Gender is a term denoting a person’s conduct in the society he/she lives in. It also means the relations of the person with other members of the society, including friends, relatives, family, bystanders etc. Very often the word “gender” refers to the differences between men and women. It denotes some characteristics that differentiate men from women. In such areas as psychology or sexology this term means person’s behavioural or mental features. At first, this concept was borrowed from the grammar. Then, it was presented as an independent science by a sexologist, John Money. In several years, the Money’s views became very popular among sociologists, psychologists and lawyers. Thus, first, this research paper aims to find out all the benefits and opportunities one may get based on gender. Second aim is to identify if there really exist any sense of inequality between men and women.
The World Health Organization (2012) states:
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, activities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate for men and women. The distinct roles and behavior may give rise to gender inequalities, i.e. differences between men and women that systematically favor one group. In turn, such inequalities can lead to inequities between men and women in both health status and access to health care.
Nowadays, every society has its own formed unique norms of behavior, roles, and activities that are common for men and women. The problem is that these roles and activities result in various gender inequalities, which in consequence, may cause the inequities between men and women.
Often the term “sex” is understood as a combination of biological and psychological differences that differentiate men from women. On the contrary, the term “gender” means some social rules and roles. However, different cultures and social groups usually have totally different opinions on it.
Scientists state that some sex features do not vary between various social groups and cultures. On the other hand, some gender roles may even change greatly. The World Health Organization (2012) asserts:
Some examples of sex characteristics:
- Women menstruate while men do not;
- Men have testicles while women do not;
- Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not;
- Men generally have more massive bones than women.
Some examples of gender characteristics:
- In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work;
- In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate;
- In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not;
- In most of the world, women do more housework than men.
Today, the feminist sociology widely uses the term “gender”. This theory is rather contradictory one as it considers “gender” as a relation to power. According to it, feminism is regarded as a great source of strength. Thus, a strong relationship has occurred between feminist theory and sociology as sociology paid primarily attention to the men’s point of view. In the basis of the feminist sociology lies a belief in a systematic oppression of women; and historical domination of men, in most societies.
According to Tekanji (2005), men and women can not be equal because of several important reasons. First, it is not good for a woman to show confidence because then she will be apprehended as a “man-eater” and “ball-buster”. Second, it is also considered rather rude to walk through the door when a woman holds it open for a man. Third, very often women consider males as individuals that cannot control their “raging hormones”. Forth, in case of having a lot of sexual partners, the attitude to a woman falls greatly (Tekanji, 2005).
They say that women experience various gender differences within a workplace. Nowadays, a lot of organizations allow gender diversity and make it possible for both men and women get equal promotional opportunities as well as take part in company operation. On the other hand, there are some organizations that do not appreciate gender inclusion in the work place. The thing is that a lot of women experience a “glass ceiling” at work. The term means an invisible barrier that do not allow females move on the corporate ladder. According to the Cornell University ILR School (1995), the “glass ceiling” term appeared only several decades ago. It was firstly used in the Wall Street Journal. The term immediately became popular among journalists and businessmen. In 1991, the “glass ceiling” problem was discussed on the government level. In the result, the Glass Ceiling Act was adopted in 1991. (Cornell University ILR School, 1995, pp. iii-ix).
On the other hand, males tend to experience so called “glass escalator” in such areas as nursing, teaching or other social works. Statistics says that men become managers and principles more often than women. Thus, they can easier be promoted and become more successful than women. Fogarty (n.d.) claims:
- Even with equal qualifications and achievements, women are perceived less favorably than men as reflected in evaluations and promotions.
- Women who comprise less than half the workforce in a business are also more likely to be pushed toward tasks that are stereotypically feminine, such as support work.
- Given equivalent positions, men are perceived as more influential than women. Men are also more likely to resist influence from women.
- Research shows that women are not afforded as much of a repertoire of behaviors when it comes to assertiveness. That is, women are either viewed as “not assertive enough” or “too assertive.”
- Women are more likely to be stereotyped as “family focused” and “unwilling to travel” and therefore tend to be passed up for promotions. This is called the “motherhood assumption” by researchers.
