Can Woman exercise all the professions as Man?

It was Simone de beauvoir who said "one is not born a woman.One becomes a Woman."("On ne nait pas femme, on le devient") When I read it first I was about 20 and I interpreted it to mean that through cultivated behaviour and training which makes her gentle, charming and beautiful she flowers into a woman. I thought it was a positive thing to do train oneself and become that kind of woman. Little did i realise that it was precisely this that Simone was criticising - the conditioning which makes a person forget her personhood and become the role of a woman in its various forms - the subtle process of objectification by which she becomes something useful and acceptable for a man to have and showcase.

In the past 50 years women have demonstrated that they are equally skilled when it comes to professions which require mental and emotional skills. The balance is tilted more towards the male of the race where it comes to professions requiring physical strength. There are people who argue that a woman is not designed to do as much physical labour. I am not sure if this is true. I have seen that women who work in fields have a lot of physical strength and energy. Our body gets adapted to the kind of work we do. I have seen that if women work out with weights they develop atheletic arms .Perhaps we have not trained our body to do the same kind of physical work that men have been traditionally doing and if we started doing them I think our physique would get adapted and we could become as efficient as them there too.

In this context I remember a placard I read in a news item covering a protest by women in France which said: "There is no Housework Gene!"("Le gène du ménage n’existe pas") I guess that goes for any kind of work. We are not genetically incapable of doing this or that but it is just the rules imposed by our mindset born out of generations of social conditioning.

What do you think - can Woman exercise all professions as Man?
(I am not asking if they should or not which is a different discussion altogether.)
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27 Responses
  1. Oh I am sure they can... look around you and you will see they already are... even if you think of war situations, men as well as women are susceptible to torture and rape... nope... there is nothing we cant do anymore. its all in the mind.

  2. Imho, the question is too general for an answer. I could think of dozens of women who could knock me out cold with one punch :( Is there a genetic predisposition for the males of our species to out-muscle the females? I guess so, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of a female phenotype to be stronger than a male phenotype, even if the former were genetically disadvantaged.

    In any case, who really cares? In the near future, all jobs that primarily require physical strength will be delegated to robots, don't you think?

  3. why is this even a question??
    the same question is being asked in America and will be asked many more times over the next couple of years as the possibility of Hilary's entry to the WHite house increases and this is bothering me....this is 2007 people!

  4. Akhila Says:

    Of course they can.We have evidence that women led earliest civilizations;eg the celts of Europe. People are just 'conditioned' for the work they do.

  5. Chitra Says:

    Yes, women can. But, I doubt if men can do all that women do. ;) Even with practice and effort!

  6. S! Says:

    Yes, they can & I'm glad that you framed the question the way you did. It would have been really troubled waters had you asked if men & women are equal. :)

    I am slightly weary of what passes for equality in the sense that apples are not equal to oranges & that is not really a comment on which is a 'better' fruit.

    Women beat me. Seriously.


  7. Gauri Says:

    Oh Yes !! A woman can most definitely exercise all professions.

    As far as the physical aspect of strength goes - I always think of the construction sites - where one sees a lot of women - many of them even in their late stages of pregnancy - carrying loads of bricks, cement and what have you. What more proof does one need ?

    Ones body does adapt itself to the demands one places on it.

    and I'm totally with Mad Momma in saying "its all in the mind".

  8. Anonymous Says:

    It is not enough to say that Women can and dismiss the validity of the question.How many of these people actually encourage their daughters to participate the same kind of physical exercises as their sons. If they were in charge of the recriuitment and if they had to choose between a man and a woman for a job requiring physical energy, would they then not prefer a man? Would they then not think about the days in the month when a woman is physically weak and pregnancy periods?
    I agree it is all in the mind - so people seem think of only the idea of equality and forget the ground realities.
    A man's world is very tough - women should be thankful not to be part of it.

  9. can do off course but will they do is the question? with things like molestation/ rape they get subjected to, will they like to do every other work??

  10. Mahadevan Says:

    If the question relates to capability, the answer is certainly in the affirmative. In any profession, which traditional society considers as men's prerogative, women can excel, given the right opportunity. The joint Commissioner of Crime in Mumbai Police is a woman. They demonstrate their skills in the armed forces, in the corporate world, in navigating aircrafts and also in governing the country. And yet, there is sexual harassment of women police, women in the defence forces and in the corporate world. In the fashion and film industry they talk about the casting couch. It is the society's attitude and not the want of inherent ability in women, that inhibits them. Nature has a purpose in making biological difference and it has absolutely no relevance in regard to skills, physical or otherwise.

  11. Usha Says:

    The Madmomma:It is all in the mind I agree. But I also look around me and find women waving to a passing car to help them change a punctured car tyre or lift something heavy into the car boot. Have we started believing that we are weak physically and there are things we need a man to do?

