Before you get all hasty, I accept there is at present still a very long way to go before women and men are seen as equal and I am 100% behind this - I'm just not convinced we're going about it in the right way.
& I think if you're honest, when you think about how little progress we've made, deep down you probably agree with me...
As a woman (I know I'm one of the 49%), I have long ruminated on this topic both arguing with myself and family members and do not talk openly and publicly lightly.
I'm going to talk you through some of the key arguments (which swirl around my head and the dinner table...) and I would love you to drop a comment below, to know what you think, where you stand & if I have convinced you to 'come over to the dark side' and leave gender out of the, erm... gender debate...!
I'll be replying to everyone, but am not easily offended so please feel free to let it all spill out :)
Realistic Conflict Theory: Sherif., M. (1954, 1958, 1961)
In the 'Robbers Cave Experiment' Sherif, created conflict between two groups of young boys by having them compete for 'resources' so that he could, in turn, find effective ways to reduce hostilities between different groups. After the experiment, he concluded that "...group conflict, negative prejudices, and stereotypes" (McLeod., 2008b), developed between the groups as a direct result of being forced to compete for the resources needed. While the validity of experiment has been questioned in recent years (mainly due the extremely biased population sample), it is still useful in understanding why often well-adjusted individuals develop hostile beliefs and perceptions about others.
This theory is often linked to things like increased levels of racial tension when unemployment rises (something we've very recently experienced in the UK and an underlying reason for the upcoming exit from the European Union) but can be applied to so much more. Thinking about the way in which we've been tackling gender disparity, there has been a rise in 'men' who are feeling diminished and can explain the rise of male action groups like fathers4justice and even a political party 'Justice for Men and Boys'.
Key point: when we have a scarcity of resources, highlighting differences between groups increases the hostilities. Instead of justice for men, boys, women, aliens... shouldn't we instead focus on justice for all?
Equality for all?
Or how about, the best person for a job, regardless of what they look like, where they come from or what body parts they have...!
& as a side note, in my opinion - positive discrimination is still discrimination & can account for an increased feeling low self-worth for the person who gets the job and feelings of injustice for those who were excluded from even trying.
Social Identity Theory: Tajfel., H. & Turner., J. (1979)
Social identity theory developed from the work of Henri Tajfel and John Turner in 1979 and the core concept focuses on the fact that our identities are developed based on how we see ourselves compared with others.
The theory has three main components;
Looking at these three components we can start to see why and how issues such as racism, ageism and gender discrimination grow and become very embedded in society.
When we take this theory and start to think about how we've been raising the issue of gender disparity, it is easy to see that the more we talk about 'women' and how we're different to men, instead of helping bring us together, we're inadvertently driving a bigger wedge between the genders.
By pushing for equal rights, coming from a place of lack or difference, we can only ever succeed in making it worse and breeding discontentment, hate and prejudice in the hearts of the very people we are trying to convince.
The Equal Pay Act was written and adopted into law in 1970. It clearly stated that it was a requirement for employers to have 'equal treatment between men and women in the same employment' it never happened. Only now, in 2018 (48 years later...) are there any actual consequences being applied to employers.
& we have marched, protested and shouted loud from the rooftops for decades.
Key point: the more we talk about us as 'women' the more we highlight that men are not. Instead of talking about 'equal pay for women' shouldn't it just be equal pay for all?
Social Learning Theory: Bandura., A. (1977)
The two previous theories go to explain how/why we identify with certain sections of society but how do we know where we belong in the first place?
How can we tell which category is most valuable to the development of who we are?
After the famous 'Bobo doll' experiment, Bandura (1977), concluded that we learn by watching and copying others and Social Learning Theory was born. If you've ever watched someone who is new to a social group or new to trying something you'll notice that they spend a lot of time either overtly (blatantly) or covertly (sneakily) watching what the others are doing and then mimicking other peoples behaviours/actions.
When we are young, our parents/primary care givers are the most influential people in our lives.
They teach us how to survive.
If as a young child I watch my parents 'play fight' I learn it's OK to fight, that fighting is fun... While as an adult, this seems like a preposterous idea its important to remember that young children have very different emotional and moral understandings. In fact, a lot of research shows that it's not until the age of 8 do children start to realise other peoples feelings/reactions to events will be different to their own. When it comes to children, I tell all the parent's I'm working with they need to assume everything they do will be copied. That if they want their child to sit still and not talk while the TV is on, they they themselves need to sit still & not talk while the TV is on. There cannot be a difference between the rules for parents & rules for the children - it just doesn't work and makes everything worse.
