In recent weeks, we have all witnessed in the media how men and women are clashing in politics regarding women’s rights. All these events that are evidence of a war against women have prompted me to think about why women and men are entrenched in this fight. I started thinking about how men and women are socialized to try to come up with a framework for what is going on in the American society.
It is well known that females are socialized from an early age to be nurturing, pleasing, giving, caring, expressive of emotions, dependent, and fragile. Men are socialized to be strong, assertive, competitive, stoic, and pay less attention to emotions. Being raised in a very traditional Hispanic home, I witnessed how families (mothers, fathers, grandparents) and society in general worshiped men. Many experts express that societies in the world are mainly patriarchal; therefore, manhood and the male construct are highly celebrated, valued, and enforced. For some reason still unknown to me, almost every society in the world still believes that being male is being superior and therefore better.
All these events that are going on in the US regarding women’s rights, including men deciding on the reproductive rights of women, lead me to realize that in the US, just like in many parts of the world, being male is synonymous of dominance and power. We are living in a society that still puts men in higher regard with respect to women and that attributes that power to men freely and unquestionably. Notions of the supreme power of men are engraved in the culture and in the mindsets of men and women in all realms of life. Negative stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination towards women are still the norm and are now happening bluntly in the fascinating and male-dominated world of politics. As frustrating as these events are, at least for me, it is even more frustrating to know that these negative notions about women permeate all spheres and are supported by both men and women and passed on from generation to generation.
The gender war we are fighting in 2012 is a war that has been fought for centuries; maybe from the time humans have existed. This war is not new but it is being fought in new fronts. The gains that women have made are being taken away and there is an agenda to bring women to the dark ages in the name of “conservatism”. Women and men that are against what is going on will have to fight a long and hard battle.
Socialization happens to us without our input and without having any choice in the matter. Nonetheless, when we are smart enough to bring ourselves to a new level of awareness, men and women can decide to live in harmony and in a balance of power. We cannot promote misogyny and stand idle watching how our country deprives women of their rights. The war against women, although old, is experiencing a renaissance and we must all unite to crusade against it.