Why do some cultures favor boys over girls?

Holly - posted on 01/30/2013 ( 45 moms have responded )

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I have noticed that in some cultures the boys are favored over girls. It's to the extent that in some cultures women are not even allowed to discipline the boys. Why is it this way? I have seen situations where if the girl has a toy and the boy wants it the boy just takes it and the girl gets punished if she tries to take it back or even cries about it. Why are woman/ girls viewed as lower beings than men/boys in some cultures?

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Shelly - posted on 02/01/2013

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This isn't an answer to your question, but I would like to address some misunderstandings that have been posted about the Bible. First of all, it wasn't written by white Catholic men; it is much older than Catholicism, and most of it was written when most "whites" didn't even know what writing was. It was mostly written in the Middle East, and parts of it date back 4000 or more years.

Secondly, the Bible reflects the culture around it rather than condones it. Nowhere in the Bible is rape or abuse condoned. According to Jewish law, rape was punishable by death. (For those that may not know, the Old Testament in the Bible was written for and by Jews). In fact, compared to the cultures surrounding them, Jewish women had far more rights and laws protecting them than any of their neighbors. So for anyone to say that the Bible is responsible for sexism should perhaps read it before they condemn it. And it certainly doesn't portray women as evil temptresses. There are some stories about wicked women in the Bible, but there are even more about wicked men, so I think that is quite even, not sexist.

The New Testament goes even further in raising the status of women, making statements such as, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), thereby abolishing not only sexism, but also racism and discrimination based on societal class. Everyone has equal value in Christianity, if it is practiced as it should.

Holly - posted on 02/05/2013

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i am talking about being abusive to the women... making them SERIOUSLY lower class citizens, where it is ok and even laughable to rape women. when it is ok for the male children to hit the mother, and nothing is done. I am not talking about, women getting lower paying jobs, i am talking about, if a women talks to a male in public, she can be beaten for it. THESE Are the differences i am talking about.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/30/2013

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It's not just some, it's all cultures. In the US, a female and a male in the exact same upper level position will be paid 2 different salaries. The male will make more than the female, regardless of experience, etc.

It is a culture that only we, as women can alter. And, yes, Holly, I get the crap treatment any time a middle eastern male enters my office at Uni. They think I will do "what i'm told"...They find out that they will either do what I tell THEM to do, or they don't get into a class. It's a rude awakening for quite a few male dominated cultures when they enter my office, at least...

Rain - posted on 03/08/2013

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@Denikka, I completely agree with what you are saying and it may have very well been that way. However, I think the quote can also be interpreted as, when you have a daughter, even if she's independent she will always be the one to take care of her parents and will not forget them once she has her own life (i.e. family), while the son, rarely keeps the ties or the intimacy, he once shared with his parents, so in a sense, he's only a son until he has his own family.

@Mei, I agree with you, my husband does all the cleaning and laundry only thing he's not that good at is cooking, even that he picked up some from me, and he has no shame in doing it, meaning his male ego doesn't kick in. His dad also helped out when he was living with his parents, but I think it's also his personality and what he chose/how he chose to live his life once he became an adult. Parents can instill the notion of equality when they are raising their kids, make it fair for both sexes, so they get to learn the best of both worlds. I mean teach your daughter about cars and becoming a handy person in the house too.

If you really think about it, there is no on in this world who exhibit all of the characteristics of their born sex roles (i.e. all men are masculine and only have those characteristics, and all women are feminine and only have those characteristics) Each of us have both masculine and feminine characteristics, so you are right it’s what we put into their little heads and how we shape their perception to a certain extent that determine who they become later on in life.

Denikka - posted on 03/05/2013

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Laura, I can agree with you that there's nothing wrong with men and women having different roles.
But the problem arises when there is no choice. When a woman is forced to not go to school based on her gender. Or is forced to marry a man of her parents choosing. Or is forced to stay at home and have babies.

If a woman chooses that tradition role, that's fine. I got pregnant right out of highschool, have thus far chosen not to go forward with a college education (although I intend to once my children are in school). I choose not to work, but to stay at home and, since that's how the timing has worked out, basically be a baby machine :P (3 kids in almost exactly 5 years)
But it was all my choice. And I will choose when I'm done having children, when and if I want to further my education, if I want to have a career, what career that may be. It's all my choice.

