Gender

Family and Gender Essay Outline

The author of this post has kindly mapped out the thinking process: http://h1-gp-words-words.blogspot.sg/2010/01/family-and-gender-essay-outline_03.html

Does tradition still have a role to play in modern societies?

Key words

Tradition: set of (cultural) beliefs, customs, practices, values long-established and passed down from generation to generation
Still: It is assumed that it had a role to play in the past. Consider the changes in society that might have led to the above viewpoint.
Role to play: Consider if it still serves a purpose, or if it is of value.
Modern society: Identify the distinguishing features of modern society and explain how they might have diminished or enhanced the roles played by tradition.

Possible stands:

Yes, but (acknowledge the effect globalisation has on attempts to maintain a unique culture/traditions)
No
(Yes) Prove that tradition still has strong value (for whom? In what ways?) even in our modern society (don’t merely list benefits and disadvantages)

————————————————————————-

Argument: Even as societies develop, they do not completely abandon their sense of right and wrong. Traditional value-systems are an important tool for government systems to keep people in check and a vehicle for passing on certain moral values

Reason: Pure reliance on a legal system to police a state is not always effective The use of value systems and the emphasis of traditions can become an educational tool that helps to breed pro-social behaviour in society, aiding the government in maintaining order.

Explanation: Asian, Confucian values ensure a disciplined, orderly and stable society and inculcates a healthy respect for authority and the state.

Evaluation: Furthermore, such traditions can keeps peace in society especially when sexual depravity, child abuse, theft, murder and other disruptive issues are reaching very worrying levels in more liberal societies.

Conclusion: If traditions are not harmful nor do they strip away any fundamental rights, if maintained and abided by, tradition helps to maintain proper social conduct in society.

Other possible arguments (agree)

Tradition makes us unique (provides us an identity) and adds variety to a world that celebrates diversity.
+ An economic argument: maintaining tradition adds to uniqueness  tourism.
Traditional values and practices help us to better appreciate our ethnic cultures and understand the workings of our own societies

Traditional value-systems have been present in societies for centuries, keeping people in check and passing values on to the young. E.g. Asian, Confucian values ensure a disciplined, orderly and stable society. If maintained and abided by, tradition helps to maintain proper social conduct in society.

Balance (BUT)

Show that unique traditions tied to a country may not hold much value/purpose in a rapidly changing, borderless /globalised world

In a globalised world, tradition continues to put in place differences that are barriers that impede development and global co-operation (economic, social, even educational reforms)

An over-dependence on traditional values may inhibit the growth and dynamism inherent in national cultures – especially in younger, still changing nations.

Traditional values can continue to discriminate women in a patriarchal society. (or lead to other forms of intolerances and disapproval)

The strict maintenance/laws/censorship to “protect” conservative traditional beliefs may preserve the integrity and good behaviour of the people but may restrict expression and growth in some of the arts.

Categories: Essay Questions, Gender, Guidelines, Social Changes | Leave a comment

Gender is no longer a helpful concept. Do you agree?

Adapted from: http://gpessays.com/gender/gender-is-no-longer-a-helpful-concept-do-you-agree

One of the most noticeable revolutions in this century is the Feminist movement. The first wave which began in 1854 was a fight for women’s rights to education and to voting by the Suffragettes. Conventional wisdom has it that the feminist movement is the rise of the female and the start of the road to equality of the sexes. However, on deeper analysis, it is actually the shift in attitudes of females that fueled this revolt. Sex is not the issue here. Rather, gender takes the limelight. Gender is the behavioural traits and attitudes of the sexes, not the biological characteristics of what defines us as male or female. This statement implies that attitudes of the sexes are absolutely not useful, nor is it beneficial. I do not agree with this totally. While gender may not be helpful in certain situations, it is definitely helpful in others.

The idea of gender not being helpful is exemplified in situations where women take on leadership roles and have responsibilities to fulfill. Traditionally, women are perceived to be reliant on their male counterparts and are expected to be subservient to them in all circumstances. If this is not the case, they will be deemed as defiant and are likely to be outcast. However, in the modern era women are not tied to their traditionally expected gender behaviour. Just look at the increase in the number of females having an active role in the political arena. In the recent issue of Forbes Magazine, Ms Wu Yi, the vice premier of China , is ranked as the most powerful woman in Asia . Ms Wu Yi has shown her credibility and abilities when she skillfully handled the SARS scare in China , outshining the previous male health minister. The latter tried to hide the burgeoning number of SARS victims under the proverbial carpet, much to the world’s disgust. Hence, the concept of women being less capable than men, and always playing a less important role than men so as to be seen as submissive, is not useful in the political arena as it prevents a level playing field for men and women.

