Reconsidering Gender Valiance


Stalwarts among women’s rights activists decry social constructs that prescribe gender roles finally amounting to professional prescription.  It is natural and justifiable for them to dislike and oppose such reductive prescriptions when women today are soaring in confidence in various matters of intellectual performance, sometimes out smarting men.  Women today are seeking new epithets to detail their activity meaning a change from those emollient phrases used to refer to them. They relish a valiant role in society vengefully giving up their roles as potential damsels in distress and embracing saviour models. A fine direction to take, indeed.

But is there any woman who wants to be thought of as any other? We leave lesbians out of this discussion. To the best of my knowledge women still relish being regarded as heiresses of femininity doing those things that are peculiar to them. Here the counter argument about what is desirable or socialisation does not count. A woman is what she is not because conservative society expects her to be so and her behaviour is read through that lens. It is only that nature has such force in the lives of people that they come home to their true selves however much they stray on account of contemporary tutoring or current hype. No woman can find intrinsic joy in regular absence from nurturing. Similarly, no man can stand to his full height if there is nobody in his life looking up to him for protection and guardianship. These are not constructs seeking to compartmentalise the genders but facts that are perennial and that run through the backbone of social existence. A shrew or a virago will continue to repulse both sexes in the same manner as an effeminate man will. If everybody can be everybody else and anything can become anything else, then we don’t need to have a regulated structure at all. Ever since man began to inhabit the earth the best roles for each gender automatically evolved. Do you honestly think primitive man was a chauvinist when he needed help all along from the woman who kept house for him?

Difference is at the root of organization. It is again the rule of attraction. A woman who retorts to a friend that she would rather have her husband do the cooking and housework might as well add that she will take over the garage and electric gadgets plus carpentry. She should show the same valiance in climbing poles and be intrepid for all of it. Spurning one’s duties in the name of junking custom is a futile exercise. Custom is not evil because it existed for long. It is in some respects a recognition of age – old truths conceived at a time when it was not a rage to negate freely. That is what most of us are doing now. Even in the absence of a locus standi we oppose no end and think that we emerge the cleverer for opposing. We should read between the lines of traditional discourse and calibrate our position. Who knows, we may realize that we have been hibernating all the time!

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2 responses to “Reconsidering Gender Valiance

  1. While there are biological differences that may account for gender role differences, e.g.. the fact that women’s physiology, child-birth, child-reaing etc, I am not sure that there is enough evidence to suggest that gender roles are ‘natural’. It really depends on a large extent to the society/environment as to which tendencies [eg nurturing etc] develop. Also not sure about this statement :’ Ever since man began to inhabit the earth the best roles for each gender automatically evolved.’ One can equally argue that roles evolve in accordance with environmental needs – and some roles may become obsolete. What I do agree with is that what comes naturally to an individual should be respected, while a same time encouraging the individual to come out of the comfort zone. I also think that some elements of feminists go to an extreme by despising those women who are comfortable being wife, mother etc and perhaps quietly in their own way be feminist.

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    • Gender as a concept took its birth in society. Hence it is a social construct while sex is unmistakeably biological and hence natural. My argument is that biology influences social readings to a large extent. Because biology limits an individual too. My contention against radical feminism is that a woman is not deficient in avant garde considerations by being a dutiful wife or mother…again I know the word duty calls for comment. None can blame a woman for being less self – respecting and for devaluing her potential just because she chooses to play her specially assigned roles well. In spite of a complete overhaul in the ethos many women vouch for being comfortable in nurturing roles. Even prehistoric woman who had no exposure to social constructs carried out her domestic tasks without complaint and thereby led to its perpetuation. This is how I explain the so called gender roles without the prop of socialisation theories or Neo – Freudian psychoanalytic theories. Thank you very much for your analysis and for sharing your insights. Do comment further if necessary.

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