Is it possible that we are second best?(195 Posts)
Is it conceivable that the reason women are STILL struggling for equal recognition for their achievements, equal pay, equal respect etc etc is that we are just not as good at a lot of things as men are??
This is a pretty horrifying thought that´s been niggling at the back of my mind for a little while and I REALLY want you lot to convince me otherwise!!
Here´s the deal: I´ve ALWAYS had feminist leanings, stood up for myself, been OUTRAGED whenever anyone has suggested I am in any way inferior or less able to do something based on gender. I was the lone voice at my rather conservative university questioning the status quo, whilst my very intelligent female colleagues (academically, at any rate) would prepare sandwiches for their boyfriends on a Saturday night so they´d have something to stave off the munchies when they staggered back from their drunken boys´nights out. eyeroll
BUT........lately I´m thinking that equality isn´t that straight forward and most of the time it seems we females are out to self-sabotage! Look at all these ridiculous sex-kitten role models that so many girls aspire to be like- one after the other of these female pop stars sells out her integrity and talent to become over-sexed and under-dressed. "Rah rah...girl-power"...my ass! (or rather, HER barely-covered ass!) Their one and only aim seems to be to lay it all out there for men to "come and get it". (Oh gawd...I sound like some prudish Mother Grundy...haha...but SERIOUSLY...can somebody please shut Rihanna and her gurlfriends up??!!)
Yes women are safer drivers as in they have fewer accidents, but my God, I´ve seen some cringey moments with women who just cannot for the love of all things holy park their OWN cars.
And in the work place....we definitely lack the confidence that men have. (I include myself here) I´m in the medical field and I have to be honest....sometimes feminine self-doubt is not at all helpful when it comes to the big decisions. Men are still the top surgeons and it isn´t lack of opportunity as I see it....it´s because they believe in themselves and are prepared to take chances.
And yes, you might say it´s down to conditioning, blah blah...but I think it´s fundamentally testosterone that gives them the edge in so many ways. No matter how much we like to think otherwise, we are sabotaged by our hormones! They make us focus on having babies, being submissive, under-confident and lacking in ambition in our otherwise most productive years.
I´m all ears to hear as many opinions as possible on this!
You don't seem to be giving any examples of us actually not being as good as men though - just of us not believing in our abilities.
I'd say the problem is more -
1 - lack of confidence
2 - society valuing things that are "masculine" such as autocratic self-belief, while denigrating things that are perceived as more "feminine", such as a collegiate attitude to decision-making
3 - all of society being encouraged to believe in a "quick fix" like winning a "talent" show or becoming a "celebrity" rather than putting in the tim and committment into actually being good at something
I think the key is to consider people as individuals, not 'us' and 'them'.
OP - two questions:
Do you have kids?
Have you read any recent feminist books - eg The Equality Illusion/Living Dolls/The F Word/Delusions of Gender/Pink Brain Blue Brain?
Women are not second best but the Patriarchy sees us as second best.
Many of your examples are the result of individual women surviving in the Patriarchy. I try not to criticise individuals but instead the system.
Many of your examples are due to society's expectations.
What makes you think it is testosterone rather than conditioning?
Well for starters ur assuming it should be a mans world first and foremost.
U are rating everything on men's perspective and trying to fit us in. Why? From a family perspective I'm not sure that works. Or from a work one. Partly why employment issues are so complicated as 5 days a week 8-6 plainly suits men best (women for a short or breakable period). Do u see?
"I´ve seen some cringey moments with women who just cannot for the love of all things holy park their OWN cars"
Apparently male brains are better a spacial awareness. This is why DH is better at loading the dishwasher than me...I just let him get on with it
I can say I've noticed women not being able to park their cars any more than men, though.
Well I've taken your thinking and applied it race. Statistically (based on the Olympics) black people are stronger and faster than white people. But more of the world's wealth is in the hands of white people. So which race is 'better'? I can't decide.
Nothing to do with hormones- children aspire to what they're conditioned to.
My children have no desire to be slebs, I know a fair few female surgeons, though a few have not gone back after having their children.
Pinkypoops: could you imagine a man posting what you just did about his own sex i.e. that they are just not as good at a lot of things as women are?
