Society has come a long way: International Women’s Day, universal suffrage, and most recently, paternity leave. But just how far have we come in dismantling gender roles? beijingkids talked with students from Harrow International School to find out their views on gender equality, expectations, and what it means to be a feminist. Discussions got heated, proving that gender is still a hot topic.
Do you think men and women are equal?
Fiona: In some aspects I think they are equal, but not in others. For instance, women are still discouraged from serving in the army.
Simon: If by "equal" you mean having the same rights, I would say they have the same rights. But I think it also depends on the country you live in. Different societies have different views.
Daniel: Women do deserve the same rights as men, in all cases. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t do the same things.
Aurelie: In the 21st century, women should be able to get to the top, but I don’t know if things are equal.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
Fiona: I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, just because I would still want a boy to protect me. In relationships, I don’t think being totally equal is right. A man should be a gentleman. They should open doors and take the woman out on dates. If everything in a relationship was equal, I don’t know if I’d want that.
Simon: Right, I think some people take the definition too far.
Aurelie: Yeah, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist.
Daniel: I don’t think I’m a feminist.
How do you see gender equality or inequality on a day-to-day basis?
Fiona: If a boy has six girlfriends at once, he’s seen as, you know, but if a woman has six boyfriends – well, she’s not perceived the same.
How are household chores split in your home?
Aurelie: My mom sticks with the cooking, since my dad is often not home. We split the rest of the chores.
Simon: I don’t know if I’d call my mom a feminist, but she does have very strong opinions about this stuff. If she says my dad or I have to iron, we just do it. Women have the choice to work if they want, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. If my wife asked me nicely, I would cook dinner.
Daniel: My dad usually works all day, so he expects my mom to cook dinner, do the washing and make the beds. But that’s pretty much just expected out of most families. The wife is the housewife, who cleans up the house, while the husband brings in the paycheck.
Fiona: My mom does the ironing, washing, and cooking, but I don’t agree with Dan. Basically, he just said that men should work and women should do chores.
Would you feel comfortable if your future spouse brought in a bigger paycheck than you?
Daniel: I’d be happy, because money is money, and everyone loves money!
Simon: I think that too often women follow men, and I’m really against that. In my family for example, if my dad had to move somewhere, my mom and dad would make a decision together. I definitely encourage women to work, and for both to work together in a marriage.
Is it okay for men to cry?
Fiona: Guys are not supposed to cry.
Daniel: Basically, [Fiona is] saying guys aren’t allowed to show our emotions. Girls are allowed to cry, but we’re not?
Would you agree that gender roles aren’t fair to either men or women?
Fiona: They aren’t [fair].
Simon: I think we’re all equal but perhaps if we didn’t have these gender roles, things might get complicated. At the end of the day, I think we should just live equally and be able to have our own opinions.
Aurelie: If there are any gender roles, there should be at least equal numbers. For example, in politics, men should allow more women in. But that aside, there shouldn’t be any rules.
Daniel: No matter who you are, male or female, do what you want to do. If you have the confidence to bring yourself to the top, do it. You might fail, but at least you tried. And I don’t just mean women; this applies to men as well. Men can also fail.