Gender equality and different roles in society today

Like a smile, battle of the sexes is understood world-wide. No matter what language you speak or if you find yourself in China or South Africa it has been an on-going topic for some time.

Compared to the 1960s, women have come a little further in life and society, but what is acceptable and why is there still a continuous debate of a woman’s role, a man’s role and who belongs where in society? A recent book published by Suzanne Venker has created quite the stir amongst women and men (once again). Her book published “How to choose a husband” and some of her articles one being called “The war on men” briefly handle gender equality, some things I found to be very true and inspiring and others, once again, were just an opinion. She does however have a rational approach to this so called battle of the sexes.

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Women won the right the vote in 1920’s the first of many mile stones. After that Feminist Crystal Eastman wrote an essay titled “Now we begin” which I consider to be the first feminist movement. Women experienced the sweet taste of victory after they voted and wanted more! In her essay Eastman outlined a four-point program: economic independence for women (including freedom to choose an occupation and equal pay), gender equality at home (raising “feminist sons” to share the responsibilities of family life), “voluntary motherhood” (reproductive freedom) and “motherhood endowment,” or financial support for child-rearing and homemaking.

You see ladies back then we didn’t have any of the privileges mentioned above, compared to today where all if not more of these requests have become a reality. The war is over – so who won? Well, no one!

There was nothing said about men should not be seen in a kitchen and women have no right to become lawyers. When I think about the movie “Mona Lisa Smile” starring Julia Roberts it sums up this little debate for me personally. Yes back then women where undermined, some wanted to be in the kitchen whilst others chose to climb a corporate ladder. That’s what the fight for feminism was about – that we have a right to choose, not about who belongs where. Choice between a stay at home mom or to enter a working class society or both!

Now in this book published by Suzanne Venter men seem a little taken aback with all that has happened in the past 80 years. According to statistics in the year of 1960, 72% of adults were married in the United States compared to 2011 where only 51% of the adult population said “I do”

More couples are having children out of wedlock and some couples don’t get married at all, some people frown upon this and other just pull up their shoulders and say “It is what it is”. Let’s not forget that culture and religion plays a significant factor when it comes to the role of a man and a women.

So is this new found womanly role of a working class mom taking its toll on relationships and men and women’s roles in society? I found such an interesting example of changing times: When the titanic sank in 1912 it took 1450 lives, only 103 of those lives were women. Now the recent sinking of the Costa Concordia resulted in viewer deaths but there was another significant difference “There was no women and children first policy, there were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into life boats, it was disgusting” said 62 year old passenger Sandra Rogers.

So it is official; times have changed for both men and women, we’re independent and standing on your own two feet, but let’s be honest, when I read this piece I was a little shocked, men pressing past women to save themselves? Isn’t that what we asked for though – gender equality, so why was I so shocked?

I guess the answer is simple when we look at children playing house-house or pretending that they’re the next Lewis Hamilton. Girls learn to present themselves in a fashionable manner (this does not apply to everyone) makeup is advertised to women, on women and with women in mind. Boys learn to manipulate their physical and social environment through muscle and strength. Cars are still made to appeal to men. Men will always be men and women will always be women, testosterone can’t change into estragon (metaphorically speaking). This doesn’t mean that we’re confide to the roles that were once intended for us during the 1960.

The past movement have proven that men and women are capable of doing the same things – that’s all it was about at least that’s what G.I Jane taught me “we can do it too” but it doesn’t mean that we necessarily want to. My mom always told me you can do anything you set your mind to, so I’m going to set my mind to things I want to do. Choice!

If you want to live in the corporate world and be a house wife then find a husband who will support you. It’s silly to think the feminist movement was made possible by protests alone –  men also supported women in their efforts.

Just like men and women are different, people also have their preferences, I met a woman in Switzerland who has her doctorate degree in biochemistry, she has two boys and she’s happily married. Her husband support her and says “Her sheer feminist independence is what made me fall in love with her” and she says “Sometimes I let him win, because I know how much it means to him, we compromise like that”

Venker ended one of her pieces in such an inspiring way and I found it only fitting to end mine with one of her quotes “Men and women are equal, but different. They’ve each been blessed with amazing and unique qualities that they bring to the table, so why not enjoy the feast.”

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