The other day in seminar, a woman presented her topic, based loosely on the book “Self-Made Man” by Nora Vincent, wherein the author spends a year and a half living the life of a man to better understand the male persona. This woman wanted to look into the legal profession from a man’s point of view, and thus explained her findings, after interviews and research.
The main point was that men are measured in all that they do to such a degree that, in a field like law, it’s nearly impossible to lead an outside life that involves kids, a family, etc. Men are looked down upon for wanting to take any sort of time off to spend with those kids. Where, on the other hand, women are still somewhat expected to raise the children. Even in firm environments, it’s not unusual for a woman to take 2 weeks off to deliver her child and resume about 80% of work almost immediately. As appalling a time period as that is, it is still something, however, that men could not do. Those 2 weeks would be measured against them indefinitely.
And the question we’ve probably been pondering since high school is: when men & women sleep together/hook up/make out/whatever, why is that women are labeled a whore while men are usually congratulated? A friend of mine just faced this: she made out with a man who has a small but significant reputation and she is getting the brunt of the flack for it. And from where? Granted, the older we get, the view changes somewhat in that women are left to their own discretions and most are more okay with it, and men can actually *gasp* be considered too whorish themselves. However, on the whole, the stigma still sits on women to a large degree.
So where do these disparities come from? And why? What is so fundamentally different between the sexes that we can’t play on equal footing with everyday labels or expectations?
I suppose, like the whore label, that as time moves on, things change ever so slightly and slowly. So perhaps one day these things will even themselves out. But until then, I suppose it’s one of those great imponderables.