Secondly, gender is not useful in defining roles for both male and female in the family unit. In the past, women were always stay-at-home mothers while men were the breadwinner, bringing home the bread and butter. Women played the role of mental support and care while men took on the role of financial support and discipline. Yet, now we witness a shift in roles – a growing proportion of fathers as homemakers and an exponential increase in the number of mothers who enter the workforce. The concept of gender is not helpful here because it imposes a restriction on men and women and on how they should carry themselves in order to fit the roles already defined for them, In fact, a ‘liquidification’ of roles allows fathers to establish a closer bond with their children and participate in their development in a more holistic manner.

However, gender can be a helpful concept when it benefits the individual. For a company that produces products, gender may be an essential concept. It gives the company some directions or some clues as to how they can better package or promote their products to cater to consumer’s demands. Take for example a beauty salon may wish to target primarily women since being image-conscious is a much acknowledged mentality of the female species. The cult of youth, especially emphasized by the media, is almost deep rooted in women due to their attitudes towards physical beauty and “perfection”. Beauty salons target women’s consumeristic nature and idealistic aims of reaching artificial “perfection” to help them yield profits. Of course there is now an increasing number of males who are image-conscious, but it is not a widespread phenomenon yet. Hence, how can anyone say that the concept of gender, which includes attitudes and behaviour, is not helpful at all?

To sum it up, gender can still be a helpful concept in situations where one’s aims can be achieved. In fact, it promotes awareness of the general behaviour of the sexes. However, the concept of gender is not as helpful as it used to be in the past as seen from the shift in the roles of male and female, and the increasing difference in the needs of the past and present societies. One thing we all know is that the helpfulness of this concept will diminish as time goes, and this is necessary for the progress of the world.

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Women still do more housework — and it stresses them out

Adapted from: http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/13/12208646-women-still-do-more-housework-and-it-stresses-them-out?lite

By Jennifer Welsh

LiveScience

While women are doing less housework than they used to, they still take on the brunt of the household cleaning chores. New research indicates that this extra work stresses them out, and that stress worsens when there is salary or gender inequality present in the relationship.

The findings match up well with previous studies regarding changes in the division of housework in the last decade. Though both men and women spend less time spent on domestic duties thanks to time-saving technologies, women still take on a large amount of the work, past studies show.

“In this study, women were in the majority (85 percent) in the combination of having more than half of the responsibility for domestic work and an equal socioeconomic position to the partner,” the researchers write in their research detailed today, June 13, in the journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers studied data from 371 women and 352 men from the Northern Swedish Cohort, collected in 1986 and 2007, when the participants were on average 21 and 42, respectively. At 42, all participants analyzed were living with children.

The participants answered questionnaires about their relationships, housework responsibilities, socioeconomic status of themselves and partners, and “psychological distress” level gauged by the number of times they’ve felt restless, unable to concentrate, or worried and nervous, in the last year.

“Domestic work is a highly gendered activity as women tend to have a greater and men a smaller responsibility,” the researchers write. “Inequality in domestic work, in combination with experiencing the couple relationship as gender-unequal, were associated with psychological distress.”

At 42, more women than men were psychologically distressed, the study found — at 21, distress levels were equal. They also found that women did more housework, and women were more likely to have jobs lower on the socioeconomic scale, and get paid less than men at the same job position: all signs of gender inequality.

For instance, more than 56 percent of women indicated they did more than half of the housework, compared with slightly less than 10 percent of men saying the sameFourteen percent and 9 percent of women and men, respectively, indicated they did all of the housework. 

The amount of extra housework women do, and the stress that comes from it, depends on multiple factors in the relationship. If inequalities permeate the relationship, the researchers found, they will trickle down into housework, too.

When partners were on equal footing job-wise, the partner doing more than half of the housework responsibilitiesindicated more stress than those not taking on the brunt of housework. Most of the participants in these lower-paying positions were women, which could be why they are more distressed than men, the researchers said.

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10 Cases of Natural Gender Inequality

Adapted from: http://listverse.com/2010/08/02/10-cases-of-natural-gender-inequality/

A gender gap is a difference between women and men, besides the obvious anatomy, especially as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural or economic achievements or attitudes. However this list will focus on some of the biological aspects concerned with both sexes, such as the now well-known fact that men can hold their alcohol better than women, because women have a higher proportion of body fat and less stomach enzymes to metabolize the alcohol, causing 30% more of it to hit her bloodstream than a man who took the same drink.

Firstly, I apologize beforehand if any of my writing style comes off favoring either gender. I will also warn you to act as an adult concerning some of the entries on this list. Secondly, don’t let this list define you, some of these only concern either gender on average, not as an individual.

Navigation and Awareness

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The way we get around is different to each gender, but it has been demonstrated that men are developmentally ahead in spatial awareness. Men are more abstract and Euclidian, using kilometers/miles and cardinal directions, while women often base their directions on landmarks and left-right directions. The lobule, which controls the perception of speed and the mental ability to rotate 3-D objects, is larger in men as well.

