We have to unlearn what we have learned.

January 12, 2014

The penny has dropped for me.

It happened last week; the week that saw this blog turn two – a blog that was spawned from the chasm of questions I had about myself and the world I was navigating through with my two daughters. At risk of sounding like a colossal cliché, it was, in fact, my phase as a mother that really drove the creation of the blog…I was starting to lose myself in the label and rubber stamp that is, ‘mother’.
The intention was to engage with others and make some sense of the madness; to dig down to the dark and selfish root system our species seems to be drawing its inspiration from, in an attempt to unpack the question: How did we get to this toxic point in time?
An online discussion with radical feminist, Sister Trinity, saw me reach a pinnacle in my thinking. 

The problem is gender; more specifically gender roles and labels.

Before I delve deeper into that nugget, let me explain the angle from which I am coming.
I’m currently engaging in an intensive workshop with my daughters these holidays, teaching them to be smart about the actions they take. From as simple as how to hang a wet towel out to dry, to more complex scenarios – basically everything, really.
I’m teaching them to think of the big picture. Think and be smart; unlock some ingenuity. Narrow the problem down to its core and then take action that’s intelligent. The big picture has to include their fellow human beings (from a starting point of kindness) and therefore actions must cater to others’ rights. It all starts in the home in how we deal with each other and extends out. I am also participating in this little workshop I’ve concocted with the girls.

The A-Ha moment
Up until last week I systematically accepted that men and women had certain ‘characteristics’. Sister Trinity’s words to me, however, finally ignited a long-awaited burst of clarity which resonated succinctly to me:

“There is no ‘female mind’  – sex is physical.
Our bodies shouldn’t define who we are IN ANY WAY.
This is what feminism fights (should fight) for.
The idea that we are born with essentially ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ personalities – not just male and female bodies – is deeply offensive; since if you look at what ‘femininity’ stands for, it’s clear patriarchy has assigned the inferior and submissive caretaker role to us.”

And we know it’s correct because we know we don’t teach  according to ‘gendered’ brains. I am not altering what I’m teaching my daughters (nor in my classroom) due to whether they are male or female – I’m just teaching. As do you.


I still think that nature (which always pushes for procreation) draws man and woman together, but that should be it. Everything else is a construct. An ever-shrinking label of conformity. Everything.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking (as I do at times),  ‘But I AM this way through my choice’, I would simply ask you to just ponder how much has really been your choice? It’s not black and white, I know, but it deserves thought. This is not the moment for the discussion of ‘choice’ but we human beings have to agree that we have little choice in our lives – planet wide – when you critically reflect on it…except on how to spend your money, of course.

Nature v Nurture? I think the majority of it, is nurtured.
If life is a complete construct and you’ve been told, since birth, how each gender should behave and more importantly, what it should strive for in life (especially in the capitalist-dripping ‘western world’), then it only stands to reason that gender IS the root of many of the serious conundrums we’re facing today in how we relate and interact – stretching back through a very long and entrenched system. I once heard, on a documentary about genes and how they influence behaviour, that ‘Nature loads the gun and Nurture pulls the trigger.’

To explore even further, my birthday question to you is:

Question #196: What IS a woman?

Really think about this.

Pretty? Dumb? Sexy? Hairless? Mother? Nurturer? Weak? Desperate? Emotional (crying)? Whore? Wants to get married to a man and have babies? Bitch? Can’t make her own money so has to marry a man? Credit card addict? Shopping addict? Likes pink? Squeals if she sees a mouse? Likes housework? Nag? Knows how to get stains out? Multi-tasker?


Whatever you add, these are all simply labels (what gender roles basically are) and countless women will vehemently disagree with being pigeon-holed into these labels because we know that what’s inside us is unique and that the only thing women and girls have in common (in the big scheme of things) is a female reproductive system (functioning or not). All other organs – legs, lungs, heart, brain – the same.

For that matter, what is a man?
The boss? Bread winner? Player? Intelligent? The Man?  Powerful? Ruler? Strong? Stupid? Emotional (violent)? Rapist? Detached emotionally? Hates the idea of being ‘tied down’? Under the thumb?  Needs a man cave? Handyman? Car hoon? Ejaculation obsessed? Blue wearer? Sports obsessed? Violent video games obsessed? Dickhead? Useless? Pants only?
Same goes here, as above. All constructed labels. The difference is that males benefit greatly from this list in terms of action but suffer terribly in terms of how they get to express (which is very, very limited).

