The topic I have chosen for my
IGCSE Global Perspectives Component#1 is Changing
Communities. The area that I am following under this topic is “how male chauvinism affects society globally”.
The reason I have chosen this topic is because of how much of an important
issue Male Chauvinism has become in the 21st century. So much so, a
committee of the United Nations has been founded specifically for the purpose
of women empowerment, due to the radical patriarchal society we live in. This
topic is also a little personal for me, as I have seen the extent of radical male
chauvinism and what problems it poses for women in society. The 21st
century has been a drastic 180-degree turn in the dominant values of the overall
society; LGBTQ rights have been given in many countries all over the world;
slavery is almost a myth, and yet we are still working on problems such as
racism and sexism. There has been great progress in both areas, with the “Black
Lives Matter” and “Free the Nipple” movements. Gender is the most primitive
characteristic humans have. If there can be forms of discrimination in such a
characteristic, there should be no surprise for discriminations in more complex
human characteristics; if the roots are frail, how can you expect the tree to
According to the Oxford dictionary,
male chauvinism is defined as the belief that males are superior to females in
the terms of ability, strength, intelligence, etc1. The word
‘chauvinism’ origin can be traced back to 17802. A French soldier
by the name of Nicolas Chauvin joined the French army when he was 18, He was
wounded 17 times during the Napoleonic wars which resulted in severe
disfigurement. Chauvin remained loyal to Napoleon even during the Restoration
The blind and exaggerated
patriotism shown by Nicolas Chauvin caused the formation of the French word
‘chavinisme’. It was adapted to ‘chauvinism’ by the English in 1870. Around the
time of 1965 to 19703, it was often used as ‘male chauvinism’. In
the twentieth century, however, the word ‘male’ was discarded and ‘chauvinism’
is used as the superiority of one gender over the other4, usually,
the male species.
The phrase, ‘Male Chauvinist Pig’
was commonly used in the 1960s and 70s by feminists, describing a patriarchal
male with a strong social status 5. This term was most commonly
used in the 60s until the late 90s. It is still used in the 21st
century; Betsy Bair, in 2005, wrote a letter to Donald Trump calling him a
‘Male Chauvinist Pig’ 6.
When it comes to why chauvinism is
a problem and how it came to being, the psychological reasons go back millennia
ago. It may have started from misinterpretations of the story of Adam and Eve.
According to some religions, it is believed that God made the first human,
Adam. Later, Eve was made as Adam’s partner in life and to help them reproduce.
Many males have misinterpreted this
basic story over the years, have completely omitted the phrase “partner in
life”, and focused on the word “reproduce”. This may be the result of the basal
human psyche of greed for dominance and power.
Another reason for the existence of
chauvinism, is another psychological ‘tick’ that may show men to be superior
over women. It is scientifically proven that men are naturally physically
stronger than women 7. Strength has always been a factor to
determine superiority between two candidates. Men also generally have bigger
bones than women do, which makes them bigger in size than women, on average.
The size of something always changes one’s perception about it; the bigger it
is, the more powerful.
Thus, the overall strength and size
of males in relation to females may be a contributing factor to the fact that
(a quantity of) both males and females believe that men are superior to women.
One more possible reason of the
belief that men are better than women is the Boxes and Bag theory 8.
This theory suggests that men and women’s minds work very differently. A man’s
mind consists of Boxes; a box for work; a box for video games; a box for
family, etc. While a woman’s mind consists of one big Bag; it has information
about work; family; recreation; chores, etc. The presence of boxes in a man’s
mind helps him concentrate on the task at hand and not be distracted by other
problems. The bag, helps a woman multitask, but consequently is prone to having
emotional breakdowns because of overburdening herself with too many tasks at
once. According to this theory, it may be concluded that men are better suited
for professional work while women are better suited for emotional, day to day
life problem-solving. But, as professional work has more apparent importance in
society, the work women are suited to do is taken as useless. Thus, telling
women to stay home and continue completing their ‘useless’ tasks, making
themselves (and men) believe that men (because they do ‘important’ work) are
better than they are.
The consequence of this sort of
thinking has now become toxic. It has brought rise to the patriarchal society
we now live in, where women are looked down upon and only receive a fraction of
opportunities for upward social mobility compared to men. In the everyday
workplace, women –no matter what their designation is- are mistaken to be tea
ladies or secretaries. Whenever a woman takes a firm stance on a decision, is
persistent to get work done before the deadline, or is in any way stressed, the
most common comment by their male coworkers is asking them if it is ‘that time
of the month’ again 9.
Chauvinism is even seen as early as
children’s schooling. Boys are always encouraged to take up more challenging
subjects like Additional Mathematics and Combined Sciences. Yet, when girls
choose the same subjects, they are told that they will not be able to score
adequate grades and better drop the subjects now than eventually drop it later.
Boys are also encouraged to play sports and join their school sports teams.
Girls, even if the school has girls’ teams, are discouraged from playing
sports; when wanting to attend their Physical Education lesson, some teachers
do not allow them to go, saying that they do not need to play games as that is
something boys do.
Perhaps the most disgusting upshot
caused by chauvinism and patriarchy is the prevalent rape culture 10.
As we all know, rape has become increasingly common in today’s society, and it
is nowhere close stopped any time soon. In fact, it seems to be increasing in
number. 85,000 women are raped in the UK alone every year. Why is this culture
spreading? Because of chauvinism and the patriarchal society born through it.
Because, men are more status-wise powerful than women and almost never pay for
Harvey Weinstein. One of, if not
the most, influential producer in Hollywood has just recently been accused of
rape. Over two dozen actresses 11 including, Angelina Jolie,
Gwyneth Partlow and Cara Delevigne have spoken out against Harvey. Of
course, this is all good and dandy, but there is a saddening part to this story
too. Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted these women decades ago, and only
now, after he had his fun, is he being investigated upon for his crimes.
Maybe we will understand the level
of justice in this misogynistic society when we see the sentence Harvey will
receive whenever he faces the court.