Valuing Men and Women for their full Humanity, not Just for their Utility
I recoil at the thought of the roles my mother and father played in shaping my view of the world. They conformed to the gender roles of their time, with my father being rooted in misogyny and my mother in self-sacrifice. It’s a programming that I had to unlearn and still continue to do so. Fate had it for me to be born in Nicaragua, a country of contradictions that combines Catholic fervor and anarchist revolution. Amidst this confusion, I cling to the teachings of my grandmother, the matriarch of my family, who sacrificed her life for the betterment of her children. She taught me the lesson of “Don’t count on men,” which gave me an early glimpse of the gender imbalance between men and women. I came to the conclusion that patriarchy is detrimental to women, but it’s also rooted in the harm that men cause themselves by upholding this system. For far too long, women have been valued for their utility rather than their full humanity. Society has often placed women in narrowly defined roles, restricting their potential and limiting their ability to flourish as individuals.
One of the primary reasons for this is the social contract that men have signed for themselves, which values productivity, performance, and the ability to provide above all else. Unfortunately, this construct has been projected onto women, often without their consent, leading to a situation where they are only seen as valuable if they fit into these predefined roles. The result of this has been that women are often forced into jobs they don't want or forgo their own dreams and ambitions in order to meet the expectations of others. They are not given the space to explore their own talents and interests, and their value is reduced to what they can do for others rather than who they are as individuals.
Furthermore, women are often caged in a role of providing the brunt of domestic work, emotional security, and comfort. While this is certainly an important role, it is not the only role that women are capable of filling. Women have a wide range of talents, abilities, and interests that are often overlooked or undervalued because they don't fit into traditional gender roles. Valuing women for their full humanity means recognizing their inherent worth as individuals, rather than just as providers of emotional support or as tools to meet the needs of others. It means acknowledging their talents and abilities, and giving them the space to explore their interests and pursue their dreams.
In order to achieve this, we need to change the way we view and value women in society. This requires challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes, and creating a culture that encourages and supports women to be their full selves. It means valuing and celebrating the unique contributions that women make to society, whether that be through their work, their art, their activism, or any other form of expression. We must also acknowledge the ways in which sexism and gender inequality impact women's lives, and work to dismantle these structures of oppression. This includes advocating for policies that promote gender equity and equal opportunity, as well as actively challenging discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.
It is important to note that while patriarchy and the societal expectations placed on women have been a primary source of oppression, men too are oppressed by these structures. Patriarchy not only restricts women's potential but also limits men's ability to express their emotions, be vulnerable, and pursue non-traditional gender roles. Men are often expected to conform to strict expectations of masculinity, which can lead to toxic behaviors such as violence, aggression, and misogyny. Men who do not fit into these gendered expectations can face social ostracism, ridicule, and discrimination. Breaking down gender stereotypes and dismantling patriarchal structures can create a society where all individuals are free to express their full humanity, regardless of gender.
Valuing men and women for their full humanity requires a fundamental shift in how we view and treat men and women in society. It means recognizing their inherent worth and potential as individuals, and creating a culture that supports and uplifts them to reach their fullest potential. Only then can we truly achieve gender equality and create a more just and equitable world for all.