Gender Inequality

Chapter eight begins with a brief narrative that compares prostitution in Amsterdam with how it is done in Tunisia. The purpose is to point out the cultural dynamics associated with gender. Next, the book defines gender stratification, the way in which the inequality between men and women influences things like prestige, ownership and power. After explaining how sex (the biological characteristics of males and females) differs from gender (the behavioral expectations of each sex), the chapter describes gender as a means by which society places people into categories, much as social status does. Furthermore, gender affects the life experiences of the individual. Next, there is a discussion about whether gender differences are biological or cultural. In other words, does the stereotype about being nurturing or aggressive depend on whether the person is female or male, respectively? The author argues that, in fact, gender is based on cultural differences and bases this on fact that gender expectations differ from culture to culture. While the biological process of fertilization determines whether the individual will be a boy or a girl (which is true regardless of culture), behaviors would also be universal if they were based on biology. On the other hand, the chapter discusses a case in which one half of a pair of male twins had his penis accidentally burnt off during a routine circumcision and who was consequently raised as a girl. In spite of this, he still exhibited all of the behaviors that would be consistent with a male. This would seem to indicate that biology does play at least somewhat of a role. Another case study attempted to link aggressiveness to testosterone, but it was ultimately flawed because, in fact, the real cause of aggressiveness was related to social status, a construction of society. Nonetheless, yet another study found that testosterone can increase dominance while dominating (i.e., excelling at a sport) can increase testosterone. The book notes that this is true regardless of gender. The next section describes the stereotypical traits of males as those who are competitive with other males, never show emotion and do everything to avoid looking meek. On the other hand, females are expected to be emotional, compassionate and submissive to males. When discussing jobs in which the traditional gender roles are switched (i.e., a woman as a supervisor or a man as a nurse), the women nonetheless reinforced traditionally feminine behaviors at home while males took part in typically masculine activities around the house. This is regarded as reclaiming gender. However, the book also notes that today the traditional gender roles are beginning to evolve, with it becoming more acceptable for women to take lead roles while men can be nurturing. Section two of the chapter discusses global gender inequality. First, it notes that while females are actually the majority in terms of the world population, they are a minority in terms of social status since there is not a single culture in the world where women collectively have the power to make decisions over men as a group. Meanwhile, an information box discusses the problem of gender inequality in Iran, but expresses hope that things will change as the women there began to empower themselves. Back to the topic, the book offers several explanations for why there is inequality. One idea is that it is based on human reproduction in which women were required nurse the children and keep up with the group even while holding their babies. According to this argument, this is how men took on the dominant roles. A second theory has to do with the fact that men are physically stronger on average, which led to them being warriors while women became the reward for combat bravery. Ultimately, the chapter argues that the reason gender equality persists is because men do not want to give up the power they have culminated. The book also notes that a researcher has found that based on a study of 324 cultures, the occupations that are stereotypically viewed as male and female work are largely universal. It also adds that certain jobs that were looked down upon when they were traditionally held by women (i.e., midwives) gained prestige once they became a common job of men (i.e., obstetrician). Several pages feature a story about how women in India, while still being traditionally subservient to males, engage in heavy manual labor that Western societies would stereotypically assign to males. The section ends by touching on several more ways in which there is a gap in equality between males and females, namely that females are less likely to have access to education, are significantly underrepresented in the political sphere, make less money than men and are regularly victims, particularly when it comes to violence and sexual exploitation. Section three focuses on gender inequality in the United States. Before that, an information window discusses the brutal practices of female circumcision in countries in Africa and the efforts to combat it. The chapter then moves to a discussion on the beginnings of the feminist movement in the United States. Some wanted to call for major changes to the societal gender structure while others wanted to focus on the right to suffrage. The book describes how through the 1960s females were raised on the belief that they would be good housewives and womanly companions to their husbands and the traditional roles of cooking and cleaning were reinforced. But as women began to go out into the workforce, they began to demand more equality, spanning a second wave of feminism from the 1960s through the 1980s. The chapter notes that there is great disagreement among feminists about how to achieve equality. Some want to highlight their attractiveness as a quality that gets them ahead while others believe this is entirely against the principles of the womens movement. Another problem noted in the chapter is that gender inequality can result from the concept that being feminine is an inferior quality and worthy of being synonymous with put downs (i.e. somebody throwing a ball like a girl). The section discusses how women are discriminated against in the healthcare system based on the idea that since men are more likely to experience certain medication conditions (such as heart disease), then it is not necessary for women to worry about it. The result is that women are only treated when the probably grows worse. The next topic is related to inequality in education. The chapter mentions that women were not allowed to attend college with men until 1832, with the excusing being that women are simply too delicate and have menstruation issues that would make it difficult for them to learn. The book then discusses the progress that has been made today in American higher education. Indeed, women compromise 57 percent of all bachelor degree recipients and 60 percent of all master degrees. In addition, while only 34 women had dental degrees across the United States in 1970, today it is well over two thousand, comparable to men. However, in terms of the types of degrees obtained, the stereotypes still exist, as women are overwhelmingly likely to get a degree related to a feminine career field (95 percent) while men are rewarded degrees in traditionally masculine fields (94 percent of the time). A brief information window discusses the male support groups and affirmative action based on the fact that male college students make up the minority. Section four goes into a lengthy discussion into issues related to unequal pay and the reasons that account for this. This also extends to women who have broken the glass ceiling and found employment as CEOs. An information provides suggestions for how to request a higher salary through skillful negotiation. Finally, the chapter approaches its conclusion by discussing problems related to sexual harassment and even more serious issues that can result; violence in women in the form of forced rape and rape by an acquaintance; murder; domestic violence; and using violence as a way to against equality. The final topic is women in politics, nothing all of the progress that has been achieved and the milestones that have been reached.


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