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Lesson 18

                 Should Women Be Treated the Same as Men?

                                        Text

                   For Women, There Is a Long Way to Go

    One-third of the people at work in Britain are women. By 1975 they will, by law, be on a footing of equal pay with men. Their prospects of reaching the top, however, are still far from equal.
    A recently-published study called Women in Top Jobs examines why this should be so. For the purposes of this study four researchers, two men and two women, chose women in top management in two business organizations and women in senior jobs in the BBC and the Civil Service. In their findings they found that although there are conventional and entrenched attitudes on both sides, there is a widespread awareness that no society can afford not to utilise ability.


    The studies confirm that there is no basic difference be tween the standards and quality of work performance of women who have reached top jobs and those of men in similar positions. Nevertheless, there emerged some distinctive factors in the performance of women in top jobs. Women were less interested in empire-building, in office politics, in status symbols. They are likely to be less forceful and competitive than men.


    In the past, women tended to assume they would be overtaken y men in the race to the top. However, today's young women are far less philosophical about their status and are more aggressive in their resentment at being treated as in some way inferior to men. On the other hand, since lack of drive is one of the criticisms levelled against women, perhaps this aggression is a positive advantage. Some young women, though, find it very difficult to come to terms with the feeling hat characteristics of authority which are acceptable in men are often not acceptable in women.


    A reason often advanced for women failing to reach the top is their desire for balance between work and a life outside work. Employers know this and tend, when a woman with young children applies for promotion, to treat the fact that she has young children as an important factor and, given the choice, are more likely to give promotion to a man than to her.
    What about women whose children are almost grown up? Well, the writers of the study recommend a much more positive approach by employers to women who want to return to their careers after their children are off their hands.

II.Read
    Read t6e following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.

                        1. What Women's Lib Is about

    Women's Lib is short for the Women's Liberation Movement which got its name in America some years ago. Its supporters demand their freedom and equality with men.
    In this dialogue Sheila believes in Women's Lib while Harry has his doubts.

 

Harry:   I've never understood what this Women's Lib business is all about.I can    
  understand women in some countries struggling for their rights. But it
  strikes me that here in Britain women havc already?got as much freedom
  as they could possibly want. They've got the vote, they can go to
  university, they can compete with men in the professions on equal
  terms...
Sheila:   Rubbishl You're fooling yourself. How many women members of Parliament  
  are there? About 30 out of 635. How many women company directors? How
  many trade union leaders? How many judges?

 

Harry:   Not many, I agree. But why is that? Maybe their talents don't lie in
  those directions. Perhaps they prefer to be housewives.
Sheila:   Prefer to be housewives? You can't have any idea what it's like,
  when you've been married fifteen years and you've cleaned a house every
  day; then your husband and kids come along and mess it all up again.
  Can you imagine the monotony, the boredom, the frustration?
Harry:   Oh yes, I can imagine it easily enough. But don't forget that a lot of  ,  
  men have equally boring jobs and less freedom to do them their own
  way.But that's beside the point; the real point is that most housewives
  in my experience, are" content to be housewives. Take my wife Jane, for
  example. She's not bored or frustrated; she finds her life quite
  satisfying; she cleans, cooks, gardens...

 

Sheila:   Oh I'm aware of that.That's because over the centuries men have trained
  and educated women to consider themselves inferior and to accept
  their position. It isn't just the men who are piejudiced against the
  women. The women have become prejudiced against themselves.They
  believe they really are inferior.
Harry:   You mean they've been conditioned to accept. an inferior position.
Sheila:   Exactly; they've been brainwashed. It's the job of the Women's I.ib 
  movement to open their eyes to the way they have been fooled and
  dominated and exploited all these years.

 

Harry:   So you want to take all these nice contented women and make them
  discontent and rebellious?
Sheila:   Right.
Harry:   I see. Well, I don't accept that the present system is the result of       
  conditioning or brain washing at all. It's the natural biological
  function of a woman first to bring children into the world and then to
  bring them up. That is how the animals do it. In the Stone Age, when we
  were cavemen, the women stayed at home in the cave and the men, being
  stronger and braver, went out to hunt.Now the men go out.and earn money
  instead.The Women's Lib movement denies woman her natural function.I'm
  not saying that wotnan's function is necessarily inferior; but I am
  saying that it's.not the same.

