Male Chauvinism Vs. Feminism

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando - Saturday Column on Ceylon Today

In my attempt to get rid of unwanted old e-mails, which I received during 2016, I was struck by a particular mail sent by an old female journalist friend, who worked at "The Island" newspaper office some years ago now working in the Middle East. She came with a bold request for me to mull over one of the most controversial issues and wanted me to write about it in my Saturday column.

She had written, "Not only the best cooks are men, but they are the most beautiful creations of God. Just think about it for a moment, it may have been the foregone conclusion to accept that women are the prettiest creations of all, but are they? If women are deemed to be the loveliest and beautiful, why do they need to spend hours on end to prettify at all, on every occasion? Look at 'man'! Oh! He is simply gorgeous without any layers of make up, or having to run to the hairdresser or beauty parlour every now and then for facials, even at the age of 50, 70 or come 80! In my personal view, male gender is bestowed with natural beauty and dazzling among all of the God's creations. Do you agree? And why don't you write about it in your column"?

Proverbial orbit

Her statement unquestionably threw me into the ‘proverbial orbit’, especially she being a woman! My first reactions were the fear of getting myself branded as a male chauvinist in doing so, due to extra sensitivity of the social issue. In my second thoughts, I decided to research into the wider theme of male and female categories, rather than concentrating on the ‘beauty factor’ and came up with something expedient.

The word ‘Gender,’ which has been commonly used in the 20th century was referred to as a noun to denote a person or an object as masculine, feminine or neutral in various languages. The twin meaning refers to the state of being male or female, while gender roles are associated with social and behavioural norms of individuals of a specific sex in the context of a particular culture. Delving into pre-historic culture, one would find the male physique and strong spatial-cognition was most beneficial when it came to various tasks such as hunting of wild animals.

Feminism

Women have been considered and treated right along history as the ‘weaker sex’ or inferior to man. Economic changes and the fierce activity from the feminist movement in recent times have managed to bring justice to women by exerting pressure and anxiety on men in certain societies when women have begun to join ranks of men with the new technology and switching over to computer expertise. Also, more women seeking higher education have managed to change the scene completely by taking the muscle out of jobs in offices, factories and even in governments by becoming senior executives, directors, chairpersons, members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers, prime ministers and even presidents of certain countries, which were once considered traditionally as positions carved out for menfolk.

Queen Elizabeth II who has been the Head of the Commonwealth since 1952 is a typical example and a pride to womanhood.

Seventy-five-year-old Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated after 33 years on the throne by making way to his son Willem-Alexander, whose coronation took place on 30 April 2013 and became the country's first king.

For almost over 2, 000 years male chauvinism has remained a controversial issue within Christian beliefs when it came to ordaining of women as priests with the conviction that "the consecration process is set up by God for the administration of religious rites." Women, therefore, were denied for a long time, and only in 2014 the general synod of the Church of England agreed to introduce women bishops. Yet, some placements and titles are still reserved exclusively for men among Christians such as the Pope, in the Roman Catholic Church.

Sexuality

Humans exhibit sexual dimorphism. Many of the characteristics do have a role in sexual attraction. So, without engaging in an argument over superiority or beauty between men and women, one has to accept the fact that each one becomes a link in a human chain on earth with a purpose and an assignment individually, which most of them fail to fathom.

On the other hand, it is not fair by women to be isolated and label them as “beauty conscious creatures," who spend extra money and time on manicure and pedicure errands, visiting beauty parlours for regular haircuts, highlights, facials, eye brows and spend extravagantly on a variety of hand creams, night and anti-wrinkle emulsions, and on pricey perfumes to make them sensational.

Despite all such analysis, it is a sad affair to see females are being made use of as ‘sex symbols’ in TV commercials and print media advertisements.

By the same token, men too cannot escape calling them as ‘saints either, as some of the male actors in Hollywood, Bollywood and elsewhere and sophisticated men in big cities in the world are spending generously on regular 'keep-fit' and bodybuilding undertakings, manicure and pedicure exercises, wax treatment (for removal of chest hair), liposuction to get rid of abdominal celluloid and spend wastefully on designer wigs (hair extensions) to cover their 'boiled-egg' type pates and even undergo cosmetic surgery and orthodontics to look handsome.

Sexual characteristic perspective automatically distinguishes boys turning into men with more body hair, moustaches and beards, larger hands and feet (than women), broad shoulders, bigger skull and bone structure, superior muscle mass, a more prominent Adam's apple, deeper voice and a long shinbone. Apart from this gender demeanour, clothing, hairstyles or body characteristics too become apparent.

What was unfeasible once has become a reality today as currently we live in a scientific world, in which if one feels that one is born to the wrong sex, there is no need to worry about it, as we are now in the hands of high technology and clinical technicians, who have taken over the responsibility of being the ‘creator on earth’. It's only a matter of time, in making up their mind, to have a sex change.

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