Apologies for the digression, but I think it's important - if we as parents talk a lot about how women are less, or men are mean then our children will also hear this. What we hear influences how we think about a subject and this in turn influences our behaviours.
If as a child I was routinely told by my parents that women belong in the home, witnessed my mum only ever being the 'homemaker' it would be extremely difficult for me as an adult to step outside of this. When society, schools and powerful people also say the same - then this difficult situation becomes near impossible.
With regards to the blog post at hand - is it any wonder that many men still believe that women should be at home raising their children? It's what they witnessed (even if their mum went to work, chances are she was still responsible for care giving), it's how they grew up and society as a whole still reflects this idea - it wasn't until 2015 that parents could have equal leave after the birth of a child.
In my personal life, I've never wanted to be a stay at home mum. My friends and family have known this for years. My partner on the other hand has always wanted to be a stay at home dad. Two years ago at Christmas the subject of babies, marriage and families came up at Christmas (again...) and even through both mine and my partners family are very liberal and forward thinking I was shocked by what was said... I very clearly re-stated, I was not going to give up work to raise a child and our plans are to retire my partner so that he can be the stay at home dad. A family member looked directly at me and stated 'what if he doesn't want to, you should give up work, it's your responsibility'. My response, 'well in that case, we won't have any children. But seeing as he wants to be a stay at home dad, I will make sure this happens.' You see, even in a very liberated family it was still expected to give up the business I've been building or at least put it on hold while I attend to 'my responsibilities'. I think we forget that a baby is genetically 50/50 so they're only ever 50% the responsibility of the mum!
Key point: while some children reject/rebel against what they experience early on, most grow up with the same beliefs and perceptions as their parents until the wider perception of gender roles change, personal beliefs and perceptions will stay the same through the generations.
Conclusion - to make real positive changes we need to leave gender out of the debate
I could go on.
There are a lot more theories, pieces of research and studies which could be brought into the argument but for me, these 3 are key.
For every statistic which shows how deprived women are there are statistics showing male deprivation in different areas for example;
Quite simply, you can find theories, research and statistics to highlight and make an argument for and against anything. However, if we instead of continuing to focus on highlighting specific disparities between genders shift to developing inclusive and progressive practices which brings equality for all we are more likely to bring about change.
I know I am female, I am genuinely happy to be female but I also know, I would never want to have an opportunity taken away from me just because of my DNA the same as I would never want to be given an opportunity because of my DNA.
My gender does not define who I am or what I can do.
I am not a female called Katie, I am Katie who is female.
I am a human.
& all humans, regardless of age, gender, race... deserve to be treated with love, kindness, respect and equality.
So please, stop putting gender into the argument and instead focus on raising the expectations for all of humanity.
Please do let me know where you stand/what you think - I'm genuinely interested. I firmly believe that together we can make positive changes and change the world!
Catch you soon, Katie x
David L, "Social Identity Theory (Tajfel, Turner)," in Learning Theories, December 15, 2015. Retrieved 07/03/2018 from: https://www.learning-theories.com/social-identity-theory-tajfel-turner.html.
Equal Pay Act (1970) retrieved 07/03/2018 from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1970/41/pdfs/ukpga_19700041_en.pdf
Gray., P. (2009) A New Look at the Classic Robbers Cave Experiment. Psychology Today. Retrieved 07/08/2018 from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200912/new-look-the-classic-robbers-cave-experiment
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McLeod, S. (2008b) Robbers Cave Experiment. Simply Psychology retrieved 07/03/2018 from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/robbers-cave.html
McLeod, S. (2016) Bandura - Social Learning Theory. Simply Psychology retrieved 07/03/2018 from: www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
Psychstudy. (n.d.). Social Learning Theory. Psychstudy. retrieved 07/03/2018 from: https://www.psychestudy.com/social/social-learning-theory-bandura
Samaritans (2015). Suicide Statistics. Samaritans.org Retrieved on 07/03/2018 from: https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2017_Final.pdf
Statista (2017). Prison population and capacity in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2017, by gender* Statista.com Retrieved 07/03/2018 from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/283475/prison-population-and-capacity-of-united-kingdom-uk-by-gender/
World Population Data. The World Bank. Retrieved on 07/03/2018 from: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL.FE.ZS