What is The Meaning of Gender?
Perhaps in your mind gender is the male or female. Yes, of course that’s right, but can you explain the difference between gender and sex? Gender is a classification of the female and male based on sociocultural perception whereas sex is a classification of the female and male based on biologist characteristics. Gender views that there are third gender besides the female and male, i.e: intersexual or transgender. So, the usages gender related to gender discrimination problems and strive for the rights equalities. As an information the word of gender is not in Indonesia. If you try to search in Indonesia Language Dictionaries you won’t find it.
And what is the meaning of gender bias? The wrong judgements that influences conviction about how the male and female think and do based on sociocultural perceptions. These are related to masculinity and feminity concept. It means that the perceptions in society about a male is strong and rational and a female is gentle, emotional, and maternity. The sociocultural perceptions of the female and male can develop the wrong opinion and can pursue the self actualization for the female. I think this problem is very important to be discussed because we often are not aware the bias gender phenomenon.
The man is strong and powerful The woman is gentle and maternity
Try to answer this question honestly! When you think of the word ‘surgeon’ what do you see? A man or a woman? Most of you certainly think of a surgeon as a man. Why do you think of a surgeon as a man? Is it impossible for women to be a surgeon? As we know, many surgeons in Indonesia are women – even up to 40%, up from none a few decades ago.
Then follow my instruction! Imagine and describe what do you think if you get words ‘a man’. Mostly of you certainly imagine or describe a male. But in Engish, the word ‘man’ can reflect to either a male human, or to a human being. So, since a woman is not a man, does it mean that she isn’t a human?
Now, let’s look at the religious aspects of sexual bias! In Taoism, yin and yang are considered feminine and masculine, respectively. Christian theology in many churches distinguishes between the masculine images used of God (Father, King, God the Son). In Hinduism Shiva is also seen as Ardhanarishwar (literally half-female God). Here Shiva manifests himself so that the left half is Female and the right half is Male. The left represents Shakti (energy, power) in the form of Goddess Parvati (otherwise his consort) and the right half Shiva. While the stone images may seem to represent a half-male and half-female God, the true symbolic representation is of a being the whole of which is Shiva and the whole of which is Shakti at the same time.
For the next is from healthy aspect. In your opinion, who often talk about the sexual problems? In Indonesia, it’s usually men. Why not women? Because “it’s not polite for women to talk about sexual issues.” Many poor women in developing countries didn’t get information about sexual problems before their marriage. Lacks of this information can hinder women from protecting herself from sexually-transmitted diseases. Many women are afraid of condoms. They think that the condom can be left in the vagina, and move from there to their throat; or fear that when the condom is taken out, her genitals can be taken out of her body as well. Another problem is the lack of knowledge of the symptoms of PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome).
The last phenomenon I will look at is in regard to Indonesia Language lesson books for elementary school. For example, here are two stories from such books. In the first story, a boy, Firman, was asked by his father to go to the bank. Meanwhile, his sister, Indri, was cleaning the cassava and tuber in the kitchen when they went. The question is: “Why was Firman asked to go to the bank by his father? Why was Indri told to clean the cassava and tubers in the kitchen? There is a contrast between Indri and Firman. The second story is about Musa and Ani visited to uncle’s house. When they came, their uncle had gone to the office. So their aunt that invited them to go sightseeing. The question is: “Why was the uncle at work? Why not the aunt?” From this story, we can see the contrasting roles between the uncle and the aunt.
So, what are for the conclusions?
Sexual discrimination is usually not the focus of our attention, but actually this phenomenon can influence our mind unconsciously. Many people are comfortable within the roles society prescribes, but some women can’t reach their full potential within these roles.
So, I ask for you to be sensitive about these problems. I hope we can find the solutions together to reduce the amount of sexual discrimination, and bring fairness between women and men. What are the solutions that you can give? Please tell the solutions here!
Written by : Catherine Maname Uli
Edited by : Mr. Alvin, teacher of EF-Pluit
- Esther Kuntjara Ph.D. 2003. Gender, Bahasa dan Kekuasaan. Jakarta: Gunung Mulia.
- Bias Jender dalam Wacana Buku Teks . 2005. Available from the URL: http://www2.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0305/05/teropong/281918.htm.
- Gender. Available from the URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender.
- Opini Masalah Gender dan Kesehatan. Available from the URL: http://www.kalbe.co.id/files/cdk/files/145_13Masalahgenderdankesehatan.pdf/145_13Masalahgenderdankesehatan.html