Causes of Intersex Distrust
The human social instinct often tends to make individuals feel closer and want to associate with others who are members of their category or grouping and mistrust or even discriminate against those in another grouping, whether such membership is actual or only perceived. Gender is one of the main grounds of social grouping and categorization. Mistrust between members of different sexes is deeply entrenched in many societies. The mistrust has resulted in discrimination and prejudice against people of a certain gender in these societies.
The mistrust often stems from traditionally distinct gender roles and stereotypes. Those who opt to step out of this predestination are often looked down upon by conservative members of the opposite sex. The world boasts of greater homogeneity than ever and improved inter- racial, inter-ethnicity and inter-nationality harmonization. However, this has not deterred members of different genders to perceive each other with mistrust and suspicion. This paper seeks to put this mistrust into perspective by identifying cases of this mistrust since it is manifested in different forms, inquire into the causes, effects and suggest remedies to the same.
There are distinct differences between members of different sexes which lead to the distrust between members of different sexes. The anatomical differences are a root cause of the distrust. Differences in physical, behavioral and mental characteristics associated with masculinity and femininity often cause distrust. The fact that men are moat cases physically strong and women fairer has inevitably led to defining of gender roles. Performing different roles has led to differences in opinion priorities leading to distrust.
Tradition has far reaching effects of the distrust between men and women in many societies. In traditionally patriarchal societies, boys are taught from an early age that one cannot trust women to certain degree. In many African societies for instance, women cannot be trusted to keep secrets. They cannot be trusted to leadership roles and they may not be trusted to enter into contracts as they are not trusted to honor their promises. In some Islamic cultures in the Middle East, women cannot be trusted to look after themselves. In partial matriarchies such as the Manipur peoples of India where mothers and by extension most females perform central political leadership roles, control of property and yield moral authority, girls are taught from an early age that men are hot tempered and reckless and therefore cannot be trusted with these roles that call for sobriety and level headedness. Since most societies are by the nature and tradition patriarchal, males do not trust females to perform vital leadership roles or take positions of authority. Women in these societies cannot on their part trust men as they see them as perpetual oppressors who are unwilling to give them a chance to develop their full potential. Due to affirmative action taken by many feminist organizations and other authorities, many females are now in positions of power and leadership. This has not changed many men’s traditional perception on such women in such positions. Some even consider having women as a threat to the stability of the society. Tradition has had a big hand in the distrust between members of different sexes.
Discrimination and prejudice on the basis of one’s sex is rampant in many societies. Sexism usually arises from traditional gender roles stereotypes. Sexism usually includes the belief of intrinsic superiority of one’s sex. Discrimination on basis of one’s sex often occurs in the process of hiring staff in many firms. Some firms pay unequal remuneration to members of different sexes for equal work done. Sexism may be so extreme as to lead to sexual violence including sexual harassment and rape. A person who has faced discrimination on basis of their sex is bound to distrust members of the opposite sex.
Many scholars have been accused of making scholarly publications that lean toward one gender or demean the other and hence introducing distrust even in the fields of academia. Many feministic writers often attribute the woes of women to men while masculinistic scholars point the problems that men face to women. Some have attempted to justify gender roles and have conduced biased research with illogical findings and inferences that conclude that traditional gender roles are entrenched in human beings biological systems and thus cannot be changed or altered without causing grave harm to the societal order.
Some scholars hold the view that the way the media portrays demographic groups is essential in the maintenance or disruption of behaviors and attitudes toward those groups. The images created by the media often reinforce sex- based stereotypes and fuel distrust between members of different sexes. An analysis of photos of Haitian women taken by the Associated Press between the year 1994 and 2009 has revealed obvious bias and portrayal of the women as victims who are in urgent need of rescue thus enhancing the image of men as the oppressors.
Manifestation of Distrust Between Members of Different Sexes
Many language users often show distrust for the members of the opposite sex in their speech. Many use language that is insensitive or demeaning to members of the opposite sex and which in a way shows they distrust them. Many people still use job titles that are gender-specific. This shows they question the ability of members of the sex other than the one connoted by the job title to perform the task. Some words such as the English verb to man meaning to run as a company or factory also seem to distrust women to perform some jobs. In some languages of the Bantu peoples of East, Central and Southern Africa the verb for marrying a man and bringing up is the same. This connotes that a man cannot take care of himself and also furthers the concept of predetermined gender roles and hence fuelling distrust. Use of sexist jokes often leads to sexual objectification (the reducing the human subject of the joke to an inanimate object). They also extend prejudice and condone violence against women or men. Such jokes trivialize discrimination beneath the façade of benign amusement and make sexism appear socially acceptable or at least tolerable (Lindlof, Thomas, Taylor, and Bryan). Such language is a big index of the speaker’s distrust in the members of the opposite sex.
