Feminism: Gender Role and Women Essay
Feminism is the fight for equality, freedom, respect and dignity for all women/principle of gender equality. In today’s modern world context, where women are perceived to be of equal status of men, many people may believe that there is already not a need for the practice of feminism. However, I feel that in all aspects of life and society, there is still a need for feminism due to the societal expectations, the dynamic characteristic of societies, as well as inequality and differences between men and women.
Despite all the efforts of feminists, gender inequality is still present in today’s world. Women are generally perceived as the weaker sex in many domains. The fact that they are the ones who are subject to domestic violence and sexual assault shows the lack of respect shown to them. Women are sometimes poorly represented in society and law as well. This can be seen from the significant gap between men and women in leadership positions, and in governments or parliaments. Female representation in Parliament in Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Singapore has not exceeded 19%.
Lack of equality is also evident in the workplace, where women often do not have equal opportunities and benefits and a level playing field as men. One reason that some employees are not keen on employing women is because of the fact that women may have to give birth to children at some point in time. Giving birth will mean maternity leave for the employers, and some people also have the impression that some women will quit their jobs after they give birth. These factors may discourage people from employing female workers. Studies have shown that women only earn 77 cents on the dollar relative to the men for the same job.
Jobs available to men were challenging positions with potential for advancement, while those available to women were typically low-paying and involved mundane clerical tasks. These reasons can show that women’s capabilities are undermined. However, there is also no doubt that such inequality can already be considered insignificant compared to inequality in the past, where women were not given the chance to be educated and to work at all. Women’s job opportunities have been dramatically expanded and they are deemed as contributors to economic growth. Credit also has to be given to the eminists that gender wage differential has narrowed very much, for example from 21% in 1991 to 11% in 2000 among professionals in Singapore.
There are today also women that hold positions of power in multinational corporations or even in the government. Women who can hold such high power never fail to impress people. Though this is good news, it still seems rather ironic. People will generally be more impressed by a lady who has attained positions of prestige than be impressed by a man who takes up a post with equally high power. Does this not show that society seems to feel that men actually have higher capabilities than women?
Women with high powers are also treated unfairly, in the sense that they are expected to demonstrate the qualities of decisiveness and assertiveness, traits typically associated with masculinity and at the same time expected to maintain their feminity. Even though societies are becoming more liberal and slowly starting to open up, it cannot be denied that many people may still have traditional opinions and have different expectations of men and women. Men and women were expected to play specific roles and behave in a certain manner, masculine and feminine respectively.
This is usually reinforced from young, where boys played with airplanes and army tanks while girls played with dolls and kitchen sets. Traditionally, it was always the men who went to work and earn money and the women who stayed at home and took care of the household and children. The class-conscious Asian society used to consider women respectable if they stayed at home to look after their families and those that had to work outside the house were considered low-class. Gradually, women started to have opportunities to receive education and started working as well.
However, working outside does not free women from the traditional household responsibilities. Many people feel that these women will have to take up double responsibilities, should they decide to work. At the societal level, people not only want modern career women who earn money for their families and contribute to the economy but also women are can be traditional wives and mothers who provide comfort to their families and stability to society. This is unfair, but true. How is it possible for women to fulfill both economic and traditional roles without tiring themselves out?
One solution to this will be for the husband to be the homemaker instead. This househusband phenomenon is increasingly common, although it is still far from being recognized socially. To many, this may still be surprising and seen as something against the norm. Nature and characteristic differences between men and women is another factor to be considered when talking about this issue. People have to recognize the fact that women and men are different ad cannot be compared equally in all aspects. Men are physically much stronger than women.
If someone needs to hire a worker for a very strenuous job that requires much physical strength, he should definitely hire a man instead of a woman. However, those are with regards to the differences between men and women. If the job requires mental capabilities, which is equal in the two genders, then meritocracy should be practiced. Biological differences between men and women, which historically fit them into certain roles, account for the different expectations of the two genders. By nature, women are given the role of taking care of the children. They are the ones who give birth to the children and breastfeed them.
Men, however, are given a stronger body to work, and bring food back for the family. This is where the expectation of women to be the homemaker and men be the breadwinner started. Women are also generally expected to possess more essential qualities of being a homemaker as compared to men. Research has shown that most women are in fact more gentle and more patient than men by nature, and they also tend to be able to be more aware of and pay attention to the little details. Take for example, an experiment carried out on a woman and a man with no prior experience of taking care of a baby.
When feeding the baby, the chance of the woman testing the temperature of the food is probably higher than that of the man’s. However, these are generalizations and may not always be true. Should it be the father who possesses more of such qualities in a family, then he would be the better candidate to be the homemaker. Despite everything, traditional gender roles can sometimes be beneficial to both men and women too. Properly maintained distinctions between genders allow men and women to complement each other and promote happiness. There are actually many negative impacts that arise from working women.
For example, working mothers are often under tremendous stress and hence may cause conflicts within the family. This is evident from the growing divorce and delinquency rates. They may have been forced to sacrifice their personal lives and severely restrict the time spent with their families in order to survive within a competitive workplace. Women that choose to put focus on their career may also choose not to start a family at all. This will lead to a lower birthrate in the country. However, working may not always be a choice made by women.
They may be forced to enter the workforce for survival and to cope with the increasing costs and standards of living. And people also cannot deny that women in the workforce have contributed to and helped in maintaining the economy. Feminism has already helped to raise the status of women, allowed women to speak up for themselves and have the opportunities to do things that men do. Nonetheless, feminism has to be continuously practiced. We have to understand that society is dynamic and not static. People and their mindsets are constantly changing and hence the practice of feminism has to be maintained.