Do you have a retirement plan yet? Do you believe that you will live at least until the day you retire? What are the odds that you will die before your retirement? Very less? So, you are pretty confident that the odds are in the favour of you living on the day of your retirement. It is not a surprise that most of the people share the same opinion in the developed and many of the developing countries.
However, the people who lived a century ago were not so confident about the possibility of them living until the age of 50. You too would not have been so sure if today’s social situations are same as those before a century.
The past centuries exhibited one or more of the following characteristics:
- Threat of war
- Threat of famine
- Threat of deadly diseases
- Threat of genocide
- Threat of loss of freedom
One can easily figure out that the life before the current century was all about the struggle for mere survival, even in most of the so-called colonially developed countries.
With the relative pacification and advancement of medical technology, the members of the human race living in the developed and the developing countries have been able to move on from living for mere survival towards a life aimed at psychological fulfilment. In other words, when a country has not moved forward from survival-as-life concept, that country is called an undeveloped or a backward country.
Barring the people with high social status, the common people lived a life, which was not aiming for psychological fulfilment but aiming for just survival against all the odds. In other words, they were living a life similar to that in undeveloped countries or communities.
Understanding Un(der)developed Societies
Consider the example of tribes, whom the modern world considers to be undeveloped. On careful observation, one can easily spot that there is something common in almost all the tribal communities – Societal roles. Generally, there is one tribal head. Some people have the role of soldiers. In addition, there are more social roles like hunter-gatherers, god-men, midwives, housewives, etc.
When a society is based on mere survival, the best possible way to go ahead with its existence is to have defined roles for each of its members. Hunter cannot do what a soldier can do and vice versa. There is a separate set of rules and regulations for each of these societal roles. No one is supposed to breach the rules of their role. These rules could be reasoned to have been built for the uninterrupted survival of the community as a whole.
Legacy of Gender Roles
There is something else that these tribal communities exhibit – Gender roles. This means that there are separate rules and regulations for males and females. The tribal communities need these gender roles as much as they need the societal roles.
These tribes did not treat people equally. Does this mean that they were bad? Does this mean that some members of the community suffered at the cost of enjoyment of the others? No. It just means that everyone would work differently to achieve the goal of the continued survival of their tribal community.
Gender Roles in the Modern Society
Why did I bring up the topic of tribal communities? I brought up that topic because some of the aspects of their life resembles the modern societies of the past century. As the modern societies were also under life-as-survival philosophy until a century ago, they also exhibit the clear and blatant distinction of gender roles.
Additionally, each role had a specific set of responsibilities attached to it that would help the society to get through the survival struggle.
The role of a man was to be a protector and provider. The role of a woman was to be a bearer and nurturer of the future generation.
Since the man, as a protector and provider, could not be always in the house, he was not fit for housework. So, the responsibility of housework was given to the woman.
How Men improved Women’s Life?
When the society’s proper functioning depended on how well a person carried out his/her responsibilities, it is only natural for people to try to excel at their area of responsibility.
Women tried to excel at housework and child upbringing while men tried to excel at protecting and providing for the family.
When man became aware of the dangers that a woman is exposed to during household work, his sincerity in his role as a protector was questioned and he tried to find solutions to make his home a safer place to live, for his wife and children.
With the advancement of science and technology, the so-called male dominated world tried to make the household work of a woman safer and easier. This led to the woman’s job becoming progressively easy over the time. This happened just because of the fact that the role of man as a protector was in question.
This same feeling of responsibility towards the safety of his country’s women and children led to invention of war weapons.
In addition to all of these, men volunteered to lose their lives in war in return of their family’s protection. What a dedication to their responsibilities!
When man’s responsibilities were designed to make the life of a woman easier, a woman’s responsibilities were directed only towards her existing or future children and not on the man. Thus, there was no similar increase in the ease of life of men, when compared to that of women.
Women were benefited from men’s actions and children were benefited from women’s actions. Whom did men benefit from? Men were the least benefited among all the people of the modern society.
Men seem to be intentionally left without benefits from women because men, who try to prove their sincerity, are the only ones who can produce beyond their limit and improve the society.
The Rise of Women
Eventually, men were able to meet the survival needs of women, before they met their own survival needs. In other words, men risked their lives to make sure that their wives and children survive.
Once the survival needs of women were met, they started looking for psychological fulfilment. Fulfilment generally comes from looking within oneself. Women got the chance to think about fulfilment and to identify what they want in order to be psychologically fulfilled.
This quest led women in the path of analysing the differences between men and women. This led them into questioning the pre-defined gender role of women.
As most of the households had women who had enough free time to convene and talk about fulfilment, the most powerful movement so far in the history of mankind took its birth. This movement, in its current form, is called as Feminism.
Feminism originated when women were looking for a feast while a man was still stuck without even a drop of drinking water. I mean to say that feminism is the by-product of the sincerity of men, who paved the path of psychological fulfilment to women, while not freeing themselves from the bondage of survival needs.
As a matter of fact, today’s men are still in the search of their survival needs, while the women are far beyond themselves in search of greener pastures.
Why are Men Unhappy?
While the women organized themselves, they selectively chose to question the prescribed gender role of only the women. While absolving themselves of the responsibilities dictated by gender roles, they expect men to be even more sincere as protectors and providers.
Because of a massive wave of radical feminism and related politics, the empowered women sold their theory to the entire world, while their husbands were working hard to provide for their family.
In addition to this, these women were mothers too. Being the people who spend a lot of time with the children, they influenced the next generation too into the theory of radical feminism.
Today, we have ended up in a world, where it is fashionable to claim oneself as a feminist. Every man is still taught that his responsibility is to protect women.
Every man has to protect and provide even when his wife has a job. In fact, when his wife has a job, he has the pressure to earn even more to prove his allegiance to the responsibility of protecting and providing.
This is the reason why the majority of the men feel that their hard work is not being acknowledged by their family. What men don’t understand is that the jobs of protecting and providing are considered the bare minimum qualifications to call oneself a man. So, by working harder than he can, the man is just fulfilling the criteria of the bare minimum, while he thinks he is fit for the title of exemplary.
This is also the reason why more often than not, something that is seen as an extravagant luxury by the husband, is seen as a basic need by the wife because the husband is in the survival struggle mode whereas the wife is in the psychological fulfilment mode of thought.
It is only strange that the same people who are against the age-old societal role system, are ardent supporters of the age-old gender role system. I only wish that people see the havoc that they are creating in their own societies by this blatant showcase of double standards.
Don’t you also think that this is hypocrisy in us as a society?
Picture Credit: dualdflipflop/Flickr