Retail, at least, can be pretty damn cut and dry, even if it requires explaining. Same with teaching, at least here in Ireland. Note, this doesn’t mean they hit us. It just means the best ones are the alpha males, who take charge and show us what’s what.
I think feminine and masculine outside of languages(such as noun gender) and biology(reproductive organs, and other features) are too subjective to be throwing on things such as factory work and teaching. Males are supposed to teach their sons male things, at least thinking in your status quo idea of a father. And sticking with your status quo ideas, women are certainly doing factory equivalent work if you look at the stereotypical mother who is supposed to clean the house, take out the garbage, do the laundry, make dinner and please her family all in one day every day for the rest of her life.
I’m going to have to side with Curtis on this one, that these features are simply more dominant today because that is what determines success in our part of the world. Look outside of North America and you will most definitely find different successful traits that lead to what you think of as “masculine”.
The genders of nouns is a fascinating subject, and it’s <i>exactly</i> related to activities and occupations being historically gender-related. A French girl kept referring to Intel as “he” and “his” the other day. It was strangely erotic.
Masculinity and femininity can easily be made objective. Observe & record what men and women do in various situations. Plot those actions on a graph. Find the “average point” for males and for females. Draw a line between those two points. That line represents the “direction toward masculinity” or “direction toward femininity,” depending from what angle you view it.
Alternatively, observe & record <i>all</i> the effects of testosterone (and other male-related hormones) on the body and on behavior. Then do the same for estrogen. Your results correspond to masculinity and femininity.
I agree to an extent that you can use it as a method of approximation, but only in a very general sense. In today’s world boundaries are stretched further and further, especially in Western societies (can’t say much for Eastern since I’ve never lived in one) making masculine and feminine labeling almost archaic.
Yes there are preconceived notions of what is masculine and feminine, but that is simply what the general consensus decides on. And to top that off, I’m willing to best most said decisions are based on the fact that it was established before they were born.
Of course you can boil it down to what androgen and estrogen do to the body (among many other hormones), which is why I said you could discuss it biologically. Yes there are traits that are masculine, and feminine, but I’m looking at it in a broader sense. I guess I’m trying to get at the idea of a work task being gender related, when ultimately it could be performed by either gender (arguably at equal success given your previous comments regarding nature vs nurture).
What seems to me now is an issue regarding language and communication, which seems to be common with misunderstandings and debates. We both agree that it can be used biologically and it has historical context in categorizing objects and activities, but I am questioning its validity as a contemporary descriptive word for objects and activities.
The idea that feminine and masculine are subjective terms is a myth. If you look at the data, you find that a wide range of specific behaviors can be correlated with having more testosterone than estrogen versus having more estrogen than testosterone. You can then say that the behaviors having more testosterone are ‘masculine’, where as behaviors having more estrogen or estrogen equal to testosterone are ‘feminine’.
BTW, you can actually tell how much testosterone you have in relation to estrogent have by looking at your ring finger and index finger. Most men have a ring finger longer than their index finger; in women, the ring finger and index finger are of equal length, or the index finger longer. The longer your ring finger is to your index finger, the more testosterone you received in the womb. (I’m not making this up). Of course, its hard to have an idea of how big or little the difference is in your finger lengths since you have to make very precise, and small measurements, and even like half a centimeter is considered a huge difference.
Testosterone levels and length
The length of a man’s fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, Canadian scientists have said.
The shorter the index finger is compared to the ring finger, the more boisterous he will be, University of Alberta researchers said.
But the same was not true for verbal aggression or hostile behaviours, they told the journal Biological Psychology after studying 300 people’s fingers.
The trend is thought to be linked to testosterone exposure in the womb.
It has been known for some time that there is a direct correlation between finger lengths and the amount of the male sex hormone testosterone that a baby is exposed to in the womb. In women, the two fingers are usually almost equal in length, as measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men, the ring finger tends to be much longer than the index.
Other studies looking at finger length ratio have suggested that, in men, a long ring finger and symmetrical hands are an indication of fertility, and that women are more likely to be fertile if they have a longer index finger.
One study found boys with shorter ring fingers tended to be at greatest risk of a heart attack in early adulthood, which was linked to testosterone levels.
