Women, Religion, and My perception

Honestly, I was very surprised after reading “Religion and Gender” from Moojan Momen’s book The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach. I was not surprised because religion is immense and often an enigma, I was surprised because women were segregated even in terms of religious belief. I did not know how to react to it because I thought that in religion, there is no bias. However, the reading proved me wrong. Women are segregated even in religious position. It is as though no matter in which era or which medium, the role of women is subjugated. Moreover, women are considered evil and capable of leading men astray into temptation and sin. According to the article “Religion and Gender,” “…female deity was subjugated by male warrior god, so women have been socially subjugated by men in most societies” (445). I feel this particular line from the book is unsuitable. So, are women supposed to believe what is written? It is also stated in the article that women should be subservient, so does that mean we should do this even today because that is how it is stated in the “book”? I think that sometimes people can ignore this. It just does not seem right for women to be submissive just because it is printed in holy books.

Sometimes, I believe, not knowing the truth is a much better option. If everyone starts to believe whatever is written, then it is not going to be a “better place.” We talk about equality all the time, but if we keep considering that a religious belief says women should be dominated then there is no chance for the world to become better and equal. We live in a patriarchal society, but it does not always have to be like that. We can have a flourishing equal society if they do not deem what is written all the time. We can change them, right?

Moreover, the article also talked about the “body-spirit duality.” Men are associated with the spirit because the spirit is good. The spirit is considered immortal, free, pure, and independent. Women are coupled with the body because it is dependent, dark, dirty, and mortal. How women are perceived is quite appalling. I do not believe women are impure. I am not able to absorb all these information, as it sounds truly inappropriate for me. Being a woman, I do not feel right when women are always dominated and it certainly did not feel good when women were dominated even in religious perception.

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Hairstyle: My Perception

Long hair, or short hair, does it have to be the sign of beauty or social status? It seems a bit ridiculous. I mean everyone looks pretty and beautiful the way she is. I think it is somewhat very silly of us to believe hair has anything to do with the way we look. Most of my girlfriends in AUW consider long hair as a sign of beauty. Moreover, in the article “Symbolism of Hairstyles in Korea and Japan” by Na-Young Choi, hair represented one’s social status and wealth, hairstyles were expression of a woman’s marital status, and it is thought to fend off evil influence. Well, I was surprised how hairstyles played different roles. I, for one, never thought about hair in this way even though I have judged people by looking at their hairstyles. My grandmother, who thinks short hair is the symbol of beauty, and who happens to have short hair, told me once that unlike most Asian women, Bhutanese women have short hair with bangs across their forehead. However, the young women these days in urban areas are emerging with different hairstyles and short hair are infrequent in urban areas.

Today, short hair is more prevalent in the rural sides of Bhutan and it is less common in the urban areas. My cousins who live in the countryside have short hair as well, and they have never tried to keep it long. According to my grandmother, most women in Bhutan preferred short hair in the past and they considered it as a sign of beauty, and it was very rare to find women with long hair. She also told me that short hair looked more clean and tidy, and was much easier to handle. I am amused that hair played important role in a society because I never realized hair could represent one’s status or a person’s marital status. Even though I sometimes judge person according to his/her hairstyles, I never tried to explore further as to where he/she is from, or how affluent his/her family is. I still do not believe hairstyles defines ones status in society.

It is strange how we view at people and judge according to their hairstyles. My friends and I too look at people according to their hairstyles. For example, a man with shoulder length or waist length hair is usually considered someone who is a truthful lover of music whose genre includes rock and metallic music such as black metal, crust punk, death metal, and many more. Furthermore, a very short hairstyle that is neat and tidy is probably someone who is neatly trendy, appearing plain and simple at the same time. A person with a razor cut shag kind of hairstyle or people with hairdos such as Mohawk is someone who is rebellious and is coupled mostly with punk rock subculture. A woman with long hair is someone who is quite simple with fair amount of style. A person with too much color in his/her hair is someone who is excessively stylish. It is hilarious, isn’t it, defining people according to their hairstyle.

