Gender neutrality. A dream?

I read Women can’t program or understand Math today. I have been thinking about several related and other extrapolated issues these couple of days.

I think it all starts from the beginning: from when parents find out the gender of the baby or when the doctors pulls the baby out of his mother’s womb and says: “It’s a boy/girl!”. After that, it’s blue or pink; miniature cars and Barbie dolls; pants and dresses, karate and classical ballet. And the list goes on…

 Culture is not made of rock. It evolves. But many still hang on to their rock because they are afraid to be pushed out of their comfort zone. What do I mean by that?

  • Why would a man mind his wife or daughters to work?
  • Why would a man be hurt if his wife or the girl he is interested in is making more money than he is?
  • Why would a woman be paid less than a man for the same job when no one has made better results than the other?
  • Why would a man be offended if a woman invites him out and pays the bill?
  • Why are the military called “pussies” when not up to what is expected from them?
  • Why is a man labelled a “weeping woman” when he cries in public?
  • Why does it bother the whole neighborhood when a 6 year old boy puts up a butterfly costume on Halloween?
  • Why is one gender labelled “weak & soft” and the other “strong & rough”?
  • Why are women put under constant observation and are pushed to “prove” themselves?

I am glad that my parents never put me in a “pink” box. I may dress in a skirt and wear high heels; but it doesn’t mean that I like them. I don’t HAVE to. I took Kung Fu classes and I took dancing classes. I can watch all kind of science documentaries for hours and I always wonder how things are made. I like technology… But yet again

  • When I wanted to learn how to change a flat tire safely by myself, I was given “the look” – “A man will stop and help you with it. Why would you need to learn that?”
  • When I say I like driving off-road and other “male” dominated sports, I’m give “the look”.
  • When I ask a male engineer to explain how something is made, he smiles and says “It’s too complicated; you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”
  • When I asked a math or physics teacher about a certain concept back in school he say “That’s the way it is” yet engage in an explanatory 30 minutes discussion when my boy-classmate has a question about the same concept.

The sum of all this brainwashing made that today many functions have become one gender dominated. And when a member of the opposite gender comes in, he/she is given a one way ticket to hell. Female surgeons, male nurses, female engineers, male classical ballet dancer, female car mechanics, male make up artist, female machine operators & drivers, male stay-at-home-to-take-care-of-the-kids etc, female astronauts, female in high-tech.. they all have experienced this.

My question is: Why does it have to be this way? Why do we have to be judgmental of people’s personal preferences and career choices? Why does it matter who does what? Why do we have to stand in the way of people who like different things?

Then the gender-based violence comes in and laws aren’t there to prevent them from happening. Why do “need” to take sides? The are evil and violent people from both genders. It’s the harmful action that caused grievance that should be punished no matter the gender.

And then again, I look at the media, I am disappointed. Instead of diffusing change and gender neutrality media keeps on holding to that old rock. The thing is that when get things get really bad, you see extreme opposite reactions.

Some random examples:

  • Taxi cab companies in Lebanon. Would the “only for women pink taxi cab driven by women” even exist if cab companies hired drivers of both genders and ensured a safe working environment to both? Aren’t there armed females who could rob a female driver? I’m sorry, but they exist!
  • Business and technology magazines: Those are nightmares. Especially, the ones that think that business and technology are for men only by having male focused sections instead of having a page for both and playboy-like covers that I wouldn’t be able to purchase with looking weird nor would my father would be proud exhibiting at home or in the office.
  • Events and products/services that concern both genders but are advertised with focus on one gender only. An advertisement including 3-4 men for a certain event or product/service, for example, will look like a men only things. They could have broken this effect by including a female in their cast.

Humans are made of dreams, inspirations, choices, preferences, interests etc… go beyond gender based stereotypes. Those companies may mean well. I’m not attacking anyone, but such messages nowadays are bound to be misinterpreted; which means they will lose audience and they will lose sales.

Sources:

7 thoughts on “Gender neutrality. A dream?

  1. Lots of questions Rita.
    I agree with them
    The media, especially TVs have a very powerful influence, and unless they decide to take up the responsibility of educating the people properly (not only about women issues) we can only help educate our local surrounding.

    I agree that women can do great job in many sectors, its not any different than men. But (correct me if im wrong) there are some jobs that require some physical effort that some women are not up to (and some men too) but if she has it, then let her do it.
    And there is the maternity thing. Men dont get pregnant, they dont get morning sickness, they dont need to lie down when they reach late stages of pregnancy, they dont get false contraction, and they dont give birth and dont take maternity leaves (i think some companies allow for men to take that leave to help their wife, right?) So, men can be present more then women, and dont cost the company any paid leaves.
    (i expect some feminist hate over here, but to those who know me, they’d know me stand here)

    BTW, i work at a place where almost 85% of the employees are women!

  2. Hi Rita,

    I guess it would be fair to answer the why questions above by: “we are brought up in a society promoting male chauvinism” …. Sad… Especially that change is blocked by the religious grasp on personal laws.
    But this should not with hold our will Mott our effort to change, rather evolve, for gender blindness…

    Nice article Rita.

    Fadi

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