Is it late to reconcile with society’s stereotypes?
(Picture up: Trevor Southey, Reconciliation. “The painting ‘Reconciliation’ is what life is all about, in my view,” he says. “It takes elements of the human and reconciles them. ‘There must needs be opposition in all things,’” he says, quoting the Book of Mormon.)
By Yazan MJ
I love a lot of things about our culture, the collectivism of family values, our sense of humanity towards the Middle East’s crises, the diversity of ideologies, parents taking care of their children (even when they are like 35), and not to mention the food, and oh the food! Stuffed grapevine, msakhan, mansaf, squash with yogurt…, and just to name a few. On the other hand, the downside of Jordan is fraudulent! Due to our negative conservatism and lack of freedom and expression, the country could be misleading toward many individuals who are adorning the new age, liberalism and those conservatives who are respecting and tolerating those of new ideologies and social minorities. And I too despise a lot of things, the rejection of new ideas, the limited mediums and platforms, the intrusion of one’s privacy condemned by others, the narrow mindedness, the violent solutions toward solving problems, the plague of “wasta” which insists on: that it doesn’t matter what you know it is who you know, along with hypocrisy and patriarchy, not to mention the attachment to rigid customs that aren’t based on solid references. I am not generalizing, but more likely to question the authority of “majority”! Oh, and Uggs!
Uggs, is a footwear brand known in Australia and New Zealand as a unisex wear, styled of sheepskin. A boot made of a twin-faced sheepskin with fleece on the inside and a tanned outer surface, often with a synthetic sole. Boots for men were introduced into fashion by various fashion designers everywhere, particularly John Galliano, who has had a major impact on both, women’s and men’s wear. Keeping the industry on edge with his fashion manifesto. Uggs, now copied by retailers, rundown brands, second hand shops and stocks, is an international trend, let alone, marking its availability to even for a hobo to don the look! Just yet to add another victim to the verity of abusers of the Ugg-trend that’s been pondering around, and boy it has. However, wearing those boots was a turning point in my life, it was a cultural phenomena! Yes, a phenomena! A marvel that may link you to post-pants revolution which later launched by Coco Chanel, rebelling against the prejudice of women wearing pants which were limited only to men! And I am too, now a talk of students in universities! “The guy who wears Uggs”, or simply, “Uggs”! Though there are very few guys who do wear the Ugg trend, Jordan-wise. But what does that make me, a social outcast? Or am I the next Galiano or Coco? [Gasp] Have I broke the formulaic code of footwear in Jordan?
First day of wearing Uggs at university was a total humiliation! I was exposed to a lot of brutal comments accompanied with snarky looks filled of disgust! And for some reason, people were given permission to talk snide to me! A lot of people whom I talk to in university has went far to even avoid contact! And a couple of my friends were against the idea and even mocked it, as if I was wandering the campus in a bikini and 15-inch heels! Is Jordan really consisted of what’s male’s and what’s female’s condemned by the popularity of a product that is accustomed for both worn by an individual? I bet if a hijabi girl wore a midi skirt with ankle boots, showing skin, would be exposed to less controversy, because she’d be either sexualized by men, who’ll eye-rape her regardless, or normalized by the society that accepts her much happening stereotypical and oversimplified image. And my case is a different kind? Well, you certainly don’t see me running after those women preaching, nor a lot either! It is in fact about breaking a conventional image, which is, men should behave in a certain physical way, regardless to the real meaning of “manhood”, and wearing “manhood” again in a certain way, a thing that you hardly miss these days. And relating such conventional images to morals and principle-adoration is some sort of an abusing state, controlling to one’s freedom. Madonna have quoted Ian McEwan in the Cement Garden novel, “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.” And having revolved around the matter, it’s never the Uggs, and for the simple fact that it isn’t that common for men in the region to wear them! And that is applied to any different style adorned by an individual that doesn’t consist on a shirt, jeans and shoes, (in our case it’s topsider, which is an abused trend for men now a days or the conventional caterpillar boots).
