Gender myths: Can we go against them all?

A myth is something that is based on tradition. It may have factual origins, whilst some may be completely fictional.

Some may say a myth is a false popular belief.

In Gender there are also myths which people believe in, they were passed on to them and are still being passed on from generation to generation.

But looking at our day to day living in the society one can be in a position to accept or deny these gender myths, here are some of the myths which we have since believed in:

-Men reject the idea that they can be victims of violence.

-Women are capable of doing what men can do.

-if a pregnant woman craves for sweets, it’s a baby girl

-If the baby’s father puts on weight during pregnancy it’s a boy.

-The Mother’s face, if its round, full and rosy, it’s a girl [

-Women should not pay a date or an outing, it’s a man’s responsibility.

-men can’t do simple domestic tasks.

-Women are not funny

-Men are terrified of commitment

-Women dress to impress men

-Men don’t wear make up

-men are better than women in Mathematics.

-women are not good bosses at workplaces

-Men are more competitive

-Women are weak

-Men are hardhearted

-Women belong in the kitchen

-At funeral women sit at the head of the dead person’s coffin

These are some of the words which have been used and are still being used in the society. Therefore what do these ideas say about the relations between women and men? Does the society really believe these assumptions?

They somehow show that men and women are different of course, but is it really true?.

These actually are some of the common beliefs in our different societies but looking closely at the myths, people have since challenged or say have gone against some of the myths.

Some of the myths have somehow been proven wrong.

Male dorminance is generally associated with respect, priviledged, greatness, status, positions of power, fighting battles and rational thinking. Whilst on the other hand females are generally taken as the opposite of men being limited and restricted as they are believed to be softies who cannot face tough challenges of life therefore they belong in the home, where they are supposed to cater for the family. Generally the whole idea is that the assumption is that traits and behaviors associated with manhood and masculinity are superior to those associated with womanhood and feminity. Let us look at some of the myths how they have been challenged.

Now that we are living in an economic driven society, women are standing up on their feet, challenging the educational and employment limits the system sets. They are found in the political, business and sporting sectors holding impressive posts which were generally male dominated.

Same applies to the nature of profession desired, no profession is strictly restricted to men only, women also have the chance and opportunity to work with men and not think of them as their bosses all the time. Women have to be bigger than their oppression and realize that being helped does not equate to weakness and subordination.

Culturally a woman belongs in the house doing the cooking, washing, cleaning and childbearing. She is not expected to wake up everyday competing with her spouse on who leaves the house first and gets to work on time.

Gender roles are by no means natural hence they can be changed by the very society that created them.

Nothing can stop men to offer a helping hand in the kitchen or assist on the child rearing responsibilities.

However, some men believe that if a woman dorminates, she is bound to forget her feminine duties, therefore they find it difficult to release them and let them have an opportunity to see where they can fit in.

This also bring the idea that women  can be their own bosses and  are not relying on their male counterparts for anything but they are struggling for equal opportunities with men as they want to prove their capabilities.

However, a study by scholar Cheater says women in some African societies have power and authority to run the family, any property a woman acquires through her own skill is solely hers. In addition to this, women were given a plot and granary upon marriage which will be under their sole control.

In 1980, the then Ministry of Cooperative and Community Development and Women Affairs was tasked to redress the oppressive colonial laws.

A study by Batezat and Mwalo (1989) reported that the Ministry announced its intention to remove all customary, social, economic and legal constraints that inhibited women’s full participation in national developmental issues.

The policy of this Government aims at the transformation of women’s status so that they can assume their rightful role in society as participants alongside men on basis of equality.

The government urgently braced itself to improve the status of women which the public media has to enhance and reinforce through positive portrayal of the contributions of women towards development.

Grant and Newland (1989:11) say “reason and understanding can only be attained by men.” They also quote Aristotle who also agree that women are physically weaker and were therefore intellectually inferior to men. Women themselves tend to have accepted the inferior class position and have lived with the burden through history.

Looking at a simple example, traditionally it is improper for a man to be found or seen cooking in the kitchen or cleaning the house as it is regarded as a woman’s task.

On the social aspect, there are men who like cooking as a hobby they enjoy the pleasure of cooking, some do the cooking because maybe they live by themselves (bachelors) and there is no other way but to prepare their own meals, some men do the cooking as a romantic gesture to their partners.

In other ways it means that socially it is not a problem at all to see a man doing the cooking compared to cultural traditions.

At times it is difficult to contradict with cultural expectations because once a man is seen or found cooking, cleaning or doing laundry he is regarded as “not man enough” and that is why he is doing a woman’s task or akadyiswa  ndosaka achibika mukadzi akagara .Yet that is not the actual fact.

Looking closely, some of the myths have since brought restrictions and limitations to both men and women, but some have managed to challenge and overrule the myths.Whilst some of the myths are not true at all.

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