Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gender Symmetry Checklist

Okay I'm going to take a try at building a Gender Symmetry Checklist. The point of this checklist is to get all the cards out on the table when it comes to the various ways in which men or women are harmed/helped in terms of gender that are not quite fair to the other, or to men or women themselves. This is going to be a work in progress and I won't pretend to know all. So feel free to chime in with anything that you think should be added or something you wish to debate the inclusion of.

I will mostly be working with Amp's Male Privilege Checklist and ballgame's Female Privilege Checklist (I just linked them both over recently). I'm not claiming they are universal truth or anything but they are the two most solid ones I've seen in my experience. Don't be scared to mention others.

What I plan to do is categorize the items by what they relate to (sex, work, etc...) because I think that might be the best way to who both sides of the coin. And yes some of these things are going to contradict each other.

Work
    When it comes to working:
      Men are expected to be the external providers*.

      Women are expected to be the internal providers*.

      Men are expected to sacrifice time with the family for the sake of career.

      Women are expected to sacrifice career for the sake of time with the family.

      Men are expected to be external providers in order to verify their manhood.

      Women are expected to be internal providers in order to verify their womanhood.

      When men try break their expected gender role by spending time with the family ulterior motives are suspected (ie, "he's only around children so he can molest them", "what kind of man stays at home with the kids while the wife works outside the home?")

      When women try break their expected gender role by seeking a career ulterior motives are suspected (ie, "she must not have a man in her life", "what kind of woman works outside the home?")

      Women are segregated into lower-paying jobs vs Men are segregated into more dangerous jobs. (by Ampersand)

Sex
    When it comes to sex:
      Females** are expected to be void of sexual knowledge at all costs, lest their femininity be questioned.

      Males** are expected to overflowing with sexual knowledge no matter what, lest their masculinity be questioned.

      Females are expected to lack sexual desire until a male ignites their desire for them.

      Males are expected to be overcome with a never ending desire for sex.

      Women are discouraged from initiating contact vs Men are expected to initiate contact. (by Ampersand)

    When it comes to rape:
      Females are unfairly believed to indicate their sexual desire with how they act and how they dress. (Hence the mentions of "how she was acting with that guy" and "how she was dressed" when trying to discredit a woman's rape claim.)

      Males are unfairly believed to indicate with sexual desire by being male. (Hence the idea that males are always consenting to sex therefore there is no way to rape a male.)

      Due to a believed lack of sexual desire in females and a believed never ending sexual desire in males it is often believed that it is impossible for a female to rape a male. (Hence why a lot of studies on rape often ignore female against male rape statistics, and why people try to play off alleged female against male rapists as the victim.)

Emotion
    When it come to emotion:
      Men are expected to not show emotion; men showing emotion are considered weak and vulnerable. (by Desipis)

      Women are expected to show emotion; women not showing emotion are considered cold and uncaring. (by Desipis)

      Men are considered to be emotionally independent; men requiring emotional support (especially from someone other than a sexual partner) are considered weak and vulnerable. (by Desipis)

      Women are considered to be emotionally supportive of others; women not emotionally supportive are considered cold and uncaring. (by Desipis)

Childcare
    When it comes to child care:
      Women are expected to be experts on children and childrearing vs Men are assumed to be dullards on children and childrearing. (by Ampersand)

Appearance
    When it comes to appearance:
      A woman who doesn't "feminize" her appearance by shaving legs, wearing makeup, styling hiar, etc., may be shamed. vs A man does "feminize" his appearance in the same ways may be shamed. (by Ampersand)


I think that's a good simple starting point. Like I said this list is not meant to be definitive by any means. Please by all means bring up other things I've not touched on here. The point isn't to try to tally up who officially has it worse but to get all the harms out on the table so that we can see what we are trying to deal with.





** - Shorthand for girls/women and boys/men.
* - External provider being one who works outside the home and Internal provider being one who works inside the home.

10 comments:

desipis said...

Emotion

Men are expected to not show emotion; men showing emotion are considered weak and vulnerable.

Women are expected to show emotion; women not showing emotion are considered cold and uncaring.

Men are considered to be emotionally independent; men requiring emotional support (especially from someone other than a sexual partner) are considered weak and vulnerable.

Women are considered to be emotionally supportive of others; women not emotionally supportive are considered cold and uncaring.

Ampersand said...

How about "Women are segregated into lower-paying jobs vs Men are segregated into more dangerous jobs."

(I worry about this one because people might misread it to mean that dangerous jobs for men are justified by higher pay, when in fact most of the really risky jobs have lousy pay.)

Sex: Women are discouraged from initiating contact vs Men are expected to initiate contact.

Children: Women are expected to be experts on children and childrearing vs Men are assumed to be dullards on children and childrearing.

A woman who doesn't "feminize" her appearance by shaving legs, wearing makeup, styling hiar, etc., may be shamed. vs A man does "feminize" his appearance in the same ways may be shamed.

