Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mr. & Mrs. Perfect!! And How Gender Influence Their Children..

This week has been a short week for me. I’m so occupied with a lot of stuff and forgot that time flies so quick. Suddenly, it’s Saturday and I have another 2 days to complete my declaration to write anything about gender. Well, I could just cut and paste from Wikipedia and ‘googled’ it. What is gender? When I first heard about it is when I was in my Secondary school and I’ve got to know that it’s a different name for sex, male and female. Is that by means, biological kinda thingy. WRONG!!! Well, I acknowledge that care less about what is gender and what significant gender is to the society.

Do you know how people define women? Define man? Okey.. I went to this some sort of Introduction about Gender Equality recently. And one of the exercise that we got to get involve is How do you feel about Men / Women? The groups of 100 people were divided to group Men and group Women. And then, a group of Women will be given opportunity to say what they think about men.

There goes the list of bad/negative attitude about men for example;
men are egoistic, don’t know how to cook, hopeless to take care children, sloppy, lazy, spoiled, cheater, reckless, insensitive,
stubborn and so on, so.

And of course when this group of women were asking about how they think about women, (well, what I have expected) the group went on and on saying good values about women for example;
caring, loving, independent, beautiful, smart, they can cook and take care babies, kind-hearted..bla bla bla.. (hehe..)

And here is the list that the group of men describe women;
Complaint! Complaint! Complaint! Can't stop talking - whining a lot,
Put too much make up, DON'T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE CORRECTLY, Failed in Parking!!! Get panicked easily - cepat menggelabah, spoiled - mengada-ngada
Queen Control, lalalala - and many more!!

List of Men about Men; a lot but, I don't want to waste my energy on that!! But this picture sure describe them!!

Haha!! Got it??

Anyway, this list is just pandangan kasar on what we saw about ourself and the opposite sex. We see negative side about them and note about good things we saw in ourself. This is for us to review back. Is this what we creating for our next generation?

We play a different role but are we forgetting something that we need each other and we support each other. Acknowledge and respecting others differences actually can lead to somewhere better. I love man although, I get irritating and annoyed with their "attitude", at the same time I choose to live with them. Why? Just because, I understand what is gender!

What Is Gender?

Gender has several definitions. It usually refers to a set of characteristics that are considered to distinguish between male and female, reflect one's biological sex, or reflect one's gender identity. Gender identity is the gender(s), or lack thereof, a person self-identifies as; it is not necessarily based on biological sex, either real or perceived, and it is distinct from sexual orientation. It is one's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or girl).

There are two main genders: masculine (male), or feminine (female), although some cultures acknowledge more genders. "Androgyny," for example, has been proposed as a third gender.

Some societies have more than five genders, and some non-Western societies have three genders – man, woman and third gender. Gender expression refers to the external manifestation of one's gender identity, through "masculine," "feminine," or gender-variant or gender neutral behavior, clothing, hairstyles, or body characteristics.

There a few notes about how the theories of gender derives:-

First, gender role theory posits that boys and girls learn the appropriate behavior and attitudes from the family and overall culture they grow up with, and so non-physical gender differences are a product of socialization.

Second, Social role theory proposes that the sex-differentiated behavior is driven by the division of labor between two sexes within a society. Division of labor creates gender roles, which in turn, lead to gendered social behavior.

Another point, I wish to add is the physical specialization of the sexes is considered to be the distal cause of the gender roles. Men’s unique physical advantages in term of body size and upper body strength provided them an edge over women in those social activities that demanded such physical attributes such as hunting, herding and warfare.
On the other hand, women’s biological capacity for reproduction and child-bearing is proposed to explain their limited involvement in other social activities. Such divided activity arrangement for the purpose of achieving activity-efficiency led to the division of labor between sexes.

The consequences of gender roles and stereotypes are sex-typed social behavior because roles and stereotypes are both socially shared descriptive norms and prescriptive norms. Gender roles provide guides to normative behaviors that are typical, ought-to-be and thus “likely effective” for each sex within certain social context.

Social constructionism of gender moves away from socialization as the origin of gender differences; people do not merely internalize gender roles as they grow up but they respond to changing norms in society. Children learn to categorize themselves by gender very early on in life. A part of this is learning how to display and perform gendered identities as masculine or feminine.

Boys learn to manipulate their physical and social environment through physical strength or other skills, while girls learn to present themselves as objects to be viewed. Children monitor their own and others’ gendered behavior. Gender-segregated children's activities creates the appearance that gender differences in behavior reflect an essential nature of male and female behavior.

Sharing roles and responsibilities

Why do we bring up our girls to tell them the sky is the limit, be what you want to be, be all you can be, become a rocket scientist, strive for excellence when the message in the text book is that a woman is subordinate to her husband and, as a wife/mother, housekeeping and child-care is solely a woman's responsibility. What is the impact of this message on boys?

So what's the problem?

At a recent talk about gender and religion, a speaker spoke on the equality between the sexes, saying they are equal but each has different roles to play, the man is responsible for his family and the woman is responsible for household matters. The speaker spoke about teamwork but made a point of revering women who gave up their jobs to look after the children at home.

When there is so much talk about gender equality now, one cannot help but wonder why the role of a woman in her family is still limited to childcare and housekeeping and why the tasks of childcare and housekeeping are still seen as women only tasks. Men are capable of sharing these roles with women and, in fact, some do. But why is this sharing of roles and responsibilities not promoted in our textbooks or encouraged in society?

This type of sex-role stereotyping (as recently seen in the KT textbook and workbooks) confines human potential, limits options for men and women, and sends out messages which often contradict daily life experiences. More damaging is that when textbooks/workbooks/reference books reinforce sex-role stereotyping (father: leader, breadwinner, decision-maker; mother: housewife, nurturer), they perpetuate dominant and subordinate relationships in our society reinforce power structures in which males are more important than females and lay the foundation for gender expectations based on male domination and female subordination.

Families, teachers and peers reinforce such notions until even young women come to believe that their unequal status is justified and young men believe that they are superior. This is further perpetuated by cultural practices and religious interpretations.

OK, so?

The unequal power relationship between women and men, created and maintained by gender stereotypes, is seen as the basic underlying cause of violence against women.

According to a UNICEF document:
It has been well established that the primary cause of gender-based violence is the unequal power relationship between men and women based on stereotypes of the male as privileged and powerful and the female as inferior and submissive. Such stereotypes have been taught the world over to boys and girls from early childhood.

All too many men, prompted by their sense of what is masculine, use violence and intimidation to keep women and girls �in their place� - a submissive one. ��

The reality

Arising from the many efforts and contributions by different organisations and individuals over the years, gender equality and the roles of women are now part of mainstream discussions worldwide. Declarations have been made, Conventions have been ratified, specific policies regarding women have been established and various promises have been made. All these efforts are important, but at the best of times they seem to be limited to the public sphere.

In the private sphere, that is in the family, the practices we all claim to be eliminating (gender bias, male domination, female subordination), to a very large extent, still prevail.

If we really want to socialise our children to respect equality, we need to expose them to concepts and practices which promote equality and respect between women and men.

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