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United Nations #HeforShe campaign - Gender Equality


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Georgios3377 #1 Posted 19 September 2014 - 06:46 PM

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Today is the date for a special event for the United Nations #HeForShe campaign. A campaign that aims to get men to speak against gender inequality. I am doing my part by posting something I wrote about the issue in this forum. There will be a podcast by United Nations with Emma Watson as the co-host. It will start at 23.00 Central European Time in Saturday and it will end at 01.00. The event will be webcast here: http://webtv.un.org/#sthash.OjK0dQ4L.dpuf
Please also read what I have written on the issue.



Many people forget what feminism is about, and that is first and foremost about gender equality. To achieve gender equality though we need to understand what it is that is causing it. In other words we need to define and find the roots of sexism.

 

Segregation and sexism: Sexism is another form of segregation just like racism, elitism etc. It occurs when someone segregates someone else using the criterion of gender. The problem with all kinds of segregations is that it alienates and eventually objectifies the person or group that has been segregated by the others. As a matter of fact there are two forms of segregation. Upward segregation where the person is deified (but still objectified e.g. celebrities) and downward segregation that the person is downgraded, degraded and objectified. Both are unwanted conditions, but the one that is by far the most widespread is the degrading objectification of women. This is what sexism and gender inequality really is. As a matter of fact racism, sexism, elitism and segregation in general is something that is inherent in human nature. We all live inside societies which have a structure. We all need to define and casually reaffirm our position within that social hierarchy and structure. This definement and reassurance of our position comes as a series of criteria for the other people. Of course due to our inherent survival instinct we also compare ourselves to others. Usually role-models that we aspire and strive to be like, define these criteria. We tend to relate with people that are similar to us, upward objectifying people who we consider to be better than we are, and degradingly objectifying people who we consider to be lower than we are.

In the case when a dominant group sees another group as lower in standing than they are, they feel as if they have the right to impose their standards upon them not only on how they should be and how they should behave. Many times this occurs subconsciously as a part of the social norm. This is what we call the social subconscious. In the case of sexism what it really become is dominance over the other gender. The origins of sexism are deeply rooted in how the family functions.

 

The role of the family: The very basic cell of human society is the family and is regarded as something sacred and inviolable in every single civilisation that man has created. It is from this formation that the new members of any social group are created, indoctrinated to its morality and ethics, and the survival of society is ensured. In order to understand sexism and gender segregation in today’s families we need to take a look and understand how families have evolved.

Families existed even before religions or nationalities did. The very early monogamous families revolved around a man, a woman and their offspring. The male is designed by nature to be physically stronger and more aggressive. These qualities (physical strength and endurance) were essential for survival, in these early societies, so the person who had them was in control of the family. He was seen as the one who provided the resources that were needed in order to survive.

The roles in these early societies were allocated according to what each member was fit to do. Males were good for hunting and gathering resources due to physical prowess, while females were fit to take care of the household and the offspring. And so patriarchy was born. As a matter of fact we can see this kind of behaviour all over nature. Take cats for example: The female will capitulate to the male and she will allow him to eat first, as much as he likes before she has her share of the food. This is basic genetic programming.

Of course from then until now human societies progressed and became far more civilised. The intellectual rules of civil behaviour outdo biological programming. As civilisation was being created, families banded together and become small collectives. When collectives became more numerous they evolved to small villages and these in turn attracted more population and became towns. Family still remained patriarchal with only a few changes.

But why did this happen? Why did families remain largely patriarchal despite progress in civilisation? The reason for this is the limitations placed by our families, and this eventually comes down to our survival instincts. We humans are creatures that need to feel safe in order to thrive. One of the most important ways of feeling safe is through creating and maintaining a stable social environment. A social environment with constants, constraints and parameters that can be controlled and nothing unpredictable that can upset the status quo can happen. We basically stick to what we have learned and what is familiar. This eventually means that we will strive to create a family with the conditions that we have become accustomed with. In essence when we create our own families we become our parents when it comes and fulfilling the roles. In many cases we replicate the rules that we have learned while growing up. So rules, constrains and regulations were little altered throughout the centuries and conditions remained the same. Patriarchy persisted throughout the centuries. In this point we must add that creating a safe environment through social stability is the very definition of social conservatism.

