TED Conversations

dany masado


This conversation is closed.

can we reform the discussion surrounding gender inequality?

As of late, the gender discussion seems to dominate the mainstream discussion on social justice. The alarming trend that I have noticed is that it has become a real battle of the sexes where one side accuses the other of causing its demise, which means any progress for one gender is seen as a loss for the other. I am proposing that we start to reframe the gender debate in a way where we can honestly address issues faced by men without saying "men just don't have as bad", in a way where we can address female issues without saying "women complain too much, get over it.
We must remember that progress in gender justice is (or should be) a benefit for all not a sum zero battle. Often, we get caught up if tallying up a score on who has it worse, rather than finding ways to address issues for both sides, simultaneously.
What will you tell your sons or your daughters when they come to you for advice?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 29 2012: This is what I would tell my kids (in my current case my little brother):

    We are all people, but we are also all different. We see things differently, we feel stresses differently, and we draw different conclusions in different situations. All of this and more are exactly the reasons why we have our own individual value and make our own contributions to our world. Our only definitive equality is that we are all different and the difference are much more fundamental than gender.

    The human brain "names" people with differences: how their face looks, what the color of their skin is, what their gender is, and so on... Our brains then use this natural naming tendency as a foundation of definition. The problem is this habit sometimes causes us to draw conclusions which are not well founded at all levels.

    In example: a man might recognize that someone is a woman and therefore draw the conclusion that they are different from each other. This is true. But it doesn't stop there; then they conclude they can do different things and in turn they can't do the same things. Not true at all levels.

    Humans have a tendency towards pride, and that pride often turns into a feeling of being better than someone else (hubris). In a society that has primarily been dominated by men, this tendency has turned toward men being better than women. This tendency is an extreme and is not true on this general basis. The only thing that you can say on this general level is that they are different.
    • thumb
      Jun 29 2012: One of the important reason for this illusion that men are better than women is that women have been restricted in home to give birth and take care of children and often didn't take other more serious social positions. But today, families have for the most part only one or tow children. On the other hand, there are many modern facilities and legislation which allow families to take care of their children in new ways. Nevertheless, still there is a great tendency between women to stay home or take low-level jobs such as clerkship. For instance you can take a look at staff of a university; most professors are men and most secretaries are women. Why women still follow patriarchal rules however the situation has been completely changed?
      • thumb
        Jun 29 2012: maybe a bigger problem here is to ask ourselves why we think that staying at home giving birth and taking care of children is not a "serious social position". This forces us to really re-evaluate why stay-at-home moms have almost become tantamount to wasted potential, as if they are to be pitied regardless of whether or not it was a choice for them to stay home and care for the kids.
        More importantly, Is it possible that some men felt that they were restricted to working ungodly hours to be the breadwinner when they wish they could spend more time with their children? In our quest for gender equality, do you think that stay at home dads get the same rep that mothers do? What is your first reaction when you hear a man say he stays at home to care for the kids while his wife works? This is yet another example of the gender restriction on men which inevitably affect the man to woman interaction.
        • thumb
          Jun 29 2012: This idea is very excellent that man and woman in a family share a fixed amount of working hours per week equally and each of them spends equal hours at home and take care of children and do household chores. It can ameliorate the negative effect of long working hours especially in routine jobs and provide more free time to foster creativity or non-profit activities at home. However this plan cannot expand to all class of families. For example when you are a executive manager you cannot attend your company only 3 days per week or a mechanical design engineer who must accomplish a major project during one year cannot go to work part-time and prolong the project, because it will lead to financial loss and miss the market. Nevertheless, these families have enough income to hire servant.

          But let me to emphasize that in my view cooking for your own sake, taking care of you own child and doing your domestic chores of your own home IS NOT A JAB! A job is a career which involves promotion, social interaction, appropriate income, organization and so forth.
        • Jun 29 2012: maybe a bigger problem here is to ask ourselves why we think that staying at home giving birth and taking care of children is not a "serious social position".

          This is no mystery. Anyone can stay home and raise children. No qualifications needed, no need for an interview, and the position often gets no pay. It is one of the least exclusive roles in society. IMO, there are two related problems that together become the root cause of this lack of status. One, the tradition that a man's home is his castle, and whatever happens in that home is the business of the family and no one else, especially not the government. So there are no standards or guidelines for raising children. Not long ago, beating your children was perfectly acceptable if you did not break bones.

          The second problem is the flip side of the first one. We have no scientifically confirmed method for raising children. I have not kept up with the research in this area, but when I first became a father, in 1977, I looked up everything that was available. There were about a half dozen methods of child raising that could credibly claim to be scientifically based. So I looked into the independent studies of these methods, and found that only one of them had better results than children raised with none of these methods, and the improvement was insignificant. I remember that one of the methods produced a significantly higher percentage of teenagers abusing drugs.

          So basically, society believes that raising kids is a 'by guess and by golly' business, as evidenced by the fact that parents who appear to be doing everything right still produce children who become criminals, drug abusers, or just lazy losers.

          A successful scientific method for raising children will transform our society, and trained parents will get the status of respected professional.
        • thumb
          Jul 3 2012: And if I had kids I would not let you anywhere near them friend! No offense intended... but state sanctioned methods come and go. Most of them have been misery making unscientific ideological drivel backed up by men in white coats and a certain level of coersion.

          My job as a parent is not to raise cogs for your corporate machine - the network of "respected professionals" - as I am one I suggest that is a rather limited spec for a well raised human.
        • Jul 4 2012: Liz, please take another look. I never mentioned state sanctioned methods and would oppose them. I have no corporate machine. I never suggested that "respected professional" was the spec. There is a lot of good research being done into child development and parenting, and some of it has produced very surprising results. If this research eventually produces a SUCCESSFUL (no teens abusing drugs or alcohol, no juvenile delinquents, etc.) method of parenting, I am sure you would at least look into it before rejecting it.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.