Hair on the body is a sign and reminder that we are human and humans are part of the animal kingdom, As much as we would like to forget it. And yes, women are human too. Hence the shaving off of bodily hair takes the women out of the animal kingdom and therefore the real world further adding to their ethereal image, as perceived by men.
From the very start of children's lives, so called "opposite" sexes are treated in polarity. Accepted and prevailing conditioning in western society adds further contrast between boys and girls exaggerating natural dimorphism greatly. The sexes are seen and treated as opposite. This of course has psychological effects on children, and boys indeed see girls as the opposite, the others; they are unfamiliar; alien.
So called phallocentricity, fetishism and obsession about the size of the penis means that the "opposite" of male genitalia (female genitalia) should be invisibly small or non existent. Opposite here meaning quite literally the inverse; the inverted phallus with no visible external sexual organ. The female does not possess an organ, it is the absence of an organ that defines female genitalia (to boys). Its elucidation is its non-existence. Hence the only sexual organ is the masculine one; the penis. This is, of course, not actually the case but it forms the basis of the confusion, disgust and impotence experienced by many young males when they are inevitably confronted with female genitalia. The male might view the vagina from his subjective viewpoint and thus conclude that the vagina is unnatural, disgusting and a unique deformity of a particular female. We weren't prepared for this. Nevertheless we get on with it and try to put the conflict of idea and actuality to the back of the mind, stifle and suffocate it.
Here is where we find an obstacle...
I believe that boys and men do not care for the concept of female bodily functions, hair and genitalia, as it does not fit with their conditioned images and delusions of the transcendental woman. Conditioning creates these attitudes towards the woman. The attitudes, in-turn prevent further enquiry, study and recognition of the problem hence it is very difficult or impossible to reverse the enculturation as it will never be confronted, preventing change. Without change there can be no progression.
To expect a change in the conditioning of children is extremely optimistic. However I feel that striving for self-realisation and endeavouring to reach a meta-cognitive state can achieve some progression and change, at least on a personal level. To analyse ones subjectivity from a truly objective point of view can form the basis for change. Conditioned views can never be eliminated but an understanding of ones subjectivity and realisation of conditioned views with ones psyche can lead to progression within ones self. Self-development should be strived for.
Men view women as different and indeed opposite. The transcendental woman is totally passive, perfect and the reverse of the male. Hence they both define us and form our enemy. The Male views the female as the opposite, the antonym to the male rather that a different form of the same species. For example, if the male is seen as matter, the female (from the masculine viewpoint) is non-existent; a vacuum; unreal. In actuality, if the male were matter, then the female is anti-matter, consisting of equal substance but merely holding a differing charge, the female energy. Sadly this is not how men perceive women.