No one should say that either role is less important. Either being the baby-maker/household caretaker or the bread winner, or if those roles are split evenly. Each role is important to the functioning of the unit.

In many countries, the woman has no choice. She has extremely limited options. A man can choose whatever educational and career path they want. In some cultures, women aren't even allowed to go outside of the home without a male family member escorting them. In some places, women aren't/weren't allowed to drive. Some places forbid a woman from dressing as she wants, showing her face or any amount of skin.
In some places, if a woman is raped, she is the one who gets blamed, sometimes even punished, for *allowing* or *encouraging* it to happen.

Even in places like Canada and the USA, attitudes are not equal. You look at a person who has had 5 sexual partners in, say a year long period. If the person is a man, that's fine. He's a player, or a stud, or whatever. It's not a negative. If it's a woman though, she's look at as a tramp, a whore, a slut etc. Hell, even sleeping with ONE partner, if it's the wrong person, can have a woman labelled negatively.

There's nothing wrong with men and women having different roles, as long as those are the roles that THEY have chosen, not been forced into, and as long as those roles are valued equally :)

As for why some cultures favour boys over girls, I think Deanna Gedds (page 1) pretty much got it spot on. In many cultures, men/boys are seen to have more to offer the family, and so are more highly valued. Females are a drain on the family until they can be shuffled off to be someone else's responsibility.
An old saying comes to mind here: A son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter all her life.
Meaning that (among other things) a son will eventually be responsible for himself AND his own family, while a daughter will always have someone else responsible for her. If her husband divorced her, she traditionally went back to her parents.
We've (Canada, USA, etc) only just started down the road of real equality in the past 50 years or so, we've got a long way to go and, unfortunately, most of the world is still decades behind us.

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45 Comments

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Amber M - posted on 03/15/2013

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We live in the Marshall Islands and were told by our adoption coordinator that we were more likely to be matched with a girl because many mothers decide to keep their babies if they have boys, because the boys can work (ie: fish) from an early age. I would call this a kind of fatalistic practicality if it were true rather than favoritism. In my experiences with our Marshallese family though, this hasn't really been borne out although it might have been the case in the past.

www.thekwajbates.blogspot.com

Lisa - posted on 03/13/2013

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You tend to find the general consensus used to be that there was always a favourite gender, but gradually I have noticed that in London -attitudes are slowly changing,obviously I can't speak for other countries as I don't live in them nor have I ever, But hopefully as time goes on neither one will be favoured,but treated equally in all cultures. I have had 3 boys and 3 girls I don't favour either gender, I love them all the same, although the boys tend to drive me potty at times ;) and daughters can be a bit catty. But I'd hate to see either gender being preferred over the other, let each individual be judged on their own merits and acts. ♥

Mei - posted on 03/10/2013

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I think helping out can be instilled in our children from young, that will help and in our own parenting, we can be mindful not to use statement like 'you're a boy, so you ____', maybe that will help change the culture in future.

But I do think that as a daughter, I also do what my parents would expect my brother to do for them, and so in a way, changing culture for the older gen :)

Jeannie - posted on 03/09/2013

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i don't know, but I grew up with this being korean. I personally love my boys and girls the same and can't imagine life without either!

Mei - posted on 03/08/2013

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Hi! I think men have evolved to doing more, maybe for us moms, we got to train our sons and daughters!
Equally trained in chores so that the next gen can be helpful spouse :) I know of someone who train her son to do all the chores before he's allowed to live alone!

Denikka - posted on 03/07/2013

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That is what I meant Rain :)
The son grows up and is then responsible for his own family (wife and children), where as a daughter may always be the responsibility of her male caretaker. Starting with her father, moving on (potentially) to her husband and then, if something goes wrong in the marriage, or if she never gets married, she goes back to being the responsibility of her father.
Males have always been encouraged to be the independent ones, the ones who will take on the leadership role in the family. The bread winner, the protector, etc.
Women have been pushed to be reliant on others. Their family, their husband, etc.