It is due to this societal conservatism that stereotypes exist. In an environment that people consider stability to be the most important factor for prosperity, and stick to well-known ways, there are certain kinds of people that are considered worthy with certain kinds of behaviours. For example in these earlier and more traditional societies it was absolutely necessary for a man to be married and start a family if he wanted to be in good social standing. As a matter of fact it was considered that the earlier someone got married and produced offspring the better for him and for society in general. Because of this and a relative short life expectancy people were getting married in young ages, with the women being exceptionally young with today’s standards. The vast majority of these stereotypes and how society must be shaped has persisted into modern times and they are used by people to define how a man or a woman should be and how they should behave. The discussion for stereotypes is truly large and it falls beyond the scope of this discussion. One thing is for sure: those stereotypes are especially harmful for gender equality and for the liberty of people. They allow others to define how we should behave and how we should act.

Family was about to change though and this happen during the industrial revolution.
 

The industrial revolution and equality: Only in the west there have been huge advances societies in the matter of gender equality. We must understand what made these changes occur if we hope to help other societies overcome this obstacle, and also if we are to overcome the remaining equality issues ourselves. Let’s take a quick look in the middle ages where we find the early feminists and independent women described and accused as witches by the societal conservative elements. In fact these elements (the inquisition and other state structures of that time) were so strong that they actively sought out and killed these women in the most horrific ways imaginable.
Pressure from women, from all social classes increased through the age of enlightenment. The use of reason was used instead of tradition which meant the relaxation of social conservatism rules. This in turn allowed the elimination of old institutions and the advancement of society which in turn meant that many middle class women would receive at least some formal education.

These new conditions brought forward advancements in science, medicine and technology which increased the life expectancy of people. Family sizes had already begun to decrease since the time of the French revolution and they continued to do so during the two industrial revolutions. Because of increased productivity and wealth distribution societies could afford to have their members start a family later on. Not only have that, but, due to the pressure and the demands of this new society, peopled created even smaller families. The working environment needed fewer workers but better educated ones, and more capable in professional issues. This also changed the need that society had about women: from bearers of children (pre French revolution families could number as much as 20) to caretakers of as little as two children. Suddenly women had managed to gain some control of their body against the needs of society. Later on as the industrial revolution progressed, equipment and machinery made some jobs easier and less physically demanding, it became possible for women to perform these tasks, something that gave them their first income. And income meant independence. The suffragettes were on the rise.

Progressively in the 1800's an avalanche of changes takes place which gives women more and more rights. It is not a coincidence that these rights were granted during the time of the two industrial revolutions. It was not only the new ideas, ethics and morality that allowed such a thing to occur but also the new economic environment that was being created. This key in understanding how social change occurs lies right here: New ideas and the modernisation of society allows for the economic advancement. The economic advancement allows for prosperity which in turn firmly establishes these new ideas and morals and further enhances them. A virtuous circle is formed which nets exponential results each time it is completed and restarted.

Western societies have undergone various phases of social and economic evolution. As a matter of fact different western societies may be in different stages of this evolution. The more socio-economic development there is in a country the more gender equality it has. Developing countries are in earlier stages of this economic and social cycle. Unfortunately though in many cases economic development has been handed over to them by investment from abroad, and so they have not went through any of the social evolution cycles. When this occurs the result is economical exploitation of the people with no real social development. Currently, in these areas of the world that there is economic development but no social development, gender equality is virtually non-existent. Even worse both men and women are being exploited economically.


Gender inequality in the west: Having said that the west is the most advanced in this matter we also need to see what are the problems that women in the west face today. First of all women receive less pay than their male counterparts for the same job. The social and economic problems that this situation creates are enormous. Aside from the fact that this is a breach of Article 23 paragraph 2 of the UN Charter of Human rights (Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work) it creates huge economical dysfunctions. First of all the disposable income of the working class women is reduced. This means that markets targeted towards women cannot flourish and develop and jobs are not created. Second it requires that husbands spend a larger portion of their own disposable income to supplement the needs of the household or the needs of their spouse. This decreases the disposable income that these men have. In general less disposable income in an economy means that the inequality in wealth between the wealthy and the poor increases which makes a hard situation even worse. (For more on this read Joseph E. Stiglitz book “The price of inequality”)

Due to reduced pay, lesser money is paid for social and health security. This directly affects pension Funds and therefore people's quality of living after their retirement age. It also deprives healthcare systems of funds that they desperately need in order to offer better services. Therefore reduced pay for women undermines UN's Charter of human rights Article 25 paragraph 1 (Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control)

Let’s not forget the very important issue of the Glass Ceiling. This means that women do not get the proper opportunities to be promoted to high managerial positions and in essence their professional development prospects are limited from the moment their career. This situation denies women true equal opportunities and holds them back professionally socially and economically. This happens, not due to the merit of their achievements, but due to their gender.

