Author's Note: Before I begin this essay I would like to notify the reader that I will at times be speaking in terms of stereotypical generalizations. While it is my firm belief that stereotypes are an evil in our society, they are at times statistically necessary for the assessment of a mass or group of people. Without stereotypes one can not asses the magnitude of a plight in society, or for that matter resolve it. In my writing, I have had no intention of offending any person and apologize for such feelings of unhappiness with the generalizations I have made that may not apply to you as an individual.
Throughout history topics concerning gender inferiority have stirred the souls of the masses, not excluding the most intellectual and apathetic of people. When issues of sexual inequality are the theme of a conversation people argue with emotional flair rather than reason and ignorantly proceed to raise a point protecting the interest of their own sex. Such tendencies still predominate the thinking of today's society and result in a sexual disparity ruled by foolish pride. One might throw pride into the gamut of masculine characteristics; however, when aroused pride can be a ruling factor in the minds of women as well. This gender pride creates negative emotions which rule the mind like fire and block any reason on the subject of gender equality. I hold these truths to be self-evident in our society, where sadly equality is a question of tolerance and communication among our culture, rather than a right endowed by our Creator. My personal experiences bolster the idea that gender disparity lives strong even today.
To begin, let me tell an anecdote about my general experiences with the opposite sex when gender issues arise. For the sake of privacy I wish not to reveal the name of any individual discussed hereafter. Throughout the course of my life I have discussed many controversial topics, including gender issues. A close friend of mine of the opposite sex is a rather intelligent and rational person; however, when gender issues are the topic of discussion, her usual rational thinking is overpowered with emotion. She is around the same age as me, sixteen, lacking experience but not intellectual ability. She begins to become impatient and unwilling to truly listen to the thoughts of others regarding the situation at hand. She hears only herself and passionately presents her opinion on the topic favoring her own interest, of course. This particular person is rather intimidating and demanding in her own respect, yet I have seen other woman mimic her actions. I am in fact a male, and it is wrong for me to praise my sex as more logical. Perhaps if I was suppressed for the past eternity, I too would slightly raise my voice and change my tone and let emotion rule me like fire. The possibility exists that I do all of these anyway and am ignorantly unaware of my own emotional flair and irrelevant ideas. For all I know men may be logically inferior to women. A verdict on this topic is difficult to reach due to the inability of any one person to know the exact thoughts of the other sex. Without such a mind of male and female it is impossible to assess the true superiority of either gender. As the feminist writer Anna Quindlen puts it so plainly, "Men are the other. We are the other too, of course." (Quindlen 610). Although an advocate of her own gender, Quindlen accepts the great abyss between our genders with unrelenting understandingwe are simply different.
I believe attempts to overcome our gender disparity are plagued with ineffective methods. I will say radical feminist and other women have made mistakes in attempts to achieve equality. Some women are so passionate about their gender that they seemingly undermine their cause. By putting so much flair and hate into their words and body language when addressing intolerable male beliefs of superiority, they support these ideas by simply suggesting that they do exist. By believing in an idea such as this, power is given to it to manifest and become an overpowering truth, therefore undermining a female's original intent. I am not a woman so I cannot speak for their thoughts on male superiority; however, my observations support the idea that more women believe men to be superior than men believe women to be superior. This gives power to a single gender which in turn produces a large chasm between the sexes. Men are inpart to blame for our overbearing pride in the belief that we are superior to the other sex. If everyone believed the sexes were equal, that is what we would be. So for women to achieve equality they must truly think the sexes are equal, without being passive or overly aggressive in their actions. Men will take advantage of passive women for the sake of superiority. They will feel threatened and retaliate as a result of overaggressive women and their idea of not only female equality, but superiority. So the inconsistent behavior of my good friend is justifiable in a sense, yet it is not in her best interest. An overall understanding and calm conversing between us would seem to serve our cause the most effectively. Ignorance of this concept and others mentioned leads to even greater differences between the sexes as a whole.
