Monday, December 2, 2013

Understanding women by Carolyn Khor

Women are often described as gentile, docile, mild, sensitive and emotional. On the other hand, the unflattering sides of women are generally characterised by terms like unforgiving, petty, overreactive, narrow-minded and judgmental.

These definitions of women we should then ask - are they what the women really think of themselves or are women being conveniently shoved into neat little categories by those who lack understanding of who the real women are?

The way our society has been trained to think from young is skewed towards gender segregation and discriminatory practices. There are no rules to say that baby boys should be dressed in blue and baby girls in pink, but sadly, commercial advertising and consumers alike move along the trend of mass stereotyping.

The superiority of man as a gender did not come by accident. It has been reflected in cultures through time, reinforced through language and then practiced through the laws that govern us as a society.

Two main bodies that regulate our daily lives are the civil and religious law. People subscribe to these notions and hold them in high regards as the commonly accepted principles in life. With that, an acceptance of the punishments that follow if these rules were deviated from arose.

Although there are obvious physical differences between men and women, the role that each gender take upon may not be that distinct anymore especially with our modern lifestyle. Whereas the man used to be the sole breadwinner in the family, the worsening economic situation has forced many women to seek work to supplement the family income. As more and more women get access to education and work opportunities, the gender gap has become narrower.

Even so, people should not forget that women too, since ages ago used to toil the land, braved many difficulties and shared the responsibilities of shaping the world into what we have today. All these are left unspoken for while increasing barriers are placed upon the women to restrict them from realising their true potential.

It is not to say that women should revolt and start abandoning caution to the wind in the battle against men; but rather, to rely on their inner strength, develop and inculcate a sense of worthiness to combat the disunity that have taken roots among the women.

As such, if the policy-makers comprised of an equal number of men and women, it would then make a difference as to how women are perceived in general. The capabilities of a woman are equal to the flow of the universe; the rhythm of growth; the womb of the earth and the unleashed power of the mind. All these latent gifts are within reach, if only women spared a moment to silently draw on all their experiences to plant the seeds of mutual respect towards themselves and other women starting with their own children.

In summary, it is as the eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights Mary Wollstonecraft once said: “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves”.

** Article published in MSN Malaysia
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