Furthermore, with a fast development of agriculture, men started to control women greatly. The thing is that the upper class of males allowed their sons to marry only virgin girls. Under such conditions, it made women subconsciously control their sexuality. It was considered very shameful for young girls to be “not virgins”. Nobody wanted to marry them in such a case. Women also had to remain faithful to their husbands. Moreover, females ruined their plans, hopes as well as dreams in order to raise children.
The gender-based violence is another topical problem. Nowadays, a lot of females suffer emotionally, physically and sexually because of men violence. Gender plays an important role in committing the majority of crimes, including rape, theft, sexual assault etc.
Almost all these crimes are committed by men against women. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (2003) state:
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused by a man in her lifetime. More than 20 % of women are reported to have been abused by men with whom they live.
- Approximately 60 million women, mostly in Asia, are “missing” – killed by infanticide, selective abortion, deliberate under-nutrition or lack of access to health care.
- Each year, 2 million girls between ages 5 and 15 are introduced into the commercial sex industry.
- Women who are victims of domestic violence are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who do not experience such violence.
- Only 1 in 100 battered women in the U.S. reports the abuse she suffers. Every nine seconds, a woman is battered by her domestic partner.
- In Russia, half of all murder victims are women killed by their male partners (p. 6).
According to another research conducted by the Duke University, in 1998, more than 15% of females suffered from rape. At the same time, only 2.1% of males were raped by women. Furthermore, almost 99% of persons ever arrested for rape were men (Duke University).
Nowadays, many women suffer from violence at homes and work. There are a lot of societies where a woman cannot even fully participate in social life. In most cultures they are not allowed to vote as well as show their faces.
Today, a lot of feminists charge men of committing the majority of crimes including, armed robbery (92%), rape (98%), family violence (83%) and murder (88%).
Another privilege of being a man is the amount of salary they usually get. It is called a gender pay gap. The thing is that men often earn much more money than women.
United Nations Development Programme states, “Six out of ten of the world's poorest people are women who must, as the primary family caretakers and producers of food, shoulder the burden of tilling land, grinding grain, carrying water and cooking”.
According to Robinson M (2003), women are paid only 74 cents from every dollar compared with men. It means, every week, women lose almost 148 dollars or 7,696 a year. Statistics also states that females of color get even less than 64 cents. Every American family loses almost 4,000 dollars annualy. Furthermore, women get only 30 cents for every five years of experience compared with 1, 20 in males (Robinson, Frost, Bucigrossi and Pfeffer, 2003, pp. 2-18).
There is a relatively new term called the “Male privilege”. It denotes some opportunities as well as advantages of being a man. There are a lot of societies where men prevail. It means males may easily get some political, economic and social advantages simply on the basis of their “sex”. Such factors as race, sexual orientation and social class are also very important factors while talking about male privilege. According to DragonflyBlade21 (2005), the main privilege is that men have more chances to be hired on a job compared with women. Second, if a man does not get promotion, it is not because of his sex. Third, if a male does not succed in his career, he may be confident that it will not effect his all sex’s capabilities. Forth, men almost never experience a sexual harrasment at work. Fifth, people will always better evaluate male’s work compared with female’s. Six, men are never afraid to walk alone after dark. Seven, if a men is a bad driver it will not be referred to his sex. Eight, when a man has sex with several people it is usually considered to be a respectful act (DragonflyBlade21, 2005).
Thus, the new meaning of a term “gender” appeared not so long ago. Nowadays, it is used in many areas of sciences, including: linguistics, psychology, sociology economic etc. Its main meaning is the differences between males and females. It includes both biological as well as social differences. But modern science pays more attention to social roles of men and women. Researches prove that in most cases the position of a woman is not as perfect as it might see, in the modern society. Often males have much more privileges than woman. In business men are usually more successful than woman. Furthermore, females earn less than men. It results in poverty after the retirement. Besides, the majority of all crimes are committed by men against women. At home, they also tend to do most of house work and take the primarily role in growing children. They say that it all makes women feel unsecure, weak and imprisoned.