Danny said...

How goes it Amp?

How about "Women are segregated into lower-paying jobs vs Men are segregated into more dangerous jobs."

(I worry about this one because people might misread it to mean that dangerous jobs for men are justified by higher pay, when in fact most of the really risky jobs have lousy pay.)


While I'm sure some will make that mistake but I think most realize that dangerous doesn't equal high pay. Look at oil rig worker, miners, and rail road construction workers (whose day have passed but still a significant occupation in American history).

But not, "Women are segregated into less dangerous jobs vs Men are segregated into more dangerous jobs."?

Not quite the same as your original wording (although I wonder if you avoided that at first because of maybe sex work?) but if you look at most jobs and how people are ushered into them by gender look at cops, low level military, fire fighters, etc... Yes women can do those jobs but as we see women are actively discouraged from taking such jobs up while men are encouraged to take them up, each for the sake of maintaining their respective gender role.


A woman who doesn't "feminize" her appearance by shaving legs, wearing makeup, styling hiar, etc., may be shamed. vs A man does "feminize" his appearance in the same ways may be shamed.
I'd change that second "feminize" to "masculinize" and I'd be all for it. However I'm not to put words in your mouth and add them just as you put them.

Thanks.

Ampersand said...

It seems to me that the primary ways men "masculinize" appearance is by avoiding the feminine. To dress masculine, we do things like NOT wearing pink, NOT wearing high ponytails, NOT wearing makeup, etc. Although there are things we can do to look extra-masculine (lift weights, for example), they're not mandatory.

But maybe I missing something -- but I'm a man, and one with a more-or-less masculine appearance, I think. What things do we have to actively choose to do to appear masculine?

Danny said...

It seems to me that the primary ways men "masculinize" appearance is by avoiding the feminine. To dress masculine, we do things like NOT wearing pink, NOT wearing high ponytails, NOT wearing makeup, etc. Although there are things we can do to look extra-masculine (lift weights, for example), they're not mandatory.
You could make that same argument about women being expected to appear feminine. DON'T be dirty. DON'T have any hair below the eyebrows (except on the arms, but not under them). DON'T smell like anything that's not flowery or fruity. DON'T just go with your natural look, use makeup and accessorize yourself.

But maybe I missing something -- but I'm a man, and one with a more-or-less masculine appearance, I think. What things do we have to actively choose to do to appear masculine?
Its those very things you mention. When picking clothes you have women thinking they have to wear skirts and dresses and certain pants (but not pants that make you look like a man, they need to be something "sexy" like skin tight or hip huggers) in order to maintain the expected feminine appearance as you have men limiting themselves to certain pants (but not pants that make you looking like a woman, they need to be something rugged and baggy).

When it comes to fashion men and women in their respective genders have an appearance standard we are expected to maintain and a big part of it for each is that you stay away from the other is expected to do.

duck-billed placelot said...

The difference that I think you're outlining without looking at, Danny, is that the negative things for women, the 'don'ts' are generally unnatural/work intensivel; get rid of all body hair, don't present your body in its natural state, don't have a face free of makeup, don't smell like a body that works or lives or sweats (for particularly heinous examples, see Summer's Eve). While, of course, some men prefer any/all traits of female presentation, the societal default for men is 'don't do all the work that women do'. That standard is changing, with men being more expected to present in certain ways, but a guy with a beard in comfortable clothing that smells like himself is in no danger of running afoul of approved gender constraints. (It would be best, of course, if a man in glam makeup and a pink skirt was also accepted as totally fine and not indicative of his gender or sexual preference, but the current default for women is 'more work' and the default for men is 'more natural'.)

Politicalguineapig said...

Hmm, I don't know about this. It seems to me like *anyone* showing emotion makes themselves weak and vulnerable- though maybe that's why women are encouraged to show emotions and overreact.
I didn't like ballgame's list much- he apparently doesn't think sexual assault can be violent.
Placelot: I think a certain amount of maintenance should be required of both genders in public. I do not enjoy smelling some guy's stanky sweat all the way home on a bus, for example, anymore than I like being around women who wear too much makeup, perfume or any amount of pink.

Danny said...

Thanks for stopping by duck (can I call you duck?).

While the things you point out are mostly true this list is a more of an attempt at getting all the expectations and unfairness out on the table and frankly speaking the things you point out pretty much just serve the "but women have it worse" mindset that I would like to avoid.

Isabel said...

But it sort of seems like you are intentionally trying to get around that reality, or 'mindset', with this post. I think Duck is saying it is not really symmetry, it is more of a case of asymmetry; 99.9% of the time women need to move beyond natural and men don't. :'(

Danny said...

That's not the way I was using symmetry in the title of the list (and I'll be addressing that in v.2). But no I'm not trying to get around it Which is why I neither mentioned how expectations force women to go beyond nor how expectations prevent men from going beyond.

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