Some Perspectives Of Gender Issue : Bam Dev Sharma
Man for the field and woman for the hearth
Man for the sword and needle she:
Man with the head and woman with the heart:
Man to command and women to obey: All else confusion.
--- Alfred Lord Tennyson
These lines, expressed by Alfred Lord Tennyson --- the well known Victorian poet of the nineteenth century, show the temperament of his age as to how female and male were perceived. In the wake of the 21st century, the situations are definitely changing, both in the East and West. Women are becoming much more assertive today than they were in the past. In the following lines from Pratisara Sayami's poem entitled "I am Mahabharat Epic Without a Canto of Peace", we find changing women landscape where women are presented rather revolting and aggressively posing herself with changing perspective and socio cultural context:
For a moment I
Nearly spun round like fan
I am warrior Abhimanyu
Under attack from all directions
This circular trap of life
With no exit to freedom anywhere
All this life
I am perpetual Mahabharat epic
Without a canto of peace.
Of course, things are changing in the present time because of consistent awareness of the women. Starting from the strong voice of Mary Wollstonecraft who raised the issue of the women for the first time, many female activists and feminists have prominently sought for a changing status for woman unlike that persisted in the last few centuries.
Though poetic lines can reflect some aggressive tones and moods, but reality is still otherwise in some societies, especially the developing world. In the societies like Nepal, the plight implicated by gender discrimination is critical which needs to be reformed from diverse sectors, not just making lip words that women have been provided many more rights and provisions compared to the past. The slogan approach, to some extent, becomes detrimental in some way to reflect rather true awesome pictures of women in the rural areas of Nepal.
No doubt, gender and multicultural issues have been blatant in the modern times due to the rising consciousness in the right and participatory politics where democracy is expected to be inclusive to ensure the participation of all in the formation of policy, owning it, implementing it and amending it if deemed necessary. But gender, today, has been public issue due to political awareness, although the society is often rampant with gendered issue from immemorial past to the present.
Basically, gendered implicates male and female structure of the society and differences, which, most often, deprive female classes of the right and opportunity. But the difference and partiality don’t spring themselves from the sky: they are in the dormant phase in the society from the birth to the makeup of the society in the gradual development process. Gender appears in biological and psychological bearing of human personality. Boys and girls do have differences.
The boys have higher level of testosterone hormone and lower level of neuro- transmitter serotonin compared to the girls. These two hormones help structure different personality traits like love, emotion, aggressive, and other emotional behaviours. Similarly, the use and play of language is very different between the boys and girls. According to Deborah Tannen, the professor of linguistics, the girls use the softer form of language whereas the boys tend to use rather harsh and logically strong language. Feeling, intimacy and love are the linguistic faculties of the girls. Boys, however, use language showing assertiveness and aggression. Scientists have clearly stated that women have some hormones to make her perfect mother. But males lack these hormones. Biological evidences also show that hormones play significant roles in physical growth, thereby shaping personality. The growth of male and female child differs and they develop with different psychological and emotional responses to the things around the society or in the domestic setting.
As soon as the matter of gender comes to the degree of biology and psychology, it does not become so much serious. But when it is implicated by culture, language, social and moral values and traditions, it really becomes problematic and shows its ruthless image in the society turning people into privileged versus less privileged, superior versus inferior. Because of the nature, the nurturing of the gender becomes havoc.
Gender studies invariably put much focus on the language which is the central issue of gender biasness to be paved in the formation period. Since language is a display of thoughts and emotions that reflect context and meaning in certain situation. "You are weeping like a woman" is the common expression when a male exhibit his pathetic feeling. This clearly indicates that weeping is different between male and female. Similarly, when a person talks a lot over domestic setting, he is charged that he talks as if he were a woman.
Language is also interwoven with cultural practices, mores, social etiquette and behaviours. It is a universally acknowledged fact that language has certain thoughts to reflect certain emotions in specific cultural contexts. According to a recent study, language embedded gender biasness prevails in forty percentage of the workforce around the globe, but less visible in some advanced society and more prevalent in the developing society. In 1974, Goldber Man made a study in which he found that male language is enjoyed and accepted in the workforce compared to the female language. Before deriving this insight, he gave some texts to the participants without disclosing the gender. In the words of grammarian John Kirby, the male grammar is believed to be worthier than that of female. The reason for this is: most of the words and syntactic patters of language are profuse male words.
Part of this language is a display of the binary order or hierarchy in the society where male precedes female. From the early childhood in fables or stories, there is depiction of this hierarchy as God versus goddess, boy versus girl, bull versus cow. This hierarchy gives the testimony to some cultural structuring where females are taken as subordinate. The male superiority reflects in some academic perspective as to be subjugating against female. Words like critic, poet, novelist, driver, carpenter, and mechanics are commonly assumed to be male representation. Because of this pervasive male domination, many women claim that language favoures males not females.
Some attitudinal differences also mark how stereotyped male society shows its attitude towards women. We can take an example of the two words related to sexual promiscuity. When we call such a woman a 'slag" she is supposed to be morally slack. When we call "stud" for a male, he is supposed to be of flighty character that is fond of woman or a womanizer. This is just one example. There can be a number of such examples in the society.
Salary and wage differences based on gender are prevalent in many societies. Nepal is no exception. Although the United Nations has clearly stated that there should not be wage discrimination if both genders are engaged in the same kind of job. Practice, however, is very much apprehensive against women. To some extent, the reason for this can be the fact that company and business houses give priority to the capable performance which should be based on aggressive, and women are supposed to be less performer. This is, though, bad but the mentality of job providers is not still changing. For this, there should be thorough modification of work force system prevailing in some societies where female face discrimination.
In Nepal's context, the second election of the Constituent Assembly projected rather inauspicious situations as many women lose the election. This has also shown that women cannot show uscle and power to influence the masses.
Prof. Dr. Jagdish Prasad Agrawal is a well-known name in the health professions education sector of Nepal. Having joined Maharajgunj Medical Campus under...