 

Sheila:   So if something happened in the Stone Age it was "natural" and so it    
  would be perfectly right and proper and "natural" to go and do it now.
  I suppose if a man thinks he wants a woman all he has to do is go out
  and knock one on the head with his club and drag her home by the hair.
  Or maybe swop her with his pal for a couple of tiger-skins?
Harry:   Don't be silly. We've grown out of that sort of barbarity .
Sheila:   I should jolly well hope so too. Anyway all this Stone Age stuff is a
  myth made up by men. For all we know, Stone Age women were the top
  dogs.
Harry:   All right, let's drop the Stone Age. Let's come down to the modern
  British family. I suppose you want to abolish it?

 

Sheila:   No, but I want to reorganize it; I believe that the housework and the
  bringing up of the children should be shared equally.
Harry:   How? The husband should wash up, presumably.
Sheila:   Of course.
Harry:   Well, I do that at my house; and I fill up the stove and mow the lawn and
  dig the garden.
Sheila:   Naturally. Those are men's jobs, anyway.
Harry:   Oh! I didn't think you.believed in men's jobs' and women's jobs' Anyway I
  do quite a lot of the shopping.
Sheila:   Fancy that!
Harry:   And in my time I've bathed a few babies.
Sheila:   And changed nappies?
Harry:   Both changed them and washed them.
Sheila:   Well, all I can say is you must be pretty unusual. My husband's
  never touched a nappy in his life.

 

Harry:   I wouldn't say it was all that unusual. There are plenty of men in England   
  who do the same as I do. Maybe that's why our wives are so satisfied. Now
  suppose we all did the same and there were enough nursery schools and so
  on and all the women who wanted to work could do so, what would you
  say to that?
Sheila:   Well...
Harry:   Now suppose I was to stay at home and do all the housework and look after 
  the children while my wife went out to work. What would you think about
  that?

 

Sheila:   I'd approve of it.
Harry:   And you'd be willing for her to do any job at all?
Sheila:   Anything she was strong enough to do.
Harry:   Good. Now some time last century a law was passed making it illegal
  for women to work down the coalmines. You would like that law abolished?
Sheila:   Certainly.
Harry:   I hope you won't want men to open doors for you and give up their seats in 
  the bus for you.
Sheila:   Of course not, as long as I'm fit.
Harry:   In fact, in return for equality you would give up all these special
  allowances formerly made for the so-called weaker sex?
Sheila:   If I'm going to be logical, yes.
Harry:   Well, if women are going to be logical, that will be progress.

 

                    2. Women's Education Should Be Urged

    Recently, a woman in a factory in Beijing was notified that she was being laid off as part of the "optimization" work force reductions in State enterprises. To escape humiliation at the hands of her husband and mother-in-law, she tried to kill herself by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills.
    After she was rescued, her mother took her to the factory director, demanding that her daughter be re-employed. Otherwise, she said, the director would be responsible for any accident tbat happened to her daughter. In the end, the director agreed to grant the woman a leave of absence at full pay plus bonus.


    This is only one example of the problem for which traditional theorists of women's studies and supporters of women's liberation in China apparently have no ready solution. But some feminist researchers recently urged that a new approach be adopted to help women gain a fresh foothold in the struggle to improve their lives.
    Traditionally, paid employment has been seen as the only passage towards women's liberation. And the rate of women's employment has been used as the major criterion in determining the level of women's liberation .


    However, after more than three decades, few Chinese women feel liberated from the old burdens of family and children. They feel they have simply been given more work.
    "We now have to admit that women's employment doesn't necessarily lead to their liberation, or more exactly, to the full development of their personalities," said Ma Lizhen, an editor at Chinese Women magazine.
    "In China, " she said, "this road has reached a dead end. "


    For nearly 40 years, China has pursued policies that encourage women to join the labour force.
    But they have resulted in serious problems, such as low efficiency in factories, strains on the State budget and a heavy load of housework and child care in a family, Ma said.


    This employment-oriented system has hurt the women's fundamental interests as well, Ma said. Women were often put into jobs in heavy manual labour with men more as a demonstration of equality than because they were suited for the work. This left them more dependent on favourable government policies and less competitive.
    A survey conducted by Ma's magazine indicates that about 70 per cent of the workers who will be squeezed out of the labour force in the current optimization will be wornen. The survey also reveals that more women than men prefer. Stzte employment, whieh is..more secure and less competitive.


