Gender And Women's Lives Across A Range Of Cultures Throughout The World
Cultures throughout the world differ and the same is applicable to gender. Women lack mens strength. In their turn, men cannot give birth to a child as women can. There is nothing wrong with such composition if each part has equal rights and feels no disparity. Unfortunately, facts show that it is not so fair even in the 21st century. For this reason, it is vital to develop personal sense of gender and women ethics together with common social responsibility for the disparities in order to eliminate discrimination on the city, country, and global levels.
Issues that Affect Womens Lives Globally
The fight of women for their equal rights with men has been lasting for more than two centuries. Until 1809, women could not execute a will; until 1840, they were forbidden to own or control property; and until 1920, they were not permitted to vote. Only since 1963, women began to receive the same payment for the same job as men. Year 1873 powered them with a right of legal and safe abortion. For thousands years, women had taken subordinate roles in all social structures and institutes, and they started to protect their positions only at the beginning of the 19th century.
The gender role concept explains the reasons of the delay in the realization of their unequal position. This concept relates to how men and women are expected to act and how they should behave regarding the norms and standards created by society. On average, children become gender conscious when they reach the age of two-three years. Parents, family members, an education system, peer groups, and mass media constantly accent what is appropriate for boys and what is good for girls. Consequently, they establish the predictable division of labor. In the American society, feminine roles are more associated with passivity and subordination, when masculine qualities are connected with strength and dominance. Thus, children mature believing in fairness and equity of such roles.
Deeper knowledge of Women Studies opens a new approach to the analysis of the worlds established fairness and iniquity. The field provides a new equal-unequal background to analyze issues that affect womens life globally. Consequently, I have started to scrutinize previously accepted as appropriate and habitual situations in details. As a result, I have found more inequality and injustice regarding women and gender than I had considered before.
In the 21st century, the situation of female inequality in the most civilized countries of the world seems to be not as critical as before, but there are still many issues to solve. The two most spread in the US and abroad problems are the lack of women in ruling and leading governmental, law, military, and business positions and the continuance of women home subordination. Women still perform the majority of domestic work and spend more time caring about children and older members of their family than men do. These two issues indicate that together with womens gaining relative financial independence and ability to work in different occupations, they still do not have equal access to the most prestigious job positions and rest time after the working day as men do.
In their struggle for equal rights, women have gained some success but are still in a disfavored group in comparison with men. Laura Fitzpatrick writes that among 500 companies researched in 2008, only 15 had a woman as a chief executive. In 2003, when President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill, nine male senators stood near him, and there was no woman among them. Little and McGivern indicate that among 324 societies in the world, men jobs have greater prestige and are considered as more vital in comparison with women. These facts underline Angelina Grimkes assumption that womens rights to voice in all laws and regulations by which they are governed are limited. The matter concerns both the state and the church spheres where women still are rare to be dominant. This phenomenon led to the notion of feminization of poverty and its opposite effect of masculinization of wealth. Contemporary women can earn enough for living, but it is still hard for them to dominate on the same level with men.
Moreover, women still have to accomplish much domestic work in parallel with their job duties. The Institute of Developmental Studies asserts that if it could have monetary value, it would be paid 10-39 cents per hour. Contemporary fathers spend more time with their children, but women still do 80% of all housework and child care. In 1990, only one percent of US corporations offered unpaid parental leave. Only ten percent of men used it, as it was still regarded as a lack of the work commitment. Women, for their part, complete unpaid care work, which is very expensive in private centers, without any objection. Therefore, this issue is important to be reviewed by legislators and policy-makers.
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Connection between Different Cultural Experiences
Gender division of labor and responsibilities helped previous generations to organize their routine and life. Technical revolution, urbanization, and capitalism changed many things and almost equalized the opportunities and strength of both sexes. Nowadays, it is common to consider that whatever it is morally right for men to do, it is morally right for women to do. However, not all nations and cultures view a women subordinate position as an issue and consider their equal rights vindication as a task of the top priority. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women possess less rights and should hide themselves behind walls and veil, and they do not bother about their discrimination much as they live in the emotional world of their own. Culture, society, and religion impact much on the women perception of their roles in a sociological structure.