I think you would find that the things that they are likely to say they are not as good at are the things that they don't actually want to do e.g. cleaning or other tedious, repetitive tasks.
In order to stand up your suspicions, first you have to remove from the male sex their (often subconscious) sense of entitlement. Second you have to wipe out a couple of millennia of put-downs of females.
When you have removed these and other confounding factors/biases, then you can ask that question.
Oh, and just to illustrate that I am by no means uncritical of females (I am not the sort of feminist who says "I will support women, right or wrong" I agree over those silly females who run after males like love-sick puppies, dancing attendance and vying for attention. The really piss me off. However, I suspect that I will be told that it is "conditioning".
Oops sorry - the conditioning point has already been made....
As far as driving goes, some women do have problems with spatial awareness, and can have more problems with parking, or with deciding whether they can get their car through a certain gap.
OTOH do we think that is a worse fault than being over-confident in their abilities, driving too fast, having little to no care and attention to other drivers and pedestrians - which tend, on average, to be faults more associated with male drivers?
Thanks, AMIS....indeed, but it´s that confidence that makes people better at a lot of things and therefore more successful. A lot of feminists complain that women are under-represented in politics, boardrooms and other higher-level jobs.....and one thing that seriously gets my goat is placing under-qualified people in positions because of their demographic (grrrr) so I don´t believe in artificial ratio systems.
Men are often more outspoken and stronger in meetings and debates- ipso facto, better at getting their point across and getting heard.
Physically, watching my kids...boys are streets ahead of girls in physical abilities really early on, but at ages 4 and 7 I have been surprised that the girls are not exactly leaving their male classmates in the dust academically which is what I had been led to believe happens. In fact all the top students in my 7 yr old´s class are boys! I´d be interested to hear if this is different to anyone else´s experience since I have sneaking suspicion the school they are at has a male bias when it comes to teaching methods...
As for things I see men doing "better"...mmm, let´s see: Sports of all types, computer stuff, fixing stuff, quite often cooking (!), getting a work project done faster, much more dexterous at manual tasks, inventing stuff, building stuff, most acclaimed comedians artists, singers, actors, performers....and yes BIIIIG generalisations but on the whole in my experience, one CAN make them :-/ OK, OBVIOUSLY these are a lot of things men are known to be better at anyway BUT they are things that actually get the human race somewhere. Things that women are GENERALLY supposed to be good at is often stuff that is supportive and takes a back seat because it doesn´t move mountans, it just quietly keeps the world ticking over. Men basically excel at the glory-inspiring stuff and so will they not ALWAYS be seen as superior ?
Oh oops...took so long to write reply to 1st poster, didn´t see all the rest...gotta drive home but will get back to you asap :-))
They have traditionally also been very good at killing large numbers of each other, and women and children, making agriculture impossible, rendering large areas uninhabitable. Is this part of your consideration that they are "better" at things than us?
Being seen as superior does not equal actually being superior. They are seen as superior through a world-view that they have controlled for most of human history.
My DH and I are equally bad at parking our cars....except that I had the sense to get parking sensors on mine. Mere physical limitations are increasingly able to be overcome by technology.
Women are (statistically) better drivers than men - as shown by the insurance industry have (until recent ban) charging lower premiums. Men are far more likely to die in traffic accidents.
Pinkypoops: when you get a moment google all the inventions made by females, including the ones in history patented in their husband's name because women were banned from patenting. You might get a surprise.
Then work out how long there has been anything even approaching a level playing field when it comes to education, jobs, politics etc. and see what has been achieved in what is really only a blink of a gnat's eye in historical terms.
Then factor in "the pram in the hall" effect.
If you are going to provide any serious evidence, as I said, you have to account for bias and confounding factors. Without that any assertion is pretty meaningless.
But since you are being anecdotal, here's an anecdote for you..I took my 11+ exam in 1953 (yes I'm pretty ancient). Did you know that in order to have a 50/50 intake into grammar schools girls had to obtain a higher pass mark in the exam than boys then? This was to avoid having more girls than boys in grammar schools because they passed the 11+ in greater numbers even though the 11+ involved no course work but simply a sudden death exam, which these days people say favour boys.
