In The Battle of the Sexes; There can be no winner!

Taryn Elizabeth By Taryn Elizabeth, 18th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Would you say that the battle of the sexes is over? Perhaps it was always just a battle of roles. Roles which used to be more clearly delineated between men and women. Are these now more about personalities than gender?

The flat tyre experience

Is changing a tyre a mans job? Be careful how you answer this loaded question. The answer of course is No. It doesnt have to be. Not since women learnt to drive and stopped relying on marriage at a young age to get through in society. Any person that expects to drive a car should, in the interest of safety, be able to change a tyre. The inability to change a tyre or look after our own car is now a choice, and one that we are entitiled to make but it should not be assumed that women need help in tasks such as these anymore.

My inspiration for this article about the battle to be the stronger sex, came from an experience i had with a flat tyre recently. The friend i was with, a woman, is very capable with cars and didnt think twice about doing the deed herself. I too can change a tyre, but am happy to let someone else stronger do it to make the task easier.

Our experience became a very interesting social situation. Four people offered their help. Two of which simply asked if we had everything we needed (one late middle-aged female and one early middle-aged male). We replied with gratitude, that yes we were fine. Their interest was kind and neighbourly. Another kind person was a middle aged man who asked if he could do it for us, to which my friend replied 'no thankyou i am happy to do it', the man was a little surprised but conceded after offering once more politely. His offer was an example chivalry (which will never be dead, by the way). However the conduct of the fourth, much older person confounded me. This man walked straight up to my friend, invaded her personal space and said 'Here let me do that'. He was initially polite, even if a little presumptuous. My friend replied, just as politely, that no thankyou she was fine to do it. The mans voice became terse as he reached out to take the tools from my friend. When she again stated that she wanted to do it herself, the man became exasperated and stood over her asking 'why wont you just let me do it?' with a raised voice. At this point i interjected stating that she really is very capable and has done it before. I then suggested that he could help by telling me where the nearest tyre store was because I believed that my spare might be a temporary one and will need it replaced. He then marched to the back of my car to check the spare and announced indignantly that it was a genuine spare before turning on his heel and marching off to his own car.

I will leave any comments likening this behaviour to a toddler, and conclude only that his 'offer' of help was more about the inflation of his ego than wanting to be truly helpful to my friend and I. It certainly came from a very old fashioned belief that no lady could possibly want to do any grunt work herself. This particular lady knows more than some men about cars, having done some restoration and repair of an old car herself. Both men and women now make a choice about what they become skilled in.

The perils of stereotyping based on gender

The Battle of the sexes is not as simple as it used to be. You now risk offending and even angering the younger generations if you suggest that their gender has a specific role to fill. They are increasingly determined to be allowed to be anything they decide to be. Whether or not a person decides to follow that dream, or follow it wisely, is another discussion entirely.

The scenario of the flat tyre is an example of the defunct presumption about what a woman can't or shouldn't do. Let me give an example of the mistaken assumption of what a woman can or should do (equally as dangerous). I was present when a nice bloke in a pub stated his assumption that the nursing profession is synonomous with motherhood. There was an instant reaction of indignation from the nursing students present. Many nurses are offended by the lack of recognition of their standing as professionals, with much more knowledge and skills than wiping fevered brows. I personally understood the innocent connection he made, considering more nurses are female and the two roles often come from the same core values. The reaction illuminated the fact that nurses choose their career for many different reasons, irrespective of gender. For some it is a desire 'to help people', others are drawn to the biological sciences and still others seek job security and travel options. Essentially, women do not want to be stereotyped into what they should be good at.

Once again, it comes down to the natural abilities and talents of a man or woman as well as their acquired knowledge and skills. It is not their sex organ deciding what roles they can or should fill. What we excel at is just as often a result of what we choose to pursue or are exposed to. Our life experiences may also necessitate our acquisition of certain skills that centuries ago were dominated by the opposite sex.

This is not just about women

I, as a woman am more qualified to talk about the experience of my sex. However bear in mind that men are very capably taking on new roles. Many men do still consider it their role to be the breadwinner, but not all! There are more and more stay at home dads now. Just as I think that a woman who chooses to own and drive her own car, should acquire basic car care skills, so too we would expect that if a father has decided to be the at-home parent, he should make himself aware of the basic issues that can come up with a child on an off day.

The problem is that men and women still want the security of the other sex fulfilling a traditional role when it suits us. Meanwhile, we rebel against the same assumption. Perhaps the deciding factor is that we naturally want a partner that fills the opposite role to our own. God made us to be attracted to another person that compliments us. If you want to leave God out of it, call it natural selection and evolution. 'Opposites attract' isnt just a song lyric, its scientific. Once again, this is about more than gender opposites. We want to create a well rounded whole with our partner, so that if there is something we cant or dont want to do, we can defer it to our 'other half'.

So why cant we leave the battle of the sexes alone?

Competition is a natural drive, linked to our need to feel achievement. In order to challenge ourselves and see improvement we need a yardstick. The opposite sex is just the most obvious and ultimate competition. There is famous competition between Yale Vs Harvard or AFL Vs NRL but these are restricted to the fields of academia and/or Sport. The battle of the sexes transcends every area of competition and gives us an obvious opposition. Just like the colours Black and white are opposite. When we have this clear divide why would we choose to create teams like light grey and gun metal grey Versus medium grey and dark grey. It would be confusing and far less satisfying.

Gender roles and indeed gender itself isnt black and white anymore. But leaving sexual identity out of it, we as men and women each identify with different attributes and pursue different fields of expertise. We no longer need to be divided into the categories of men or women.


Battle, Changing Times, Choice, Equality, Gender, Generations, Men, Roles, Sexes, Tyre, Women Versus Men, Womens Issues, Womens Work

Meet the author

author avatar Taryn Elizabeth
I enjoy writing fiction and non fiction about what i know and/or love. This ever expanding list incorporates Society, history, travel, family (of every kind), animals, change and self improvement.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
31st Oct 2013 (#)

I see in Asia many women would still like men to be "chivalrous". Offering to help repair a car or change a flat tire is considered as gentlemanly. Even I being a man would like some concern being shown by other motorists - male or female. Of course, one should not butt in and be rude in approach. Thought provoking share, Taryn - siva

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author avatar Taryn Elizabeth
4th Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks for your comment Siva, I value your perspective. As I said I believe chivalry will always have an important place in most cultures, I certainly appreciate it, it is only a pity that it ceases to be as genuine when it is based on an assumption of the receivers incompetence. Thanks again.

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