This all comes back to the hunter-gatherer days, when men led the hunt for meat and needed to have all of these perceptive tools handy for a successful hunt. On three-dimensional video tests, boys beat girls in spatial ability by a ratio of 4: 1, and the best girls were often outclassed by the lowest scoring boys.

Male brains are also programmed to concentrate efficiently on one thing at a time, while female brains are geared to be able to multitask. The reason behind this could be that neuron fibers that connect the left and right hemispheres are more plentiful in women. However some studies have shown the opposite to be true.

Intelligence

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The male brain is larger than the female’s, having about 4% more cells and weighing 100 grams more than female brains. While this may be, each sex has equal brain weight to body weight ratio. The female brain is also more compact and more densely packed with neurons. In females, the region associated with language and social interaction is significantly larger than males, and located in both cerebral hemispheres, not just the left (as in males). While men exceed women at spatial navigation and geometry, women are exceeding at language even more. A study of 8th grade girls and boys (9th year for UK) showed the girls exceeding the boys 6: 1.

Because language centers are smaller, and only located in one hemisphere, this puts males more at risk for language disorders like dyslexia. Stuttering and speech defects appear almost exclusively in boys. But, even though they are more at risk, they average 3-4 IQ points more than women.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Louann Brizendine claims that every brain begins as a female brain, only becoming male 8 weeks after conception, when there is a surge in testosterone which reduces the language center and grows more cells in the aggression centers.

Health

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Women live longer than men in most countries. This could be due to safer life practices, or the fact that the jobs with the highest on-the-job death rate are all, predominantly, male. While both men and women are just as susceptible to mental illness, women are less vulnerable to developmental difficulties and chronic illnesses, with this possibly being due to having two X chromosomes, and therefore becoming a carrier of a disease before showing symptoms, and it could also be due to reduced exposure to testosterone. Remember, males will show symptoms of the disease if their only X chromosome is defective.

For this reason, some conditions are far more common in males than in females. Examples of X-linked recessive diseases are hemophilia and color blindness (see number 4). There is a possibility that Asperger’s Syndrome is a genetic disease as well, as it appears in 4 times as many males as females.

Aging

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Women, unfortunately, do not age the same as men. Men, the same goes for you. Women have particularly denser neurons that deteriorate differently, which can lead to dementia quicker than a man’s brain would, simply because he has more of them. But women generally have faster blood flow to their brains, causing them to lose less brain tissue as they age.

Men’s skin also ages better, getting wrinkles later than women because the collagen levels don’t deteriorate as fast as they do in women. However, baldness is another X-linked recessive trait; you inherit it from your mother. This is because androgen receptors, a key hormone in the process of balding, are on the X chromosome. This means there is some truth that to see how your hair will go in the near future, look to your mother’s father, the person who gave her one of her X chromosomes. Chronic conditions are also showing a trend in being more prevalent in older women than men (conditions such as hypertension and arthritis).

Smell

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Women have a greater ability to detect smells than men, and this may be linked to estrogen hormones. The structure of the nose is the same in women as men, and they don’t have any more receptors in the nose, but studies have shown smells activate a greater region in the brain in women than men. In one study, they were able to do better than men in differentiating between odors and picking up faint and slight odors. The study was repeated with younger participants with similar results.

In another unrelated study, men were given clean cotton t-shirts to sleep in for two nights. The t-shirts were subsequently sealed in plastic bags and then sent to women to smell and rate how attractive they thought the t-shirt wearer was. The most striking find of the study was that the women often picked the men who had the strongest immune systems.

Pain Tolerance

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Ever thought your girlfriend or wife was overreacting to a crushed finger or stubbed toe? Well, she might not have been overreacting at all, as women have more nerve receptors, which cause them to feel pain more intensely than men. Women average 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter of facial skin, while men only average 17 nerve fibers. You’re not being tougher than her by charismatically surviving a bee sting; you’re just not feeling it at her intensity.

This has far-reaching effects, as in the treatment of chronic pain sufferers may need higher dosages of painkillers. About 70% of chronic pain sufferers are women, as well. Their being sensitive and tolerant to pain is different though. Let me repeat: they are sensitive, yet tolerant to pain. They have more coping mechanisms than men do to deal with pain (i.e. more complex endorphin and oxytocin responses), and can therefore get through much more arduous parts of life, such as childbirth.

Sight

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When it comes to the sense of sight, there are some big differences between men and women. While men can read finer print and are better at night vision and discerning movement, women can sense colors better, have a wider periphery of vision and have more of a chance of being a tetrachromat.

