In almost every country, in the world, it is evident there is gender inequality. Even though, the problem varies in degrees depending on the age groups and across countries. According to Lorber (2010, p.67), there are many good reasons as to why the inequality gap should be closed; this is because it is good for both girls and boys. Gender stereotypes as well as inequalities usually set back Women and girls as well as men and boys. They learn this when they are very young age and a variety of factors influence them. The problem of gender may, however, be seen the same by a person who lived in the 1920s and a 30 years younger person since their lives unfolds in different contexts that are time, social conditions and location. To be able to compare this information I interviewed a woman, named Ann, who was 30 years older than me. I raised my view and that of my fellow age mates on the issue of gender while the lady discussed how she and her fellow elderly group viewed the gender issue. The interview enabled me to get the various similarities and differences of gender inequality today and ancient times.
Ann’s perception about gender
According to Ann, the upbringing of a child needs care in order to ensure programs such as feeding are taking place every day, the home is neat and organized and the children are taken care of well. When compared to my view on the gender issue the interviewee was of the opinion that the role that is most important to women is to cook for their family and also take care of their home. She also suggested that the view that, when it comes to duties of taking care of the children it is the women to be the ones to be responsible (Lorber 2010, p.190).
In a society and the family in particular, there are day-to-day and long term expenses that need to be met. There is need for someone or people in the family to shoulder these expenses. Amongst the elderly there is a perception by a good number of them that on the matter of the family’ breadwinner, it is solely the responsibility of a man to earn income. Any elderly person at one point or another in their lives has been forced to take risks and understand well their benefits and disadvantages. The number among men is greater when compared to women who are of the opinion that, manhood is defined by the ability of someone to take more risks. The numbers of men in comparison to women is also high on the view that one needs to be tough for him to be termed a man.
Most of the elderly have undergone employment at one time or another in their lives. Just like the youth, a few of the elderly think that that the numbers of those employed at schools, religious organizations, government positions and top companies need to be equal between men and women. Everyone at some point of their lives has to cry due to various reasons such as depression, stress, and even injury among others. On the issue of boys crying, some of the elderly are of the view that there is a high possibility of boys being made fun of in the event they cry (Harrington Meyer & Herd 2007, p.34).
The interviewee also suggested that at times in one’s life one meets mockery and gets to be laughed under different situations such as during play while still a child with toys, clothing that one has put on or how one fair on in sports. Most of the elderly hold the view that boys in the case they play with dolls, put on pink clothes or fair on badly in sports will be subjected to mockery.
My perception about gender
The youth do have several different views on the matters regarding traditional inequalities and gender stereotypes. In the society we are living in, there are different perceptions with regards to the position held by an individual with regards to their gender, most boys and girls believe there must be equality between women and men. The cause might be the changing world where duties are similar, therefore, the view for equality (Zinn, Hondagneu-Sotelo & Messner 2012, 96). During the development of a human being, there are many different stages that an individual needs to make a decision. Many believes that when it comes to the problem of making own choices in life, women should have the same opportunities as that of boys indicating they view each other equal. Also in our communities there exists families and most families have children and for them to be raised up in the best way someone has to be take up responsibility. Majority of the youth are of the view that both the parents need to share responsibility of the children as opposed to the traditional belief that the father should be responsible and the provider. During the development of human beings, there comes a stage or point in life to bear children and there are only two options about it; this is either to get a boy or a girl. Nowadays people do not care whether they get many boys and few girls or many girls and few boys. Therefore, most people view both sexes as equal and do not place too much preference in either the male or female sex as it was in the traditional setups.
According to Ridgeway (2011, p.132) after one has developed into an adult, he or she needs an income. In most cases, this is through the existing institutions in the form of employment either formal or informal. The employment category is the other area that the issue of gender is sensitive since in the past people believed that there are specific jobs for a specific sex, or when a specific sex works, it is taking away jobs from the other. Most of the youth are against this understanding and believe that the determinant factor on whether someone receives employment in government, school, or top companies should not be gender. It should rather be, his or her capability to carry out the job and the different qualifications in respect to the task at hand such as the academic levels required.
However, the youth continues to be under pressure in order to conform to traditional female and male roles. Hence, some gender inequalities and stereotypes are still in existence today. They includes beliefs amongst the youth that there are important roles that each gender should be responsible about such as; a woman’s most important or key role is to cook for the family and take care of her home. With the problem of providing for the family or who should be the breadwinner some youth still believe its men’s responsibility to earn an income. As they are of the view that he is the head of the family, therefore, he should be responsible for providing for it. In addition, most youths do not agree with the statement and the believe “boys should not cry.” Although their thought is, in the case where boys cry they are more likely to be made fun at. Toughness is perceived by some of the youth as a sign of manhood hence the believe the tougher you are the more of a man you are. In every day’s life, people undergo many situations that involve taking risks. Therefore, it is one’s choice either to take many or fewer risks. Some of the youth believe that being a man involves taking more risks.
In every home or family setup, many issues exist that need decisions to be made about (Ridgeway 2011, p.112). Some of the youths are to the belief that a man should be the final word on the matters that regard decisions. During the development of both boys and girls there comes a point in life that they have to get involved in sports, play with toys such as dolls also wears clothes of different colors. It has been established that most youths are of the view that in case of play with dolls boys are likely to be made fun of, than if they are to wear clothes that are pink or fair on poorly in sports.
Most of the youth argue that they get pressure to follow the traditional stereotypes of female and male roles. Most of them think that the source of the pressure comes from the media, peers and friends while some are of the view that the pressure originates from the family (Lorber, 2010, p.190).
Gender inequality is a very important issue, which should be tackled by the whole society. Education among the youths is key and of importance in tackling the problems that regard gender inequality. The adults should be the examples to the youth and the young; this should take place both to at home, at school and everywhere in between. From my research, the issue of gender is viewed different today than it was viewed traditionally. The reason is that, nowadays people are fighting for gender equality with the view that women can do what a man can do. Unlike in the past women are now getting into formal jobs and jobs that were traditionally seen as the role of a man is being done by women. In the family setting, women find themselves helping in contribution of the family needs, a task that was traditionally seen as a man’s responsibility. The elderly believe that a woman should stay at home to cook and bring up children. However, due to the current economic status, women also have to move out of the house gain education and get a job to sustain their family and other needs. However, young people are still getting pressure to follow the traditional stereotypes of female and male roles. This pressure comes from the media, peers, friend, or the family. The elderly also to some extent agree with the issue of gender balance as they appreciate the issue of women getting employed in the formal sector.
Harrington Meyer, M, & Herd, P 2007, Market friendly or family friendly?: the state and gender inequality in old age, New York, Russell Sage Foundation.
Lorber, J 2010, Gender inequality: feminist theories and politics, New York, Oxford University Press.
Ridgeway, CL 2011, Framed by gender: how gender inequality persists in the modern world. New York, Oxford University Press.
Zinn, MB, Hondagneu-Sotelo, P, & Messner, MA 2011, Gender through the prism of difference. New York, Oxford University Press.