By Hassane Oudadene
By Hassane Oudadene
Ouarzazate, Morocco, February 2, 2012
Gender has long been a controversial issue. Throughout history, these binary beings have warred. The very word woman has been a source of conflict, because the morpheme male is included within the word female and man is included within the term woman.
The word history itself started this war, for, as women claim, the story has never belonged only exclusively to him but to her as well. Hence, a considerable part, if not all, of history has been denied to women by attributing life and world stories only to man. The simple coinage of such terms as his-(s)tory, wo(man)’, and fe(male) was probably a denigrating graphical mistake that must be reconsidered in dictionaries and official meetings and conferences.
Indeed, people create history, but society and culture also create people. That is, by attributing assorted traits to males and females, the socialization process has come up with the attributes man and woman. As Simone de Beauvoir said, « One is not born, but rather, becomes a woman.» De Beauvoir’s axiom hints at the existence of a social process whereby man and woman are created irrespective of their actual and factual biological status.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Since the emergence of this worldwide holiday there has been plenty of uproar regarding its pertinence. For women to have a particular day in their honor is outstanding, and some response has been positive. However, women should not feel that respect and satisfaction are confined to those 24 hours. Should the differences between the two sexes be overlooked? Should roles be carefully delineated? These questions can be bewildering. Should a wife calling for equality support her husband going to war, and should going to war be considered an act of gallantry towards wife and family? Or should a woman go to war, and prove gender equality?
Social practices can be double-edged. « Ladies first» is an indication of social attitudes developed out of the idea of gallantry. Looking further, many men who act «gallantly» towards women are equally willing to serve the disabled and children. The «first come first served » mentality should not make exceptions for women. The genuine ideals of respect and gallantry come from a sympathetic heart and wise mind. He who is ready to altruistically respect would do so with all, including men, children, women, the youth, and the disabled A willingness to serve others is a maxim of good behavior. But many men do not, in fact, respect women, and « serve » them for reasons other than the desire to help.
It is true that both culture and society are responsible for the differences between the two sexes, or rather, genders. Boys will get a gun as a present, whereas dolls go to girls; boys work outside, while girls take care of the home. Public space becomes associated with men and private space with women. Women are not publicly emancipated, and she is not safe outdoors alone.When women, in some societies, invade the public space, it can be risky and she might be subjected to harassment.
The concept of privatized space brought about the notion of the harem in different Eastern societies. The harem is perceived as a privately allotted corner for women at home;a space where no foreign male is allowed. Western literature fantasizes upon such Oriental notions and institutions.
Indeed, no matter how feminism has strived to establish equality between the sexes, and however modernized societies and cultures become, their seems to be a strong attachment to patriarchy. Powerful leadership positions are thought to be open to both men and women, but in reality these positions are still dominated by men. A great case in point is the new Moroccan government, which only chose a single woman to serve as one of 31 ministers. The reasons given range from competence to merit and party strategies. Regardless of the reasons given, patriarchal predilections are evident.
The United States does not set a much of a better example. The continued dominance of patriarchy was evident when America had the choice in the 2008 elections between a black male candidate or a white female one. And the final decision favored gender over race. One could argue that black or white, old or young, poor or rich, don’t matter as much as gender. This choice sends the message that the most powerful country in the world can not be led by a woman. Clinton had more experience and competence, nonetheless, eloquence and propaganda aside, Obama won thanks to his gender. History once again favors the man.
Is it that « it’s a man’s world?’ or is it that « women will have the last word»?
Edited by Jasmine Davey
Hassane Oudadene is Morocco World News’ Contributor
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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