A tetrachromat has another type of cone in between the red and green (somewhere in the orange range) and its 100 shades, theoretically, would allow a woman to see 100 million different colors. Only a woman can be a tetrachromat. This is because the genes for the pigments in green and red cones lie on the X chromosome, and only women have two X chromosomes, creating the opportunity for one type of red cone to be activated on one X chromosome and the other type of red cone on the other one. In a few cases, women may have two distinct green cones on either X chromosome.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same for men, as most of the color deficient men inherit two red or two green cones along with the standard blue cone, making it impossible for them to distinguish between red and green. 8 percent of men in the world have a color deficiency as compared to 0.5% of women. 2-3% of women in the world may have a fourth cone and are a tetrachromat.

Communication

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Everybody knows that women and men communicate differently, and here are some observations from the scientific community that will enlighten you as to how and why.

Women are able to more adequately manipulate their facial expressions than men. However, the results are flipped when it comes to expressing and communicating anger. Women have a tendency to catch others emotions, also known as emotional contagion, although men can inhibit their expressions better than females, when cued to do so.

Women are more inclined to face each other and make eye contact when talking. Men are more likely to look away from each other. Women will tend to communicate more affection and prioritize communication more than the masculine side of the equation. When in a discussion, men are likely to debate and talk about a range of topics while the ladies may talk at length about one topic. There are a lot more tendencies each sex has when it comes to communicating, and it helps to understand this because some phrases mean something different to each gender, phrases such as “Talking about us.”

Friendships

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The way friendships are forged and maintained also differs between male and female. Men expect competition in companionship. They avoid communicating weakness and vulnerability as well as personal and emotional concerns. For women there is little to no problems with communicating weakness and vulnerability, even seeking out friendships during hardships. For this reason one could say that women are emotionally closer to their friends than men are.

Women tend to value and bond with their friends for listening and responding non-critically, showing support and offering comfort. On the other hand, men grow closer to each other by doing activities with each other, or doing each other favors. Young boys at school will play more vigorously, and occupy more space in their play area, than girls. Girls will opt for more sedentary games, and girls are more likely to accept a new classmate to their group, whereas a new boy will have to demonstrate his usefulness to the group.

Orgasm

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During orgasm, both female and male genitals swell with blood, their pulse races and muscles contract involuntarily at intervals of 0.8 seconds (approximately). Some peoples mouths open. Others faces contort. The feet may arch and shake. A warm glow envelopes the body. It is during orgasm in both men and women that oxytocin floods through our bloodstream. Oxytocin, released by female orgasm, helps women lie still for a while afterwards. This further increases the likelihood of conception.

However, the difference here is the time to reach orgasm, and the functionality of each. According to sexologist Alfred Kinsley for 75% of all males, orgasm is possible to be attained within the first four minutes after initiation of sexual intercourse. For women the average time to reach orgasm is between 10 and 20 minutes. The swiftness of the male system virtually guarantees climactic orgasms for males, but is usually too quick for the female. Self stimulation is also quicker for both sexes, significantly for women.

It has also been proposed that due to the physiological similarity of men and womens genitals that the female orgasm is an “echo” of the male orgasm. As better stated by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould: “The clitoris is the homologue of the penis – it is the same organ, endowed with the same anatomical organization and capacity of response.”

On the plus side though, both sexes may experience a burst of creative thought, since orgasm produces activity in the right, creative-thinking side of the brain.

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10 Extreme Examples of Gender Inequality

Adapted from: http://listverse.com/2008/11/20/10-extreme-examples-of-gender-inequality/

The human rights of women throughout the Middle East and North Africa are systematically denied by each of the countries in the region, despite the diversity of their political systems. Many governments routinely suppress civil society by restricting freedom of the press, expression, and assembly. These restrictions adversely affect both men and women; however, women are subject to a host of additional gender-specific human rights violations. For example, family, penal, and citizenship laws throughout the region relegate women to a subordinate status compared to their male counterparts. This legal discrimination undermines women’s full personhood and equal participation in society and puts women at an increased risk for violence.

Family matters in countries as diverse as Iran, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia are governed by religion-based personal status codes. Many of these laws treat women essentially as legal minors under the eternal guardianship of their male family members. Family decision-making is thought to be the exclusive domain of men, who enjoy by default the legal status of “head of household.” These notions are supported by family courts in the region that often reinforce the primacy of male decision-making power.

Here are ten of the most extreme examples of gender inequality you can find currently practiced, often state-sanctioned, in the world today.

Forbidden from driving

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In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t allowed to drive, or even ride bikes, and men aren’t allowed to drive women they’re not closely related to. The kingdom is currently dealing with the dilemma of how to get 367,000 girls to school on buses that can only be driven by men. The logical question at this point is this: If no men are allowed to come in contact with schoolgirls, and women aren’t allowed to drive, who will be driving the school buses? The Ministry of Education is currently recruiting “Al-Ameen” or trustworthy men for this initiative. It may be hard for some to take this term seriously considering the way Saudi Arabia’s religious police infamously broke the trust of 15 girls’ parents in 2002 when a girls’ school was on fire. The police forbade them from leaving the building, and in some cases beat them to keep them from leaving, because the girls’ heads weren’t properly veiled. The girls all died in the fire. One has to wonder how the Ministry of Education plans to handle school-bus breakdowns near similarly inclined men.

