|Tokyo December 2006|
The comic strip from Real Life Adventures that appears in the local 'Sun' newspaper today best describes a typical exchange between a man and a woman.
The bespectacled man is seen as saying, “ I don’t understand what’s wrong.” The woman who is seated responds, “ You never understand what’s wrong.” The man replies, “ That I understand.” Hilarious.
'Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus'. We have all heard that before. It is the title of a book written by John Gray and published in 1992. How often I hear my women friends lament that their husbands have a totally different mindset. I used to find such characterization objectionable but in recent years, I have come to acknowledge that men and women somehow function quite differently. I am a late bloomer, so I tend to be slow in seeing the obvious.
They are like that so their mothers say. I should not place the onus on the mothers since I have never raised a son and as a mother of two grown up daughters, I raise them as best as I could but I have absolutely no idea how to bring up a son. A friend feels that it is time for her twenty-one year old son to start dating. In this friend’s opinion, girls are different, they cannot date as much as boys. Is this why the world will never change so long as all these mothers hold the same views as the women in my parents’ generation? As a rule, all mothers cannot help falling in love with their babies but somehow sons and daughters are treated differently as a result, boys grow up expecting their wives to replace their mothers and take care of their ironing, food and children. There are some mothers who would go an extra mile to tell their sons to be nice to the fairer sex. A friend once told me that his mother used to tell him that he must never make a girl cry. Sweet.
Television series such as Sex and the City and Mistresses are entertaining, insightful and clever. They are both about friendship between four women and their lives and essentially it is about what modern women want. Recently I watched Last Vegas, a film about friendship between four men who had known each other for several decades. Last Vegas is a heart warming movie that has great casts. It tells a story about friendship between four guys in their senior years and these men are sensitive and protective when come to caring for their friends from childhood days. If these shows are any representation about the behaviour of men and women, it illustrates that the tapestry about human relations and emotional needs is the same for both men and women.
|Sunrise Huangshan, China August 2011|
It is widely believed that women are more intuitive and more capable of empathy; perhaps it has to do with upbringing and the expectations that men must succeed hence they are somehow more aggressive, combative, predatory and task oriented generally. While gender roles in different religions can vary, I believe that gender roles are largely attributed to stereotyping and social conditioning. Thanks to the women’s rights movements around the world, women are now able to negotiate their roles at home and outside home. However, as women are now joining the workforce whether by choice or out of necessity , the domestic role of some working women has not diminished and thus they have to constantly juggle their time between their work and their household duties . These women may have seemingly earned their financial independence, yet they do not have the freedom to pursue extra-curricular activities that are not related to their children or their families. It is important that men and women must respect that we all possess different attributes and ultimately there should not be what exactly the male thing is and likewise what the female thing is but what every individual wants to do with his or her life.
I do not like domestic chores and cannot imagine giving a life to housework, to the daily routines of washing, polishing, dusting, vacuuming and cooking. However, I do think that it takes a certain temperament and great organizational skills for anyone to execute these domestic tasks to perfection henceforth the term “ homemaker” is certainly timely to replace “housewife” or “househusband”. It is not euphemism as the new terminology gives weight to the role and emphasize its importance. If the homemaker can constantly derive satisfaction from the order and cleanliness of a house, it would be a bliss for his or her family to come home to. As there are so many opportunities and experiences awaiting outside home that both men and women constantly want to venture into the outside world. It is apparent that the women have more choices these days but I often wonder if indeed we are the ones that have made the choices we have made and why we have made them. I would like to quote what the Oracle in the science fiction film 'Matrix'said to Neo, ‘You have already made the choice. Now you have to understand it.’ and ‘Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand “why you made it”……………..’