Dissecting the double standard....
Why is it that we look at things differently depending on whether it's a man or a woman who does something? Think about it. We tend to be guilty of this at times without even realizing it.
It's 2005. Women as a gender have gone much further than they ever did before, and if the present trend continues, we will be seeing a lot more of women in fields which used to be exclusively the domain of men. Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to name one profession in which women have not entered. The idea of men being totally superior to women is a long outdated and obsolete concept which is hardly ever brought up anymore, except for the occassional retort of some male chauvinists who still manage to survive in this day and age.
Of course, some of the stereotypes live on. Every time there's a bad driver on the road, there are still those who assume it to be a female. Women, while now allowed in various armed forces around the world, are still not routinely assigned to frontline duty and are usually given support roles instead. Women in some quarters are still generally regarded as potentially more emotionally unstable than men, if only for the monthly biological cycle that they are required by nature to endure. I could go on.
Personally, I do not consider one gender superior over the other. There is no superior sex, no inferior sex. The sexes are just different, plain and simple. Different physiologically, different emotionally, different mentally. While discrimination by reason of sex is unethical and rightly so, there are certain situations wherein it may be justified. And naturally some where it cannot. It's not for me to say which is which. I have a hard enough time dealing with the differences between men and women as it is. It's true what they say, that men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The differences are so pronounced that we may as well be different species.
However, notwithstanding these differences, and the overall clamor of more and more women to be placed on equal footing with men, there are certain situations that I still have a difficult time rationalizing, at the very least because of millions of years of evolution, or perhaps of prevailing social mores. One situation that comes to mind is with regard to sexual expression in general, infidelity in relationships, marital or otherwise, in particular.
When men cheat on their partners, oftentimes people just turn a blind eye, or justify it by saying that men are polygamous by nature. We just accept it as the norm. We may even subconsciously admire them. On the other hand, when women cheat on their partners, we tend to look at them with disdain or derision.
Why is that? Whether we admit it or not, there is definitely a double standard between men and women when it it comes to sexual expression. Males, from childhood, are allowed, even encouraged, to pursue the opposite sex. Females, on the other hand, are not. We see it in typical family settings when boys in their early teens, perhaps even younger, are encouraged to go out on dates. Girls are discouraged from doing the same until they are at a relatively older age. In peer groups, males who have gone out with several girls are admired and envied, while females who have had dates with several boys are described in terms with negative connotations such as flirts, coquettes or vamps. Males are also encouraged to lose their virginity at an early age, and this pursuit has become sort of a rite of passage into manhood. Females are taught just the opposite, to refrain from having sex until marriage. For men, being a virgin is something to be ashamed of. For women, it is something to be admired.
Even the law does not treat men and women similarly. In the Philippines, the crime of adultery is penalized with a prison sentence. Its closest counterpart for males, the crime of concubinage, is punished with destierro, which translates as mere banishment.
Even the Bible has its double standards. Polygny (a form of polygamy wherein a single man is allowed several wives) is supported in the scriptures. Polyandry (another form of polygamy wherein a single woman is allowed several husbands) is not.
The point is, whether we are aware of it or not, double standards with regard to gender not only exist, but continue to thrive even to the present day, if only because of our perceptions of the roles of the sexes in society. Should we change these double standards? Some people believe in absolute equality between the sexes. Some disagree, believing that women are unjustifiably encroaching on social roles especially reserved for men. Some are just comfortable just maintaining the status quo.
It may be an oversimplification, but I believe that if men and women are truly different, and indeed they are, society should treat them differently as well. That much I am sure of. It is simply illogical to treat dissimilar objects similarly. However, where to draw the line with respect to their differences has been the subject of years and years of debate. It is not for me to say in what situations we should start treating men and women as equals and in what situations we should treat them differently. In all likelihood all of us have our own notions on this subject. And it is highly unlikely that we would all have a uniform view of this issue in the near future.
Suffice it to say that it is my personal view that absolute equality is plain old crap, regardless of whether some people think this view is politically incorrect or not. It is in these differences between the sexes that lay the foundation of our society as a whole, and if we pursue absolute equality, we may have to rethink all of our traditions and customs, and that would take generations to happen. Then again, who is not to say that our traditions and customs are evolving right this very moment?
And, if only to muddle the issue, we still have to consider the emergence of social groups with "divergent" sexual orientations (for lack of a better term). Clearly, any changes in our society will have to take these groups into consideration at some point. And this further complicates the proverbial "battle of the sexes."
The irony in this so-called "battle" is that the woman who cries for sexual equality oftentimes turn out to be the very same one who thinks you're a boor for not opening the door for her, or for not helping her carry her things. Go figure.
Not to antagonize women of course. I love women. It's me that they hate. :-)
Something to think about.