Why Do We Still Have Gender Issues?

Two figures of people holding the symbols for male and female

In two previous posts in this series Let’s Talk! I shared my concerns about shared issues that impact humanity all over the world. In Nationalism: Have We Outgrown It? I briefly discussed some pros and cons and concluded that nationalism no longer serves humanity. I put forward a suggestion in Global Rule: Is It Feasible? that a world government may well allow people worldwide to tackle our common problems more efficiently. Today, I’m highlighting the issue of gender equity that has plagued us throughout our history.

I was born in 1951 to a strong, intelligent woman. As well, I’m an older brother to another, husband to another, father to a daughter who is CEO of the Canadian operations of an international insurance broker, and I’m a grandfather to yet another self-assertive and intelligent female. All of my female friends are talented with strong personalities. With that introduction, the words that follow should come as no surprise.

One of the greatest mysteries of the universe that has befuddled me my entire life is why so many men think that it is perfectly acceptable to treat women as inferior beings. As a retired History teacher, I’m perfectly aware that male preeminence can be traced back to the earliest beginnings of humanity. I also understand that gender attitudes that became entrenched in most human cultures were predicated on the superior physical strength of males. They were the hunters and protectors in a physically violent world.

While I understand the origins of male superiority, I am disappointed that the ‘superior’ men in earlier times failed to accept their females as equals in the decisions made within the family and community as a whole. I find it even sadder to see that the holy books of most, if not all, of the Great Religions, have preserved and promoted the myth of male supremacy – books that are revered as the ‘inspired word of God’ – and have put the heavenly stamp of approval on this gender inequity. Consider the Great Religions today; have any of them placed a woman at the helm or allow women to be ordained leaders? Shamefully, most do not.

Having said that, I would be remiss in failing to point out that human cultures through the ages have put a high value on women, especially in their role as the mothers of us all. Child-rearing, the maintenance of the home, and unity within families have always been the duties of women. Hence, mothers are universally revered – as it should be. Are the value and reverence rendered to women not enough?

Hell, no! While men are busy being reverent toward their wives and mothers they have, until the last century, denied them the political vote, the right to hold public office and to conduct their own businesses without the sponsorship of a husband, father, or brother. There are women in some cultures today who still do not have these rights, nor to they have the right to a formal education.

When I look around at my Canadian society and other similar Western societies, I see women who enjoy the same legal and political rights as men. Some women have earned leadership roles in every walk of life imaginable. And yet … and yet the glass ceilings still exist in our ‘enlightened’ society. Women must work a lot harder and much smarter to further their chosen careers than their male counterparts. There is still a considerable pay gap between the genders.

As I write this, I am boiling inside with anger and indignation at the abominable stupidity that promotes gender inequity. Why is it that anyone still believes that our genitalia determines our fitness to lead and to make vital contributions in every field of endeavor? Really? The strength of personality and skill set it takes to lead successfully will not be found exclusively with either gender. In this regard, there is no such thing as ‘equality’ among human beings. We are not all equal in intelligence, personal strength, emotional and mental balance, empathy – or in a host of other ways. But we are all equal in being worthy of respect and in the opportunity to enjoy the protection of the law as we seek to live our lives as well as we can.

Throughout my thirty-five years teaching high school students, this topic came up with great regularity. I shared with them that my life experience taught me that there is a real difference in how men and women perceive the world and think about the issues that face us individually and collectively. Do I thoroughly understand the nature of that difference? No. But I believe it exists. I also think that women can bring their perspective to the table to help us all to formulate and execute the necessary solutions to problems that threaten to destroy us all. Men have proved they cannot do the job alone. I don’t think women can either. I do believe the collaboration of their perspectives, intelligence and skill sets will lead to success. I believe this to be true in families, businesses of all kinds and every human institution.

Finally, I think that as long as men hold on to their chauvinistic beliefs and feminists do likewise, the gender wars will continue and everyone will lose. I honestly understand why some feminists are chauvinistic, dislike and distrust men, but it doesn’t matter how justified those feelings might be. They are counter-productive in either gender. These sentiments are also downright stupid and unworthy of us all.

