“Men and women were never meant to be equal.” Do you agree?

Almost a century ago, the first feminist movement took off, where women fought for equal opportunities, respect, recognition and rights as men. Today, there are numerous prominent female figures who have taken up the roles that were traditionally dominated by men – the present Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, former President of Indonesia, Megawati Sukarnoputri, and present Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, are just a few examples suggesting that the pursuit of equality of the sexes is very much feasible and realistic. However, it remains that there are certain intrinsic qualities of men and women that perhaps point to the disconcerting fact that men and women were never meant to be equal, and hence, the pursuit for equality of men and women is futile.

The intrinsic and biological sexual dimorphism between the male and the female genders are numerous. Research has shown that men tend to have greater aggressive tendencies, greater muscle mass, better spatial skills and quick arousal in response to sexual images. Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that an overwhelming majority of serial killers, psychopaths and criminals in maximum-security prisons are males. On the other hand, women tend to have weaker visualization skills, better skills of communication, verbalization and emotional empathy – it is no wonder that over 50% of the teaching workforce is composed of women.

These intrinsic and biological differences between men and women ultimately lead to seemingly logical differences in the social roles of each gender. Women, who sacrifice a lot more nutrients in their bodies to bear a baby as compared to men, might naturally be inclined to play a greater role in the nurturing of the child in the family and in being homemakers. On the other hand, men, who are blessed with better spatial skills, greater muscle mass and strength, naturally take on the role of hunting food for the family. This structure of the human family, men as hunters and women as gatherers, has been passed on for numerous generations and over thousands of years. Overtime, this has resulted in men taking on far more dominant position in the societies of the world than women do. Additionally, women have a biological clock that prevents them from bearing a child after a little after the age of 40, when they hit menopause. This acts as the single strongest deterrent against any women who aspires to climb the corporate ladder – even half a year of maternity leave can be sufficient to disqualify a woman from a promotion. Indeed, these realities of the intrinsic differences between men and women are clear evidence that men and women were never meant to be equal in the first place, and it is perhaps foolish to consider the idea of gender equality.

With all the above arguments supporting that gender equality is an impossible task, it would be hard to image any country, which enjoys full equality of the sexes in the workplace and not suffer the detrimental consequences of falling birth rates. Yet, such countries do exist – Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, not only have among the largest labour participation of women, they also have among the highest fertility rates in the developed world. How is this even possible?

In today’s world, technological advances have allowed many women to take up jobs that would previously require a man’s intrinsic powers of raw strength. Labour-intensive industries, such as the manufacturing or mining industries, may now be done completely automatically by robots and machinery. Hence this has rendered man‟s intrinsic powers of strength useless in an increasingly technologically-advanced society. Furthermore, women‟s innate skills of communication, verbalization and empathy, may become increasingly attractive in the modern workplace. As economies of the world move from manufacturing-based to more knowledge-and-service-based, the skills and abilities needed in the workplace also gradually move in the direction of abilities that are not exclusive to men or women. Additionally, the modern female, equipped with an equal amount of education as the modern male, is no longer the disadvantaged sex. Education has allowed men and women to attain equal opportunities and qualifications, creating a fairer playing field between men and women. Lastly, the government may also play a key role in ensuring gender equality. Government-funded childcare centres, policies on maternity leave, economic incentives to bear children, all play a part to ensuring women do not lose out in the workplace.
Sweden‟s example of the possibility of gender equality is a promising sign for the rest of the world. It reflects the highly possible scenario for men and women to have equal opportunities in the workplace or public sphere, without having disastrous effects infertility rates or changing any societal expectations. Indeed, men and women can aspire to be equal after all, and the pursuit for gender equality is not only possible, but also feasible and practical.
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