I had some chatsies with my friend Jon the other night. Our opinions differ about a lot of things, and we used to have fights about it but we've gotten better about how we communicate with each other. Having to get over that, and both of us working on it to get better really made us good friends.
But I digress.
Our conversation was about men and women, and our differences. It's a classic nature vs. nurture problem. Is it genetic? If it is, does that justify the stereotypes? Is it society telling men and women what to do? How would we stop such a thing?
It's hard to prove either side with any certainty, and you can find research to support both. None of the research is really satisfying. If you want to show something is genetic and not taught, you'd have to ask someone who has not been influenced by society at all, and no such person exists, not even babies, really. Babies are far more perceptive than most people think. And even if babies were completely incapable of learning anything until they were like, 1-years-old, how on earth do you survey a baby?
So really, no matter which side you take, your argument and beliefs are bound to be supported by mostly speculation.
I think that while nothing is completely taught or completely innate, gender differences are heavily influenced by society, parents, the media, etc. I think people make generalizations about gender based on their own experiences, decide they must be true because they hold for a large number of people, and then teach these biases to their kids. It becomes a vicious, never ending cycle. I think whatever genetics play a role can be overcome, and the assumption that we are a slave to our biology is unjust. If we can overcome disease, we can overcome gender differences.
That's why I get so frustrated when people say women are this, or men are that, and then justify it because it's "true." Sure, maybe it's true now, but you continuing to talk about it and proliferate the belief won't do anything to change it and make gender a more level playing field. I don't get angry because I think the assumptions are a lie, I get angry because I want it to change and making such statements prevent that from happening. They are the true source of the problem.
And I honestly have no idea how to fix it.