As it is evident the way to go forward is to educate young women. By doing so we are equipping them with the ability to become intendant. We must make clear that the education of a girl is not an option. We must strive to make sure that girls will eventually get the same chances as boys. There is one way to overcome this obstacle: We must make boys and men understand that women and girls are their equals and they deserve equal rights and equal opportunities. And this can only happen with education. Mixed schools are needed if this problem is to be overcome, where boys and girls are treated as equals. Where boys learn from an early age that a girl is his equal. If we cannot overcome the bias that exists in traditional oriented families against girls then we can overcome it greatly in schools. But for this to happen ALL girls must go to school. And then ALL girls must be allowed to gain access to professional education. This is a demand that us men must push forward with.

 

Domestic Violence: A very specific problem needs to be addressed though. A problem that transcends borders, education, social and economical standing. This is the problem of domestic violence. Domestic violence does not constitute of physical abuse alone, but it is a combination of physical, verbal and psychological abuses. What makes domestic violence truly abhorrent is not only the combination of the abuses but also who are they aimed against: The offender is abusing those closest to him and the ones that he professes to love most.

This kind of violence has its roots in the stereotypes each society holds for its members. Macho and aggressive stereotypes for men, docile and submissive stereotypes for women. The way that domestic violence develops in a family needs to be seen in detail. The first occurrence of this is of course verbal violence. Verbal abuse usually occurs when a female member of the family dissatisfies the abuser with her behaviour. Proper behaviour is judged in comparison with the societal stereotype. Deviations from this stereotype make the offender loose respect for the victim. Eventually physical violence will take place when the anger and the frustration will overpower the respect that the offender has for the victim.

The next phase of domestic violence is psychological abuse. Psychological abuse has its roots to the guilt that the abuser feels for his actions. So in order to justify his actions he (or she) finds excuses to constantly belittle the victim but also manipulate them and blackmail them into submission and accepting his or her point of view. The problem is that the more submissive the victim is the more prone to physical and psychological attacks it becomes.

People who become the victims of a domestic abuse from someone that they love become devastated in an emotional level too. They will also loose self-esteem due to the verbal and psychological abuse that they receive after the physical assault. The less self-esteem a person has, the more vulnerable and susceptible to physical and psychological abuse and manipulation they become which in turn become a reasons for more domestic abuse. This leads to a vicious cycle that will eventually leave the victim a broken shell psychologically and quite possibly physically too.

Domestic violence is definitely one of these occurrences of circular logic. Circular logic is responsible for the most heinous crimes in human behaviour. The abuser assaults the victim in both physical and psychological level and they inflict upon them psychological trauma which in turn renders the victim incapable of fulfilling the abusers standards and requirements. This makes the victim to become even more degraded in the perpetrators eyes, which in turn causes more violent attacks. While it must be noted that while physical violence happens mostly from men, psychological and verbal abuse happens from women too. The key word here is dominating behaviour.

Domestic violence is a poison that can destroy the sanctity of a family. It is also a poison that can pass down to generations, exactly because we tend to mimic and replicate the family environment we have grown up. If the father commits acts of domestic violence then there is a strong chance that domestic violence will be committed by the children too, later on in their lives. It is with proper education, about what domestic violence does to a person, that it can be avoided and this behaviour can be changed. But in every case in order for all aspects of domestic violence (Physical, verbal, manipulation and blackmail) there must be respect for the other person’s personality and needs.

 

Dear Friends. Dear fellow men, guys and boys. Its not enough for women to fight on their own. We must accept what is honest and true. We must try and make things better for them. The best place to start is always ourselves. Be true to yourself and to all the women in your life. It is after all a woman that brings us to life and women that we fall in love with. I want the woman that brought me to life to be respected and loved by everyone. And I want the woman who I will finally marry to be my equal, both intellectually and emotionally. I want her to be able to make her own money with ease so she will be seen as more successful. I want her too be accepted and admired by the rest of society her achievements and the quality of her character. Because having such a woman next to you makes you all the better.

It is time we fought for this. It is time that we did something about gender inequality. You can do this even if you have been an offender. Change always start with one's self. And then suddenly everything starts to become better. For everyone.



Georgios3377 #2 Posted 19 September 2014 - 06:46 PM

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If possible make this sticky.

Jrgrid #3 Posted 19 September 2014 - 07:06 PM

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Love the message hate the UN so I'll leave it at that.

Shaka_D #4 Posted 21 September 2014 - 09:51 PM

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View PostJrgrid, on 19 September 2014 - 08:06 PM, said:

Love the message hate the UN so I'll leave it at that.

 

Ditto




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