Which I kind of find funny in a way, because going even way back, sure, a man could ride off to war, create elaborate battle plans, kill a deer or a bear, build a house with his bare hands, etc. But basic household duties? Making and mending clothing, cooking, cleaning, organizing castle staff in those types of duties, etc.....that was left to the women and men (in general) were just about incapable of anything more than the necessary basics XD

Mei - posted on 03/07/2013

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Hi Rain!

I didn't know that quote about son being son til married is an universal one! I always assume its a local Asian 'saying' :)

Mei

Rain - posted on 03/07/2013

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@Denikka Green
A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter the rest of her life?" I though this meant the sun becomes less attached to the family of origin as soon as he takes on a wife and daughter regardless of having her own family is still fairly close to her parents, anyway, that's how I understood the quote.

Rain - posted on 03/07/2013

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Along the same topic, I have heard many people say they prefer to have a boy as their first child and even my nieces say that's its nice because the boy can protect his younger sister. What are your thoughts about this line of thinking??? I believe this is a very mainstream thinking...yet it reiterate the same issue we hope to eliminate right??

Rain - posted on 03/07/2013

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Religion and culture influences each other, hence sexism stems from both. All societies at one point preferred and some continue to prefer boys over girls. Women weren't even allowed to vote not too far back and this way of thinking will take years and years to change. What you can do is, raise your daughter with pride and instill in her that she can do anything she puts her mind to, raise her with courage and strength and make her believe that the mind is way more powerful than the matter its composed of.

Richardhousewife - posted on 03/07/2013

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In the suburban area where I live - in the schools - to the extent there's any difference at all, it may be that girls are somewhat preferred over boys and the boys are sensing it and somewhat demoralized in general. There are some pretty complex reasons for all of it, such a strong mix and things mix so differently from person to person actual gender matters, society is shaped by it but then shapes it further, girls ability to be, on average at school, more well-behaved in many circumstances and to seem less potentially threatening on average, all count a lot. Notably, all other things being equal, there are there are fewer males than females in high school teaching, and at the earlier two levels, even fewer. In high school, I notice that there is a distinctly noticeable preference girls may tend to show toward having male teachers - again, all other things being equal - because it does seem that a girls smile and ability to show nice demeanor goes a lot farther with the men than with the women! Well, I do wish the parts of the world where there is distinctly poor treatment of females would catch up and get into the 21st century in that regard.

Mei - posted on 03/06/2013

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In Asia, Chinese, it's not so extreme but generally the son carries the family name, and the son is expected to take care of the parents (though frequently girls did more!) and so parents who worry for their aged support may favor the son so that they get the message from young, they have to pay back by taking care financially, physically etc.

Gladys - posted on 03/06/2013

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Because the boys are seen as the true descendants of the family. Like in the Chinese families where the children take after the family name of the father and not the mother. Example: father's name is Frank Lee and mother's name is Helen Chan. The children's name will be Terry Lee, Rosie Lee, Jack Lee etc. So when Jack got married and have his own children, his children will carry the family name Lee while if Rosie got married, her children will carry her husband's family name. So, if a couple only have girls, seems like the family tree ends there. For some more extreme families, only the guys get the inheritance while the daughters get none. Same as education.

Laura - posted on 03/05/2013

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I know a lot of people see it an men are favored, but what is so wrong with women and men just having different roles, I don't see having different roles as being less or more of a person, just different opporunties to grow as person, in different areas of our life.

Lisa - posted on 02/12/2013

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Interestingly it is believed that many ancient cultures were actually female worshiping. As we developed and used more tools, and weapons there was a gradual shift to a more male focused culture.

If you are brought up as part of one of these cultures you don't see it as nearly as demeaning as someone else might.

Jodi - posted on 02/06/2013

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Except, Holly, the examples you gave are clearly sexist issues, not oppression issues. If you want to discuss issues such as those in your last post, USE those examples. The example in the OP that you gave about the girl getting punished for taking the toy and not the boy, or about how you were treated in an office, they are simple sexist attitudes. It's not the same thing.