    The RF:
    Yes, it is too general and that is to have a large window for the argumentation. (As I said before these are possible questions for my argumentation in the forthcoming examinations)
    I think all these polemiques about weaker sex and stronger sex will disappear once jobs requiring physical strength are relegated to machines.

    Orchid:Hilary getting into whitehouse will not solve the mindset regarding physically weaker sex. Mrs gandhi was one of the most powerful women in the world and India is still one of the countries with the highest rate of female infanticide. These questions must be asked so we see that the top 5 or 10% of women do not represent the lot of all women in the less developed world. the trouble is these women themselves believ they CANT.

    Akhila:I agree that there have been many matriarchal tribes which should make us see the fallacy of the weaker sex argument.

    Chitra: Realisation first and then practise, effort and perseverence.

    S!: It is a french person who framed the question and he/ she would not even dare to question the issue of equality. wasnt that the whole essence of the declaration after the revolution? "All people are born and rest free and equal in law"(Les hommes naissent et demeurent libres et égaux en droit)

    Gauri:I agree. I also tend to believ it is a matter of training but I wondered if there was something genetique that made a woman physically less strong.No one answered that!

    Bha658: I agree that women themselves have a long way to go on overcoming some of this conditioning.

    ITW: So what prevents women from becoming stronger against such criminals? Rememebr what Gandhi said about using teeth and nails? and of course pepper sprays and a little bit of karate wouldn't hurt.

    Mahadevan:"It is the society's attitude and not the want of inherent ability in women, that inhibits them". Trouble is that the propoganda has gone on for so long that women have come to believe in it themselves.

  12. GuNs Says:

    The answer is NO.
    Women cannot do all the jobs that men can. If they could there wouldnt BE a need for two different genders in this world.

    Its weird to see this point raised time and again where women claim equal capability in everything that men do. WHY? Arent women proud of the things that they can do and men cant? Dont they value the fact that it takes a man very little to have a mental breakdown but it is very difficult to break a woman. Is it not a great boon that regeneration of life is handled by a woman?

    A majority of rocket scientists are men, majority of drivers are men, majority or road labourers are men, majority of every profession except probably prostitution has a male majority. Its time we admit the fact that none of the genders is GREATER than the other. Both genders are merely DIFFERENT. There will always be men who can take good care of their children but most men will suck at the job. Its only because of millions of years of evolution in our race where the female has cared for the children. Trying to reverse the trend for something called "Womens Liberation " is bullshit.

    I respect my mother more than any other living being in this world. She knows her strengths and she does her job better than anyone else. I am damn sure though she couldnt have gone to a Rubber Factory for thirty years like my dad did and do as good a job. Similarly, if dad raised us while mom was at the factory, I would probably have been a thug now. They know it, I know it and probably everyone in the world knows it. Why dont these so called liberationists ADMIT it then?

    Its not a race for gender superiority, its a co-existence. PLEASE let us make the media stop these man vs woman fights everywhere and lets let everyone do their own job according to their own liking and ability. These things only accomplish ONE thing - they make women feel incapable and weak and they start thinking that unless they start driving trucks and do a man's job, their existence in the universe is at stake. What they ALSO do is insult women like my mother who never chased a career outside her house because it was HER OWN CHOICE to make sure she brings up her kids well.

    The first step to real male female equality is - REMOVE ALL RESERVATIONS FOR MEN & WOMEN IN ALL QUARTERS OF LIFE.


  13. S! Says:

    I was making the same point as peace with guns is making. Declarations apart, the notion of equality is a long shot really. Women & men differ at the level of chromosomes, so they are certainly different. They may still be able to do the same jobs, may be equally well, but that just says that these differences are insignificant in terms of jobs currently on offer. It does not say that they are equal in every way imaginable.

    Equal in law - yes. Equal opportunities - yes. Equal in every way - may be not.

    Again, I'm talking about differences - not saying which one is better.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    >> There are people who argue that a woman is not designed to do as much physical labour. I am not sure if this is true

    Will agree to some extent with you.. the extent where I wouldn't agree is this - true for professions like athletes. But if you have to consider a field like being in the military forces, it's a different perspective altogether.

    Though physically, an adequately trained woman may not be very far from a man, there are other problems. Because of her biological nature, a woman may not always be in the best of physical state when out in the battle.. or in worse cases, if a woman soldier is captured - imagine what could befall her.

    But, except for such cases, generally speaking, I do agree with you - A woman certainly can exercise all the professions as men!

  15. Shiv Says:

    Nice topic there...nowadays I have become a fan of the topics that you choose...

    coming to the discussion, why cant women do all tat a man can do..sure..100%..just tat they dont get the opportunity and also the confidence..sometimes they just think it is a man's job..tat is all!!

