Aisles of Inequality


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I am one of those people who enjoy scouring the shops for hours sometimes even aimlessly. However yesterday that was tested. I had an aim and I was restricted for time. I decided to go look for a birthday card for my male friend; something that I thought, assumed, misjudged would suffice within my 60 minutes lunch break. But inequality had it that such was not to be the case.

It turned out that almost 99 percent of the birthday cards in the shop were dedicated to the female form. Usually I would celebrate this and regard it as a small step towards gender equality. But I couldn’t help but think of our society’s normative expectations and its understanding of women.

Amongst the array of pastel coloured teddy bears, cards and mugs dedicated to the female form (why would anyone like such junk I don’t know but that is commercialism for you), was just an onslaught of fuchsias. The only ruminants of a male birthday cards were those that had seedy sexualised sub contents or those that played to the tunes of football hooliganism.  I was aghast at the suggestive tones of the card shop. Is this what we think all men are into,  that they would enjoy this kind of graphic garbage on their birthday…Oh deary deary  me,  what is the world coming to, eh..?!  I, for one, was not going to perpetuate these stereotypes.

I was ready to give the sale assistants a piece of my mind, whom by the way, were all women, which perhaps explains the unequal distribution of gendered cards. When I approached the first sale assistant, she was on an unsupported ladder, looking down haphazardly whilst arranging a fury of soft animals.  Everything about her screamed occupational hazard to me, so I left her in search of the next sale assistant. As I got closer to the second sale assistant, my nostrils were hit by a foul smell of dog poo, vomit and B.O.  Before I could turn around and run away from this foul smelling woman she uttered “can I help you?”… Blimey no, but I think you need more help!

I ran towards the third sale assistant who by the time I got to her was helping an orderly queue of women make their purchases. I am all for good customer service so I left her to it and I just continued with my search for inoffensive, not so girly, birthday card. But such was not to be … so I ended up leaving the store … because finding a decent card for a man is apparently impossible.

When I got back home that night, understandably miffed by the events of my lunch hour I communicated that anger to my brother. I was riled by the inequality I witnessed, I endured on behalf of my friend and all the other men who would just like to have a decent birthday card. I informed my brother that we needed to mobilise the masses, strategise and tackle this frankly ludicrous practice which I am only assuming is a mainstream practice amongst all card shops.

But I was taken aback by the somewhat lacklustre reaction I got from him.  He just hmm’d and ahhh’d at my monologue. At first I thought, you know what mate I don’t appreciate this defeatist attitude so I banged on the equality drum harder; that this equality for the female form might be bit premature in 2015.

My peroration fell on deaf ears!

Then it occurred to me that maybe men aren’t as bothered about birthday cards and the likes and maybe it’s us women who perpetuate these sentimental ideals. Maybe they are just at their happiest left alone with their FIFA (insert any given year), playing along with their equally unbothered virtual brethrens.

Armed with this epiphany, I headed to the games shop and bought my friend just that- FIFA’15…

Alas normative masculinity depends upon outsiders to define it!

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Age Is Everything But A Number


I often hear people contest that age is nothing but a number. Two weeks ago I celebrated my 27th year on this incorrigible planet. Of course up until now, I too shared the same sentiments. But as I grow older, and hopefully wiser, it dawned on me that such sentiments might not be entirely true.

Age is everything, other than the number it denotes. With age comes maturity, of course to take up that offer is entirely up to the individual. I am all for choice and I believe maturity is something you either partake in or refute.

The ageing process is a progression towards a fully fledged maturation status. Age is more than the wrinkles on our face, the slight dip in our posture. The slowness in our talk, the u-turn our cognitive abilities take. It is about fulfilment- fulfilling the ageing process which we are destined towards from conception. Some of us will graduate from this life with having passed the various stages of the ageing process, some of us won’t. Some of us will have it all figured out and pass through the ageing process with flying colours, some of us will crumble, some won’t have a clue.  That is life, there are no guarantees that you will, but nonetheless we still take part.

Society will no doubt give us pointers on how to best overcome each stage of the ageing process; from cosmetics to diets to technological advancement that help us predict the future so we can endure this ageing processes longer and with no defects or ailments. But nature will always have the last laugh and fate will almost certainly deliver the last punch!

Society will also dictate how to best behave in each segment of the process:

–          The Child: Seen but unheard.

–          The Teenager: Rowdy and in need of direction.

–          The Twenty Something: Yet to figure out life, but society can’t afford to have you clueless for long. So you are lured into further education, training and the likes.

–          The Thirty Something: Established, your career is flourishing with your significant other and your nuclear family intact. A house with a good sized garden in your name and your two cars parched parallel to one another on your front parking space.

Society will allow you one hiccup though; one opting out clause and that is in your Forties; on the basis that once you have had that you opt back into the ageing structure.

–          The Forty Something:  Start operation – mid life crisis. Your perfect marriage and career is in tatters. Your forty something self is not that dissimilar to the Twenty something you; only in your forties you have a little more responsibilities than you did then. Isn’t that why they say “forty is the new twenty”?!

–          Enter your Fifties:  You are contributing to the structure again … Alas you are deemed responsible!

–          Sixties: You have earned your stripes; society dictates that you don’t require as much close circuit attention as you did in your yester years. You are now on course on to heralding your senior citizenry status.

–          Seventies, Eighties and Beyond: You are now nothing but a burden on society, so you are slowly but surely shunned out. To the point of no return!

Birthdays thus serve as a reminder, a check point if you like. Each year on our birthdays we review, look back and check where we got to on the ageing process, are we flagging behind or are we on par with this structure?! Then we start to panic, stress and self doubt. I start asking myself fundamental questions such as where am I going with my life? Though having such conversations at 3:00am with myself, often means that those questions remain strictly rhetorical.

My six years old nephew asked me on my birthday “what do you want to be when you are older“? With a slight befuddlement at his question, I replied “I am already old” to which he replied “no no, I mean when you are thirty”!

I suppose I will leave answers to such potent questions for when I am in my thirties, for thirties are when life changing decisions are made. For now I shall enjoy whatever is left of my twenties- cluelessly cheery.

If nothing at all, the ageing process has taught me  that the ability to progress; to succeed, to live will be in my own terms, at my own pace, a one woman race!

N.B This post was intended to be a humorous reflection on birthdays. Somewhere between starting the post and ending it, things took an unexpected philosophical turn!