The Male-Dominance System and How It Affects Gender Inequality in Society Essay
This paper looks at society to determine if today’s society is mostly male dominated or not. According to several studies done by sociologists and personal experiences, it appears that most societies in the world today are male dominated. It is found that male dominance is learned at a very early age with childhood socialization from the parents of the children. Boys are given more freedom than girls, as well as the difference in toys. Girls are encouraged to be more domestic with household chores than boys are.
Women also tend to be objectified in advertisements around the world as well as portrayed to be “perfect” looking, physically. This is a problem because if the media is showing that it is okay to look at women as objects, violence can often occur. This is especially because a lot of advertisements portray sexual violence as appealing which leads to men’s desire for rape. Finally women are widely discouraged around the country for entering the labor force instead of taking care of their children and household chores.
Is our society mostly male dominated or female dominated? Most people would answer that most societies in the world are male dominated. Understanding the male dominance system in our world is important to women and all society because, as a woman, it seems as though we feel weak and unimportant in comparison to the men of our society. This type of thinking starts at a very early age with childhood socialization. There is also the Pink Collar Ghettos, or jobs dominated by females, that encourage men to aim for higher professions.
To add to this, women are also objectified in many advertisements, causing their place in society to drop dramatically. This needs to be brought to our nation’s attention so maybe there can be some changes made so that men do not dominate the world and most societies. The main research question that this paper will look into is if everyone perceives society as a male dominated society and how it came to be that way. I plan to look into research done by many sociologists that may suggest where the idea of male dominance came from as opposed to female dominance.
I will also be interviewing a large variety of people to ask their opinions on the issue as well as sharing my own knowledge on the subject. Male dominance is not always a bad thing, but if taken too far, it can tear our society apart. A big part of the reason that our society is male dominated is because the roles of each gender are learned or constructed at a very young age. An example of gender subordination, in the words of Jeanne Block (1983), is that “parents give their girls roots and their boys wings”. Block uses this as an explanation as to how boys and girls learn their traditional roles in life.
Parents give their boys “wings”, or in other words, give them more freedom as children to go out and do as they wish. Boys are taught to challenge, be independent, be problem solvers and explore the freedom they are given. Their “wings” permit them to leave the “nest” and fly on their own. On the other hand, Block also says that parents give their girls “roots”, or in other words, not as much freedom and make them stay home more often. For girls, their parents foster closeness, interfere by discouraging independent problem solving, restrict exploring and discourage active play.
The “roots” that stabilize, anchor and support growth allow few chances and opportunities to master the environment unlike boys. Examples of this can easily be seen by the toys that adults buy for the children. Many of the toys made for girls are fake appliances for the home. I have seen a small, plastic, pink toy ironing board for little girls to pretend to iron. I’ve also seen boxes with toy kitchens inside and a girl’s picture is on the outside of the box. “Easy Bake” ovens are another example, hinting at the fact that girls should learn to bake and cook to have fun.
Toys like these encourage girls to be more of a housewife when they are older instead of getting a professional job like a doctor or sales representative. The obvious characteristic of the toys that reveal what gender it is meant for is the color. Many female toys contain colors like pink or purple, whereas darker colors like blue, black or green are used for male toys. Another example is the fact that girls call their toys that depict humans “dolls” whereas boys call them “action figures”. Why can’t there be a universal term that is gender neutral? Gender neutral toys would be the best for encouraging education and learning.
Another example of childhood socialization is that it is sometimes acceptable for girls to dress in boy-like clothes or a “tom boy” in other words. If a boy were to dress as a girl in very feminine clothes, he might be viewed as a sissy or, in extreme conditions, gay. At a very young age, girls are given the impression that they should look like their idols. A very obvious example of this is Barbie. If you were to ask any girl in the United States if they ever had a Barbie at some point in their childhood, the majority of them would tell you they had at least one.
Barbie is a very attractive doll and many little girls envy her and would like to look just like her. In reality, if Barbie were a real person, she would be way too tall, too skinny to ever conceive a childhood, and disproportionate legs and feet. This doll can easily put the wrong idea in a young girl’s mind and she could go to extreme measures to try and look like Barbie. These are just many examples as to why girls feel belittled and objectified at a very early age. They are not given the same freedom as boys are when it comes to exploring the environment.
In popular opinion, this is the main reason as to why men look down upon women today and make demeaning jokes towards females. As mentioned earlier, we still live in a very male-dominated society; however, according to sociology professor Robert Pineda-Volk, as far as exploitation and progress go, females have made great progress as far as careers go. Although men still dominate the fields of engineering and math, women have made very noticeable progress when it comes to professions in biology, business and humanities.
As far as law goes, females are overrepresented in legal aid and family law. On the other hand, females are underrepresented in corporate law as well as medicine. Females are seen more as a nurse-type than a doctor so females dominate the field of nursing, but are making progress in becoming doctors. Another example of exploitation is tokenism. Some examples of tokenism in society include the feminization of poverty. Two thirds of the poverty population is females. Pink Collar Ghettos (when certain occupations are almost all female) are another example.
