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Why do women generally get such a raw deal in society?

  1. Jan 5, 2011 #1
    I am not sure of the political forum is appropriate, since I am interested in evolutionary reasons primarily.

    Western society right now is probably a historical high point for women. You look at society across the world, throughout time, and consistently you see women treated as less then the equals of men. The thing is, this is not absolutely universal. For example, the Lenny Lenape, the indigenous people of New Jersey, had a matriarchal society. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenape

    There were other native american societies where women were respected. However, the majority of societies seem to, at best, hold women as second class citizens.
    Religion and women particularly don't seem to mix well.

    I have never heard of a society where men were the second class citizens.

    Any thoughts on why this is, and why some cultures respected women more then others (without modern women's movements and such.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2011 #2
    I've assumed that men have always been the aggressors - until society enacts controls the most aggressive rule?

    I'm not sure a (specific) woman can be respected (by people unfamiliar with her) until she can be seen and heard (and without being dismissed by an aggressor) - witnessed influencing control over a situation.

    Perhaps the argument against the elevation of women in society would be helpful?
  4. Jan 5, 2011 #3
    The article is pretty vague about what it means by America interfering with traditional family structure.
  5. Jan 5, 2011 #4
    I chose the article because it opposes the empowerment of women (as observed in the US). The tone of the article is frustrated and angry (IMO). In my opinion, it's near impossible to empower a woman, then not allow her to stand alone and make her own choices.
  6. Jan 5, 2011 #5
    This article seems to suggest that ancient women who were aggressors - were more respected.

    "Although by no means a race of Amazons, their ability to exercise varying degrees of power and self-determination was most unusual in the ancient world, which set such great store by male prowess, as if acknowledging the same in women would make them less able to fulfil their expected roles as wife and mother. Indeed, neighbouring countries were clearly shocked by the relative freedom of Egyptian women and, describing how they 'attended market and took part in trading whereas men sat and home and did the weaving', the Greek historian Herodotus believed the Egyptians 'have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind'.

    And women are indeed portrayed in a very public way alongside men at every level of society, from co-ordinating ritual events to undertaking manual work. One woman steering a cargo ship even reprimands the man who brings her a meal with the words, 'Don't obstruct my face while I am putting to shore' (the ancient version of that familiar conversation 'get out of my way whilst I'm doing something important')."
  7. Jan 5, 2011 #6

    Hmm. It seems to draw a connection between violence and equality. This makes some sense. I guess the notion that power is based on anything other then violence (including the violence of God) is a relatively modern notion.
  8. Jan 5, 2011 #7
    I think that historically, the methods of sustaining a living have changed dramatically. Women can do the same things equally well to live nowadays. Intelligence alone is what is valuable. As opposed to the need for brute labor, the ability to physically dominate, etc. that were required in the past.

    As a civilation advances, the physical qualities of men are not as important.
  9. Jan 5, 2011 #8
    To summarize, the power of the dominante individual is surpassed by the collective power of a group. The group power becomes law. When the law becomes too powerful - either an individual or a group recaptures the power - and re-drafts the law.
  10. Jan 6, 2011 #9
    To put what Drankin said a little more bluntly, I believe that at the earliest of times, men were stronger than women and could beat them up. The greedy men who gained power in those times didn't want equal women who could challenge them, they wanted young and beautiful sex slaves who would do nothing but pop babies out and clean the house.

    Now, I think there are inherent problems in the way we socialize the little girls in America. I find it interesting that aggressive women such as Spartan women were able to maintain rights at such an early time. These days it seems as though American girls are raised to be so much more docile, made to believe that they should side step issues instead of taking them head on.
  11. Jan 6, 2011 #10
    I'm not sure I agree with that. I think that's less the case now then it was previously.
  12. Jan 6, 2011 #11
    How do you figure?

    I don't doubt that we've progressed from the times where every women was destined to be a housewife, but women are still a minority who sorely lack power and the glass ceiling is still a very big and ugly reality.

