Essay question: Fulfilling roles: men and women naturally perform different, but complementary roles in society. Critically discuss.
When talking about about gender and the roles of men and women in society there are multiple aspects that you should be looking at. The first thing I will be looking at is the science aspect. Science says that humans evolved from apes and that humans have 2 sexes, male and female. You are labelled with a sex when you are first born, according to (www.plannedparenthood.org, Gender and gender identity) when you are first born the doctor announces your sex based on the genitals you have the chromosomes you have. it is very simple, if you have a male reproductive system then you are male and if you have a female reproductive system then you are a female. Obviously the reproductive system and chromosomes are not the only things that differentiate a male from a female.
One of the main things you would notice about men is that on average they are larger than women. Now if you were to ask why this is, according to (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex ,1871) this is because of evolution. If you were to look at size dimorphism in apes you would see that it is because of natural selection. There was competition for females and the bigger males would win leaving the smaller males with no offspring. If you were to take this theory and apply it to humans it would also make sense, as according to evolution humans evolved from ape. Now seeing as men are naturally larger than women it would make sense that they would naturally be better at things like hunting and manual labour and that’s exactly what they did in the hunter-gatherer stage of the world which was 1.8 million years ago. The men would go to hunt and women would gather things like fruit.
All though there have been a lot of changes going on in the world since then one thing that didn’t change was the inequality between men and women in the world. As far as men were concerned women were only meant to be housewives. Woman’s role in the world was to cook, clean, birth children , and raise children. Women had many roles in society but they had no say in what was happening, they had no voice and no say in what laws were and were not passed. It was not until 1922 that women were granted the right to vote in Ireland according to (vote.ie, its your right to vote) .Today things are a lot different with men and women both fulfilling equally important roles in society and having an equal say but this is not what the essay title asks, what it does ask is if they naturally perform different but complementary roles in society and if you were to ask me for a quick answer I would say no, for many reasons and I am going to tell you about a few. When I typed this question into google one of the first things that popped up was the website (www.macarthurblvd.org, COMPLEMENTARY ROLES OF MEN AND WOMEN) and they had the word “complementarianism” in big bold writing and highlighted, I was not to sure what this word meant so I looked it up and (www.wikipedia.ord) defined it as “is a theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere.” This brings me to my second aspect, religion.
As it says in the quote, this is a view held by Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Now although not all, a lot of people in these religions would be very conservative and not very modern or with the times. Now according to the (Quran, 4:16) “If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both” This is basically the Islams way of saying Homosexuality is wrong. According to the ( www.biblia.com, cor 6 9-10) “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God”. This is Christianitys way of saying homosexuality is wrong. And finally according to (Jewish views on homosexuality, myjewishlearning.com) “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death—their bloodguilt is upon them.” This is judaisms way of saying that homosexuality is wrong. Not to get to off track but the point i’m trying to make is that these religious views are are completely out dated. Ireland is a Catholic state and as I stated above the catholic bible clearly says that homosexuality is wrong yet in 2015 Gay marriage was made legal. Five years ago gay people in Ireland weren’t to be married but now they are. And to link this with the title although in the past it was thought that only men can perform certain roles and only women other roles, as of late the perception of this in society has changed drastically.
One thing that has helped to change this view is feminism, (oxforddictionaries.com) defines feminism as “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Feminists want equality between the 2 sexes in the world. They believe that anything a man can do in society a women can do just as well and vice versa. For many years it was believed in society that men naturally do most things better than women and because of this women were not even given the same opportunities as men and therefore could not even prove that if they were given the opportunity they could perform these roles in society just as well as men. Feminists fought for women’s rights and opportunities and this fight started a very long time ago. About twenty four centuries ago Greek philosopher Plato argued for total equality with women both politically and sexually, saying that they should be members of his highest class, those who rule and fight. French writer Christine de Pizan (1364 – c. 1430), the author of The Book of the City of Ladies and Epître au Dieu d’Amour is said to be the first woman to denounce misogyny in (1364- 1430 by Simone de Beauvoir.)
The enlightenment was an important time for both feminism and gender equality. According to (Hall, S. (1992) Formations of Modernity Introduction) The enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century. Philosophers stressed the impotence of reason and rationality as ways of organising knowledge, tempered by experience and experiment. A lot of the Enlightenment philosophers defended the rights of women, for example Jeremy Bentham, Marquis de Condorcet, and, also Mary Wollstonecraft. Although there were many philosophers during the enlightenment that were defending women’s rights and saying women could do everything men could, women were still not granted equal opportunities and treatment. For example Catherine the great of Russia was one of the enlightenments biggest supporters at one stage yet the enlightenment was still promoted by a male intellectual enterprises. An example in the book (Hall, S. (1992) Formations of Modernity) which said “Voltaire spent much time performing scientific experiments with the aid of his mistress Madame du Chatelet, whilst much of what we know of the intellectual society of the times comes from Diderot’s voluminous correspondence with his mistress, Sophie Volland” These philosophers/scientists were doing experiments with the aid of women but were the women getting credit? absolutely not, and this is because people did not accept women as scientists and did not think that that was their role in the society. They were not perceived as intellectually the same as men.
Now if we were to fast forward to the last 100 or so years we can really see the advances that women have had in gaining equality and how society has really started to accept the fact that men and women do share the same roles in society. A great example of this would be when Marie Curie who was the first women to ever win a noble prize. This was a huge step forward in equality especially in the field of science which was previously thought to be a male-only role in society. In total forty-seven women have won a noble prize since Marie Curie. These prizes have been won in the fields of piece, literature, physiology, medicine, chemistry, physics and economic sciences.
Another example of a role that was previously thought to be for men only in society was fighting in the army. The reason for this is the same as the reason that men used to be hunters and women gatherers as I talked about previously in the essay. Men were thought to be bigger faster and stronger than women and therefore women prier to world war 1 were not involved in the American army, infact prior to world war one the only jobs in the army woman were allowed to have were canteen operator, a civilian clerk, laundress or nurse. Before world war one General John J. Pershing was finding it extremely difficult to fill positions involving clerical and telephone skills with men so he decided to request that women be sent out to fill these positions. The same request was made by other commanders and officers but higher-ranking officials deemed this to be unwise and highly undesirable as it was not a woman’s role in society to serve in the army in that way. The navy did the exact opposite of this and employed thirteen thousand women as clerks, stenographers, and telephone operators. In 1994 the department of defence in America banned women from combat which was a step backwards for equality in the world but this was made right on the twenty fourth of January 2013 when this ban was lifted. According to (see women’s progress in the US military, www.labs.time.com) women currently account for fifteen point three percent of the Unites States Of Americas military. I have used the example of the American army in my essay as I do think it shows that once again when society accept that women can fulfil a certain role that previously was thought to be for men only, they prove that they can fulfil the exact same role. Time and time again in our society women have proved that they can achieve just what men can when given the same opportunity. For this essay I was asked to critically assess the statement “men and women naturally perform different, but complementary roles in society” and after researching this topic and picking it apart I have come to the conclusion that sex should not have anything to do with ones role in society and that if given the same opportunities both men and women can fulfil any role in society they wish to.
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