Different Strokes

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Different Strokes

If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things- Plato

We always stereotype the sexes from the moment a child is born. We assign specific colours, toys and games to the baby depending on the gender. In many societies women are expected to be caring and sharing, whereas men are expected to be stoic, mask their emotions and lend a shoulder for the woman to cry on. Man has to seek and fetch for his family while his wife tends the home.


Ptacek, Smith and Dodge in 1994 proposed that gender differences in coping with stress could arise from early socialization. In a study involving top-notch career women and men, the fair sex took direct positive action to deal with the issue; they also worked longer and harder and used the concept of time management. As we can now see, that the variations between the sexes can be better predicted by gender role rather than by sex.

In 1998, Christie and Shultz have observed that there is little evidence to say that there is difference between the sexes. Some women may show more of ‘control coping’ than men and others may show the same ‘escape coping’ as men. We cannot straitjacket everyone and say that all women tend and befriend and all men fight or flee. Surely, one cannot cast all men and women into the same stereotypical “motherly, nurturing, sustaining” female or the “breadwinning, master-of- the-house” male. There are differences in the neuro-chemistry, the neural connections, and ultimate expression, yet, response to stress will depend on environmental factors, upbringing of an individual, education, priorities and occupation. Differences in the response to emotions, events in each individual’s life determine whether a person will withstand or buckle under the stress. Genetic differences determine whether an individual, man or woman is prone to depression or suicidal tendencies or neurotic behavior.

Modern living is bringing about changes in the traditional role of women and men. The mother would possibly be spending less time at home, than at her workplace, furthering her career interests. So also, the father would be working from home, changing nappies of his infant child or cooking meals for his teenage son. After all, though it is the female sparrow that lays the eggs, does not the male also chip in by taking turns to incubate the eggs and fetch food for the fledlings?

Soon the modern gender-based reversal of roles, may override the biological effect of oxytocin and estrogen and testosterone. God made man and woman to fulfill certain roles, to achieve this end he made them different from one and other. The differences were meant to complement each other. The same difference in form and function leads to different responses and reactions in times of crises. But all women and men cannot be type cast into a common mould. There are as many hysterical men as rational women. The modern woman takes on man in every arena, learning to cope with stress in the process.

For successful coexistence of the genders it would be better for their roles to blend, with the man learning to reach out and the woman training herself to be rational.

“How close the sexes sometimes come to one another. It is as much a matter of behavior and the sphere in which they move that separates the masculine part of the humanity from the feminine”…Elizabeth Aston


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