Lies

No body is perfect. I do not think there is one single person who has not lied. Everyone lies; let it be a 5-year-old kid or an 80-year-old adult. I personally do not find anything wrong with lying. You may lie to please a person, which according to Judith Viorst is termed as “social lies” in her essay “The Truth about Lying.” Whenever our friends ask us questions like “How does my hair look?” or “Do you think these shoes look good on me?”, or “Do you like the color of my outfit?” it goes on and on. However, we, in order not to hurt their feelings, say things like, “Your new hairdo looks simply gorgeous,” or “It is awesome,” or “I love it,” or maybe “That color is so you.”

The questions are so simple and the answers are also simple, yet they are all lies. Your friend’s hairstyle may not look good or the outfit your friend is wearing may not be the “awesome thing,” but you tell them it is good because you do not want to hurt them. It is not like we are doing any crime. You lie to them to make them happy. It is in fact a good thing. Whenever my sister, who by the way is a total fashion freak, wears clothes that I think is total weird, I would never tell her it is weird or “not cool” because she worked so hard to put on a good outfit and if I tell her it looks bizarre, that would simply hurt her. Moreover, I cannot imagine staying feeling guilty because I called her hard work weird! See, we have to learn to appreciate others, even though it may seem a little out of world. A little lie will not hurt, right?

“Once you start lying, you will never stop lying,” many people often quote that, but I know it is not true. I lied once or maybe more than once, but I never kept on doing that. We can control what we say or not. We choose to lie sometimes for certain reason, but we do not do it 24/7 because one way or the other people will find out. I respect when some of my friends said lying all the time is not good, but being honest all the time is not good either. Viorst in her essay “The Truth about Lying” also stated that being morally upright constantly would make other people uneasy and may cause pain at times (181). I absolutely agree with her. Say, suppose someone you know tells you something that you do not desire to hear, an awful truth about you or maybe your family, would you say it was an act of honesty and appreciate that particular person? Or would you rather become indignant because let’s all face it, truth hurts sometimes and I don’t think everyone has the courage to handle truth.

The Anthropology of Manners- Edward T. Hall

We follow different culture and therefore we have different manners. The way we behave, is different, few maybe alike. Some might consider eating with fingers as barbarous, while some considers it as their manner or culture. It is diverse indeed. I never realized manners would be of great importance. Now, I see why it matters. I was surprised when one of friends told me that eating with hands/fingers is considered clean. I was a bit shocked to hear this. No disrespect to my friend, but I kept thinking how can your hands and fingers be clean if they are all messed up with food. I always believe that no matter how many times you wash your hands, it is never perfectly clean. I refrained myself from making that “disgusted look” on my face. She would have got offended if I had made that terrible expression. The lesson that I learned was it may look “not good” to me, but it is important to them. Therefore, we must understand others manners and actions in order to have flourishing relationship.

Furthermore, whenever my Nepali friends accidently touch my feet with theirs, they do something (I am not exactly sure what to call that). They said they do it out of respect and I found it very interesting. It seemed weird at first, but later I got used to it. It is really exciting, yet scary to see different manners. Exciting because you learn new things, scary because you might offend someone unintentionally.

The article “The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall was very helpful. I never knew Indian women felt indignant when a baby is bathed in stagnant water (Hall 248). Now I am aware of that, and as whole the article was very useful to learn about new cultures and their manners.

We now know different culture has different manners, but I think there are different manners within the culture itself as well. For example, at a party hosted by your mother, there will be many guests and each guest might have different manners. My mother always makes us finish our dinner and even though we have already finished it, she does not let us go. She would say it is very rude to leave the table while others are still eating. I am used to this and whenever we go to eat, I always wait for my friends to finish even if I have already finished eating. However, my few of my friends are not like that. As soon as they are done, they just leave. Some does not even excuse themselves, they just leave, which, i think, is very rude.