Ursula - posted on 02/06/2013

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The bible says wives be obedient to your husbands but the men have to SACRIFICE themselves for their wives. It also says give way to one another. So surely we have the better end here?
I hate domineering men and domineering women too. In my relationship, we discuss things and work things out. Personally I like to discuss the merits of each decision and then allow my fella to make the decision. Other times I think some decision is better than another and then tell him why and ask him if that is what HE wants to do or if he has some other views. He knows that I will give way to him and we both want to make the best decision, he respects me and what I say. This has not always been the case, it has evolved.
It has been lovely renovating our home together even though it is not yet finished because we are working together in a partnership and it has blessed our relationship.

Christine - posted on 02/05/2013

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Unfortunately, it is called sexism and still very much around! We women still have to fight for equal rights.

Jodi - posted on 02/04/2013

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"Debate all day and all night, Jodi. But your source who said that the Bible was written by white Catholic men apparently isn't aware of all the facts."

Mary, you have no idea what I do and don't know, so that's actually a bit rude to make that assumption about me. You can't even tell when to take a damn joke.....can we please leave this "religious" discussion alone? It has absolutely nothing to do with why there is sexism in most cultures.

I can see you CLEARLY follow the Bible's teachings in the way you choose to make judgements on others about whom you know nothing. You know what they say about that.......

Kelly - posted on 02/04/2013

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I will not get into a debate about the bible, but please do not to presume to know what I have or haven't read. I have read the bible cover to cover and studied it as a Christian and then again as an enlightened skeptic. Intention or not the bible is a tool used to justify sexism (women are unclean) slavery, invasions, and most currently, discrimination.

Mary - posted on 02/04/2013

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Debate all day and all night, Jodi. But your source who said that the Bible was written by white Catholic men apparently isn't aware of all the facts.

Jodi - posted on 02/04/2013

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Actually, religion has nothing to do with sexism in various cultures Cultures of all religions are sexist. So I'd rather not turn this into a religious discussion. I could debate what you had to say about the bible, but I am choosing not to.

Julia - posted on 02/03/2013

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I totally agree with Shelly, I have studied the bible for years and many of my studies look at the cultures of the Hebrew (Jewish) people who wrote the Old Testiment & New Testiment and the people groups they interacted with in Asia, Europe & Northern Africa. The bible was written by men & reflects their views. But it was inspired by God & so anyone who reads it through will see how women were valued. In fact in a few instances, men were murdered when a sister was raped. The bible has women protected & valued more than most other ancient cultures in that area during those times. They had female prophets speaking the words of God to both men & women, a female judge who ruled the nation for her lifetime before they had kings, female heros such as Rahab & Queen Ester, righteous hardworking women such as Ruth. The New Testiment had females of wealth & influence supporting local churches, and insisted that all widows & orphans in the church be provided for. The early church was responsible for starting many of the hospitals & schools in Europe. Many hospitals even today are started & remain affiliated with a church. The abolishonary movement to abolish slavery began in England with Christians who felt slavery was morally wrong & spread later to America. There would be alot less sexism & discrimination if more people read the bible & followed its teachings of mercy, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, forgiveness, humility, hospitality, sharing with those in need, speaking truth, etc.

I feel very blessed, very fortunate that God allowed me to be born in this country, in this time period, that I am not discriminated against or abused by my culture the way so many other women were & are. All I can do is pray for those I see hurting and try to step in when I see abuse around me. If we each make a small impact in the life of even 1 or 2 others, then corporately, we will all together make a big impact in the world, 1 life at a time.

We don't have to feel impotent before injustice. We can start by teaching a child not to hit another or tease someone about a disability, etc. That child, if allowed to continue to physically or verbally abuse others when young, may grow up to hurt women, children, animals, etc. We can intervene & make a difference that we may not even know how far reaching our impact can be in the lives of others. Have hope, not despair. God does not want anyone to suffer. But he does not stop us from making our own choices. We can be the ones who choose to help, not to harm. Our choices affect others. We can be positive influences.

Debbie - posted on 02/01/2013

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allot of men are still being brought up old school that women are for making babies and cleaning and staying home. it is up to us to teach different. also because they feel the boy is the one carrying on the family name he is more important. i have taught my boys very different and people need to wake up to society of now and not back 100 years ago!

