Modernism and technology has transformed women from their limits of housekeeping to taking up leadership positions. A modern woman has the freedom to choose her path and work towards being what she desires to become. The last five decades has however seen women limiting their positions of power. With all the options available to them, most of them have realised that they cannot necessarily manage some positions and therefore resolving to take lower status. In this paper, we take a critical look of some investigative materials on why women are making such decisions that may be considered ridiculous. This feature will be based on “The Gender Trap” Part 1.
“The Gender Trap”, Part 1
“The Gender Trap”, Part 1 analyzes the political make-up of today’s women after the women’s rights movement fifty years ago. The movement was supposed to encourage women to shed off their permittivity that suggested they were only meant for the home and kitchen, and venture the political arena. After fifty years of hard work and perseverance, women have only managed to gain 15 to 20 percent of the political seats. This is a lower statistic compared to what they desired to achieve. The gender movement was aimed at facilitating equality by ensuring an almost equal ratio in positions of power. This has also been reflected in various leadership positions whereby the percentage of women is only 6% while the rest are men.
The very first careers that women recorded good performance were in teaching and nursing. Since then, it has been assumed that those are the most suitable careers for them and hence denying them chances to explore on others careers. The perception of women having to fill empathetic roles such as teachers and nurses is a strong ideology today. This perception has been well criticized through the “the male gaze”. The male gaze is a single philosophy that looks at determinism versus social constructionism, relations among masculinities and the equality of conditions. The philosophy will demonstrate that the male agenda has far gone from existence yet women are still shackled to the ideals of man. For instance, in Determinism vs constructionism, it is believed that Determine reflects that women are born inferior to men, while in construct men constructed women to be inferior to them. In Relations among masculinity, there is the aspect of Hegemonic, Complicit and Subordinate. Lastly, in Equality of condition, there are equal conditions of both genders.
The Male Gaze
The male gaze focus on the identification of what a woman should be, in the eyes of a man. The gaze focuses on what the male perceives to be the ideal woman. The man gains power over the objectified woman by fantasizing how he believes a woman should be in the society. Moreover, women in society feel the need to fit some of these ideals. Men in society have gazed and fantasized about women being employed in jobs such as teachers and nurses. The number one fantasy for males is the “naughty” nurse. There is believed to be a relationship on the males perspective about a woman’s biological make-up that supports the idea that, women are destined to be in such professions.
Determinism versus Social Constructionism
Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor at Cambridge believes that the reason women, from a scientific perspective, are associated to be best teachers and nurses is because of their empathic brains. Women use the part of their brain that promotes linguistic and artistic abilities. This therefore, creates the assumption that women are destined to be employed in empathetic jobs such as teachers and nurses.
Determinism suggests that, this has been designed by a law of nature and approved by biological research. This implies that there is little that can be done to alter that which has been naturally designed. . In this concept, Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that all women will be employed in empathetic jobs. In Canada women make-up the majority of educators in preschool, elementary and secondary schools. Women do make a vast majority of the jobs in both nursing and teaching, but not all women is employed solely in empathetic jobs. My wife for instance is a Principle Software Engineer for Broadcom and does not fit the empathetic role. This suggests that women can be employed in more than just empathetic roles.
Women take up empathetic roles because the male dominated society has influenced their employment decisions. Social constructionism believes that the issue of passivity has been constructed as a result of a male dominated society. There is nothing about it that was given and determined to be essential and therefore, not immutable”. Society constructs women early by introducing girls and boys to gender specific toys and clothing, which is referred to gender apartheid. Boys are usually introduced to toys such as trucks, balls, and action figures, while girls are introduced to toys such as dolls, jewelry, and clothing. Gender apartheid is constructed by the ideals of a hegemonic society.
Relationships among Masculinities
Hegemony is the identification of the leading cultural dynamic positioned in society. In Canada, white men hold the hegemonic position while women hold subsidiary positions to racial masculinity. Women In Canada lead only 6% of the top 500 financial companies and in US, they hold only 15 to 20% of the political seats. These facts show that men hold the majority of power and are the hegemonic gender.
Through the influence of gender apartheid in a hegemonic society, girls are taught early in their lives how to take care of their dolls. This influence manifests itself later in life as the complicit male figure in the relationship uses this influence to leverage the fact that women are more empathetic and have a more adept knowledge to care for their children. The complicit male uses the idea of hegemonic society to subvert the woman into caring for the children with minimal support from a male dominated society.
Luanne Brizendine, an academic, describes women in “The Gender Trap” Part 1 as being biologically motivated to leave politics to take care of children. This biological statement later changed to culturally motivated when facts were introduced. For instance, in Sweden, when women were given an opportunity by their society through support programs, where children were provided sufficient care, women gained 45% of the political seats. She later described that historically, women would succeed if their male partners, the complicit male provided equal or more support towards the family.
Equality of Condition
Equality of condition requires that women are not only entitled to the same opportunity as men but that their backgrounds are similar, all barriers are removed, and society supports the interest of women and men equally. The equality of men and women need to be recognized from birth. In 2003, Simon Baron-Cohen examined male and female brains and came up with the conclusion that, males would be predominantly superior in mathematics and females would be inferior. In 2011 the math scores of high school students were analyzed, “after tens of thousands of students were graded it showed that girls preformed just as well as boys”. In2013 the report from Statistics Canada mentions that boys are slightly better compared to girls in mathematics. Recent statistics do not highlight some issues between boys and girls in such as their upbringing, which may influence their performance in technical subjects like mathematics.
The Ontario Association for public education is petitioning the provincial government saying, “Single sex schools only promote gender inequality because we know that the more similar girls and boys activities are, the more similar their brains will become.” This concept is based exclusively on the idea the Neuroplasticity is fully understood. Neuroplasticity as a concept has not been fully understood in its infancy. The argument statement would be that single sex schools promote individuality among the sexes. This means that females in female only schools can dream to be anything they wish to be, while reducing the influence from male students associated to a hegemonic society. My wife attended a female only school in Hong Kong and later attained her Electrical Engineering with honors from UBC. Ruby identified that the majority of girls from her high school enrolled in degrees associated to Electrical and Civil Engineering at various universities both in Canada and the USA.
In conclusion, biological differences are minimal but are used to identify women as inferior or actively passive. People, including academics are using biology as a crutch in order to misrepresent the real issues in society based on cultural subjugation to women. The issues being faced by women can be described as psychological more than natural. It is the attitude that the society has towards the roles played by men and women that shape their conduct. Canada has two problems, lack of understanding on the issues and lack of will to implement change. Canada is creating women that are destined to be men’s ideal teachers and nurses.
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