Social Construction of Gender Differences and Gender Equality
Social Construction of Gender Differences and Gender Equality
People’s way of living and actions partaken towards certain duties has been affected by the way the society has stereotyped the roles depending on the biological sex. These values are instilled right from childhood. The male and the female are expected to act in certain ways, do certain things to fulfill their purpose of existence. Gender roles, therefore, refer to the mannerism within which the different genders are expected to carry themselves in the society. Briefly taking a look at the factors that have gender roles instilled in a person, right from birth, male children are associated with the color blue signifying authority and female children with color pink that stereotypically stands for lack of willpower and servanthood. During the socialization period, specific toys have been designed for specific genders.
A girl is expected to play with dolls showing the qualities of tenderness and care. The boy, on the other hand, plays with toys like trucks and cars as a way of having the traits of hard work registering in them. In most cases in institutions such as the nuclear families, the fathers bond with the sons in areas revolving around sports and technical jobs, while the girl child spends time with the mother in the kitchen. When of age and ready to join the marriage institution, norms and traditions dictate that the woman should take care of the domestic responsibilities at home, while the men are expected to toil in search of food for the family.
The society, through traditional values, has therefore depicted man as the breadwinner of the family. If the roles are reversed the balance appears to have been tampered with and most often than not force is used for men to reclaim their status in authority. It is therefore evident that this world belongs to the male, and females are viewed as the lesser beings in the society.
Due to patriarchy, the ideology behind the woman being viewed as lesser beings has greatly affected the marriage institutions. Women are expected to practice total submission to their men. Regardless of the aftermath, women are not expected to question. This is illustrated in Women’s Lives in Colonial Quoto where the Penal Code of 1971 prohibited spouses and children from suing each other .Domestic violence was not considered a criminal act. Amidst pressing charges, Maria was forced to endure the husband’s violence regardless of the pain and humiliation involved. However, the new law prohibiting violence against wives in families offered a protective umbrella for the women as of 12th November 1995.The Center for Information and Investigation of Wife Abuse in Ecuador, after analysis estimated that 68% of the women in the year 1994 faced domestic violence (Gauderman, 2003). The fact that women are viewed as slaves is further supported by Annie in her story the “White Slavery in London” in 1888 where she exposes the horrendous working conditions for the unskilled girls and women in the Byrant and May’s match factory. (Besant, 1888)
In terms of Education, Literate women are regarded as a threat to the men. This explains only a few of these women getting married. In certain countries, the number of literate women is lower due to this factor. From the Radical Reformers in Victorian Britain, Having moved to India in 1983, Annie campaigns for the establishment of schools for girls to allow the literacy levels to be increased. However, regardless of the education, the modern day woman is still assumed mentally deficient. She is not expected to be financially stable enough to accumulate wealth. In the 17th Century, for instance, all the wealth accumulated by a married woman was to be owned by the man. He could use this wealth as his own. The colonial law protected them eventually against this. The property of a married woman was protected from loss due to the husband’s debts. He could also only use the woman’s property under her consent to guarantee his business negotiations.
Industrialization has allowed both men and women to get employment and improve their living standards. In this division of jobs, however, men are assumed to suit the professional jobs than women. For instance, in the excerpt of Radical Reformers in Victorian Britain both male and female skilled laborers worked in the industries. Men were chosen to operate the machinery due to the mental intelligence required while the women were given the handy jobs. The fact that women did jobs to earn a living was still an issue and a bridge of traditional family relations and the patriarchal family unit. Women and children became integral to the family’s financial well-being, and hence neglecting the husband’s status.
Religion is a core value in a marriage institution. Most often than not, the woman is usually expected to adopt the husband’s beliefs when they get married. In the Radical reformers in Victorian Britain, having divorced the husband, Annie fought for the custody of her child. Being an atheist, however, worked against her, since the husband had custodial privileges limited. He based his argument on the fact that she was an unfit parent who corrupted the children’s religious morals. She lost custody of the child, but the British system reconsidered their legal judgments on such similar cases after that. The legal system from The Cuba Read also guaranteed equality for women, this entailed equal rights of all children regardless of whether the parents were officially married or not (Chomsky et al., 2003).
Women today still demand their respect in the society as they feel objectified especially when it comes to sexual relations. Many advertisements on the media portray most women half-dressed to be able to market and sell their products. From researches done, it is evident that prostitution is highly flooded by the female gender with men as their managers. The Cuba Read introduces us to the revolution programs against prostitution. It explains how the law outlawed prostitution in 1961 and legalized it again in 1991. The legal system also encourages this by allowing the practice to continue as a source of livelihood (Chomsky et al., 2003).
Aside from women, discrimination is also felt among other non-conforming genders such as the Trans and queer genders. This is also highlighted in an interview from The Cuba Read where the woman interviewed expresses her apology towards her dissatisfaction for the existence of transgender over homosexuals (Chomsky et al., 2003).
Gender roles have caused significant turmoil in the society; the male gender is in constant pressure to retain their position in authority amidst the resistance offered by the women due to patriarchy. Literate women are viewed as threats in the society and hence not many of them get married. Qualified skilled women face degradation due to the male gender being favored for better positions. Women are also forced to abandon their own religion when married depriving them of the right to freedom of expression and religion. Indeed the modern woman is in constant battle to fight for and earn her respect in the face of the society.
Lewis, O., Lewis, R.M., & Rigdon, S. M. (2003) The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
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