I feel that if we want to have a good relationship, let it be a friendly one or a business one, we must understand one another’s manners, so we don’t end up doing the wrong thing.

Willy Loman

I think Willy Loman, one of the characters from Arthur Miller’s play “The Death of a Salesman,” is interesting. Even though he seemed a little disturbed and concocting a plan to kill himself, I rather found him amusing. It may look somewhat bizarre, viewing Willy Loman as a fascinating figure. He did not avoid the fact that he had a dream and a dream must never be deferred. He was a man who had little, but never took it as little things. For example, the travelling he did to in Boston, working under a young boss, and not having the “perfect family.” He never succumbed to anything. He refuses to work under his friend Charley because of his pride. He was a man full of surprises and mysteries. He was a man who never gave up. He was not getting any younger, and worked at a business company, which was too tiring for him, just so he could survive and help his wife. He was not ready to rely on his two sons, Biff and Happy.

However, towards the end of the play, we find ourselves losing Willy. Willy’s demise was obvious from the title of the play, but we lose a man who was full of hopes and dreams. This, I believe, portrays how dreams can get shattered. He does not get to see what he had always wanted to see, that is his son, Biff, succeed. He does not get to do what he had always wanted to do, that is becoming a successful person, who will be recognized by everyone. He dies, just like that. He does not die accidently, but in fact kills himself. It is a wonder, why an interesting character has to die. I found Willy to be the magnetism of the play. He portrayed many things for me. He was brave, misunderstood, guilty, etc.

Furthermore, some may have found the ending of the play uninteresting. They may have found Willy as a weak, scared, and hopeless person, since everyone considers a suicide as a pathetic escape from life. I, however, believe it is not, it is up to an individual. Whether or not one wants to kill oneself is one’s own decision. We do not have a say in it. I have no comments regarding Willy killing himself, but I thought Willy as the charm of the play. He was an attention-grabbing man. The life he had lived, the things he believed would happen. He was so full of expectations, but unfortunately, we do not see those expectations of his occurring.

My thoughts about Happiness

What makes me happy? Many things make me happy. When I listen to music, it makes me happy. I am happy when I listen to the songs that my friends think are “not normal.” Chocolates make me happy. My family and friends make me happy. Honestly, everything makes me happy. I am happy even when I am alone. I enjoy being alone and the feelings that I savor while I am alone make me happy. Most of my friends consider having friends around. They say sharing and talking make them feel better and happy. I do not want to disagree, I do agree, but being alone is not always a “bad thing” either. You can do many things when you are alone. Things that your friends consider “weird,” but which make you happy. I feel it is not necessary to have people hover around you 24/7 to make you happy.

Furthermore, whenever I use the famous old quote, “Health is better than Wealth,” I am filled with guilt. I think, maybe, it is because wealth makes me happy. Not always, but it does to some extent. I guarantee everyone feels the same way. Come on, once you have money, you can buy things that you desire. When you get the things that you desire, it makes you happy. It is human nature. I am aware that wealth does not stay with us for a longer period, but it makes us happy when we take pleasure in the little we have. Of course, I am not saying that health does not matter, it does. I am filled with happiness when I am healthy and strong, for I do not have to take those chemicals and pills.

Do I think happiness is achieved? Well it depends. If you choose to remain happy, you will achieve happiness in everything you do. You will see everything around you beautiful, bright, and happy. However, if you choose to be miserable, you will see the whole thing around you blue and sad. It will make you abhor everything. For example, if you see someone smiling, you will dislike him or her for smiling. It sounds very unnatural, but trust me it happens. It happened to me. If you opt to stay unhappy, the world will not favor with you no matter what you do. Therefore, be happy and choose to be happy no matter how hard life gets. Listen to some good music, go see an awesome movie, and laugh even though it is not funny (do not overdo it though; everything has a limit, right!). These are what I feel like the article “The New Science of Happiness” mentioned, “happiness is inherently subjective” (3).