    It seems to me that any female who has moved forward in female dominated professions has simply had to become "one of the guys" in order to do so.
  13. Jan 6, 2011 #12
    Specific support please? Do we not have affirmative action policies in place? Do we not have equal pay for equal work protection? Do women not have equal access to training and education?
  14. Jan 6, 2011 #13

    This fact sheet was made a year after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law, but guess what? Women are still making 73 cents for every dollar that men make. As this sheet also notes, that's a good $10,000 a year less in pay. Perhaps it's fair to assume that making $10,000 less a year could hamper possible educational goals? University does cost money, in fact, it seems like everything costs money. Less money in a year will directly correlate to less opportunity.

    The sheet itself goes on to make a more comprehensive argument on why such a thing particularly harms women in the short and long run.
  15. Jan 6, 2011 #14
    From your link, can you please site a specific job that pays a woman $10,000 less per year? My conclusion (after reading your link) was that perhaps women work part time or in positions that typically pay a lower wage - that doesn't mean they are paid less than a man working the same job.
  16. Jan 6, 2011 #15

    It's a very simplistic way to think at this issue this way. The job market is pretty much open, and there are jobs and jobs. Some jobs pay less , some jobs pay more. As it happens now, there are more men hired in position which pay more.

    Perhaps some time in the future there will be a job market in which the jobs which are preferred by women will be better payed on average and the difference will work in the favor of women then.

    To put it simple, this is not a conspiracy against women. It is a simple reflection of how the job market is populated at this moment in time and the propensities of each sex towards the available positions.
  17. Jan 13, 2011 #16
    Because men are physically stronger.
  18. Jan 22, 2011 #17
    It's sort of a strange relationship. Females are more important when it comes to sustaining a tribe because their ability to reproduce is what limits growth, but men are more valuable as offspring because they can reproduce with any available female (thus their ability to create offspring is greater).

    I think it really depends on the pressures present in the geographical area. If the tribe is more dependent on physical superiority, then men would be more valued, while if the tribe is more dependent on size and reproduction for continued existence, then women would be more valued.

    Though I think that in small tribal societies, all of the members would be valued for their necessity to the tribe as well as their close interpersonal relationships.

    I'm speaking only in terms of paleolithic humans. With the advent of civilizations, women have been relegated to subservient roles in most societies. I would think this is mostly a product of their physical inferiority in civilizations which relied heavily upon manual labor (agriculture, carpentry, etc.) while at the same time having less need to reproduce in any large numbers to be able to survive.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  19. Jan 26, 2011 #18
    Recent research has shown that almost all of the current pay discrepancy between males and females can be attributed to the career breaks taken by women for child birth/maternal duties. See, for example, http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/goldin/files/Dynamics.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Jan 26, 2011 #19
    The thread was not about modern western society.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Jan 27, 2011 #20
    It's a two-pronged reason. One is that men are physically stronger and smarter (in the wily and ingenious sense) than women. These are the only two advantages that we have over women. How does this benefit men? Well, if there were ever a real "physical" war between the sexes--men would win. Yes, pretty much useless "advantages."

    (But, the female is the better representative of the species. Let's face it, you aren't going to see too many female hitler-polpot-stalins-mass murderer-megalomaniac-types)

    And, it also has to do with the relationship between genders and the larger society. It appears as if men are more macro, and women are more micro. The movers and shakers within a society are by-in-large men. Men seem to be interested in the general, empty, social relationships of the group en toto. Women seem to be interested in the inter-personal relationships with individuals. Obviously, a pair-bonding offshoot of maternal evolution.

    And as a result, you'll get men running and shaping societies as a whole. More male pack leaders, than female--etc. Over time, societies (as a whole) develop that way. So women will naturally get a raw deal.

    And in some ways, it's also what the genders desire. If women only crave that individual pairing, and men crave that superficial love of many----then you'll never see a global matriarchal hegemony.

    [interesting topic for this thread, btw]
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