I may be a little late choosing this topic for my post, I know, The International Women’s Day was last week. However, I think that it is not only on one day a year that we should think about women and the roles women play in our society.
I cite this time Simone de Beauvoir who says that
“Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female — whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”
The word man can be a male human being or mankind as such. In German for example, there is another word for mankind, which is Menschheit, being “Mensch” a generic word for a human being, although sticking to grammar, the gender of the word “Mensch” or human, is masculine… “Ein Mann” is a man and “eine Frau” is a woman. In Spanish as in English we refer to both using the masculine word for man or hombre. We also have mankind, humanity, and other words, but it is significant that “man” is still a popular term.
So, how should we behave? What does being a woman mean?
Simone de Beauvoir was and activist and a feminist who wrote about what it meant being a woman, thinking, behaving and feeling as a woman. In her book, The Second Sex, she analyzes women’s situation and her work is seen as a symbol of contemporary feminism. It was written in the late forties and at the very beginning she didn’t even liked to be called a feminist. However, in the seventies she agreed to being one.
I think that we all agree that there still exists prejudice or discrimination, the so called sexism, in many areas of our society, in many countries stronger than in others. This attitude comes from traditional stereotypes or gender roles, as explained in the definition in Wikipedia. Extreme sexism may lead to sexual harassment, and even harsher actions such as sexual violence or even rape. There is an interesting video postulating a theory of how a man could also be the victim of harsh sexism, if society would be ruled by woman.
I don’t think we have to go to the extremes to may it clear. Any one could belong to the oppressed majority, as the video shows us.
Let’s take a look at the way a woman managed to be taken seriously in a difficult area and in a time when men, and especially, medical doctors were considered gods. This woman, Virginia Johnson, was one of the first ones who started questioning the sexual behavior and sexual responses of women at a time when the topic was out of any question. Moral and belief were the guidelines to judge and decide how a woman should behave. She started assisting Dr. William Masters with his first scientific studies on human sexuality in the late fifties and early sixties in the United States. The studies were on male and female sexuality, but there were a lot of prejudices on the female role. Before these controversial research studies and their conclusions the idea of sex was very limited. These ideas culminated in the publishing of one the first sex manuals “Human Sexual Response, (1966)” , There had been studies on pregnancy and birth, but the way women functioned hadn’t even been questioned before. It was also a pioneer work in having a woman be part of such a study.
A good idea of how she got there and how the topic, studying human sexuality, started to be taken serious, can be watched in the TV show “Masters of Sex”. It sounds really spicy for a TV show, and it really is. The characters in the show are very well portrayed and I found every episode very interesting.
Going back to women, do we need to have a special day because we are women? I’ve seen a lot of posts about the “Day of the Cat”, “Day of the book”, “Day of…” Is it really what we want? In this case, we also need to have a Men’s day, a Dog’s day, a Turtles‘ day, etc.
I think we often miss the point, women’s day was introduced to think about all abused women in the world, and not to congratulate each other on being women… It is a call to respect women’s rights in the working world, to respect their position and condition, and to remind the States all over the world to help in this undertaking.
It is of course nice to be a woman, and to be proud of being one, but remember, don’t stick to predefined roles, don’t judge yourselves and compare yourselves with ideal or superficial woman figures. Be simply yourself, every one of us is beautiful in her own personal way!