People aren't born with excellent computer and cooking skills. You have to learn, and be allowed and encouraged to learn. And to be a pro there has to be an ok environment for you to be one, otherwises it's almost impossible. I'm actually amazed by how amazing women are. During periods of extreme patrarchal oppression such as the victorian age, women wrote great novels, became journalists and travelled around the world, and fought for our right to vote.
Thanks for all the response everyone...*LapsusLinguae*...I really must get back in the loop and read some more...kids eh?...thanks for the book suggestions :-)
Yes OK, it IS a man´s world and therefore yes, the bias is going to be towards them....but it´s been a man´s world from the beginning of civilisation as we know it and only in this last TINY...what was it, Grimbletart? "blink of a gnat´s eye" hee hee...that women have actually been allowed any degree of empowerment really. Doesn´t that tell you something? Is it really purely the fact that we are physically weaker that has held us back?
Do you think in a female-dominated world that civisation and technology would be as advanced?
Sadly (and this is my worst topic of all), women will very often backstab each other rather than stick together in the moments that count, so I often wonder if we would have made a better job of it at all.
Please don´t get me wrong: I LOVE women and I too am often amazed at how wonderful we all are! It´s just that I am often disappinted at frustrated at the way things are and how, after our mums and grannies fought so hard to get us where we are now, there are many of us who just hand it all back to the remaining male chauvinist brigade on a plate (with accompanying ice cold beer and TV remote)
And Grimbletart...I had to get a straight A qualifications at school to get into my university course, whereas my male colleagues could get in with a few B grades too, since we also had sex ratios and that was in 1991...yikes! (Not in the UK, I must add)
Oh PS pretzelTime....have you honestly met a woman who is really good at computer- games...hand-eye coordination, etc ?
And the amazing women who did those things despite the oppression....fantastic yes, but how many really? Most were just at home following the status quo :-(
And AMIS ...good point at how good men have been at wiping each other out too! I wonder if there would be wars as such in a "female" world...??
And just to confirm, by extension all oppression is justified?
OK lots of people have made some very good points here and you seem to be dismissing them out of hand and not really thinking about the problems that they are presenting. I dispute the statement that you like women. You have done nothing but put us down on this thread as just not being up to scratch. You are certainly measuring women by a man's (and patriarchal) yard stick.
You also seem to be dismissing the oppressive element between men and women, as if it weren't there and in fact all women have to do is be more confident. Oppression has a knack of making those oppressed less confident (amongst other things). Do you believe women are oppressed?
We get the old line that men are stronger/faster/better so often that we can start to believe it's true. But you know what? For the most part, they're really not. In sports, we're told men and women can't compete because men are better and would always win. But it's not true that every man would always beat every woman. I'm a runner, and in the races I run, there are lots of men and lots of women. Men may take the first, say, 3-5 places out of the hundreds or even thousands of runners. But there is always a woman in the top 10, often coming as high up as 4th, 5th or 6th place. And then the pack is pretty mixed right the way down to last place often being a man.
And you know what that tells me? That perhaps 1% of men are better than all women, be it in business or sports. But after that, the field is very evenly mixed. So even if men are as intrinsically better in business etc in the same way as they are in physically activity, that doesn't mean for one minute that all men are better than all women. Just that perhaps that 1% top spot might always be occupied by a man. After that, every other position is up for grabs and you stand just as much chance as a man does if you work for it. And you know what else? The gap between women and men in sports is closing all the time, despite men getting more time/funding invested in their training. Same goes for the workplace.
Why are you using exceptional men as your examples (successful inventors, sportsmen etc) but dismissing examples of exceptional women?
Most men aren't fabulous at all the things you cite. You would need to take the differences between Mr & Ms Average, obviously taking into account the many, many confounding factors. Going by the people I know in real life, there aren't many differences between things like technical skill, success in the workplace, driving etc.
I had a friend who used examples such as you cite to justify his mindboggling racism (obviously black people were inferior because of mud huts in Africa and Live Aid I wish I was joking). Why is it that we can see through this sort of shite but still swallow sexist stereotypes hook, line and sinker?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.