“imagine how a piece of clothing can emerge a challenge, for someone to be more himself, for hateful people to more hateful, and strengthen or weaken the developing relationship between the individual and the mass, and not individual vs. mass”
Having people fearing an alien-trend that isn’t worn by “the right foot”, or just simply fearing those who are different, or differentiated by society, which explains the repetitive styles, and cloned fashions normalized, hence, normalizing stereotypes. This is another factor in our culture, people wear whatever is stereotyped, regardless if the certain trend is suitable for the individual, and yet socially acceptable! This is a fight for one to express oneself (and myself), and to do what one wants he/she has to own up to the level of violence, abuse and emotional bullying. One day I was walking with my friend at the university’s campus when a bunch of students (guys and girls) started harassing us, throwing comments and cat-calling! My friend got upset and went over to ask them if they’re bothered by something. And by a simple pronounced question “can I help you?” things have escalated, and suddenly they were engaged in a verbal fight, exchanging yells and shouts, “it isn’t your business” from our side! And at some point he was going to push her! Shortly after that, we decided to do something about it and went to the dean’s office to tell him about the situation! After talking with the students, the dean asked them to apologize, and so they did. But does saying “sorry” actually solves the issue, or does “being sorry” is what it should come down to? And more importantly, would it change the society’s mentality on the longer run, with a number of apologies?
When my sister brought me the Uggs, at the beginning I didn’t get the courage to wear them, as I said, living in a society where being simply different in fashion could bring lots of emotional bullying to oneself. So I just wore them a couple of times for quick errand runs. Then I started to wear them more often (as I grew comfort in them). But every time I’d wear them I’d think what would be the reaction of the people; people I interact with on daily basis, and that fueled doubts. I admit, Uggs at the beginning ruined my mental and emotional health, nevertheless, I’ve always got the support needed of those who actually got fashion, or at least those who understood comfort! As many of my close friends have told me to go for it and not pay attention to anything negative, if it’s something I’m comfortable with doing, and in my case, wearing Uggs! And something I had to question, am I a better person today to have gone such a silly battle? A chance and an opportunity to be myself, in the most comfortable of ways, paving a more friendly environment for those who are yet to come, considering myself to have been “The Scapegoat of Uggs”!
Society is impossible to please, that I discovered the hard way. And I refuse to be another clone on “The Island“, or support double standards, like many do and act upon, and now is part of our society’s norm. So it boils down to one question really, should someone forcefully cope, or should others learn to respect individuals’ choices, tolerating tolerance? I believe if something is used, or popularized it won’t be considered socially abnormal, but it’s people’s stares and comments through a provocative smile or simply looking away, that triggers me the most, pitying inside those who are a result of an inferiority complex, lashing from close-minded backgrounds, considering me, and the likes, to be a method of their catharsis. And people who may also have been good individuals in other circumstances (or perhaps they’ll be in the future). But let’s state the facts, it is in fact a liberty given to one than to another, our society is keen on cultivating double-standardizing, which is an aspect in such a male dominant region, i.e. granting greater sexual freedom to men than to women. And to a certain point, I was subconsciously re-writing John Lennon’s famed song, “imagine”, in order for a personal revolution! But really, imagine how a piece of clothing can emerge a challenge, for someone to be more himself, for hateful people to more hateful, and strengthen or weaken the developing relationship between the individual and the mass, and not individual vs. mass.
I insist that our generation should overcome its fear of society, to stand out and be different and difficult! Starting their own personal revolution, of one being more him/herself, rather than being another social double standard, better yet, another mutation! I still have fears, and who doesn’t, but I am on my way to be fear-proof! The “Ugg-Experience”, which I like to name it, certainly uncovered the rugs of my identity, and have contributed to that onward! Setting yet, another dimension to myself, and testing my new personality. Confronting can be a stepping stone for thriving, knowing yourself, discovering talents and unfolding the truth! It is thorny, yet possible! The vital thing is to reach reconciliation with oneself, which proven to lead to reconciliation with others who really matter. And as Mohandas Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”, and that never lingers, but really follows through.