gender bits

Bit. Amazing how it happened that 50 percent of the world’s population is male and the other half is female. We all know what the differences are – men are from mars kind of thing. But cerebrally, we are both of equal intelligence.

It is then equally amazing how some cultures and religions willingly accept a 50 percent deficit in their capabilities by limiting a woman’s role within their society or religion.  The strict Muslim societies are a good example. In effect, they’ve decided to achieve only half their potential by keeping half of the population under wraps.

Last evening, as I was coming back from a meeting in Dubai, I mentioned to the taxi driver how bad the traffic has gotten.  He said to me in heavy arabic accent (not a local arab), “it is Thursday evening–start of weekend. Many from Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman are here.  You see many license plates from those countries. They love coming here.”  “They love the shopping I guess,” I say.  He continues, “to them, Dubai is paradise.  See that woman walking there?”  There was a woman exiting the Mall of the Emirates wearing an above-the-knee sleeveless dress (not mini). (It is 110 degrees here).  “If a woman was wearing that in Saudi, she is shot.”

Yes, the men from all over the middle east love Dubai because there are women here from all over the world and they are not covered up. In their countries, the women must only expose the whites of their eyes.  But the men, they can have multiple wives and are still sex crazy.

Bit. Some cultures have gotten so hung up in gender that their languages originated separating things into male and female.  Spanish anyone? (among others).

Bit. Now I’m really overdoing the China subject.  The gender differential is striking looking at the two most populated countries on earth, China and India, who share more than one third of the human race.  They are close in geography, but almost nothing else.

Lots of things make them different; like China having one language but hundreds of dialects, while India has hundreds of languages. China has a unified communist government while India’s democracy is dysfunctional and fragmented. India has religious differences which divide the people, China has little if any religious issues. Indians are colorful, more creative. Chinese are more black and white, logical.  Indians can innovate.  Chinese can copy. The list goes on.

Observing gender conduct in both countries is telling about the cultures. One could probably write a book(s) about the differences.

In China, men and women appear very close to equal.  And they treat each other like fellow humans in public and in businesses.  There are men and women doing many of the same jobs, side by side.  In India, there is still a division of what women (should) do and what men do.

India is extremely conservative and complicated.  Arranged marriages are still common and if the couple has a daughter, they are saving their whole lives for the dowry they must give the man’s family upon marriage.  Their daughter’s dowry is the single largest expenditure for an Indian couple.  In China, a matriarchal society, it’s just the opposite.  A couple saves for their son’s wedding and gives a dowry to the wife’s family.

In China, at least in the summer, young women can be seen in short shorts — in public and in the workplace.  It’s common.  And no one bats an eye.  The cities are loaded with women walking around in short shorts or mini skirts, and there are no head turns, no cat calling.  It’s just normal.  If a woman wore short shorts in India, she would be attacked.  Men (most) would not be able to handle it.  They’d go crazy.  They wouldn’t shoot her, but rather accost and touch her. At least in Italy, the men would hold it to cat calling.  In India, forget it.

Still, in China, even with the son’s dowry to the women’s family, sons, as in many cultures, are more preferred.  The one child policy is alive and in force — except if the one child is a female, they you can get an exception to try for a son.  Not the other way around.

In short(s?), it’s quite refreshing to see the Chinese going about their busy societal schedules living in relative harmony between men and women.  There is a lot of grey, in more ways than one, but the mix and the compatibility is fresh.   There’s no doubt that India is full of a lot more color and sweetness, in more ways than one, but with that color comes a different set of gender issues.

Bit.  When I look at the unnatural lump on the left side of my throat, I want to whimper like a girl. But if I did, it would be slightly chauvinistic and unfair.  So, I’ll continue to take it like a hueman. el cuello feo.

3 thoughts on “gender bits

  1. elizabeth

    Not chauvinistic to whimper, but rather to call yourself a girl for doing so. That said. Man up! No whimpering.

  2. Mother

    Did the world get flat too soon? Is this a natural stumbling – bumbling between male/female customs and values simply a time in history where people and peoples just
    don’t appreciate each other. This is an important concept (reality) you have presented.
    Can you, we, anybody out there identify a society that is moving toward its highest and best potential?

    Sounds like from my little mother position that the society that considers the sexes equal will be the most economically successful but will they bring with them a humanity that creates a good place for the arts, culture and humanity at its best?

    Thanks for the reality picture of other cultures as well as your physical reality.

  3. Susan Forney

    Very interesting cultural insights. Coincidentally, there is a play coming your way that may interest you, it’s called “Chinglish”. I saw it last night at The Goodman in Chicago and from here it’s going to Broadway. I went with four long time girlfriends and a very handsome male escort who wore a black tux with sneakers, the youngest of my three sons (now 15) and the only male (save my other two offspring) I have any interest in going out with!

    Chinglish was written by, David Henry Hwang, who also wrote “Madame Butterfly”. however this is a far more lighthearted depiction of cultural differences and the comic result of trying to close a business deal in a culture one does not understand.

    Cultural differences became the topic of a lively conversation for the balance of the evening which brought up many of the interesting insights you shared in your blog – thanks!


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