Clothing requirements

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In 2001 a militant group called Lashkar-e-Jabar demanded that Muslim women in Kashmir wear burqas, head to toe garments that cover their clothes, or risk being attacked. Men threw acid in the faces of two women for not covering up in public. The group also demanded that Hindu and Sikh women dress so as to identify themselves: they said that Hindu women should wear a bindi (the traditional colored dot) on their foreheads, and Sikh women should cover their heads with saffron-colored cloth.

Right to divorce

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In many countries, while husbands can divorce their spouses easily (often instantaneously through oral repudiation), wives’ access to divorce is often extremely limited, and they frequently confront near insurmountable legal and financial obstacles. In Lebanon, battered women cannot file for divorce on the basis of abuse without the testimony of an eyewitness. A medical certificate from a doctor documenting physical abuse is simply not good enough. Although women in Egypt can now legally initiate a divorce without cause, they must agree not only to renounce all rights to the couple’s finances, but must also repay their dowries. Essentially, they have to buy their freedom. In Israel, a man must grant his wife a get, a Jewish divorce writ that can only be given by a man to his wife – never the other way around.

Access to education

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In many areas of Afghanistan, girls are often taken out of school when they hit puberty. Cultural factors related to the ‘correctness’ of sending girls to school, reluctance to send girls and boys to the same school after third grade, as well as the perceived and real security threats related to girls walking to school and attending classes all contribute to slowing down the enrollment of girls in schools. Likewise, the enormous lack of female teachers, who are fundamental in a country where girls cannot be taught by a man after a certain age, is having a negative impact on girls’ education. While progress has been made since the fall of the Taliban, women are still struggling to see their rights fulfilled. Literacy rates among young Afghan women are disturbingly low: only 18 per cent of women between 15 and 24 can read. While the total number of children enrolled in primary schools is increasing tremendously, the percentage of female students is not.

Right to travel

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Husbands in Egypt and Bahrain can file an official complaint at the airport to forbid their wives from leaving the country for any reason. In Syria, a husband can prevent his wife from leaving the country. In Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Yemen, married women must have their husband’s written permission to travel abroad, and they may be prevented from doing so for any reason. In Saudi Arabia, women must obtain written permission from their closest male relative to leave the country or travel on public transportation between different parts of the kingdom.

Victims of violence

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Women’s unequal legal rights increase their vulnerability to violence. In many countries in the region, no specific laws or provisions exist to penalize domestic violence, even though domestic violence is a widespread problem. Domestic violence is generally considered to be a private matter outside the state’s jurisdiction. Battered women are told to go home if they attempt to file a complaint with the police. Few shelters exist to protect women who fear for their lives. Spousal rape has not been criminalized; husbands have an absolute right to their wives’ bodies at all times. Penal codes in several countries in the region also contain provisions that authorize the police and judges to drop charges against a rapist if he agrees to marry his victim.

Custody rights

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In Bahrain, where family law is not codified, judges have complete power to deny women custody of their children for the most arbitrary reasons. Bahraini women who have been courageous enough to expose and challenge these violations in 2003 were sued for slander by eleven family court judges.

Citizenship

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Most countries in the region-with the exception of Iran, Tunisia, Israel, and to a limited extent Egypt-have permitted only fathers to pass citizenship on to their children. Women married to non-nationals are denied this fundamental right.

Sexual subjugation

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Many countries criminalize adult, consensual sex outside of marriage. In Morocco, women are much more likely to be charged with having violated penal code prohibitions on sexual relations outside of marriage than men. Unmarried pregnant women are particularly at risk of prosecution. The Moroccan penal code also considers the rape of a virgin as an aggravating circumstance of assault. The message is clear: the degree of punishment of the perpetrator is determined by the sexual experience of the victim.

Female infanticide

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China’s one child policy has heightened the disdain for female infants; abortion, neglect, abandonment, and infanticide have been known to occur to female infants. The result of such family planning has been the disparate ratio of 114 males for every 100 females among babies from birth through children four years of age. Normally, 105 males are naturally born for every 100 females.

Similarly, the number of girls born and surviving in India is significantly less compared with the number of boys, due to the disproportionate numbers of female fetuses being aborted and baby girls deliberately neglected and left to die. The normal ratio of births should be 950 girls for every 1000 boys, however in some regions the number is as low as 300.

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How far do you agree that men are more discriminated against than women in modern society?

Modern society is one that emphasizes meritocracy and equal rights for all. Today, women in many parts of the world enjoy much parity in treatment and opportunities. Women, now, have the right to vote, and the right to be educated. It is also common to have highly-educated women taking up senior executive positions in corporations. And women, too, are increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with in politics. All these, some people would have us believe, have been achieved at the expense of men’s rights. The sad reality is that all women, even those in developed societies, still suffer from discrimination, though obviously in varying degrees, which most men conveniently ignore.