Decision

The choices that we make in our lives, it is so frustrating sometimes. What if we end up with the wrong decision? What if the choice that we make changes everything that we had hoped for? It is often very difficult to choose when we are presented with two different choices. We become confused and intrigued at the same time. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is about making choices in our lives. It is all about getting confused on which path to take. Making decisions can be difficult at times because our future depends upon it.

So how do we make the right decision or the perfect choice? Do we just go with our heart or believe in our instinct? Life can make us do tricky things. However, if we look at it the positive way, it is not tricky at all. It is for our own good. Nevertheless, what if the decision we make shatters everything? It is very confusing indeed, to make a right choice.

Like the speaker in the poem, many of us must have also faced the same situation. Many of us may have also made a wrong choice. I, for one, have made wrong decision once. Choosing a good college can be complicated, as we are choosing our career. When I completed my twelfth grade’s final examination, I applied in a university in India, which offered engineering courses. I had uneasy feelings as I applied for it because I was not exactly interested in engineering. I just applied for it because they are highly demanded in our country. I was accepted in the university that I applied for and it was a joyous moment for my mother, but not for me. I felt like I had done a terrible, terrible mistake. I did something that I had no interest in doing. I, however, did not say anything to my mother and joined the college in summer 2009. I thought that maybe I would be able to do it, but engineering was simply not me. It was not my thing. I could not cope with the studies. I made constant phone calls to my mother complaining. After two weeks, I went back home and had to spend a great deal of time visiting career counselor. The choice that I made did not exactly shatter my life, but instead it opened my eyes. It made me look at my life seriously, and made me realize something. Do what you want and not what others want you to do.

Mistakes are made while making decisions, but I do not think we should stop because of that. I did not exactly make many decisions in my life, and the ones I made were also wrong, but I think making decisions are crucial point of life. We are deciding our future after all.

Mothers and daughters

I believe a relationship between a mother and a daughter is beautiful. It is something that every woman values, even men. A mother/daughter relationship is incredible because the daughters will as well become one, a mother. It is a wonderful cycle and I think it is amazing that a woman gets to experience it.The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan wasn’t just an ordinary book, it was about the intricate bond between a mother and a daughter. It was something everyone could have related to. The differences and disagreement between a mother and daughter is portrayed in the book. Whatever the consequences maybe, it is hard to separate a mother from her daughter and vice versa.

A mother/daughter relationship can turn into a beautiful friendship. For me, my mother is my best friend. She and I are inseparable. My mom and I enjoy doing a lot of things together, like watching a movie, cooking, shopping, and watching the sun set. We spent time together, she gives me my space and always endeavors me to accomplish new things. Mothers, I believe, are our backbone. They might get annoying sometimes but they are our own flesh and blood.

Not every mother/daughter relation is successful. Some choose to live different lives because of personal reasons, and I feel that should not happen. What about those who don’t have mothers? I think one should consider carefully about how to maintain a healthy relationship with one’s mother. There will be fights and arguments, but these are very foolish excuse to end the beautiful relation. Who said everything is perfect, nothing is perfect. There will be difficulties in a relationship, let it be between a husband and wife or a father and son. However, it depends on how you examine those problems. If you let the little differences get in your way, it will end terribly. One should be positive in order to live happily with the people one loves.

Sometimes youth often take mothers for granted. They doesn’t seem to care about the love of their mother. I have a friend who often fights with her mother. She thinks her mother is always poking in her business. I know my friend is wrong because I have seen it. Her mother is just trying to help her. My friend has had some problems in high school. She got involved with some bad company in school. I tried to warn her but she never took a time to listen. She became someone her mother did not expect her to be. To be blunt, that girl was addicted to drugs. Her mother never gave up on her. Her mother was so determined to save her daughter that she quit her job to stay with her. She was there the whole time, visiting her to the rehab. I just hope my friend realizes what her mother must have goner through, instead of commenting on her.