In the current study, Dr Peter Hurd and his student Allison Bailey measured the fingers of 300 undergraduates at their university. Men with the shortest index fingers scored higher on measures of physical aggression than those with longer index fingers, but the study’s findings did not apply to women.
Dr Hurd is now looking at male hockey players to see whether there is any correlation between finger lengths and each player’s penalty record for contact and fouling during matches.
Professor John Manning from the University of Central Lancashire’s department of psychology, who first realised that sex hormone exposure in the womb influences finger length, agreed. He said certain individual characteristics correlate better with finger length than others.
For example, if you had a group of runners and they were about to start a race he claims he could predict reasonably well who was going to win based on their finger length, but he would not be able to predict whether someone was neurotic or not.
Researcher’s claim Dr Hurd’s findings are logical based on what we know about finger length, testosterone exposure and aggression, but said more research was needed to confirm the findings.
Another recent study had found women exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb, and hence a more ‘male’ pattern of finger length, displayed more frustrated behaviour when answering challenging telephone calls than other women.
Perhaps that explains the frustration some of us have with directory assistance.
Way to completely ignore what I said. I did not disregard the biological use of masculine and feminine, which is exactly what you are talking about. What I’m questioning is whether certain jobs should be deemed masculine over feminine in today’s society, given boundary breaking advancements in technology, science and even popular culture. Attributing a gender to a task is rather subjective when talking about jobs such as desk work, teaching, and whatever. You could just as easily find attributes that are deemed masculine in one activity, and flip it around and find feminine aspects. And then it all narrows down to what gender you are even applying to these abstract concepts. This is why it is subjective, and even cultural.
I think you’re saying, <i>gender roles</i> are becoming obsolete, because the <i> artificial barriers</i> against entry by the opposite gender are disappearing. That’s true enough. We almost had a woman president, etc. That’s different from saying “masculine” and “feminine” don’t relate to jobs anymore. The jobs where high aggression and competitiveness were once valuable haven’t changed, even during 40 years of feminism. Neither have jobs where tenderness and sympathy were valuable.
And no amount of wishful feminist thinking can change what testosterone and estrogen do, or that males have more testosterone. These are not “preconceived notions,” unless you mean “preconceived notions based on accurate science.”
Maybe you’re thinking of masculine in the politically correct sense: “That dad who stays at home and feeds the kids and decorates the house: he can be masculine too!” If this is a Disney movie, sure, you can call him “masculine.” But it’s still a job that calls more for a female hormonal balance than a male. Tenderness and sympathy vanish when testosterone levels are high. This is a scientifically observed fact.
Regarding my past comments on nature vs. nurture, I didn’t have gender in mind. When I said anyone can be a phenomenal athlete with practice, I didn’t mean any girl can play in the NFL if she tries hard enough. The playing field’s just not level like that. There were guys on my high school swim team who easily broke women’s <i>world records</i> on a regular basis. And to say those women could catch up if they tried harder just isn’t realistic. Nothing short of steroids will change that.
So, you’re right that no “work task” is intrinsically “gender-related,” but plenty of tasks are intrinsically well-suited to one gender or the other.
How do we determine if women are less competitive or aggressive and men less tender and sympathetic? Especially controlling for upbringing. Certain names like Maggie, Hillary, Jesus, Buddha, provide counterpoints, even if they should be outliers.
Humans have large enough wiggle rooms inside their biology, so that describing traits of biological categories shouldn’t discount the ability of members of these categories to differ.
The scientific explanation for people who differ from gender roles is that they have hormonal levels atypical for their sex. For instance, that Margaret Thatcher would have more testosterone than the average woman; or that Jesus would probably have less testosterone than the average man and more estrogen. Or probably equal levels of both, if he is to fulfill the Christian archetype of being “all-understanding”.
Also, even within what’s considered a ‘normal’ range of hormonal balance, you see a huge variation, especially in men. Both criminals and “nice guys” have more testosterone than estrogen, yet the size of the ratio between the two differs, with criminals having much more testosterone than estrogen versus nice guys having only a fair amount more testosterone than estrogen.
(not to say all high-testosterone men are criminals; they’re only the most extreme example)
Be careful with gender roles. The role of a woman in classical Sparta differs from the role a woman in classical Athens differs from the role of a woman in modern Athens (add social class etc. for a nice mix).