It is undeniable that men do indeed suffer some forms of discrimination. For example, in a divorce case, the judge would most likely grant the mother the custody of the child unless the mother is a criminal or is mentally unstable. The justification for this is that “it is in the best interest of the child” as mothers are considered better at bringing up children, especially the younger ones. This is a gross generalization, and is one obvious example of discrimination against males. After all, a mother-headed family is often far from ideal. One of the main causes of child abuse is the presence in the home of a boyfriend or stepfather. Fathers can be good parents too.

Worldwide, as more women are choosing to postpone childbearing, many governments in Asia, Europe and America are giving out longer maternity leave to encourage more mothers to give birth. In Singapore, for example, mothers are entitled to longer maternity leave, but what about the fathers? Many fathers want to be involved in family affairs too. Should they not be given paternity leave so that they can take care of their children too? In Norway, fathers are entitled to 9-months paternity leave, but in most countries, fathers are not entitled to such benefit. And yet, they have to take care of their families.

In addition, well-groomed males are described somewhat derisively as metro-sexuals, and fathers who choose to stay at home to take care of their children are often badmouthed. Where are their rights to groom themselves, to make choices? After all, no one laughs at mothers who choose not to work. No one laughs at women who go to spas or seek beauty treatment.

Indeed, men do suffer some forms of discrimination in today’s society.  However, in my opinion, these are only minor forms of discrimination found only in developed countries. In many developing countries, women continue to be suppressed. Even in developed countries, the lot of a woman is less enviable compared to that of the male archaic social expectations of women and the existence of a glass ceiling are common forms of discrimination that continue to plague women.

Although much parity has been achieved in our modern society, women are still expected by society to adhere to the traditional roles of women. In Singapore, for example, society still expects women to aspire to get married, give birth and be mothers. Even as more women enter the workforce, married women who choose not to give birth are often criticized and pressured to reverse their decisions by society.

Even in democratic America, First Ladies are expected to fit into the traditional molds and abstain from any involvement in politics. Hillary Clinton, the former US First Lady, was lambasted for heading the National Health Care Task Force. She and Eleanor Roosevelt, before her, were criticized for expressing their views and taking part in politics. Where are their rights to freedom of speech? Even Tipper Gore, the wife of former vice-president Al Gore, was lambasted for speaking out against violence and pornographic music lyrics in 1985.

Politically, although women make up more than half of the population, women are still under-represented. Presently, women only make up 21.7% of all legislative seats globally. Indeed, influential women politicians like Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Gloria Arroyo do exist, but they only make up a minority. And many, like Gloria Arroyo and Sonia Gandhi are able to hold so much power merely because of their families who were previously active in politics. It is heartening to see developing countries like Afghanistan making headways in granting women equal rights. Afghanistan, for example, voted for their first female provincial governor in the recent polls. The new Cabinet even has three female ministers. Sadly, such cases are merely isolated ones. Domestically, while we have ten female Members of Parliament, only two are Ministers of State, and none are full ministers. Clearly, women are still seen as less competent politicians by society even when women have the same or high educational qualifications.

Economically, while equal rights to pay and work have been largely achieved in the developed world, women still earn much less than men even if they have the same qualifications. In Singapore, for example, 2003 statistics show that women earned an annual income of US$15,322, while men earned an annual income of US$31,927. In addition, although women are becoming increasingly highly-educated, the presence of glass-ceilings denies women the right to attain higher positions. In Singapore, for example, only 6% of the top local companies have at least one female director. In comparison, 60% of the top 1000 companies in USA have at least 1 female director. In many countries too, granting of flexible working arrangements and maternity leave is given lip service and many women continue to be sacked when they are pregnant. Needless to say, in developing countries, the situation is worse. Women are often confined to the house and denied the right to work. Hence, women often make up more than half of those living in extreme poverty.

In today’s modern society where the emphasis is on equality for all, society has made much improvement in terms of granting equal rights to women. In this rush to achieve sexual parity, it is undeniable that this improvement has been achieved sometimes at the expense of men. However, discrimination against men is relatively insignificant. Women, worldwide, continue to suffer far greater forms of discrimination socially, politically and economically. To claim therefore that men are “more discriminated against” than women in modern society is therefore nothing short of ludicrous.

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“The fight for gender equality is no longer important in today’s society.” Discuss.

Gender equality has evolved from an ideology during the time of the famed Rosa Parks to a massive human rights movement today. The movement that took the world by storm has borne many fruits, and society has made clear progress in this aspect. The significant achievements in this field and the widespread acknowledgement of gender equality have led to a slowing down of the once fervent race. The reducing number of protests, placard marches and campaigns has raised doubts in the minds of many. Perhaps, today, in a world as developed as the one we live in, gender equality and the fight for it is no longer important. They are wrong. Gender equality, and the fight for it, is still, if not more, important today, than it was in the past.