Discrimination in Politics
Some political jurisdictions are yet to give women full suffrage rights. This shows that the legislators in these countries do not trust women to make informed decisions. In many countries, women are seldom elected to leadership positions as they are not trusted to have the capacity to deliver, their expertise not withstanding. In some countries like Kenya and Rwanda for instance, affirmative action has led to creation of special seats for women in the legislature since very few women can make it to parliament through a competitive process. The failure to give women a chance to lead also supports traditional gender roles demarcation.
Many jurists give men harsher sentences than women for similar crimes committed. This propagates the view that men in crime are bound to cause more serious harm to the society than women and hence further the wrong perceptions on them.
Misandry is a great contempt for, dislike of, or prejudice against members of the male sex as individuals or as a group within the society. Misandry originates from considering men as a social grouping rather than individuals. Some misandrists have either faced abuse from a man or have had their loved ones abused by a man and have thus developed deep hatred for all men. However, some radical feminists have furthered this by labeling all men as evil. This matter was explicitly put into perspective by Wendy McElroy, a feminist who advocates for individualism as opposed to bundling all men together and considering them a class of irreformable oppressors.
Misogyny is a great contempt for, dislike of, or prejudice against members of the female sex as manifested through sexual discrimination, violence against females, sexual objectification of females and denigration of women. Misogyny is caused by various factors including fanatism in religion. Some Christian and Jewish blame women for the fall of man from paradise and claim that women have been responsible for the fall of all great men in the Bible including Kings David, Solomon and Samson. They therefore claim that women are the source of temptation.
Some Muslim misogynists derive their authority over women from the Quran. Their quote the 34th Verse of the fourth sura of the Qur'an reads "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great." Some misogynists quote the authority of many respected misogynist philosophers including Otto Weininger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Emmanuel Kant who used their literary fields to write openly derogatory and demeaning notions about women.
Sex-selective abortion is the termination of a pregnancy on the basis of the gender of the baby as predicted through prenatal sex discernment procedures. This type of abortion has become especially rampant in India, Pakistan, and the South East Asian countries of People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Korea that have family planning legislations. In these countries, many parents often choose to abort female fetuses as they cannot trust daughters to take of them in their old age.
The Glass Ceiling
This refers to the de facto measures put in place by the society that bar the academic, social, political and economic advancement of an individual of a given gender past a specific level considered the point of maxima for members of that gender by members of the society. Even in developed Western countries such as France and the Former West Germany, the right of a married woman to work without first seeking the consent of her husband was granted as late as in 1965 and 1977 respectively. The right is yet to be granted to women in some parts of the world. This essentially means that the woman cannot progress up the career without the consent of the husband. This has essentially led to having few women on top of the corporate ladder hence the misguided belief that they cannot perform well as corporate leaders and that by extension they cannot be trusted to make sound financial decisions.
Suggested Remedies for Distrust
The distrust between men and women needs time to heal. There are several ways that the gulf in perception can be mended. First, those fighting for women and men’s rights need to reduce the radical views and enhance inter-gender relations rather than demonizing members of the other gender. Radical feminism needs to be checked as it has inevitably led to misandry. It is imperative that the governing authorities, in their quest of empowering women do not end up discriminating against men or elevating the interests of women above those of men. Religious leaders and scholarly authorities also need to advance the ideas of gender tolerance and dispel misguided fanatical views on the religious standing of the relationship between men and women. Legislative measures also need to be put in place to ensure that the wage gap between members of different sexes is breached and staff recruitment processes are fair and not biased on the basis of one’s gender. Both Men and Women Rights activists need to conduct extensive civic education on need for trust between members of different genders. Hopefully the implementation of these measures will increase the levels of trust between men and women and will redeem the images of men as oppressors in the eyes of women and that of women as incompetent in the eyes of men.
Inter-sex mistrust is a problem that all people who care about the advancement of the society need to tackle. A world in which men and women live in harmony based on respect and mutual trust but not on oppression is achievable. It is therefore up to all stakeholders to work toward the same. It is important to consider the needs of members of each sex, including the transsexual people and first consider them as people and later as members of their respective genders. The ideas of perfect harmony is well portrayed in the paintings of Wilfredo Lam who shows that the society usually focuses too much on the weakness of the individual brought about by irreversible traits such as one’s gender and therefore has no time to appreciate the harmony of the humanity as a whole. It is the high time we reverse this.
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