Just like the ad for a certain bra, we have noted that the media appears hell-bent to define gender differences and exploit them to the detriment of women.
Differences, real or contrived, support separation while lifting one gender above the other. No, we are not saying that females and males are identical. We are saying that they are more similar than different and that the differences are mainly culturally induced with the exception of primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
We have all seen a young boy cuddle, rock and play gently with a doll just as we have seen a young girl throw the same doll on the floor and jump up and down on it. But have we all noted what the adult reaction is? What our own, involuntary, unthoughtful response is? Do we note that the boy is made to feel bad (unmanly?) for his joy in nurturing and that the girl is made to feel bad (unladylike) for her anger?
Women columnists and media mavens appear to be doubling their efforts to define women as not only opposite men but inferior to men by asserting that cultural conditioning is truth absolute. Recently, one of them claimed that (except for a few [obviously deviate] individuals) women melted at the sight of a baby and rush to pick it up, while men mostly ignore them. However, she went on to say, the men were protective toward the baby. Duh! Like, the women weren't?
Actually, both men and women react to babies with smiles and interest whether the babies are human or animal, but most men have been trained not to show it. In addition, most men have NOT been trained to hold or care for an infant as they have probably been disciplined for their interest in dolls when they were children. Also, while it is true that many women are extremely maternal, there are just as many who are not, but seldom will they react that way. Our culture punishes a woman who acts "culturally abnormal" just as it punishes a man who acts "culturally abnormal."
By stressing this cultural training as a "difference" between the genders, we deprive males of the joys and safeguards of warmth and emotions. By training males to be emotionless; to equate strength with violence and tender it society's approval, we put ourselves and our children at risk. Perhaps, in the past, it was necessary to prepare the physically stronger gender to fight wars and to kill and maim the enemy (including old people, women and children) dispassionately. Now, as our military is made up of both women and men, this sort of training is indefensible.
It would make much better sense for the survival of our species to allow an individual to develop strengths and abilities without tying them to gender. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we dream of the day when each individual is judged, not on their gender, but on their abilities and the content of their character.
We all know that the planet we live on is getting overcrowded and we should be praising those who do not add to the population. We don't. We harass and harangue couples who are childless by choice. This is especially noted in the rhetoric of the religious/political groups. They insist that if a woman works in a job outside of the home she should not have children but loudly condemn any woman who chooses to remain childless. This is the same kind of Catch-22 they use regarding a woman's reproductive freedom. They claim they want to end abortion, while at the same time they do everything possible to prevent women from obtaining birth control materials.
Some ladies will tell you, smiling a truly vacant, stepfordwife smile, that they do not want equality or human rights because women who act "correctly" are put on a pedestal by men, and they like being treated as special. Since this type of uplifting of "worthy" females is touted by our media, it is an effective manner of separating us from each other. Divide and conquer, lift and separate, it's all the same game and it's one that GenderGappers are aware of.
Being aware is a first step but there is much more to be done. Pedestals are great underneath statues of horses and their riders. It lifts them high enough off the ground so the pigeons can't miss. We GenderGapper women, on the other hand, have been shat on long enough to know it from Shinola.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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