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Gender Perceptions: Pointing Blame for the World's Ills

Updated on March 27, 2012

(Note: This article only provides a few factors involved in gender perceptions. As such, this hub is not representative of the views of all men and all women.)

In cultures around the world, women have been pegged as the scapegoats for anything that goes wrong. Few exceptions occurred in history, such as rare cases of female pharaohs, ruling queens in England, and even a considerable number of independent women in leadership roles in ancient Ireland. As a result of being smothered and shamed in the suffocating environment of patriarchies, women often turn the finger around and point it right back at the men who accuse them. However, men still hold the power despite women gaining ground on a path toward gender equality. After all these centuries of male dominance in positions of power, how is that the problems only seem to get worse if it is the women who are to blame? Perhaps it is the focus on who is to blame in the first place that is the real problem.

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Even long after the nonsense of the Malleus Maleficarum, some of the lies and misconceptions survived as negative stereotypes of women.
Even long after the nonsense of the Malleus Maleficarum, some of the lies and misconceptions survived as negative stereotypes of women. | Source

Ideology Behind Patriarchies

Not all patriarchies are created equal. Some do not blame women for any of the wrongs in the world, and some actually hold women as sacred. However, the patriarchies that many of us are familiar with are the sorts that viewed (or still view) women as inferior or the source of evil at some point in time. Sometimes the intentions are in the right place, but the message causes more harm. For example, generally women do not have the same physical strength as men as a result of physical build, skeletal structure, and center of gravity. Even women who can match brute strength and stamina with that of men may find themselves with injuries that men are less susceptible to, such as pelvic stress fractures resulting from certain physical labors. Women are placed in roles, then, that limit them from what their bodies are not readily equipped for. Unfortunately, this sends the incorrect message that women cannot fend for themselves and require men in their lives to fulfill other roles.

Other times, the intentions are hard to imagine as anything but malicious. During the Inquisition, women were believed to be so much lesser than men that the reason there were more witches among men was a result of them not knowing any better. They were weaker and more susceptible to evil. Male witches were dubbed "warlocks" with the etymology of "oathbreaker" in reference to breaking the oaths of the church. Women could not be warlocks because they simply did not know better and could not be held to such oaths given their very nature. Even the Malleus Maleficarum, after admitting that some women were of the highest good, states women are more susceptible to evil because they are weaker in willpower, more carnal than men, and possess the intelligence of children. In the societies that held these false beliefs to be true, women were no doubt regarded as the source or links to the source of all problems in the world. Even after the Inquisition, many of the incorrect stereotypes and explanations for women's behaviors continued as they were ingrained in the societies which held them.

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2008 Gender Inequality Index by country. The lighter colors indicate less inequality whereas the darker colors represent higher inequality. Gray areas have no data.
2008 Gender Inequality Index by country. The lighter colors indicate less inequality whereas the darker colors represent higher inequality. Gray areas have no data. | Source

Why Women Think Otherwise

Women have had little choice in such societies but to take the blame. With rare exceptions, women have had to deal with accusations that some wrong or another had something to do with them. However, from where they stand, it is the men who have messed things up and caused more problems than a woman would have given the same position. Because of lies and misconceptions that state women are evil or the link to evil, men in positions of power have made many mistakes. Some women feel that had women been in those positions, the mistakes would not have been made. Others argue that the gender of the person in power is unimportant so long as he or she has a non-biased perspective free of such limiting and derogatory assumptions.

Many women today who still point the blame of the world's problems toward men are less upset about the wrongs committed by men in the past as they are that men today fail to recognize those past issues and the remnants of them today. For example, in some cultures in the past, a woman raped by a man was the fault of the woman for being evil and tempting. Many men today recognize that this is absolutely wrong; the man committed a crime and is clearly in the wrong. Some men will even step outside of the law and risk throwing away their futures to avenge women who have been raped. However, men in some positions of power fail to recognize that this is still an ongoing problem despite many women experiencing sexual assault in today's world. Why are these influential men not making statements and public announcements to make positive impacts on other men's behaviors? It is the assumed answer to this question that creates the negative perception of men.

Another issue of awareness is the large gap that separates men and women in professional fields. Men still dominate many fields, such as construction and manufacturing and specific professions, such as surgeons. However, this gap may be less about an unwillingness by men to hire women in these fields as it is a case of society influencing women to pursue different careers. Commercials for higher education institutions often have males playing the part of students preparing for computer science and business and women playing students pursuing medical assisting. Although this sort of advertising is maintaining stereotypes for both genders, women are quick to pick up that women are expected to pursue "assistance" positions while men will pursue paths that can lead to more independence and prestige. The pay gap is currently at an all time low, but only because the industries that are more male-centered are losing business while those that are more female-centered are thriving. The pay gap, then, is not evening out because equality is gained, but because of a roll of the dice. Men who fail to understand that these are clear indicators of gender inequality in our society are part of the problem in women's eyes.

There's No Need for Blame

Thankfully, not all men blame women and not all women blame men for the wrongs of the world. Many factors play a role in any single problem and it does not make sense that we should expect an entire gender who may or may not have played even a small role in the problem to take full responsibility for it. The key is not to blame one another or even bother trying to prove who is right or wrong once and for all. When we stop focusing so much on who is to blame, we can start focusing on creating solutions. How do we solve our current societal problems? What measures can be taken for society to move forward? Both genders provide strengths in problem-solving methods. Letting go of the negative gender perceptions will help humanity in overcoming any challenges that arise.

Hub #23/30 for March Challenge.

© 2012 Evylyn Rose

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    • Academicviews profile image

      Academicviews 5 years ago from Scotland

      Very interesting article. It guess inequility depends on where you live. I think some cultures treatment of women is, for want of a better word, a disgrace.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Academicviews, Specific cultural norms and gender roles definitely make a difference in matters of equality. In fact, there are women who are expected to behave certain ways in some cultures that others would think of as horrible, but those women view it as the natural order of things. Perception plays a large role. Is it still inequality if both genders enjoy their roles and feel comfortable with the status quo? The real concerns are when women are forced into roles they do not want or misled into believing they are being treated as equal to men when they aren't. It would be just as much of an issue if it were the other way around. Thanks for the comment!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well-researched and documented hub; very nicely done and your points are all well-taken.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      billybuc, thanks for the comment and feedback. I appreciate it. :)

    • Academicviews profile image

      Academicviews 5 years ago from Scotland

      I was raised by my mother who managed to put two boys through university so I'm very interested in equality as I don't beleive her hard work was rewared as much as it would have been as she been born a generation later. If you think about how not that long ago the second world war was, along with the Nazis vile treatment of the "different" an, for that matter, discrimination is still rife in Southern American states..... equality is a subject we should all be very eager to debate

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Academicviews, I agree. There have been many instances that are prime examples of inequality, not only between gender but also other differences such as heritage and religion (or lack thereof) the world over. Some are quick to recognize that prejudice is still high, but not as many take the time to realize the impact those prejudices are still having on our societies.

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