“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, it was a term used to define and explain the ever-present conflict between the two sexes. As our gauge for consciousness progresses, so are the calls and criticisms that dictate that there is something wrong in our world today. The 20th century has been one of the most crucial stepping stones of these arguments, having presented new situations and scenarios where inequality and domination is exhibited. And as time goes, so does the conflict between the personas intensify.
For ages, man has dominated these conflicts amidst the evident and continuous call for equality; and they still do. Amidst the apparent demonstrations and criticisms, the past has already taken its toll. Millenniums of male dominance have shaped our way of living today to resist a change in authority; a living set by standards and stereotypes that has dictated our actions and fulfillments. Gender inequality is not an issue of woman versus man; it is the struggle of women amidst the man-oriented society. The fight for power is still occurring between Martians and Venusians; the new battlefield inside every home and work office.
In the comparative works of Boyd and Waldfogel, we can clearly see the different forms and arguments that impose the existence of inequality among men and women. Boyd’s article; “Feminizing Paid Work”; has posed the argument that amidst the dramatic increase of women in the labor force, women still tends to be of having lower work ethic and credits which is particularly seen in the few number of women in decision-making positions (Boyd 67). It is a fact that in most cases in the world, women will most likely hold clerical or service occupations such as a secretary or assistant.
Not only these, there are also companies and businesses that favors male occupancy in number. Although there is no point denying the authenticity of these facts, it is possible that the cause of such trends is not merely acts of favoring but of deeper reasons. Man and woman were made different, and truly, there must certainly be differences in interests and characteristics of the two sexes. At first we look between educational backgrounds, a man tends to take courses that give opportunity of authority while a woman takes service-centered degrees (although not very uniformly in both cases).
This eventually leads to job opportunities having more women than men and vice-versa. A more pronounced reason can also be considered, the physiological differences among our bodies. There simply are jobs and positions that require certain built and form. Some of these require extreme manpower and strength, and it is empirical that it is the male body that can take the most extreme forms much easily than its counterpart. Not only in the physiological sense, there are also studies that show how differently man and a woman work and think.
Raised with differences in family interest and experience, the possibility of difference in skills may be perceived (Kane 613). Since childhood, females are most likely indulged to take part in housework along with their mothers. This gives women a sort of thinking and skill that has risen from the environment where she has thrived, in this case, in a service-oriented environment. Men on the other hand, tend to be engaged in sports. Most of these athletic activities, if not all, are not only physically challenging but literally requires quick-thinking and critical decision making.
Although these are just assumptions, it can not be helped that these activities that root from childhood may as well shape how our actions are made in the future. From here, we can see the flow of position dictated by skill and qualifications and not simply the assumption of gender maltreatment; although this point might not always be true. On the other hand, there are other factors that considerably affect working issues; one these is stereotyping. When employers hire, it is possible that they may overlook qualifications and skills and give jobs that is “sex-typed” (Boyd 59).
Although it has long been accepted that women can do what men can do and vice-versa, position-assigning may be biased because there are certain jobs where women are proved (historically and intuitively) to be better than men, and the same goes for the other way around. Thinking as a businessman, it is an act wherein we strive to get the best out of our employees. There is nothing wrong in this, whatever gender the employer may have; it simply is a consequence of practical reasons. Consequently, the standards have been set even before we know it.
We find that in such subtle forms, we have indirectly taken part in shaping the rules of society. Even outside our homes and offices, we are already being presented with situations that tackle gender issues. Take for example in literature (particularly children’s literature); we have always been sticking to the ever-famous “damsel in distress” theme where the princess protagonist simply waits to be saved and the prince does all the work. We know this for a fact, and we also know that every woman in her lifetime has dreamed to be this damsel.
This even works for mythology and superheroes as well; goddesses will always be the epitomes of “beauty and knowledge” but never as of strength, courage and authority. Yes, there are female superheroes but none has ever been as accomplished and famed as male ones. Leaving literature, perhaps the most obvious forms are seen in the political context. Directly looking at the top leaders, there certainly is an almost complete monopoly of male leadership when it comes to politics. Mostly throughout the world, it seems that the role of woman in politics does not seem to be too appealing for voters.
In the business world, I may not know much but certainly has never heard of a woman reaching the Top Ten Richest People of the World list. Also, there has always been the assumption of power by numbers, in this case, women being powerful by outnumbering men; and yet it seems that it has no conceivable effect on how women are treated and seen. From these simple social constructs and examples, we are seeing man as the standard of greatness. The idea is a very strong exhibition of gender inequality, yet it has been already set and accepted.
And having set these standards, we may merely act out and affirm these gender-specific roles to achieve self-accomplishment (Boyd 52). In the extreme sense, we have been limited even before we try. In the same concept of standard, the issue about women working both as wage-earner and as domestic laborer is answered. There is no argument that a mother is and will be at the pedestal of home-making and child-rearing, and it does not change in whatever situation women will be. Although a woman becomes a provider in the family, there is somehow an unwritten rule that a working wife would still carry the bulk of household work.
The male may take some of the domestic labor, but the lead player would always be the female (Kane and Sanchez 1081). This is a very intriguing aspect between freedom to work and changes inside the home. Through this we will see a very different understanding of gender inequality and where it is applicable. Although we can clearly and strongly argue that this is some form of inequality; specifically sub-ordination; we can infer that it is our social construct that somehow inhibits us from acting upon it. The society has already painted a portrait of the family with the woman in charge of the house.
Once again, it is our society standards that have set our roles and not directly the hand of man. Though most of the situations presented qualify that women are being dominated by authority of men, it is in my opinion that women has a very ironic power over men. In the same way society serves men, women are also favored by society standards in a different perspective. Females were characterized as the weaker sex, someone who always needs help and be taken care of. In most cases than one, the acceptance of this idea leaves women to have far more privileges and opportunities than man.