    To protect women's interesta, some women organizations l;ave urged the top leadership for more favourable policies for women. But some feminists now disagree.
    "We know that special government treatment alone will not produce cornpo.tent women," Dai Qing, a noted writer and journalist, said at a discussion. "On the contrary, it has made them weaker and more dependent. What we should do now is to help women become more able and self-confident. And the only way is through education."


    The long-standing neglect of women's education, especially in the countryside, has resulted in a large proportion of female illiteracy, whose negative effect on the nation's devel.opment is most strikingly seen in ihe country's barely controllable birth rate.
    State statistics indicate that women make up about 70 per cent of China's 200 million illiterates. This situation cannot be expected to improve soon as hundreds of thousands of girls in the countryside are being forced by their parents to drop out of school at early grades to help work at home or in the fields. Girls make up an estimated 70 per cent of the dropouts in the countryside, according to Chinese Women magazine.


    "The women's movement should shift its focus from employment to education," Dai urged.
    "If women are taught self-supporting skills, they will support themselves as opportunities arise even without special care.
    "A good education will benefit a woman throughout her life whether she is a career woman or a housewife," said Da.i, who is working on a plan to set up what would be the only non-governmental girls' school in the capital.


    Another way to help women stand up to the current challenge is for the media to give more positive coverage to housework and good housewives or househusbands, Ma suggested.
    China at present cannot afford to provide publicly all the services traditionally performed within the family, such as cooking, washing and care for children and the elderly. But many people dislike doing housework because it is unpaid and unappreciated.

 

    Ma proposed that society compensate in some way the people who work at home.
    "Thus fewer women workers would feel ashamed about returuing home to do the housework, " she added.
    These feminist researchers have also begun reflecting on the sources of and philosophy behind the current setback in the China's women's liberation movement.     They noted that the movement in China is still operating ithin the framework of male culture because from the very beginning it was formulated and directed by men.
   "They set the male sex as a model for women to follow. So women remain the second sex," Ma said.


    She argued that the time has come for Chinese women to define their own roles in society. They should strive for a society in which they can choose to work outside, or stay at home, in which they can have more time to develop their own interests and improve community conditions.



              3. Two Top Career Women Say Family Also Matters

    It was quite a surprise for Wang Yunfeng, 58-year-old general manager of the Shenyang Department Store, to find herself at the head of a list of Shenyang's top 10 modern women.
    The list was the result of a competition organized by the women's federation of Shenyang, capital of northeastern Liaoning Province.
    Zheng Baohua, director of the federation, said that Wang won the most votes not just because she is the general manager of one of the largest and most-progressive department stores in the country, but also because of her compassion.


    Wang was first in the city to promote lateral ties between commercial establishments, and the total volume of profits her department store turned over to the State over six years was 11 times more than the total investment.
    Wang's 83-year-old mother said that her husband died very early. "It was Yunfeng who raised her three younger brothers," she said, adding, "She never fails to bring me some tasty pastry every time she comes home, no matter how busy she has been at work."


    A middle-school teacher who voted for Wang said, "In my opinion, in addition to career success, modern women should also be independent and charming, and have a sense of freedom. This, of course, has nothing to do with a person's age."
    A soldier named Xiang Mingjun wrote to the federation, expressing his approval of the selection of the top 10 modern women, who are attentive to their husbands, tender to their children, filial to their aged parents and friendly to their neighbours.


    In the house of another of the top 10 modern women, Zhang Guiqing, general manager of Shenyang's Mulan Industrial Corporation, colourful flowers can be found everywhere. Zhang was cleaning the house when the reporter visited her.
    "Despite her fame as a boss of 27 enterprises, she is a good housekeeper and an attentive housewife. She is also a capable and kind mother," Zhang's husband said proudly.
    Zhang, 48, has six children, four of whom are now university students. "The whole family is happy at my being chosen," she said.


    According to the director of the women' s federation, two of the most important criteria for the top 10 modern women out of the city's 2.63 million women are having been praised by authorities above the city goverument level and having a harmonious and happy family.
    This is quite a departure from past attitudes, in the days when a strong sense of family was often regarded as selfish and bourgeois, Zhang said.
    Only two years ago, the story of a mo:lel woman teacher who persevered in her work and ignored the pleas of her sick son was widely cited with approval.