Men have the propensity of feeling threatened by the competitiveness of women. This tendency is arguably supported by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie a Nigerian novelist when she noted in one of her novels entitled ‘We should all be feminists’ , that “the insecurity that men have when they see women becoming competitive is triggered how boys are brought up, how their self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men”
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I have therefore used Adichie’s quote as an escort to help me explore how the society teaches women not to be competitive.
Boys and girls are all born competitive but the socialization of the society makes girls less competitive . Often times you hear people say ‘ stop behaving like a girl and act like a real man’ these sentiments whether they are said consciously or for the lack of it, clearly highlight that society believes males are better off than their female counterparts. Culturally boys automatically become heads of their families in case the father dies .such kind of socialization is wrong especially if the empowerment of the girl child is to come into play .it actually qualifies females as second class citizens and in society for example if a post arises, they will opt to vote for a male counterpart instead of supporting their female counterparts, because they have been socialized to believe that they can’t really compete with men.This is greatly wrong and such belief need to be abolished because ” culture does not make people, people make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not culture, then we can and must make it our culture”
Society has also a tendency of labelling women who are very active in politics or any other higher leadership positions by referring to them as social deviants. More often the higher you go up the ladder, the lesser women you will find, those few women in those positions are at times argued to be using’bottom power’ or ‘licking the right ass’ as Adichie noted, as an aftermath women will be holding those posts ceremoniously .Culturally the society teaches females from a tender age that if they want to get married, they should be loyal and not try to excerise power because men hate competition especially from their wives. So this alone is a repelling factor , women end up not competing for very high political, economic or any higher leadership posts, they fear being rejected or punished . It is thus important to note that socialization plays a key role in determining the competitiveness of women and girls.
The research done Steffen Anderson, Seda Ertac, Uri Gneezy, John A. List and Sandra Maximiano entitled ” Gender, Competitiveness and Socialization at a young age :Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society” highlighted that disparities between men and women range from charges of discrimination to claims that women are more sensitive to family conflicts than men, therefore they become less inclined to make career sacrifice compared to their male counterparts. As an aftermath women became less competitive in competing for higher and challenging career posts.
Furthermore, religion plays also a role in sabotaging women’s efforts of empowering themselves, it teaches women to learn things quietly, never argue and to be submissive .quoting from the Christian bible 1 Timothy 2:11-12 it says ” let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness .I do not permit a woman to teach or to excerise authority over man, rather, she is to remain quiet”. Religion is therefore being used by society as an opium to make women docile and less competitive. Each time a woman wants to be more agitated and assertive, she is being reminded that she needs not do that or she will be acting against what God has instructed.
Moreover, a sizeable body of research in psychology and sociology has put forward the sociocultural construct of gender and gender roles as a potential factor behind gender differences and competitiveness between men and women . For example most societies that are patriarchal believes that a woman’s best place is the kitchen, she is ought to be a perfectionist in that area . Therefore if a woman is now working and has a challenging job, she will no longer have time to attend to kitchen issues . This becomes unacceptable and is said to have deviated from the normal practice of a married woman.
To elucidate further, lineage descends through the male and women move to the household of their husbands when they marry and they change their surnames . This whole process makes women less competitive as they know they are going to get married and start a new life with someone else .Some cultures for example the Maasai people of Tanzania don’t believe girls should be going to school, they believe it’s a waste of resources .Daughters are not counted in terms of the number of children one has . This actually makes the women ignorant and less competitive .
Lastly I would like to believe that the same society that has played a crucial role in making women and girls less competitive can become the primary socializing agent of change and encourage girls and women to be more competitive as it is proved psychologically that men and women are all born competitive, but women became less competitive at puberty . This is the period where gender and gender roles are more emphasized by the society .
After all, everything was once impossible until one day, someone stood up ,shakes of gloves of impossibility and made it a possibility.