Consider any situation of life saving, it is already part of protocol to save children and women first. The same goes inside the working office, although it is quite unfair that less expectation and pressure is put upon women, this can be taken into advantage. This underdog status of women gives them more credit when they equal the work of men; in a literal sense, strength through weakness. In Baxter and Kane’s detailed study of dependency among men and women, a great deal of link between dependence on men (including wage difference) and agreement was seen.
After studying situations in United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Australia, they have concluded that the more dependence on men; agreement and social stability is much achieved (Baxter and Kane 211). Strangely, in their comparisons between United States (having greatest male dependence) and Sweden (having the lowest male dependence), women in the United States are discouraged in interpreting issues of gender inequality while Sweden yields the opposite. Depending on these findings, we can consistently say that the different treatment of man and woman paved the way for societal stability in the context of work.
Although we once again see that women are at the bottom of the chain, we now face the judgement of choosing between equality and agreement between the sexes. It is a loose-win situation wherein one virtue cannot exist with the other. From here, we can already see that gender inequality really do exist, and yet the load of women does not end on being just a woman. Amidst the already apparent dispute, another factor also intensifies the scenario; “family penalty”. Family penalty was described as the wage penalty experienced by mothers compared to those without children (Waldfogel 216).
As it was discussed by Waldfogel, this wage penalty increases along with the number of children. His detailed study has concluded a 4 percent wage penalty for one child, and 12 percent for two or more (Waldfogel 216). These results are also supported by beliefs of mothers being less productive and distracted in work and may even leave them discriminated inside the working office (Budig and England 204). However, it was also pointed out that these variations are exhibited due to mother’s preference for part-time work. But then again, from the concept of part-time alone, we can see that being a mother further add to her limitations.
Starting from pregnancy, women are entitled to have leaves and less work, thus being prejudiced of being less efficient. There is also the assumption that non-mothers spend more of their non-employment hours in leisure instead of in child care or other household work and that leisure takes less energy, thus leaving more energy for paid work (Budig and England 207). From child-bearing to child-rearing, women take the double penalty. Strangely, no such “family penalty” is seen when we talk about man. In an effort to explain this scenario, we look upon Karl Marx’s Theory of Capitalism (Boyd 53).
In this philosophy, a sphere-split of property is done; each party taking where she is more adept with. Man takes the outside environment while woman takes those inside the home. Since most resources needed for survival is found outside home, women depend upon men for her survival. Although the context of this philosophy is somewhat outdated and incorrect, we can see its correlation to our situation today. A woman may take part in man’s outside sphere provided she still take responsibility of her own. It is not an issue of sub-ordination but of choice. If we reverse the situation, we now see a man trying to take part inside the domestic home.
Although no concept of wage is involved, there is no doubt that the authority will be in her hands. In a large scale, we now see gender inequality favoring women. We see here that the real problem is not who controls what, but the fact that these play of power is not something that could easily be done and accepted. In going places we do not normally are, conflicts and clashes are some things you can not dodge. Having pointed out the arguments of this paper, my goal is not to heat up the conflicts, but rather presents the facts as well as my opinions in hope to give light and representation to both parties.
Through the help of different literary works, new points and debates are assessed in different perspectives, and all of which presents the same implication. Once again I address, gender inequality truly is present; its implications clearer than ever and the criticisms bolder than before. Economically and domestically, the situations shout for answers. Man and woman were made differently. These differences in interests, physique and preference have favored man in more ways than one, and most throughout history it was he who nurtured the society from its raw form.
Intentionally or not, this nurturing seems to have served its master well in its present form. By chance or by purpose, our differences have rendered us to be unequal. Although our society has long been leaning in man’s favor, we have lived our ways amidst the clashes of power. It may be true that it is time that we now remove the hand of authority form men. But then again, we are like inhabitants of a building; an attempt to improve its foundations entails the risk of destruction of the whole place. Women are treated differently, but still some points are unclear whether it is an act of maltreatment or simply of purpose.
We have found that since our childhood, we have already been living a world of roles, all already predesigned as a consequence of the past and even present dominations of men in almost all aspects of living. I do not wish to entail that gender inequality is a necessity towards our continued living, but to address that it has it strengths and contributions in our ways. There are obvious advantages for men in the society, and there are also subtle ways for women. Again it is arguably unfair that only a few of these subtle ways are present and available, yet it is not something that can be acted upon by merely realizing it.
There are standards of living, some of which cannot be controlled and manipulated; a result of the all the years of existence of men and women altogether. We have long been bound by these standards and stereotypes of our society; the question now is whether it is the society that serves us, or are we the ones who serve it?
Works Cited Baxter, Janeen and Kane, Emily W. “Dependence and Independence: A Cross-National Analysis of Gender Inequality and Gender Attitudes. ” Gender and Society Vol. 9, No. 2 (1995): 193-215. Boyd, Monica. Feminizing Paid Work. Current Sociology, (1997): 49-73.
Budig, Michelle J. and England, Paula. “The Wage Penalty for Motherhood”. American Sociological Review Vol. 66, No. 2 (2001): 204-225. Kane, Emily W. “Men’s and Women’s Beliefs about Gender Inequality: Family Ties, Dependence, and Agreement. ” Sociological Forum Vol. 13, No. 4, (1998): 611-637. Kane, Emily W. and Sanchez, Laura. “Family Status and Criticism of Gender Inequality at Home and at Work”. Social Forces Vol. 72, No. ,( 1994): 1079-1102. Waldfogel, Jane. “The Effect of Children on Women’s Wages. ” American Sociological Review Vol. 62, No. 2 (1997): 209-217.
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