Do we have several more centuries to sort this out? Look around folks … tensions around the world intensify with the passage of time.

In the meantime… let’s talk!

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

34 thoughts on “Why Do We Still Have Gender Issues?”

  1. A friend once observed that the reason dogs and humans get along so well is that we have the same social systems. I don’t know what dogs call their social system but we called our version of it feudalism.

    Humans have brain power and can conceptualize better ways to organize our social systems but
    many of us never acquire the skill we call ‘reason and many of our ‘top dogs’ are so driven by the
    instinct to feast first and best they impede change.

    We measure ‘progress’ by those moments when we cast off a relic of feudalism, but change isn’t
    easy to sustain.

    There are no decisive victories over the human impulse to regress.

    What you propose is enlightened and requires people to work against primitive drives.

    For me the question is can we do this? By we, I mean our species, which is not essential to the
    universe and may be one of hundreds of billions of species to become self aware enough to destroy
    itself in an existential crisis.

    Isn’t it odd that we’re back to the gilded age even after we invented the New Deal and have the
    evidence of history to prove that regulating capitalism to support a democracy based on human
    rights works best as a social system?

    How can this be?

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    1. Robert, thanks for the follow and for your insightful remarks. Despite all of our advances in knowledge and technology, we still have yet to master our basest impulses. Crimes justified by religion, poverty justified by the greed of the few, and skillful spin doctors who convince the intellectually feeble that all is well and is going according to God’s plan. It is truly sad, and yet… and yet I choose to live in hope. I believe in the power of the word. I believe in the power of the Internet. I believe in the goodness and caring of millions of women and men throughout the world. As long as we’re still breathing, humanity has a chance.

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    1. Thanks, Madelyn – you are very kind. I’ve had a Pinterest account for a couple of years now but I have no clue how to use it. I bought a “How-To” ebook over a year ago and I still haven’t read it. I know that some authors have had sales generated on that site and bloggers that say that it helps drive readers to their blog – I just scratch my head. Oh well, one of these days! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It doesn’t take long to figure it out just clicking around – it’s easy to delete over there. I began years ago when I noticed that others had pinned some of my posts and that a few readers jumped over to read from there. Now I try to remember to pin all my posts to one board or another (another reason why I include a bunch of graphics on my posts – not just to anchor ideas).

        I use it for all kinds of things now – a virtual bulletin board. I downloaded a pinterest “button” that makes it fairly easy. Got it somewhere on their site, but have no idea where now.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember one day I spent over 2 hours trying to pin one of my posts to a board I created – I finally did it but I got fed up. When I find a site that isn’t user-friendly, I cut my losses and leave. Regularly, I get these notices that people have pinned stuff to my boards – I shrug and hit the delete key. I guess it’s safe to say that I just don’t “get” Pinterest. I should read that book.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No shoulds – not everything is for everybody, John. I only engage with the socials that make sense to me and are easy to use, based on the way my mind works – hardly any, btw. For the most part, I avoid the ones that make me mad or frustrate me (FB, LI etc) – and totally ignore the ‘limited number of characters’ or photo formats for the most part (Twitter, etc.).

            Since I got the little pinner ap, it’s an easy click right from my article to pin my posts. I just have to choose which of my many boards to pin it “on.” I used to spend some time changing the “captions” but now I just do it from “backstage” by setting where the graphics “attach.” I usually have to set each graphic individually, but once I do, anyone who pins automatically gets a caption with the name of the post and my blog.

            It’s a bit more work to pin somebody else’s graphic, but essentially easy & relatively quick once you spend some time setting up boards and understanding the basics. Not sure what to believe or what it means, but Pinterest is supposedly one of the fastest growing platforms.

