Table Talk

Photo (c) Sloetry, artwork on a wall in Ladbroke Grove

I’ve tended to view myself as someone who champions women in society.

Forgive me if that sounds a patronising or even a self-praising opening statement. It’s not meant to be, it’s simply one of my firm beliefs that society would be much better with more women at the helm in government and influential positions throughout the world.

I’ve also written before of how we see beauty and define femininity. Women have had a strong influence in my life. Most of my close friends are female, I have two daughters, and as much as I love basketball, I value the role of basketball, and sport generally, in promoting female athleticism and self-esteem.

This article is however not about femininity…

When Kehinde wrote this week’s Soulful Sunday about 4 people we would most like to invite for dinner, I had a good think about who I would have on my list. I chose Martin Luther King JR, Jesus, Chuck D and Fela Kuti.

It wasn’t until later that I looked at the list I had submitted and realised that despite all my rants about female positivity/equality, I had not actually included any women. I did qualify my list at the time by including the fact that my partner would be there by default, and while that guarantees me quality input at the table, I was still shocked that I’d not included someone world renowned in the mix. This coming in the week of the funeral of Wangari Maathai, who is someone I have admired greatly.

Is this because there are more male ‘role models’ in society or more at least recognised by society and in history. Are there many untold stories of women who deserve a place in our consciousness. Probably, but perhaps it’s wider than that.

Let me just say, that the inclusion of Jesus is with the utmost respect as there would be so much to learn about how to live ones life, and I guess I view Jesus as the ultimate role model, setting aside the many religious connotations of course. The 3 mortal choices of MLK, Chuck D and Fela, again to me each of them has aspects of what they do and did that teach me and act as role models for me.

Perhaps I chose all men because I saw role models that I could relate to as a man, but then why shouldn’t a woman be a role model for me. Am I more conditioned as a man in expectation of a man’s role in life than I realised? I believe in shattering perceptions, stereotypes and the myths of pigeon holing people and that includes who I am and what I stand for. What is a male role verses a female role, and why should society define me, a male, into what being a man means. So with those self-beliefs and mould breaking philosophies at the heart of who I am and what I stand for bang my selections are a pointer that deep seated conditioning by how I have lived my life and been influenced by things around me can still stunt perspective.

How else does my background, upbringing, gender, race, age and experiences impact what, why and how I see or view things. And more importantly, how do I check those perceptions do not cause me mis-judgement?

Funny how something so innocent as Soulful Sunday’s question could spark such thought of self. But I’m glad it did, because anything that shatters the conditioned or subconscious mind, or makes us question and revisit what we have been led to believe, can only be a positive thing.

And I also need a bigger dinner table.

Is there recipe for self-checking that you use to ensure you let your view of self and the world be as open minded as possible?

2 Responses to “Table Talk”

  1. Hi Sloetry,
    So, you don’t have any women on the top 4 of your fantasy dinner party guest list – does it mean you’re inherently sexist? – perhaps. But it might be saying more interesting things about your political consciousness and cultural influences, the things that make up your different/unique perspective. All the things that make us up as individuals do influence our outlook but I wouldn’t see this as a ‘stunted’ perspective, it’s just the world as we see you it from where we currently stand in life.
    Although I agree women are often written out of history and not as frequently lauded as icons. But I guess it’s still mostly men doing the writing…
    Interesting piece… not sure who i’d invite, but politics and religion at the dinner table might be a bit heavy going for me!

  2. Thanks Michelle… really appreciate your thoughts. I guess all our angles on most things will always be from the perspective of where we currently stand in life, so you make a good point that this will always affect how we see things. It’s not really something I’ve beaten myself up about, but none the less, my lack of female representation did surprise me, particularly as women do play a big role in my life. I was just giving it some more thought, and if I was to pick people I knew (that not may others would), then the dinner would perhaps be 3 women and 1 man, which maybe confirms what you suggest of men doing most of the writing, and why I didn’t think of female icons.
    LOL about the politics and religion… yeah I hear you, good point!!

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