Saturday, November 15, 2014

Guns don't kill people, dads with pretty daughters do

As I said in class the other day, my dad has a t-shirt with the saying "Guns don't kill people, dads with pretty daughters do" written on it. He always tries to wear it whenever a boy comes to my house (even if he's just a friend!). What made me think of this shirt was the whole scene in Hamlet where Pelonius is like "Ophelia, let me tell you what to think about men. Don't trust them. They only want one thing from you."

Reading Hamlet and thinking about my dad's shirt has gotten me thinking about the stereotypes of the overprotective brother and the dad who hates all boys who come within a ten foot radius of his daughter. Although these may seem cute and caring, why do the boys in the family feel like it's their responsibility to watch out for what boys their sister/daughter is dating? What gives them this place? I feel like it goes back to when daughters were their father's property, and if the father wasn't around, the son took on his responsibilities as their sister's keeper.

Now, I'm not trying to make my dad look like a misogynistic jerk - he is the farthest thing from it. He's quite the feminist. I just think that some of these stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in our culture that we don't even realize they're there. For example, a father giving his daughter away at her wedding can seem like such a sweet, emotional thing. However, that custom goes back to when a daughter was actually her father's property and he was literally "giving her away" because she then became her husband's property.

I don't really know what point I'm trying to make in this blog post. I guess I just think that we should examine some of the things that are so ingrained in our culture that we don't even think about them anymore.


Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I definitely agree with you, Isabel, on how men often feel that they have certain responsibilities when it comes to "looking after" women. I don't think that a father watching over who his daughter dates like you said does not mean that that father is in any chauvinistic as you said. However, I feel that certain customs or responsibilities men assume that date back can become very sexist. For example, a man always having to walk with a woman every where in public to make sure that she is safe and that he is there to defend if danger comes her way can often become sexist and offensive. I think a woman has great capability to defend herself, and that a man should not always assume that she can't. I'm definitely not saying that a man that simply walks a woman to her car or something along those lines is not a feminist or is chauvinistic, but I think that some men take tasks like these to the extreme. In Hamlet, I think of how Laertes and Polonius definitely "look after" Ophelia to make sure that Hamlet doesn't harm, they, therefore, deprive her of becoming a capable woman. Their vigilance over her becomes a source of manipulation and a way of subordinating her. think it's interesting how Isabel mentioned that although these ways have become less prevalent or extreme these days, that discrimination based on gender can be traced back to these times.

Breuna Westry said...

I see what you are talking about Isabel. But for me I get it from my sister. She plays the role of the overbearing "brother". It seems ironic that even though they raised you they think that you cannot make wise decisions by yourself. Polonius thinks so highly of himself and the family name so it doesn't make since why he would insult himself like this.

Sri Korrapati said...

It's so weird how different it is for guys! Although it happens less, guys go through a similar thing. When I bring over girls my family thinks they're not good enough. Especially my grandma and my sister. My sister judges potential girlfriends like "you think she's pretty?" "she's obviously a gold digger." "she's just plain weird, why do you even like her?" "she's made of plastic, and she only got famous by having sex with little wayne." My mom is the same too, though. "Haramma, she is not Indian." "Haramma, she isn't smart enough." "Haramma, let me pick a girl for you instead, your taste is terrible." Basically for guys, it's a struggle for the women of your family to get along with girlfriends or crushes.

Joe D said...

Isabel: unfortunately, the Christian wedding derives it's tradition regarding the father walking the bride down the aisle from a passage in Genesis. By walking the bride down the aisle, the fafter and mother of the bride are accepting her choice of husband, thus facilitating her transition from their family to her husband's family. No exchange in ownership. I view dowries more as a "bribe" for the acceptance of the bride into her new family--a welcoming gift of sorts.
In other cultures (to which I assume your family does not subscribe), you do see marriages resembling financial transactions; however, arranged marriages often occurred on both sides of the marital bond.
I also think that both you and Tiffany are mistaking chivalry for chauvinism/sexism. From a biological perspective, men are clearly physically stronger than women (if you want quantitative proof, look at track and field world records or powerlifting records). So, unless a woman has a better way to protect herself (like pepper spray, a handgun, a taser, etc), it is to her benefit to have a man walking with her through a seedy place like a parking lot. Men have no reason to be with women at all times, and this clearly isn't the case in the real world. Obviously, if the man is scrawny, he has less of a reason to be walking women to their cars. Further, if a woman feels comfortable walking by herself, she can tell the guy that she doesn't need help. That simple: she has the freedom to be entirely independent of any form of support if she wants that.

Isabel Celata said...

Joey: Where is that part in the bible? I'd like to read it. Everything I'm looking up says that giving a bride away comes from when a daughter was her father's property. Also, you have to remember, a lot of the passages in the bible are blatantly sexist, so just because giving a daughter away comes from the bible in no way mean it isn't related to a daughter being a father's property. Check out this link for sexism in the bible:

I also don't think anything in my post is mistaking chivalry for chauvinism. I don't think a guy walking a girl around is sexist. However, the fact that women fear being raped or attacked much of the time that we are alone relates back to the fact that a lot of men believe women are theirs for the taking. (I'm not talking about you guys in our class. I don't think any of y'all would rape anyone.)

Isabel Celata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe D said...

Isabel, it's Genesis 2:24. Here's a nice explication of the verse:

Regarding the sexism in the Bible, a lot of the points made in the Old Testament are today defunct (see "Why Can't I Own a Canadian?"). Many of these points either point to outdated customs of early Christian culture or are fixed by the life of Christ.

The New Testament, which holds the most validity regarding the moral code of our world today, has few to no sexist references in it. The point of the New Testament is largely to superimpose the NT God (the graceful one which Christians worship) with the OT God ("eye for an eye").