Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gender equality in Russia

I didn't think there was quite as much gender liberalism in St. Petersburg as in my hometown. When you look around, traditional masculinity and femininity seem to be observed.

However, according to the (Russian) authors of the textbook that we use for conversation class, the genders are, in fact, at war.

For homework, we read a cute little text about how little girls are raised to play with dolls and little boys to play with cars, and this determines their future. Later in life, girls must "suffer" through being courted by men, while the unlucky men must buy flowers and be constantly thinking of ways to show their affection. Why must it be this way? How unfair life is... full post/-


Exploring the chapter further, I found some interesting viewpoints represented by texts that we didn't cover in class. For example, there was a description of "gender theory"-the idea that gender roles are determined not by biology, but by stereotypes determined by the culture. So adult men and women only know what to do because of what they were taught in childhood or observed going on around them. There is no instinct or higher power to guide them. Women, naturally, have been repressed in this regard, and in many cases must depend on their husbands for income.

When we had our discussion in class, it turned out that all the male students were absent that day, and I wasn't able to speak my mind because the (young, female) instructor asked a lot of leading questions, such as:

-Who earns more, men or women?
-Can women be president in your country?
-What would you want to change about how women are treated?
-Has the situation improved in your country, or are gender stereotypes still observed?

In other words, there was no question which referred to any positive aspects of gender, and we were not asked if we liked, for example, the way things used to be, when chivalry was still around.

I was a little surprised because I would have expected the topic to be discussed more in the U.S. than in Russia. But I suppose in most cultures the question comes up at one point or another. There are, of course, places where women are still considered different from men, but are abused in relationships. That is certainly not a model I would support. But I think a more common situation is that as freedom of speech increases, complaints grow. We always want more of something.

I was delighted when we received a homework assignment to write an essay stating our position regarding gender. I wonder if there is a page limit? :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Comments aren't proofread, but I will delete them if they seem inappropriate.

You’re welcome to leave a link to your own blog here if it's relevant to this blog.

Please make sure that your comments are 1) relevant and 2) respectful (i.e. no cuss words, attacks on individuals).