            I use it as a graphic-form “bookmarking” platform too – it let’s me get back to articles I want to read and ideas I want to use very quickly.
            xx,
            mgh

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            1. I hear you about Twitter. I’m not a fan – I don’t think it is effective at all with all the zillions of tweets coming into your feed every minute – who reads all that?? I understand what you mean about choosing platforms that are a good fit. I haven’t really given Pinterest a fair shake.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I soooo enjoyed this. I too grew up in the 50’s and never understood why my cousin and I had to play “Sheriff’s Daughters” in our new Dale Evans cowgirl outfits (skirts!!) and rode our stick ponies instead of playing Cowboys and Indians. We knew women couldn’t be cowpokes, much less sheriffs. We were allowed to play “house” with Betsy Wetsey’s; secretaries, with my cousin’s dad’s leftover order blanks from his workplace; nurses with our nurse’s (never doctor’s) kits; and school. We thought all teachers were women. I had my first male teacher when I hit eighth grade in 1958. Thank goodness times have changed (to a point). My twenty-something female students can not grasp the concept that you couldn’t be anything you wanted to be. That is a positive change!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Rae, young girls have choices today that didn’t exist 50 years ago – and yet there are still expectations and limitations that need to be overcome. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your walk down memory lane.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love-love-LOVE this post, John. I feel compelled to begin by pointing out that “feminism” is by nature inclusive vs. divisive. “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ~ Gloria Steinem.

    The so-called “feminazis” have angrily coopted the feminism term, ignoring it’s intent – but they do not represent the majority of feminists, whether male or female. They seem more prevalent than they actually are because they are SO obnoxious they imprint – as do extremely chauvinist males, who are not representative of MOST men in the western world. Most of us, male and female, abhor both types of nastiness and shallow thinking (even people who voted for our current horror of a President did so in spite of his “pussy grabbing” etc. – which I’ll never understand personally, but there you have it!). It’s the more subtle chauvinism that is insidiously dangerous in countries like ours, IMHO.

    A great many men (most, perhaps, there) DO retain chauvinistic thoughts that make no real sense (men are better drivers, over-emotionality of women, females better at cleaning/cooking, men better at math and science, etc.) that tend to become internalized and generalized unfairly. Women act upon these internalized memes as well, so they also play their part in keeping gender inequality in place in “the race-mind.”

    Human being interests and/or preferences have a great deal more to do with abilities and approaches than gender. The majority of THOSE are not a product of genetics but of nurture (excellence and success in a few extreme sports, basketball, etc. are clear exceptions, of course – and the process of gestation is certainly different for males and female parents, etc.).

    “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” ~ Gloria Steinem again

    Science has, in fact, “proven” that male and female brains do indeed process differently (i.e., different areas “light up” doing similar tasks), but the end result does NOT differ in almost all of the arenas studied. Our different hormonal production changes things significantly in developmental arenas (most overtly in sexual readiness & response) – but NOT significantly in areas that matter in the workplace, intellectual endeavors, leadership abilities, etc. Never forget that, here in America anyway, women RAN industry and kept the country going during the 40s when the men were away at war – so much for the glass ceiling rationale keeping women down!

    The women were sent back home “where they belonged” when returning soldiers wanted their jobs and former status as privileged heads of households back! Aggressive television and print marketing created the backlash of the 50s (and a depression epidemic along with an uptick in pharmaceuticals to keep Rosie the Riveter and her cohorts relatively amenable to remaining at home as handmaids or support functionaries in the workplace). I have collected an entire Pinterest Board [“Seemed good at the time?”] with hundreds of those ads – and most are truly appalling by modern standards.

    One of my very favorite quotes for which I have long-since lost the source and exact words, but here’s the gist:
    “We shall have equality, ladies, NOT when a brilliant, hardworking woman can go as far as a a brilliant, hardworking man, but when a woman shlameel can be as successful as a male shlameel.”
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Madelyn, just the kind of discussion I had envisioned when I decided to write this post. Have you noticed how many men have commented? As I digested your comments, I realize that I’m a feminist too. I didn’t realize the term could extend to men who supported true feminist ideals. I agree wholeheartedly that for many of us, our ideas about gender roles are learned and are very difficult to shed. I discover chauvinistic thoughts popping out of my head lots of times. I think I’m a better driver than my wife – but she’s never had an at-fault accident or a ticket. My driving record would suggest we’re more likely to get killed in a car accident if I’m doing the driving. Since realizing this truth a few years back, I’ve curbed my more aggressive tendencies while driving. Sigh. I have such a long way to go before I’m grown up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah – it seems to take an entire lifetime for most of us to finally grow up. Too soon old, too late wise?

