What is your opinion on gender stereotypes and misogyny in modern culture?Watch
I realised while writing it that I am a little passionate about the topic, as I belong to an all-girls' school and I find that the issues are drawn out clearly for me but the society we live in today prefers to deny or ignore such problems. I have sometimes wondered if I would have had a more successful future career or a happier life had I been born as a male.
The overly-opinionated essay (take everything I say with a free box of salt):
The media promotes misogyny and patriarchal ideologies, which influence our subconscious opinions. It is a man's world because it has always been. No matter how hard women like me try to change both the concious and subconscious perceptions of us, there will always be the general consensus that men are more likely to be successful in forms of intellectualism such as music, literature and sciences. Women have only received education and been encouraged to work after childbirth for a century or so, following the establishment of women's only colleges and universities from the latter half of the 19th century.
Even in Cambridge university, women were not seen as 'proper' scholars until much later on, often being referred to as 'gentlemen' during lectures, and sitting apart from men. Throughout history, iconic leaders and influential figures have been mostly male, due to cultural belief systems underpinning women's values and assigning them the duty of obedience and silence from an early age. Dickens, Mandela, Luther King, Neitzsche, Newton, Hitler, Einstein, Hilbert, Beethoven, Aristotle, Mussonlini, Wilde, Stalin, Darwin, Da Vinci, Chekhov, Mozart, Rabhi, Golding, Marcus Aurelius; these are the tip of the iceberg of the intellectuals whose work we praise or remember for being controversial. They compare to the scattering - the sparse handful of women who have ever been brave enough to challenge the social views of the time. These people are often famous FOR being the first woman to do what they do. Thatcher, Curie, Nightingale. Therefore, it is easy for one to generalise that men are simply more intelligent and wiser, when the reality is that women, historically, have been denied of chances to attend university, be educated, choose a profession, make decisions for themselves, take a role in leadership, and satisfy their own curiosity by conducting scientific research.
Away from the elite culture of the renaissance era, one can analyse several historical contexts. These include ancient Greek culture, a highly patriarchal society in which women were seen as 'disfigured' versions of men, oppressed, and often had to deal with husbands committing to homosexual relationships as men were seen as better mates than women. In Ancient Chinese culture, women were 'subservient to their fathers when they were young, husbands as adults and sons in old age'. They were not allowed to own property, divorce or be educated. A woman's value was solely determined by her looks, which included small feet. Female children were forced by their parents to bind their feet in order to be more attractive and thus they would earn the parents more value in money when they were eventually married (dowry). This caused pain and severe walking disability, especially in old age. Throughout history and cultures even today, polygamy and promiscuity were allowed or even encouraged for men, but women were expected to remain virgins until marriage. These double standards are clear in many cultures. Some terms asked for include 'modesty', 'chastity', and 'obedience'. These are included not only in popular culture, but also religious texts. The Bible and the Qur'an both include sections which promote sexist ideologies. The same chapter in the Bible talks, too, about the veto of homosexuality. As an agnostic, I am neither condemning nor eluding to the value of these texts, but stating a fact that as a historical text, the Bible provides valuable evidence towards the attitudes of an era. It is clear that misogyny and homophobia have been part of our culture for thousands of years. These texts in the Bible were all written by men. One can argue that it is not a mere farce or cultural tick that we refer to God in orthodox Christianity as 'He'. The highest being a believed founder of the universe, one which is said to be 'omnipresent', is the 'Father' of humanity. 'He' is powerful. These pronouns, which seem innocent, allude to the idea of the higher status and power of men in much of humanity's past; when people imagined a powerful being, a leader figure and provider of humanity, which does not strictly need a gender, they refer to 'Him'.
The education of women in the recent century has created a change which has been brooding for several millennia. It is no mere coincidence that a few decades after the first female institutions for education were set up, the suffragettes and suffrages came forth and changed the balance of power in western culture. The world wars further solidified women's position in society as workers. Women were given the full right to vote in the 1930s. The second world war left Britain without a functioning workforce, and out of desperation the government called upon the women to take up jobs usually left to men. When the men returned, this great social shift had a long-lasting impact. Several years after the war, Thatcher became Prime Minister under the Labour government.
While women are legally equal to men in every sense, the modern popular culture and media seeks to ruin the equilibrium which we have been striving to achieve. Once more, a subliminal form of misogyny is creeping into the media. Magazines with stunning models. Singers and actors popular for looks or certain body types which are popular in the media at any given time. The greatest culprit, pornography. Porn's sole purpose is to objectify women for a men to see, and it is not only an allowed, but celebrated, part of our modern underground culture. Double standards are still in use. Men boast about sex, women hide their history. A promiscuous man is a successful man; a promiscuous woman is a slut. America does not give paid maternity leave. On average, a woman is paid 30% less in the same job as a man in the USA. Men are expected to ask a woman on a date, pay for expenses, and propose. The STEM industry is mostly male, while women gravitate towards humanities, arts and medicine. This is not because women are any dumber. On average, female GCSE results in the UK are consistently higher than male, by a sizeable amount. Women are encourage or subconsciously influenced to take up a career in a humanities subject, as they believe they 'are not good enough'. The business and economics sector is male-dominated. Women are prevented from taking up leadership roles. Men who wear make-up are either eccentric. goth or gay. Men don't cry, or admit their true emotions or weaknesses.
These are all obvious problems which we all passively and happily avoid. Our culture is a mess, full of holes. It is not certain whether the issues stem from the oppression of women or the subconscious influence of our culture on women themselves, but one thing is clear. Being more aware of these issues and combating them is the key to social change, which will have to be permanent, and strong enough to erase the shadows of the 10,000 year human past of patriarchy.
Don't write essays on this again.