A brief note about gender
September 19, 2011, 12:36 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Gender, Singapore

On being female

A female human being can reproduce and bear children. She is called a woman, and has been traditionally perceived to possess a nurturing attitude towards others, and especially towards children and her immediate family members.

The patriarchal society once confined her responsibilities to domestic issues, such as cooking, cleaning, child bearing and caring as well as being a bed warmer for their husbands. She was not free to speak publicly and not free to reject roles forced upon her by the men who ran the world. She was supposed to grow up feminine and to accept marriage and child-bearing as part of her purpose. Men thought her silly and without intellect. They akin her to being child-like and naïve so they decided to stop her from ruining their lovely plans to conquer the world with her motherly emotions and make her play with human dolls who came out from her very own body. That is of course, if she is the legal property of a man through the romantic lie of a happily-ever-after union called marriage. In fact, the moment she was born, the woman undertakes training to become who she should be. She was given silly dolls with silly frocks that reminded her of her future duties – being a nurturing accessory and without a voice. That was, if she was not eventually sent to the asylum or brothel after her 15th birthday.

No, the woman could never rule the world, for she has a womb. She was thought to be silly, full of emotions, was not good at making logical political, legal or social decisions and was bad at arithmetic and science. She had no sexual desire and was supposed to be virginal, modest and pure. If she was a legal property of a man, her sexual desires could exist only because the man she belonged to had saved her from virginal suppression. The woman had limited choices, no voice, no thoughts and the only things that were allowed to come out of her were tears, excretion, babies and menstrual blood.

Well, in most cases anyway, as history has shown.

How lovely.

An illusion of equality

Revolutions had come and gone, so did the waves of feminism. The modern day woman has the power to vote, to work and to play a part in society. Things are looking good and she should be contented.

Now wait a minute, do you mean to say that she has to buy that illusion? NO!

There is no equality when women are still being profiled, discriminated, objectified and domesticated for having a womb, a pair of mammary and a set of hormones that can apparently make them hysterical as a hyena.

There is no equality when girls are being conditioned at a very young age to behave and like everything that “a girl, lady or woman” is supposed to do and like. Likewise for boys, they are being conditioned to believe that guns, cars, building blocks, adventures and being rough is essentially a “boy thing”. This in turn causes implications in their future educational endeavors and serves to false prove that females are born to excel in language and humanities while males are born to excel in arithmetic and science.

There is no equality when boys are told from young that they are not supposed to cry or express any forms of “illogical” emotions because “they are strong” and “they are not girls”, which implies that girls and women are naturally weaker, illogical and that being emotional is a negative thing. Such an upbringing has its own negative implication on the socio-emotional development and well being of boys and men.

There is no equality that when girls grow up to be women, they are expected to find male partners to save them from spinsterhood. As if being unmarried and female is a terrible thing!

There is no equality when women who choose to pursue their personal interests over getting married and/ or having children are socially labeled as selfish individuals while men who do the same are being positively viewed or trivially chastised and given the acceptance with the excuse that they are naturally unable to commit so it is best to leave them alone to develop their careers or interests first.

There is no equality when the income of women are still being perceived as the supplementary income of the household resulting in female dominated occupations like early childhood education, nursing and cleaning being one of the lowest paid occupations even though it is widely acknowledged that society cannot do without either of these.

There is no equality when the perception deriving from patriarchal traditions that women are the ones who play the nurturing role of their children, gets reinforced with policies allowing only maternal leave for mothers in the absence of paternity leave for fathers, or a general parenting leave for both or either parents in the event of a newborn baby.

There is no equality when mothers have to be the ones who take time off work to take care of their children who have fallen ill, when fathers usually do it as a last resort (i.e., when it is totally impossible for the mothers to do so). This affects the productivity and effectiveness of women employees, which causes them to sometimes suffer in their career advancement. The idea that a man’s income and career are more important than a woman’s has to go.

There is no equality when women who lose their virginity out of wedlock are perceived to be shameful sluts while men who commit the equivalent are being celebrated as studs!

There is no equality when women are being objectified by men when the other way round is perceived as lame, disgusting or impossible.

There is no equality when marital rape is not considered a crime in some countries (e.g., Singapore).

There is no equality when homosexual men who are seen as more ’feminine’ are being labeled as disgusting by both heterosexual men and women. As if having feminine traits is a disgusting thing.

Last but not least, because the list can actually get longer than this, there is no equality when a male politician like Lee Kuan Yew is allowed to dumb down a 27 year old PhD student’s choice to pursue her intellectual path instead of finding a boyfriend and making use of her ovaries while she is still young and healthy.

So women, ignore Lee Kuan Yew, and men, please do not try to use what he said as an excuse for you to get your girlfriends into wedlock! 😉


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Although you highlight the disadvantages of being a woman,they do have an edge over men (such as not
required to serve NS and the ease in courting the opposite sex and comparatively easier to find jobs.)

Comment by punisher

FYI, I only know of incidents of sex change from male to female but not vice versa, this attest to the fact that being female is better.

Comment by avenger

Actually there are many female-to-male transgender people, probably more than male-to-female. It’s just that they have less visibility. So maybe it just proves your point that being male is better, or maybe it proves mine that people who are transgender have got absolutely nothing to do with it.

Comment by Shawn

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