New generation of women already know that they are not the only ones responsible for their children – 11/26/2022

I was in Portugal for two weeks, one of them immersing myself in sexology, meeting researchers from the country. With the exception of the Brazilian colleague who lives in Portugal, the group I was part of was all female. It was the time when sexuality was a subject dominated by men, mostly doctors. Today, I dare say that 80% of graduate courses in sexuality are composed of female students, and many of them are also coordinated by women.

From the moment we broadened the gaze of sexuality to its psychological and sociocultural dimensions, especially when it comes to gender studies and how inequalities affect female sexual pleasure, the field of sexology has become mostly a journey trodden by women, from different areas of knowledge.

Many of our younger colleagues, who were with me, were making their first trip out of the country alone, some leaving their children in the care of their partners. And that does have an important meaning. When my son Theo was four months old, I had to go back to teaching a postgraduate course that I was coordinating in Natal. I spent a week pumping milk so he wouldn’t run low during the three days I was gone.

When I stepped into the classroom, the first question I was asked was who he had hooked up with. And the obvious answer, in my case —with the father— was not enough to contain the female affliction: but will he get used to the bottle? Will he breastfeed again afterwards? Certainly questions that are never asked of a man.

Supporting one’s own desires without the deterministic constraints of marriage and motherhood is no simple task. Currently, for the new generation of women, it is easier to change this logic that we are solely responsible for the care of husbands and children, than for those who are over 40 —and are direct heirs of female subalternity.

But it is important to highlight that it was never a question of desire, capacity or strength, but of silencing. Immigration, for example, has always been seen as an initially male movement, but studies on the subject show that many women already took this initiative in search of better opportunities. This historical recognition, which reveals other truths about us, helps in the conversation between generations.

I thought it was funny when the mothers of two of my colleagues —younger than me—, when seeing photos from the trip, wrote messages on my Instagram saying how proud they were of their daughters. I, as a teacher and one of the oldest in the class, perhaps just a little younger than their mothers, am quite capable of understanding such admiration. If before the women tried to contain their daughters, so that they wouldn’t run away from the foreseen script, today they recognize the good that this does.

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