  16. Artnavy Says:

    I think women surely can do anythign they set their heart to just as men can

    Today men are in equal danger of sexual abuse and they cant even admit it and give vent to their plight

    However if women do all kinds of things there is danger that some lazy men will just chill and let women do everthing ... just kidding

  17. Pradeep Nair Says:

    Equality just a theoretical concept with no practical relevance. Nothing is same, though many can be similar to one another. We need to expect, welcome and adapt to differences.

  18. Hip Grandma Says:

    check out the path of progressive evolution and you may find an answer.A single cell as in Amoeba was sufficient to manage all metabolical activities as well as to ensure the survival of the race.why then did living organisms evolve and where was there a need to favor a division of labour with different organs taking on different jobs even within a body?Can we say that the heart is important but the lung is not?I feel that the capability of doing any and every job is present in all human beings but as society evolved there was a division of labour and each group-I mean men and women concentrated on different areas.When the need arises they can do the other person's job equally well.It is society that looks down upon a man who enjoys doing jobs that are marked as a 'woman's job' and vice versa.We need to change our perception.

  19. A.R.Malik Says:

    Ali G on feminism:

  20. A.R.Malik Says:

    Who was it that said "Women who strive for equality with men are setting their sights too low".

  21. Barani Says:

    Hee !! Hee !! on the lighter side, i a happend to watch this J'LO movie "Enough".. watch it if u get a chance. In case you have already seen it you will I understand why I'm metioning it here :)



  22. passerby55 Says:

    Hello Usha,

    ALL the jobs i do at home I find the same done by men outside. I see head chefs as men, housekeeping is done by men, and they do it perfectly well.

    I always thought women can never drive a double decker bus. But in china,WOmen drive one.
    They work in smelting and steel plants in china. EVen factory over head cranes are driven by women.

    I think pay the employeee well and give him/her a good bonus. He/she will do every job to his best, and above all words of appreciation for any and every job, when well done!


  23. Inder Says:

    men are men and women are women. they are different. particularly, their physical capabilities are different. the best proof is athletics and other sports that require physical strength. men run and swim faster. they jump higher and longer. men lift more weight. they wrestle and box harder. men can bowl and serve faster. they can hit bigger sixes. physical capabilities of men and women are certainly different. there may be women of my age who are stronger than me. but, in general, men tend to physically stronger than women.

    when it comes to a job that requires physical strength, those with more strength are obviously going to perform better. isn't it so?

    can women exercise all professions as men? certainly they can and they probably should. but, when the profession reqires physical strength, those with more strength can perform better than those with less strengh.

    is the difference genetic or have we evolved this way due to social and cultural practices? i don't know. male are physically stronger than female in majority of species around us.

  24. Unknown Says:

    madam, we have long past warrior age.. today most (if not all) job doesn't require so-called physical strength.. in todays world whoever(men or woman) have passion, dedication, ambitions, attitude, knowledge, ability to learn/adopt, can do any job. now, does today's women posses these qualities ??

    to answer your question -- in general, yes woman can exercise all kinda of job if opportunity provided (to be fear -- more women are better today than my mom's days).. frankly i would think, for majority of urban india this could be quite outdated decision - may be.. anyways,
    you would know better..i guess


  25. Usha Says:

    Guns: interesting points - but I am sure you would not have turned into a thug juts because your mom went to work and you were brought by by your dad. There need to be other conditions for that.

    S!:Differences at the level of chromosomes dont make them better at housework or bringing up children. these can be acquired by social conditioning.

    Kishore:Men are not always cool and completely rational. they have their daily/ weekly/ monthly moments too. haven't you seen dependence on tobacco, alcohol etc are more prevalent among men?

    Shiv: thanks. Ya, it is thinking born of centuries of socila conditioning.

    Art:hahah..They do that anyway!

    Pradeep:Yes differences are welcome as long as they are not imposed on you.

    Hipgrandma: Agree.

    Abhilash: hahahah@ALI and I bet that smartass comment was made by some MCP.

  26. Usha Says:

    Bharani: Now I am curious. Will watch and revert.

    Passerby:Ya they are doing most of the jobs equally well. But still there is reservation about certain kind of physically intensive jobs and dangerous jobs.

    Inder: I am strongly inclined to belive that our physiques are due to the way we have trained them to be, the kind of work our system is accustiomed to do. A woman athelete is much stronger than a male nerd.

    Yuva:Do you remember an incident last year in the Indian army when a high ranking official said that the army was better off without women or something similar?

  27. Anonymous Says:

    God has given the gift of carrying a baby and giving birth to it only to a woman,how physically strong when compared to this is a man?