Differences Between Men and Women Aren’t Binary
Men and women can not be contained within a binary system. One isn’t a zero and the other a one.
Gender identity and gender expression/role behavior have further complicated how we describe ourselves. Our physical differences no longer can be applied as the go-to explanation of these differences.
Unfortunately, gender inequality and harassment persists today as is evident in the many news stories reporting sexual harassment in the work place. My own experiences working as a woman physician in a hospital setting, required me to, on occasion, wear a “brass balls” necklace so I could remind my male colleagues that I also had “balls” and they needed to respect me as they respected their male colleagues! Unfortunately, it worked, because equity is still just a concept not a reality.
We continue to lack the tools necessary to work and live together in a society based on gender equality. In the US, women are paid 33% less for the same jobs men occupy, are poorly represented in Boardrooms and even less so at the C-Suite level. If we look further in the under-developed countries, the inequities women face can be life-threatening: in the form of FGM (female genital mutilation), child-brides and false accusations of adultery to explain their rape, all which can result in death.
So how do we change our society for the better?
Plasticity may be the means towards finding our way from inequality to equality. Plasticity is the ability to change and evolve based on the environment. Plasticity allows for growth; and growth allows for change; and change is what we are seeking in how we think and act about and toward the sexes. We know that the brain of an infant has plasticity, so that if one area is damaged, other areas can learn or reprogram themselves and enable those functions to be restored through the healthy brain.
I am challenging us to allow plasticity of our left brain to change our concrete thoughts and the right brain to change our emotions towards the differences between men and women, into gender equality. This is as important as the plasticity to change our bodies if we so choose.
Plasticity would allow us to be able to interchange the roles that were, in the past, so stereotypical for each sex. By allowing these roles to be shared with each other, we begin to peel away the layers of warped perceptions and see each other for the strengths we bring to the table. Our right brain could be reprogrammed to understand each others strengths, not differences and the left brain would follow with acknowledgement, respect and appreciation for those strengths within the roles we are looking at.
How do we reprogram a brain that is trained to see differences and carry prejudices rather see the strengths of and respect these differences? I believe that education, starting at an early age, teaching children to celebrate and respect our differences, is critical for this plasticity to be successful.
Imagine what our world would look like if the “expected” roles would no longer be the norm. Parental roles would be defined by what is best, not what is expected. Compensation would not be tied to the person’s sex, but instead the value each person brings to the table. Sexual innuendos at work would be considered primitive and of negative value to a work environment.
The changes illustrated above would be the first of many that could change our society for the better. It is certainly worth a try. We can and need to do better for our children, for our world.
Feminism. Empowerment. Equality. What do these words have in common?
They all embody the qualities of respect for each other’s beliefs, ideas and value as a person. Without respect, all bets are off on how you are perceived and how you perceive others. Without respect, the likelihood of being listened to, appreciated and allowed to voice your opinions without ridicule or simply being ignored, rises exponentially.
These words represent the difference between living your life to the fullest and pursuing your dreams versus living your life as per someone else’s rules and expectations.
As far as we all know, we have just one life to live and we should strive to live it to the fullest. We can not do this if our individuality is in peril and our rights to being respected for who we are as individuals, is ignored.
So how do you encourage feminism, empowerment and equality?
I have identified eleven attributes or qualities necessary to empower yourself both at work and at home. Check out the best self help books on women empowerment available on Amazon!