Indeed, the fight for gender equality has won many battles. The suffrage movement won rights for women all across the globe. It had not only increased the value of women in society, it did the same to a woman‟s sense of self-worth. The suffrage movement revealed many injustices and sought rectification and compensation. It demanded equal playing fields for both sexes, sending ripples through the many patriarchal societies, brought education to women, a right now largely recognized, and allowed women to contribute to society. It raised a woman‟s status, esteem and notion of self-worth.

The fight also showed considerable results in the working world, which was largely dominated by males. The fight for gender equality has decimated glass ceilings in jobs across the spectrum, allowing women to take on higher societal or organizational positions. It awarded women equal opportunities, with many companies now functioning on the system of meritocracy. Today, more than 30% of high position jobs are occupied by women, compared to less than 2% in the 80s.

In the political arena, a once largely male-dominated as well, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton are among the few women charging head-on into a once foreign field. Hilary Clinton ran against Barack Obama in the Democratic elections in 2008, matching him state-to-state until the end. Clinton is a stellar example of how women can contribute more than their two cents worth. Despite losing to Obama, Clinton continues to stay in the political game, aiding the Democratic representative in the Presidential Elections against John McCain. The fight for gender equality has opened up many doors, managing to even allow women to take a slice of the political pie.

The success of the fight is apparent. However, today, many are questioning if maybe enough doors have been opened for women, and whether the importance of the fight has disappeared. This may ring true for developed countries, but for developing countries which are still far lacking in resources, and the courage to take on an idea seen as absurd to some, or dangerous to others, women are still at the losing end. It is only because the developed countries refuse to acknowledge this fact that it appears as if the fight for gender equality has outlived its welcome.

In strict Muslim societies such as Afghanistan and Iran, backward traditions and mentalities hinder the countries’ growth. In the former, statistics have shown that less than 10% of the reported cases of rape have received justice. Ridiculous clauses, such as requiring at least two adult male witnesses willing to support the rape claim, prevent many cases from even gaining access to a court hearing. This injustice has long plagued the country, with little being done to rectify it. However, this problem is also the reason for Afghanistan’s uncivilized laws, which prevent it from gaining a good standing on the international level. This could lead to a stagnant economy, or even worse, a stagnant economy trapped in the dogmatic principles of the past.

In the economic domain, developed countries are no exceptions. The perception that a male has more value than a female runs deep in countries like India and China. Both countries are, today, facing an imbalanced sex ratio, that of China being one female to every 1.6 males. In China‟s case, the one-child policy is the main culprit. Set during revolutionary days, the one-child policy allows each family to have onlyone child, or two, in special cases. While this was done to combat the problem of a population growing faster than its country could support, it has brought along with it many problems. In both countries, infanticide ranks high on the causes of infant deaths. The desire for a more valuable male offspring has led to increased abortion rates and cases of baby girls being abandoned. The imbalance in the sex ratio also has many serious repercussions. It has been linked to increased crime rates, with men unable to find a bride, resorting to kidnapping, buying or trafficking women to fulfill their needs for companionships or carnal desires. A largely unmarried society could ironically lead to the downfall of the family unit, a component of society valued by Asians. High migration rates could lead to a drastic fall in the working population, in turn resulting in a weakened economy.

It is age-old out-dated views, captured in equally old saying such as “Eighteen goddess-like daughters are not equal to one son with a hump‟, that still call for the fight for gender equality to continue. Statistics like that fact that women make up 60%of South Korean graduates but constitute less than 25% of the working force only compound the problem. Crusaders of this mission have yet to fully spread their message, with only larger communities benefiting. Besides the fact that the ‘cease-fire’ could bring repercussions such as the ones faced by China and India, the fight for gender equality is also, above all, a stunning example of human spirit. Just like the heart-warming stories of Chinese natives who went out of their way to help their fellow men after the Sichuan earthquake, the fight for gender equality tore social theories, such as social Darwinism, to bits. It displays human compassion in a dog-eat-dog world, where the more fortunate gives to their less fortunate counterparts. Philosophers like Charles Darwin believed that Man is born selfish. The continued fight for gender equality proves otherwise.

In conclusion, gender equality, and the fight for it, is still very important today. It will help to level unequal playing fields, giving women a voice and a place in society. It will display the full capacity of the human spirit, with both men and women, spanning the various races, jobs and social standing, joining in the biggest human rights movement of all time.

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“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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“Women should never rule a country.” Is this a fair statement?