Differences among our two genders are not confined by intellectual ability, age, bodily figure, race, or other variables. Straying from the topic of my friend, I would like to note that feelings of passion concerning feminism are not limited to her, the intellectual, or the young. I will present another short anecdote to explain my reasoning behind this statement. A few nights ago I was sitting down to dinner with my aunt and uncle after reading a feminist book, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. My aunt is in her fifties and is not the most educated person. She is different from my previously mentioned friend. She noticed that I had been reading earlier and asked what it was that I was reading and what it was about. Regarding the topic I merely explained to her that it was a feminist book, and in an instant she ecstatically uttered the word: "Yes!" Upon examination one could conclude her happiness manifested from the thought that her nephew and perhaps the younger generation are learning about female equality. How passionately and quickly she expressed her thoughts of gaining equality or perhaps progressing beyond that. Her attitude mirrors that of my young intellectual female friend. It seems women are unified in their battle against male superiority in both mind and spirit, disregarding their differences.
Purely unique and renowned feminist Virginia Woolf was an astounding fighter in the battle against male superiority. It was her belief that, due to male opposition of female equality, the quality of literature suffers. Men nowadays write in opposition to women, whereas men of the past merely wrote indifferent. Good literature must be written by a androgynous mind, that is to say a mind with both male and female characteristics that ignores the tendency (created by pride) to protect one's sex. Historical men like Shakespeare are renowned for their skills in literature because they embody this characteristic. Shakespeare's literature is a lyrical work of genius because it lacks pure masculinity. Similarly, works by women cannot be purely feminine if they ever wish to achieve a high level of writing. Literature written in opposition of the other sexpurely masculine or purely feminine fails to suffice as a work of genius. Similarly, each person in society must be androgynous in nature for the truly genius idea of equality to be realized.
It is unfortunate how females sometimes undermine their efforts regarding the genius of equality. Sometimes only certain groups of women do this, but at one time or another, almost the entirety of the female gender will undermine their cause. Women tend to flaunt their beauty in order to manipulate men. We have all experienced it. In one such experience, I witnessed a classmate of mine proceed to unzip her jacket, and ask a male classmate of mine for some gum. After receiving the gum she returned the zipper to its original position. Some women claim this ability is the only true power they have, yet how degrading is that? Also, when using beauty to manipulate men, how will that show superiority or even equality? It is simply giving men what they desire, thus reinforcing the female gender's inferiority which they wish to eliminate. In order for women to receive the respect they deserve and desire they must dress "appropriately" in our society. Likewise, men should respect women's bodies despite temptation, so gender differences may wane. Although such "honorable" behavior does not comply with historical and evolutionary human nature we are an advancing society and overcoming such barriers to achieve equality is something we should strive for.
Overcoming our species' past requires a massive amount of effort because such a task is not favorable in accordance to reproductive human nature. For most of human history men have dominated the female gender for reproductive purposes. Women were submissive toward men because it was simply favorable for the reproduction of our species. Many women still tend to have more submissive attitudes than their male counterparts. Progression is the main goal of any species and reproduction is the major way of achieving that progression. In recent decades, the population has skyrocketed and favorable evolutionary trends have had no time to change our society. Reproduction is no longer going to progress our society because our population is too large to support itself; however, male-dominancy has not yet phased out because evolutionary trends can not keep up with our exponential increase in population. Now, for society to progress, we must overcome our species' past and fight hormonal tendencies with thoughts of logic and reasona difficult task indeed.
Similarly attributing to the great divide of gender is the human nature of classifying things and people in order to better understand one's environment. Quindlen describes her observation of this tendency in her son. She writes,
" Children try to nail down the world, and themselves, early on and in a very primitive and real way. I remember a stage with my elder son in which he would pin me down on each person walking by demanding that I tell him which genitalia category they fell in. Very soon, he got the idea: us and them, him and her. It was all very well to say that all people are the same inside (even if I had believed it) but he thought the outside was very important , too, and it helped him classify the world." (Quindlen 611)
This very real human tendency is another blow to our attempts of diminishing the divide between our sexes.
Hopefully, one day gender disparity will diminish to an acceptable level. For now we will have to deal with the problems facing our opposing genders. Perhaps the overly passionate attitude of my dear friend will one day change to one of sympathy and known equality. Also, maybe people like my aunt might take action to advance their gender with a humble attitude, rather than being too passive. The selfish pride we all have to protect our own gender, along with hormonal traits from past generations, prevents us from blending into a more uniform and equal society. Through reason and effort we may be able to shrink the gap between the two genders, yet such an effort may take some time before making a major impact on the way we all think of each other and the way we treat each other.
Quindlen, Anna. "Between the Sexes, A Great Divide." One Hundred Great Essays. Ed. Robert Diyanni. New York: Pederson Education, 2005