I'm Glad 8

The world we have designed is ludicrous. We have become stupid.
We have allowed this design/system to nurture an obsession with greed and to revolve around giving the penis full privilege in seeking out what it needs to gain satisfaction. Unfortunately it’s insatiable and it’s mainly women (and ever more girls) that they seek.

Whilst the subservient females fulfil their destinies as mothers and housekeepers, they are juggling all the injustices and inequalities that are thrown their way – again only due to their biology.

In short, we are suffocating the true potential of what we can achieve – for all – as a species.

This stagnant construct can change through how we raise our children. To quote Yoda, we have to ‘unlearn what we have learned‘ and give our children a basis that teaches that we all have unique and amazing bodies that provide natural functions and miracles, but it is our mind that can do, be and express itself in whichever way it wants – as long as the basic rights that one expects for oneself, are afforded to the rest.

To practise humanity.

We need to be smart about this.

Deep Breath.


9 Responses to “We have to unlearn what we have learned.”

  1. leone joice said

    Great post. Agree wholeheartedly. I hate gender roles. Generally, they are an excuse to avoid taking responsibility.
    I’d be interested to hear more about your Be Smart program. I believe that the more people are considerate of others (and the planet) through their actions, we’d all be a lot happier and peaceful.
    Happy birthday!!

    • questionsforwomen said

      Wow! Thank you for that!
      I think this way of thinking is already doing good with the girls. Don’t get me wrong – It’s still a slow process with kids (and adults!) but it’s even slower if I shout everything! It’s not smart.
      I’m hoping more people read this post – my epiphany gave me so much comfort because I gained a few personal insights about my journey as a woman.
      It also hardens my resolve – as I see injustice after injustice appear before me, from all around the globe.
      We have to be smart about this. And we simply have to stop BUYING into it!
      That’s what we can do.
      Think it, believe it and teach it.
      Thanks Leone! Love ya guts! xx

  2. Yisheng Qingwa said

    Reblogged this on Brain Wants. Brain Fights!.

  3. afeministmother said

    Isn’t it amazing when the veil is lifted even more, and you can see how the world really operates! It puts me in a mood and currently I am angry about pretty much everything . This mood is on a repeating loop because there is a lot to be angry about. I am particularly angry to see gender rules and expectations undermining one of my daughter’s plans and hard work. Imagine being university trained in particular skills and technology, being employed in the field and not allowed to touch ANYTHING, except cables. Along comes a school aged boy for work experience and from day one he is allowed access to it all.

    For me a woman is an adult female, and she belongs to the sex based class made subordinate to men by men. As a radical feminist I do not subscribe to identity politics that questions the existence of women as a class – post modernist philosophy would take your epiphany and undermine and manipulate your definition of women to include even the non female or whatever. It’s all a diversion and wastes time in tackling the real issues, such as men’s violence against women and children. It also works to maintain the status quo – individualize the issue and nothing gets done for the benefit of the group who have so much in common. Gender ought to be abolished!

    Great post!

    • questionsforwomen said

      You had me at your first sentence!
      I wholeheartedly concur with everything you wrote above.
      YES! The veil has been well and truly lifted for me too and I feel so indignant and insignificant at the same time.
      So. Many. Stories like your daughters. Every woman HAS to have experienced that diminishing feeling – at least once. It’s insidious.
      Woman = adult female. Yes. That’s it.
      Thank you soooo much for your comment. It’s comforting to know there are people who see it too.
      Paula x

  4. pantypopo said

    Beautiful awakening. I look forward to hearing more about your journey. The social practice of gender hurts women and girls. Our humanity is stripped from us. It harms men and boys, but it also compensates them with many, many benefits. Therefore, they continue the practice, the control, the dehumanizations. Much must be unlearned.

    • questionsforwomen said

      Thank you! 😀
      You have phrased that perfectly. Not sure how easy it’s going to be to change, but something’s definitely got to give!
      I really appreciate your comment. Spot on. x

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