Intricate relationship it maybe between a mother and a daughter, but one beautiful relation it is.

Love

Love is a four-letter word, which is known everywhere. I have always thought love as a natural occurrence. I mean how can you possibly teach someone to love right! You cannot force someone to listen to rock music and make him or her love it if he or she is simply not interested. You cannot ask a boy that you have a major crush on to love you back the way you do. It sounds bizarre and unexciting. Love should just happen. It should not be compelled or prepared, but should happen naturally.

Many of my friends think love is learned. They said that they learned to love from their parents and their parents learned from theirs. They compare love with care and support. They said that their parents had taught them how to care for people and help those who are in need. That is why they say love is learned. They are true at some point, if you love someone; you care about them and help them. On the other hand, you care about them and help them because you love them.

Our love for our parents is natural. Our love for our friends is natural. So why do people say love is learned? It does not sound good. You cannot coerce someone to watch a cheesy movie and expect him or her to like it because you love it. How can you teach love? How can someone learn to fall in love? This sounds strange because if you are taught how to fall in fool, you become dependent on others judgment. Which I think is not good.

If love is learned, then will you only love those things that your parents love? What happens to your own likes and interest? Suppose you see a child on a street, hungry and poor, will you love him and help him or wait for your parents to teach you how to do that. Do not wait for someone to come and educate you about love.

Love should be a natural occurrence. You should love unconditionally and not expect someone to teach you. If you look at love from the person who teaches you how to, then you will only be able to see it from his or her perspective. What will happen to your point of view? It will never be heard.   

This is all I could think about. I am still not convinced how love can be taught or learned. What do you all think? Is it learned or natural? Why would people actually want to learn love when love is something that is innate and natural. 

Education

Education no matter what shapes a person. If one is not educated, one becomes an alien to the world. One becomes unknown. We call an educated person a sophisticated and skilled human, but what about those who receive no education at all. Do we ignore them or do we just say they do not deserve at all. How can a person become non-recipient of education? There are many reasons why a girl or a boy is not studying. There are family issues, political matter, diseases, and no proper education system. I personally often end up thinking, “Are we really doing something to help the ones who are deprived of education?”  We become very selfish, we are in the process of enlightening ourselves, yet we complain a lot. “The teacher gives us too much work,” “the teacher is bias,” “the teacher did a surprise ‘pop quiz,’” “the teacher talked about some useless matter in class today.” We often do that, every time a class gets over we start complaining; we dread to go to school. Nevertheless, do we think about those who “do not go to school at all?” We abhor extra homework. They might enjoy extra work. We loathe surprise “pop quiz,” they might enjoy it and do it wonderfully. We complain saying that the teacher talked about some futile matter, but those very “futile matters” might be so effective on them. They will find them interesting. Do you know why we complain? It is because we fail to look at the brighter side, we look at the darker side.

I had known very little, why people were unable to educate themselves. I had always thought that they just did not want to study. However, my ideas about them have changed a lot. Last week, as a member of AUW community teaching volunteer, we had to go to a place to teach little children. I was surprised that the children were very enthusiastic. They were amazing. While my friend and I were teaching, many other kids, young girls and boys, joined us. They were so much interested in learning. They wanted us to teach them more. However, “all good things come to an end,” we had to stop because our time was up. I am looking forward for the next time, can’t wait! I did learn something out of this; I learned to appreciate what I have. We are getting the most important things of all, education, while they have no access to it. Education is our backbone. If we are educated, we are informed. We become learned and skilled. Moreover, I am sure everybody wants to be learned and knowledgeable. We are the future leaders. In the future, we will have to make a difference. Does not matter whether it is a small one or a big one, it will count. Let us make this world a better place, let us complain less and work more.