Womens Studies help to make connections between such different world perceptions. The foundation of the majority of them lies in race, ethnicity, class, region, nation, age, sexual orientation, and physical ability diversion. Thus, even when women strengthen their position in society, colonized color women were still treated as animals. A dominative men position is tightly connected with economic resources, so it is lower in poorer classes and remote regions, which do not have access to them. Christian nations have never acknowledged women rights. Furthermore, girls do not have the same access to nutrition, education, and health care as boys in the countries where women are strongly undervalued. Sexual orientation discrimination accounts for 4 per 10,000, which is higher than based on race 3,90. Society treats bisexuals differently than heterosexuals at schools, military, and workforce. Despite changing their rights, women are not able to change their physical weakness in comparison with men and continue to suffer from rape, domestic violence, and trafficking. Abovementioned examples highlight the fact that female-male relations depend on many factors and have their social history.
The rules of men and women behavior are established by socialization agents in humans mind within early childhood years. The major mediators are family, peer groups, education, and mass media, when the secondary are religion and workplace. The examples and influences of each of them are so powerful that they transform into stereotypes of behavior which is hard to change in the future. The example of this contrast can be a comparison of my beliefs, values, and actions with beliefs, values, and actions of my Indian female friend.
I have matured in the society which still has many women inequality issues, but it tries to fight with them and widely discusses the problem. As soon as my family migrated to the USA, my life believes have been grounded on equality of rights of all people independently of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Being a representative of a race minority, I know how much the tolerance of others can influence ones life. As the majority of American women since 1970, I value both family and career in my life. Consequently, I anticipate understanding, respect of my position, cooperation, and help from my husbands side. To gain access to better job and a financial position, I need to gain an adequate education. I hope that such ambition will help me to achieve full professional self-realization in the future.
The position of my Indian friend differs from mine. She believes that harmony in relationship is the top priority; and if sometimes a woman has to subordinate for the common happiness, it is not a sacrifice but a demonstration of wisdom. She calmly tolerates the fact that when men gather rice in Southern India, it is considered as a hard job. However, when the same task is done by women, it is supposed to be a common routine job. Her philosophy is deeply based on her religion and culture. For instance, a woman should inspire a man to be active and powerful; for this reason, mens job is considered as more valued. A man from his side should care about her and their children welfare and a financial stability. Moreover, my friend hesitates whether it is possible to balance family and career in contemporary life conditions. The fact that during last 4 decades with the number of working women the number of single-parent families raised confirms her belief. Consequently, she values family much more and is ready to leave her work ambitions for the sake of her female happiness and the happiness of her full family.
The Effect of Women Studies on Personal Sense of Ethics, Values, and Social Responsibility
During the last centuries, many progressive women managed to open their mind and exceed their stereotypical thinking formed by society, culture, and religion. They have made gender visible, transformed workplace, made the effort to balance family and work, and conserved sexual landscape. The knowledge about the difficulties of their way and former disparities, which still exist in many countries, raised my personal values of their independence. The position of women in society raises the issue about the reasons for underpayment for women for the same work compared to men. Another question relates to the situation when many American women had to die in emergency rooms in 1960 because of the botched illegal abortions. It is difficult to understand why such democratic American society is still characterized by stratification of race, income, and occupation. Women are the same human beings as men and should be treated equally on all levels and all corners in the world.
In the struggle with occupation stratification, women have gained many rights, but still are overloaded with domestic care tasks. There is an emphasis on the fact that women exploitation continues to exist but has gained another form. The reason is that men did not realize the situation in full and demonstrated inability to bear fully not only legal but also social responsibility for it. Tolerance and acceptance of all races, ethnicities, classes, regions, nations, age, sexual orientation, or physical ability diversities should become universally adopted social features.
Women Studies significantly affected my sense of ethics. Now, I realize how much transgendered children suffer from their singularity in the mass. Such people need to be tolerated and understood not only by parents but also by society, as misunderstanding results in drug abuse and suicide. I have begun to value sexual minorities more, and I realize that physical characteristic of sex do not often match social and cultural characteristic of gender, which should be treated with individual and social tolerance in the 21st century.
The mission of inequalities elimination is a personal responsibility of every human being. Such approach needs to be spread not only on local or national levels but also on the international scale. The world needs gender equal policies not gender neutral policies. Other cultures have a right to preserve their traditions and worldviews, but they also should observe equal rights perspective. For example, Muslim and Indian women can care about their families at home and stay away from career if they want , but they have a right for proper healthcare, law protection from domestic violence, and education to feel on the safe side.
The perception of gender and the role of women in society is formulated subconsciously since childhood. Thus, it is important to research, discuss, and investigate the disparities to establish the truth and broaden stereotypical worldviews. Women Studies make significant contribution to the general understanding of these issues. Only the effect on the sense of ethics, value, and social responsibility of every person on local, country, and global levels can help to solve the problem and build a fair and harmonic society.