Columns EN Gender

Woman’s Place in Society – Continuing to a Perceptional Approach

“When we finish university, we have opportunity to get a good job and make a good career, but our ‘biological’ sex takes us a step back. Since many employers prefer men instead of women, especially if we work in heavy industry. They say that this woman will give birth, she will take several months maternal leave (I must find new one in this period), when she returns to her work, she will work inefficiently due to her sleepless nights, she will be tired etc.”

In my article last week, I made a short introduction to ‘the place of women in society’. I talked about from the ‘meaningful’ definition of women in Turkish Language Institution to our perception deviations. Even more, I mentioned that women in Norway, which is the one of the most prosperous countries in the world, earn less than men.

In this article, I am going to talk about “our perceptions” and “subjective positioning” which is caused by our perceptions. Both underlie the gender inequality. We will refresh our psychology knowledge therewithal.

From the moment we are born, we find ourselves in the color distinction between men and women. If our biological sex is a female, a pink room is prepared for us. That room is filled with pink clothes and toys. Then our kindergarten ages begin. In our games with both sexes, we are usually the ones cooking on the stove or dressing up babies. We don’t take part in the games of males where they play among themselves. Even more, we get a reaction from them: ‘Just play with your own group- consisting of girls’.

When we reach the primary school age, it is interesting to note that girls are grouped with girls and boys with boys. Freud, ‘the father of psychology’ for me describes this period as “latency stage”.  Children at this stage tend to their parents. Therefore, identification with the parent of the same sex is also important in the formation of sexual identity and learning of social roles. Since we lost our libido energy during this period, it is also claimed that the lost libido was transferred to the same group of friends. The greatest fear of this period is failure and rejection by friends. As a girl, maybe because we know from the beginning that we will be rejected, we don’t want to play with boys and do not get involved in their games.  Instead, we prefer to ‘playing house’ with other girls that we will be group and understand each other. It is a ‘PLAYING HOUSE’ there one of us cooks, the other sets the table for example. Besides, in this period, we begin to understand which concepts such as mother and woman, and father and man are subjective and universal. Also, the foundations of gender-based social structures and gender identity are laid. Taking all this into account, there are important cognitive and emotional improvements in the physical and mental development of the child. In other words, the child’s cognitive abilities (perception, memory, judgment, etc.) reach a level where they can make more realistic assessments by the means of gender concept which has been slowly introduced to the child by the family and society. As a result of these assessments, we think that being mother is equal to doing housework, since we have seen our mothers cooking at home or setting up a table all the time. Since we identify ourselves with our mother, we code ‘I have to do household like my mother’ in a somewhere in our brains. Based on this coding, we strengthen women = house code in the middle and high school years, even in the processes we seek for our identity.

Relatively this code is slightly broken when we enter a university/college. For example, imagine that three women and two men work together on group assignments of an engineering lecture or that the men and the women go together on a challenging trekking. In fact, we have the same mentally and physically capacity to do what men do.  But, what about kitchen, laundry and ironing?

When we finish university, we have opportunity to get a good job and make a good career, but our ‘biological’ sex takes us a step back. Since many employers prefer men instead of women, especially if we work in heavy industry. They say that this woman will give birth, she will take several months maternal leave (I must find new one in this period), when she returns to her work, she will work inefficiently due to her sleepless nights, she will be tired etc. Well, she’s going to cook dinner for her husband, clean up the house also.  Besides this unhealthy point of view, there are also prejudices and disdain to the women.  For example, think about women who want to work in a factory. There are many people saying that production stage in a factory has a very heavy workload therefore, it does not suit for women. Also, there are many saying that women should not wear skirt where they work together with men. These are the employer’s misconceptions about our biological sex.

Let’s suppose that we haven’t been exposed to them or we’ve been exposed to relatively little. Now, it is time to look at the society. Whatever you accomplish as a woman, isn’t society going to question your femininity or your motherhood? Isn’t society going to ask such questions to you: ‘So which meal can you make better?’ or ‘Can you spare enough time for your child during your busy working life?’ Maybe everyday we hear many bad news like ‘Working woman neglects her home’, or ‘If a woman doesn’t know how to cook, she’s not exactly a woman’. Even when a woman is cheated, the culprit is almost herself. There are many accusations and excuses to that woman such as she was very workaholic, she was not interested in her house anymore, she was not as beautiful as earlier after giving a birth etc. These are social misperceptions created by society.

There are also wrong psychological perceptions created by us as a woman. I am going to talk about this in detail next week.

Love.