Deanna - posted on 02/01/2013

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In many cultures, boys are preferred for a few reasons.
1) They are the money bags. They will go to work one day to help the family. The more boys, the more chance of help financially.
2) Also, in some cultures, there is still a dowry. The more boys you have, the more dowry the family gets.
3) Boys are the workers. They learn a trade, help out with the "man" jobs, etc.
4) Boys keep the name going. Women take the name of the husband and so the name continues.

This was not always the way. Before the founding of agriculture, men were hunter/gatherers. They would go away from months at a time to bring meat into the village or settlement, while the women would stay home. Women were the leaders back then. The reason? It goes back to the children. When a child is born, there were witnesses to say "She gave birth, she is the mother". But at that time, the village would share everything, including partners. You could never prove who the father was. It could be the husband, or it could be his brother, the cousin, etc. Once agriculture came, that changed. Men could stay home and provide for the family. Families became patriarchal instead of matriarchal. Women became less than before and eventually became less preferred.

Not all cultures are like this. In many North American Native tribes, the leader is female. In the Himba culture of Namibia, men are the leaders, but inheritance is through the female. And it goes back to her family when she dies. So, she brings in to the marriage and when she leaves, it goes to her brothers and their sons.

I hope this gives you an idea of why our cultures are the way they are. It goes back more than 10,000 years.

Sharon - posted on 02/01/2013

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ha my husbands family favour the girls over the boy. i will never understand favouritism or sexism!

Liz - posted on 01/31/2013

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Let's face it, if men COULD have babies, it wouldn't be very long before they'd find reasons why they shouldn't have to! :)

Jodi - posted on 01/31/2013

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Actually, the sexism in the Bible is a result of it being written by old Catholic white men. It was written as a form of control over what they referred to as the "weaker sex". :P

However, sexism has been around for a lot longer than the Bible. You only need to look at the role of women in many ancient civilisations to see that. But having said that, sexism in ancient cultures is about the roles of men and women in child rearing. The fact is, men can't have babies. So of course, the roles of women have traditionally taken place around the childbirth and child-rearing and family responsibilities. That fact has generally not changed.

Kelly - posted on 01/31/2013

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Not that it is right but much of the sexism in cultures has I do with economics and tradition. In many societies it is the male that is expected to take over the family and provide for the elder parents. They also carry the name ( we become the husbands property so we change our name) so a line is traced from him. In the economic sense a women is deamed more valuable where there are not as many. A family has to pay her family to get the privledge of her marring their son. In that culture she will be more valued. In a culture where females out number the males the reverse happens.
A huge part of sexism also steams from the bible. Old Testament is really bad. Women were unclean temptress ready to destroy mans faith. They were beaten and raped and all this was ok. It gave society justification to make her property, make her subserviant, and see her weak. So these values are reflected in our treatment today.

Holly - posted on 01/31/2013

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this is what i mean. I can get that we have culture that favors boys to an extent... but we do not treat women as though they are completely ignorant, and if we act as though we are not we do not get beat. We do not have to give into men the way that these women are. I can not bare to see the way some of these boys are brought up as though their own mother is beneath them and is even not allowed to discipline them.

Jodi - posted on 01/30/2013

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While I think most cultures are sexist in some way, some cultures are more sexist that others. I have two Middle Eastern Muslim boys at our school, and the youngest one (he is 13) has some REAL behavioural issues, and when one teacher sat down to discuss it with him, he stated that he is a Muslim boy, and all Muslim men can do as they please. THIS is clearly the message being perpetuated in his family home and in his immediate community. Unfortunately, change is an uphill battle, and I think it should be something that should be addressed at any opportunity in our school curriculum, just as we try to incorporate literacy activities at any opportunity.

Holly - posted on 01/30/2013

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i do agree taht we live in a still very sexist culture... but some of these cultures are BEYOND sexist, and are abusive when it comes to women. emotionally and physically.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/30/2013

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I am just glad I live in a society that is constantly advancing in its views. It sure as hell is not close to perfect, and is still sexist, racist, and biased in many ways though.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/30/2013

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I don't know, but all societies seem to have sexist views.

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