Growing up Liberal and Sexually Free
I grew up in Holland, a country well-praised for its liberalism, freedom of speech and lifestyle. I grew up thinking that in our liberal society/culture there were few of the major problems that are so prominent in the rest of the world. I did not think there were any racial problems, homophobia or sexism in my direct community. Where I lived, people were openly gay in schools and I personally did not even notice if your skin colour was different. I thought it was great that we allowed ‘soft’ drug use and believed our country was a role model for a ‘live and let live’ attitude.
I grew into a teenager thinking I was very liberal, that there wasn’t a problem with sexism and I did not even know the word misogyny. I thought I was sexually free and did not have an issue with nakedness. I would go to saunas and believed it was normal to be nude around other people in this setting and the only discomfort I felt was because I had issues with my body. Of course there was the odd pervert around, but I only thought of it as annoying.
Sexism and Misogyny… Not such a Big Deal?
But was this real?
In recent years I have been reading a lot about sexism and misogyny.
My first response to it was that doesn’t happen where I live…
When I started to see that sexism and misogyny actually was happening much more than I thought, my second response was, “Geez people, why make such a big deal about the little things? It’s cool to have a bit of fun, it is not meant in a bad way.” etc. etc.
I thought the ‘feminist reactions’ were exaggerated and unnecessary.
But I was so wrong!
Only slowly did it dawn on me how wrong I was, after I was stopped by a simple question. I was asked to look at my own experiences as a woman and to see how many times I personally had come across sexism.
I was shocked at what I found. Just looking at my teenage years, I came to a full-page list of assaults ranging from remarks about my breasts or bum to downright groping and grabbing – most of them in the latter category. And this list was just the type of incidents, not how many times they occurred.
I had even twice narrowly escaped very serious assault attempts; once by a group of boys and once by a man chasing me in the streets at night.
I began to see instantly that things like misogyny and sexism
were a big deal…
The Shocking Normalisation of Sexism and Sexual Behaviour
After realising this, I felt to ask around my female friends and every single one of them had had similar experiences.
This shook me to my core: in my ‘liberal’ society there was not a single woman who had not experienced some form of sexism or inappropriate sexual behaviour, from the so-called ‘mildest’ of misogynistic comments to instances of outright physical and sexual abuse.
The truth of what was and is really going on was starting to form in front of my eyes and I realised that I had grown up believing that sexism was normal.
The reason I thought we did not have deeply embedded problems in our society was because I was looking at the extremes and had learned to dismiss the less extreme incidents.
I had been taught by society that this was normal behaviour from men, and we as women should take it as a compliment and not be fussy about it; that this was the game between men and women and I was expected to play it and like it.
In fact I had learned to ‘numb out’ how I truly felt about this, and adjusted to being a way that I thought I needed to be – to be socially accepted.
I now realise how deeply ingrained these totally harming sexual dynamics between men and women are, in even the most ‘liberal’ societies in this world. Through magazines, videos, songs, books, movies and all media we are being bombarded with images and stories ingraining and supporting the ideals and beliefs we hold as women and men – that tell us that sexism is ‘natural’ and acceptable behaviour.
The simple truth is that even though in most modern/liberal societies men are more and more willing to say women are equal, underneath that there is still a consciousness of sexism and a deep momentum driving a belief system based on the roles that men and women ‘should’ play.
There is so much more to look at than is generally thought about.
Yes, it is great progress that we now have many men in our society who are thinking it is natural for them to take a more active role within the household, taking care of the kids or cooking a meal. But this is not the end of sexism. The same man who is washing the dishes at home could be in a bar with his friends, mouthing off about the ‘big tits’ on ‘that’ women on the other side of the room.
Addressing Sexism in a Liberal Society and the Natural Way to be
In the past couple of years I have come to feel the impact of living with the beliefs and ideals that actually supported sexism.
I had completely shut down my sensitivity, tenderness and delicateness as a woman while thinking I was ‘free’ in my body. I had bought into the ideals and beliefs of a so called liberal society so much that I thought addressing sexism was considered extreme or overly feminist.
I see it very clearly now:
Sexism is a very big problem in our society today. It has exploded into a very worrying ‘normalised’ behaviour that is seriously affecting everyone, especially our youth.
Both boys and girls, men and women have gotten caught in this increasingly sexualised game and the extremes are growing more and more obvious, leading to very unnatural behaviour, if you consider how delicate and sensitive we really are. But in a world where sensitivity is not accepted, we have become so hardened in our ‘liberal society’ that it takes really awful things for us to see and feel the extremes which keep spiraling downwards.
We can only truly address these problems if we are willing to see the depth of sexism, and that really there is no level of sexism that could be seen as ‘harmless fun’.
- As women we need to look at what we have allowed or bought into.
- As men we need to look at our behaviours and the beliefs we have taken on about what it means to be a man.
In our so-called liberal societies, or any society in fact, it is time to address sexism and misogyny and what we have deemed as ‘normal’ and realise this is not normal at all. And nor is it natural, as the natural way for men and women to be is immensely tender, sensitive, open and delicate.
As I have seen, there are many men and women who, inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, choose not to normalise so-called ‘liberal’ sexual behaviours, who are living proof of our naturally tender and loving ways… of how different we can be, as men and women, without the impost of the various roles we play and the ingrained male/female behaviours we take on.
By Carolien Braakenburg, Self-employed, 42, Belgium