The elephant in the room. 

I’m sitting here tonight after coming home from my Tuesday night of poet flow, trying to gather all of my collected thoughts. Its an evening I look forward to every week.  I haven’t been as creative in writing liked I had hoped I would be but I keep going hoping it will keep the flow still alive. It has always been a safe place to be vulnerable, to find your voice and to show acceptance. I enjoy the scope of voices we have there, the many perspectives that I am able to learn from.  One of the most enjoyable things for me is the dialuge that comes to life at the end of the readings. Those of us who want stay around have another round of drinks and the conversations dive into something meaningful, generally something relating into social dynamics. 

Tonight’s hot topic was on women, bodies and beauty. Science vs. Social norms.  I have a lot of different ideas and thoughts on this myself.  I have taken a gender class, have been studying and reading on my own for years and I am also a women in these times.   The group was diverse with men and women and we differed in ages.  The conversation had started on art and how these two women who are friends had met. Interesting by the way.  The two women told us how they met and how they both viewed their parts of the project they were a part of. Eventually the conversation moved along and became about women’s bodies, make up and beauty pageants.  I listened for most of the conversation, getting uncomfortable at parts and bored towards the end.  A few times I made the effort to say something. Finally I told my friend who I drove over with that I was ready whenever he was.  We played for our drinks and left. 

We headed out the door and I felt so much relief, I realized that I had been tensing up and slowly getting irritated.  We started walking around and I told him thanks for us leaving and he making a better excuse for leaving so quickly.   He said  it wasn’t a problem and that he had rather felt uncomfortable with the conversation tonight  but that he couldn’t place why.  I finally told him that it was the elephant in the room that we could describe it’s color. 

The conversation was being lead by a few men who were also guiding the flow of the conversation without allowing the women in the room to voice their opionions as well. When they did speak there were two other men talking over them. The men didn’t stop voicing themselves to listen to the women on the social blends that go into why we wear make up, why there are so many different views on what a beautiful women (model type) within in our society is supposed to look like ( media, men, family, local society) and how we all try to portray that sterotype.  

 I enjoy these sorts of conversations. When its done right we are able to open up the conversation and listen to the many fluid perspectives of how beauty and how we define beauty shape us.  We are able to see what is healthy and what isn’t.  We are able to acknowledge others who have had difficulties navigating their own shame in their bodies, self esteem and worth in who they are and their relationships with others. We are also hopefully able to identify it within ourselves as well. 

The thing about tonight is that it tends to lead to more damage. The men believe they are up in the know feminist and the women tend to stay quiet, hurt and frustrated because they can’t get a word in and some how leave trying to justify what just happened.  Unfortunately I have seen it happen over and over again.  For a long time like my friend I would leave a conversation confused about what just happens. Not able to place it, not able to identify the elephant but knowing that there was something wrong. It took my awhile to get to that place to realize what it was, it took me an even longer time to get to the point that I could say something about it to write something about.  

Sexism unfortunately is still around, still plays apart of how we function with one another as men and women, how we function as a society and when sitting in a group disscusion of open minded individuals.   

-jessicaraye 

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