Columns EN Gender

Women’s Place in Society – Introduction to a Perceptional Approach

‘The place of woman in the society’ is a hot topic that has been widely discussed and debated for decades.  In almost every society, because of the ability to give birth to childr and breastfeed the child, the duty of caring for the child is given to women. Therefore, when we say ‘woman’, some adjectives such as ‘nutritious, patient and maternal’ come our minds automatically.

Before I started writing, I was curious about how the Turkish Language Association (TLA) described ‘Woman’ currently. I said ‘currently’ deliberately because Turkish Language Association (TLA) which is one of the Turkey’s most respected and well-established associations led to a heated with its definition of ‘Woman’ previously. According to TLA (in its second definition), woman defines as “who has the virtues, skills necessary for maternity or home management (adjectives).” If I can’t be a mother or I don’t want to be a mother or if I’m incapable of home management, I can’t be a woman. Interesting! What am I supposed to be? A man now?

I will tell you something that shocked me when the first time I came to Norway and interacted with Norwegian culture. It is: ‘Male midwives’ Yeah, you didn’t hear it wrong, ‘Male midwives.’ I am a a psychologist. I had a good education and grew up in a modern family. But still I found it strange. Just like Frank Tagliano who is the main cast of ‘Lilyhammer’ series. After his arrival in Norway after USA, he gave the same reaction to ‘male midwives’ like me.  He had a severe reaction to a male midwife doing her pregnant wife’s controls. I was coming from Turkey -relatively conservative and a Muslim county- and he was coming from USA although he is a fiction hero. In fact, the same point lies under our shocking: the “perception of woman’s place in society.” Having a good education or growing up with American culture did not change this perception. “Midwife” should be the woman. Just like a nurse, like a secretary, or a teacher that is most suited to women!

So, what was the basis of ‘my perceptual deviation?’ While there are dozens of role model women working at the top levels, why I had such a confusion? Because society and sometimes my family told me that I should wear pink dress from the moment I was born. Because they told me that I can choose my toys from babies. Because they told me that motherhood is such a sacred thing. Because they told me that women earn little (or should earn little) money. Moreover, what they told me shaped my future perception, consciously or unconsciously.

I have pointed to the society like target, let’s take a look at one of the most developed countries in the world: Norway. When we compare ‘Average monthly earnings by sex’ in Norway in 2018, it is demonstrated that males’ monthly earnings are 48.420 kroner while females’ are 42.170 kroner.  Is that not interesting? Women earn exactly 6.250 kroner less, even though we do the same job. Let’s look at CORE – Norwegian Gender Balance Scorecard in 2018. Few women hold positions in the top executive committees: 22%. That is, 78% of them are men! Interesting! 21 of the 200 largest companies have female CEOs. That is, at the top: usually a man! That’s interesting also! Where is the equality of men and women? Where’s women’s rights? Is that a story?

In fact, the basis of this inequality is our “Perceptions” and “Subjective positioning” caused by our perceptions. As a psychologist, I am going to talk about how our perceptions govern us and how our perceptions determine our place as women in society in my next article.

Continue to read the follow up column…