Is life harder for women than it is for men these days? I suppose a lot of women will say “yes” but I’m sure a lot of men will say “no, it’s hard for us, too, in a different way”. I grew up in a culture where girls expected to get married and have children if possible, it was like the primary dream. And boys expected to have to support them. Whoever told us, boys and girls, what price we’d be paying for our dreams to come true?
That culture placed huge stress and unnatural responsibility on the shoulders of both genders. The girls had the opportunity to raise children, which is such an energy and time-consuming job that it didn’t leave much over to explore and express themselves etc. Also, they got paid by their husbands. But it often wasn’t a clean deal; you put in so many hours for such and such a wage, with opportunities for paid overtime and promotion to a really good salary.
It’s very hard to hold onto your power in a situation where you aren’t earning your own money. Because whether it’s fair or not, the person dispensing the money often believes they have the right to control you. And if you aren’t earning, it’s hard to believe you deserve the right to not be controlled.
So for many women it was just a nightmare scenario. It’s not difficult to look at men and say “you’ve got it easy”. Especially because the culture allowed for boys to turn into men who had careers where they could explore and express themselves, find their power, meet lots of new people, often travel, often make important decisions. They could become the earners and with that came power.
But imagine what it must be like believing you have to cough up every month otherwise your wife and children will be on the street. Imagine having to stick at a job you hate and which destroys your soul, where you get exploited and shoved and pushed around. But you can’t leave. Imagine if your heart cries out “what about me?” but you can’t afford to listen.
I’d say it would be easy for a man trapped in that situation and belief system to look at women, staying at home and raising children, and think “you have no idea how hard life can be”. Life is challenging for everybody, and making comparisons between genders as to who has a harder time doesn’t really get anybody anywhere.
But I think to use this argument as a rationalization to ignore gender discrimination is a mistake, also. Although both genders paid too high of a price for their roles, it was women who first learned to stand up for themselves and choose a different role. They had to fight to be even given the vote, to get an education, to be allowed into the male-dominated workplace.
That they had to fight speaks volumes, and I believe that dynamic is still alive. In the workplace, gender discrimination is still a reality and I’m not sure I’d disagree with women who’ve been the victim of it who say life is harder for them than their male counterparts. In the workplace – in fact in every arena outside of child-rearing it has been. Is that because men have fought to hold onto their power base? You bet.
But it’s also been because women haven’t known how to claim theirs. We’ve been changing that for a while now. If I’m being discriminated against, it’s a waste of a life trying to persuade the discriminator to become aware of what they’re doing. Much better to get strong within myself so I can claim what is rightfully mine, regardless of my gender, instead of pleading for it. I draw into my world men who are secure in themselves and are happy to share.
In the end the discriminators get left behind, wondering what happened, while those who want to participate in the evolution of equality take their places at the banquet.
- The role of sociopolitical structure in causing gender based violence. (reachoutlk.wordpress.com)
- California Man Sues Playboy Over Gender Discrimination . . . Against Men (jonathanturley.org)
- Deborah Frett: What You Need To Know About Gen Y Women & The Workplace (huffingtonpost.com)
- Gender Differences in Emotional Health (everydayhealth.com)
- Gender discrimination must end (20114t.wordpress.com)