This is the link to the reference article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/11/should-women-rule/7061/

While no woman has been president of Singapore nor has any woman run for presidency, it does not mean that a woman is incapable of ruling a country. There are many notable female leaders in big organizations, whom have stood up to run for presidency in countries like US and Indonesia. In fact, human history reveals that the world does have many years’ worth of experience with female rulers.  All of us must acknowledge the fact that women are indeed worthy of leading and developing any territory.

Notable female leaders such as Cleopatra of Egypt, Empress Wu Zetian of Tang Dynasty, China and Queen Elizabeth I of England had indeed contributed much to their ruling societies. Cleopatra succeeded in overthrowing her brother’s reign and concentrated the power in her own hands. She was scheming, capable, ambitious and absolutely remarkable, and made great contributions to protect her kingdom. Empress Wu, though the last ruler of the Tang Dynasty, brought the empire to greater heights. Many inventions were made during her reign and material wealth of the country was at one of its highest peaks. Elizabeth I was endowed with immense courage and handled problems like religious strife and foreign debt very well. She garnered support from the masses and many respected her even after her death. Renowned cases of female leaders are highly commendable and we must not forget their efforts in protecting and contributing to their empires.

Many have argued that women’s rule over men would be an utter disgrace to not only men, but the society as well. Men define women as weak, meek and incompetent human beings, only capable of reproducing and taking care of minor chores. Whatever happens outside the home must only be controlled and maintained by men, otherwise all have to face the dire consequences brought about by female interference. Men have always argued that female leadership is synonymous to inept leadership, but they have neglected the fact that women are also equally smart and capable of handling major tasks. As quoted from the article, “In a highly competitive and increasingly fractious world, women possess the kind of critical problem-solving skills that are urgently needed to break down barriers, build understanding, and create the best conditions for peace”, which certainly proves to us that men could not solve all problems and women interference is a must. Men are aggressive in their approach in handling matters, such as staging war against other territories in the case of US-Iraq War , and often resulted in unconcluded agreements. On the other hand, women are calm-minded and gentle when tackling huge matters. According to research, majority of the females believe that all matters must be treated with care, like how they take care of kids, and that they tend to excel more in consensus-building and other skills in leadership. With all these in mind, women have the potential to resolve conflicts between territories through peaceful means.

All in all, it is unfair to say that women are incompetent when taking over leadership roles. They definitely would not disgrace the society and in fact, they may potentially bring about progress to the community. Female political leaders are portrayed so much less impressive in this democratic era due to mediocre positions given to them or even not well-addressed in developing countries, where highest number of records of female presidents are found. Women can be great leaders and should be given the chance to outshine the men. It is timely that we need to address this issue of gender inequality in leadership positions in any group, community or country.

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“The fight for gender equality has gone too far.” Do you agree?

Written by Tay Ang Chun, Thomas:

If I asked a man to name a feminist, the majority would name famous women like Gloria Steinem. How many of them would name men like Barack Obama or John Lennon, who fought hard for the feminist movement? A feminist is someone who believes that both genders should be equal; men can be feminists too. The fact that most feminist programmes are targeted at women has created the misconception that feminists must be women, and some even view it as a movement that wants the absolute dominance of women.

I would like to clarify this misconception, as I believe that the fight for gender equality has not gone too far. In this essay, I shall limit “going too far” to inequality towards men.

Firstly, the fight for gender equality has brought about equal rights. For instance, women could rarely attend formal education in the past. However, the rise of the feminist movement in the 1960s soon led to a law in 1972 passed to punish schools which discriminated against gender, and now 57% of all college graduates in the USA are women. Therefore, we can see that the gender inequality in education has decreased, which in turn is due to the feminist movements and other struggles for gender equality. Thus, we cannot say that it has gone too far.

Nevertheless, there are still some who say that men are the ones being trodden upon by the feminist movements. For example, they point fingers at Hollywood, which recently portrayed men as psychopaths and bullies hurting intelligent women in box-office films such as Silence of the Lambs. However, there have also been numerous examples of recent movies that also portray men in a positive light while patronising women; In Transformers the main characters were males and any female characters were placed there as eye candy. Moreover, men have been cast in a negative light long before the feminist movements, in movies such as Strangers on a Train (1951). Hence, we can see that the “mistreatment” of men due to the feminist movement is nonsense, as the perception towards men has not changed greatly.

Furthermore, we must not forget that despite all the efforts to promote gender equality, we are still a far cry away from complete gender equality. For example, 90% of all billionaires are men.People still use derogatory terms such as “women’s work” to refer to secretarial positions. In London, 79% of women claim that they feel discriminated against. If we cannot even grant women a fair voice in the workplace, how can we even claim that men are being discriminated against?

In essence, the outcome of the fight for gender equality is simply equality. Due to misunderstandings, people may inadvertently view it as a fight for the superiority of women, but it is simply about letting everybody achieve their highest potential. Let us hope that the world can soon awaken to this, and understand this quote: “[A woman] is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man. Likewise, she is never less.”

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