        I join you in the preference for round-robin internet discussions vs. two-line, two way comments of appreciation or agreement (or not!) – which are fine, but don’t scratch the same itch. Must be the educators in us, huh?

        The college crowd may have as many males carrying feminist placards as females – galvanized by the campus rape stats, I’m guessing – or so it seems from Pinterest visuals.

        Although I signed up with Pinterest initially when I discovered I was getting blog visits from a few of my graphics posted there by others and wanted to link ALL my posts there, the best reason for engagement there, IMHO is to quickly and easily maintain graphic bulletin boards with links to good stuff (bookmarking on steroids).

        Like all online engagement formats, many people use Pinterest for quick-hit engagement, repining like kids trading baseball cards without really knowing much about the players or the game – and P’s graphics format doesn’t facilitate discussion of any sort, but many memes are linked to interesting blog posts, and ALL link to source by default.

        I have populated a great many mental health boards (and related topics), have a few political boards, and have TWO boards dedicated to feminist ideals and feminists – “Women Warriors” and one primarily male, “Sing Out, Louise!” (along with some dog stuff (health and comfort products, cute photos of Shih Tzus when I was looking for a puppy and found Tink.) and girl-fluff – wardrobe, decorating & holiday ideas, etc. – mindless entertainment that can be surprisingly addictive, even for a more “serious” thinker.

        Did you read D.G.Kaye’s post about Flipchart? Apparently a Pinterest-like “magazine” format I plan to investigate ere long, to check out the level of potential engagement and the level at which folks engage.
        xx,
        mgh

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        1. I know about Flipchart – I joined and added it to my blog’s ‘share’ buttons, but I haven’t spent any time there creating a magazine. I belong to Pinterest too – that totally frustrates me. I know that some authors swear by Pinterest as a marketing agent, but I can’t figure it out. I spent hours there a year or so ago – maybe 18 months ago, and gave up when it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I guess I’m one of those folks that need to be led by the hand through these things. I find it to be user unfriendly – like you’re supposed to be born with Pinterest skills. So I don’t use either of them. If I could figure Pinterest out and be persuaded it would help my blog and my books, I’d invest the time. That’s my sad story. I’m not a big fan of Twitter either. At least on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn you can post something substantial that people have half a chance of understanding. Gee! I’m on a rant!

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  4. John, you just articulated my thoughts and feelings on this issue masterfully! Executed with the passion and insight that is so desperately needed. Sadly, I hear and see things everyday that completely baffle me. From all sectors of society that should have progressed beyond that level of dismissive and unjust logic. Thanks so much for writing this and for being you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Natalie, for your kind words. Although, as a guy, I’ve never been on the receiving end of male chauvinism, nor have I been frustrated by the glass ceilings that challenge women in just about every walk of life, all of that infuriates me. I have been on the receiving end of some nastiness from chauvinistic feminists – people who should know better. Ignorance and insensitivity are baffling, but I think it is important that we speak out. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the mix!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Powerful post, John. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments – especially your conclusion. Stupidity or wisdom, cunning or honesty, ruthlessness or kindness…..all are genderless. And…I suspect that the source of all good, of all that is beautiful and pure – is also genderless. I wonder why we humans are so afraid of the common ground?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Gwen, for your generous words. We fear that which is different (race, nationality, skin color, culture, religion, gender, etc.) and attempt to quiet that anxiety by finding fault so that we can feel secure in our superiority. Yes, goodness, beauty, strength, courage – all of these wonderful things are common to humanity. And then there’s the Dark Side…

      Liked by 1 person

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