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Power relations : balancing act

Updated on August 19, 2016

In society , men and women play out a role that is scripted for them by that society and their culture. The interaction of males and females in society , based on their biological differences, leads to relations where the playing field is uneven. The interaction between male and female is therefore continually played out in terms of power. The society's expectatin of men to be the stronger sex and women to be the weaker ones gives some license to the males. However , this is not a normal form of interaction and leads to power play between the sexes. One may call this the war of the juices, how the chemicals between male and females are translated into power relations.

Unequal power relations

The script for this role-play of male versus female is traditionally rigged to favour one side, the men. One needs to understand that this is how your society as a whole operates. It is not a case of an individual man versus some woman, or a particular boy doing wrong to a girl. From early on in lives, there are pre-packages expectations of girls and boys.

For example :

  • Girls are seen to be weaker and expected to be submissive.
  • Boys are seen to be stronger and expected to learn to dominate.

These relations are taken from the different functions that men and women fulfil with a view to sexual relations and marriage. Men are expected to be the hunters and women to be the prey. This role-play gives some license to the hunters over their "trophy".

Power inequality

In interaction, men and women are appointed these different roles. The way in which they play out these roles, howerever, causes a definite shift in power, in which women are not treated as equals to men. Women tend to be shown up as "trophies" or objects, hinting at sexual relations, sexual objects - as the typical role of males needs them to be. This type of unequal treatment comes from various factors such ase those i am going to mention :

  • Tradition and religion - Women are not expected to be learned and to have their own say about what takes place in society.
  • Culture - In certain cultures, women are regarded as men's possessions and only have value within the reproductive cycle - making babies and helping to regenerate.
  • Portrayal by the media - We are used to seeing the gender difference in advertisements for men and women. Huge companies get rich by fixing gender roles and marketing their products aimed at this difference between males and females.

Eventually boys and girls view these gender roles as natural and are forced to adhere to them.

  • Feminine : Girls learn to be sweet and nice and to give away. And they learn to become women in society who need make-up to look enticing to catch teir man.
  • Masculine : Boys are rugged and need to have their way. They learn to become men who grow a beard , work on their muscles, and burp when they feel like it.

That's just the way it is. People live out these gender roles without thinking about it. These are certain built-in controls as well, making sure that they do not move out of that specific space in society allocated to them. In this sense boys and girls are culturally canned to act differently. Think for instance of an interaction situation such as a sports game : the guys on the field and girls screaming in the stands or alongside the field.

Power balance

This interaction between boys and girls , while they learn to become well-adjusted men and women , has a delicate balance. There are certain pay-offs between men and women so they can maintain these roles :

  • Men need to act as the provider and fulfill the needs of women, who want to feel protected and looked after.
  • Women act as a trophy and a possession and fulfill the needs of men, who want to feel in control and cared for.

For men and women to balance these roles , thre is some emotional cost involved.

  • For females : There is a price for being sweet and nice ( People don't take you seriously)
  • For males : There is a price for being strong and in control ( You may not show your emotions to people you should )

Power struggle

Women and men find themselves in power relation that is titled towards men. That is because men are taken to be the stronger sex, and women the weaker ones. According to these roles , women traditionally did not have the right to education, to their own opinion or to vote. They did not need it, because their roles did not ask for it. Therefore, women had to maneuver to become empowered and restore the balance. That necessarily led to power struggle. We may call this the war of the juices. It is a struggle between men and women throughout history. This power game is based on th different way in which men and women portray their sex (bilogical function). In this struggle , the one can influene the relationship positively has the real power. If the one knows the other's basic needs, then he or she takes control. Knowledge for true empowerment is to place oneself in the other's shoes.

  • Women know that men need to feel strong and cannot resist the attentions of a gorgeous woman who makes them feel important and manly , therefore women play the role of the tease.
  • Men know that women need to feel wanted and have a mother instict - therefore they play the role of the bungling idiot or sorrow-eyed puppy.

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