Some examples of Pink Collar Ghettos are elementary school teachers, social workers, and administrative jobs. Another example of tokenism in society is the unequal pay for females. Latina females earn 54 cents for every dollar that a man makes and African American females make 62 cents for every dollar a male makes. Overall, females are only making 77 cents for every dollar a male earns. This inequality of pay is a major problem for our male dominated society. Males can easily dominate the financial world if they are making more money than females are making for doing the exact same job.
A big reason for males dominating society is the fact that women are objectified in advertisements. Women are being constantly pressured to look like the women do in advertisements. Men are rarely pressured by male models’ physical appearances in advertisements. Women dominate many advertisements, but because they are objectified, their place in society is staying the same. In Jean Kilbourne’s documentary “Killing Us Softly”, there are tons of examples of women being objectified and subject to typical stereotypes and Kilbourne explains how it is slowly and subtlety killing our self esteem.
One example from the film is an ad for deodorant that uses the phrase “feminine odor is everyone’s problem”. This small but powerful statement is basically saying that if females have body odor, it isn’t just their problem, but is also the problem of everyone near them, and controlling it should be the female’s main concern. Another ad uses the phrase “keep her where she belongs”, referring to the house, hinting at the fact that the female should not go out and get a job or career of her own, but should continue to do housework while the husband goes out and makes the money to support them.
Many of these advertisements sell the values and concepts of sexuality, constantly portraying females in sexually promiscuous outfits and positions. Many of the images are edited with Photoshop to promote perfection of physical appearance. In the United States, there are almost 12 million cosmetic surgeries a year for women who wish to improve their physical appearance to “fit in” more or look like the models they see in these advertisements. There are two sayings that are widely used when it comes to the desired physical look for women: “The more you subtract, the more you add” and “How sexy can you be if you hate your body? This is simply saying that if you lose weight, you will gain more attention, respect and get the things you want in life. The second saying could mean two things: you need to respect your body in order to be sexy, or that you do hate your body and that’s why you need to change it to become sexy. Finally, one of the biggest problems with objectifying women in advertisements is the fact that the companies eroticize violence. Eroticizing violence strongly encourages and is one of the main causes of rape in our society.
Men see women as very sexy when they are being attacked and desire to do it themselves. This major flaw in advertising needs to be recognized and addressed by women who work for these companies so that the self esteem and places of women in our society can be brought up greatly. Another reason why our society is male dominated is the disapproving views of women in the labor force. There are attitudes that suggest that a child’s well being is affected by the mother’s participation in the labor force (Brewster 2000).
Nowadays, people are much more approving of women participating in the labor force than they were win the 1970s and 1980s. Back then, people usually disapproved of a mother trying to work instead of staying at home and taking care of the children and the household chores (Brewster 2000). The positive attitudes towards women entering the labor force and their family and work arrangements have started liberalizing fast through the 1980s and into the 1990s (Brewster 2000).
However, it is said that women in the workplace could produce a repercussion instead of increasing young men’s belief in the equality of all people (Brewster 2000). A big factor that leads women to participate in the labor force is their education. If a woman has a lower level of education, she is more than likely to work a low-paying, unskilled labor job and marry a man that will provide for her and her family. However, if a woman has a college degree of some sort, she is more likely to enter the professional field of jobs in effort to make more money and better herself as an individual.
According to a study done by Irene Beattie, women and their decision to enroll in college are not affected by returns to education (Beattie 2002). The biggest influence on women and all high school students in general to enroll in college is their family. A girl may come from a family where all the women were housewives and have never had to work a day in their life therefore she would more than likely be discouraged if she decided to enroll in college. However, the complete opposite situation could occur too.
A girl could come from a family where every single woman in the family has attended and graduated from college and gone on to get a well paying job in the labor force. Women’s decisions to enroll in college are greatly affected by their family’s class, race and which gender the family is dominated by (Beattie 2002). In conclusion, the hypothesis that we live in a male dominated society can be supported. Male domination of society is taught and learned at a very young age with childhood socialization using “wings” (freedom) and “roots” (no freedom) method for young boys and girls.
The types of toys for children are also a huge factor in what kind of job the children want to achieve when they are older. On the bright side, women have made substantial progress in fields such as biology, business and humanities, but they still trail the males of society in the math and engineering fields. Women being objectified and portrayed sexually in advertisements is another big reason for a male dominated society as well as the discouraging attitudes from people towards females’ participation in the labor force of society.
Although it appears that we are a male dominated society, the progress of women cannot be overlooked. Research has shown that women are slowly and steadily rising in society, however, biased and stereotypical attitudes towards women will never go away completely. We as a society need to stop being so naive and recognize this problem and come up with a solution, whether it means educating one another or opening our minds and seeing it with our own eyes.