Growing up as a child in a society defined by a dominant ideology of patriarchy, I couldn’t agree less with the justification of structural sexism–a belief that one gender or another is considered the only or just the best choice to fill some certain type of job or place in society. Put simply, it is an idea aimed at oppressing one gender in other to gain superiority over the oppressed.
This is no doubt mostly directed at women and girls. They’re being restricted from doing certain things because of their gender, and it has ranged from simple things like engaging in some forms of games, playing sports, in the workplace, in corporate environments, in politics, et al.
The reason is simple and isn’t far-fetched because, on average, people are predictable. Most boys will naturally behave like boys; while most girls will naturally behave like one.
Thus, human expectations have been born over a millennium of observations. The societal construct was built on science, even prior to our knowledge that it was science.
The chemicals that characterized a developing female foetus are of sizable different from those that characterized a developing male foetus. Differences develop in the womb.
Hence, the first reason why sexism continues to shape our societal ideology is because there are obvious differences between the sexes, which lend itself to behave in a certain way. So, part of sexism is biology, and it is hard-coded into humans, part is social.
Biologically, men are big and strong. The average woman has 52% of the upper body strength and 66% of the lower body strength of the average man.
Overall, the average woman is stronger than 2.5% of men, and the average man is stronger than 97.5% of women. i.e., an average man is capable of taking down three women at once; also, the skeletal system of the male gender is denser. Their circulatory system is more robust. They are naturally more aggressive.
However, the million-dollar question is, can structural sexism be justifiable? How strong is the belief that one gender is intrinsically superior to another? This, no doubt, is a heated debate that preoccupied the wake of the 21st century when women started pushing for feminism.
However, from biological, religious and cultural perspectives, the answer will always remain that males are superior, but notwithstanding structural sexism is a prejudice based on one’s gender, and encouraging it will breed sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, there’s the need for fairness among all genders. This present writer advocates that there should be a step towards recognizing that gender is a social construct.
A person is biologically a male or female, as such, society shouldn’t give the man or the woman the roles they have to play, rather attention should be given to how men and women can truly partner to see that these roles and demands become manageable for both genders, but especially for women. You could imagine how miserable the world without females could be and vice-versa.
About the Author:
Nweke Chinonso is a Law Student of Ahmadu Bello university, Zaria, a legal author and researcher.