clearly there are differences between the genders which exist at a biological level
and these express themselves physically, mentally, emotionally in everyone
and they express socially in everyone's behaviour
the first is biochemistry
the second is the nature/nurture cocktail and how it worked out for you
the third is a cultural construction
It's the third one that causes me the most trouble. I think this is the least visible of the 3, and the most difficult to handle. No, there's nothing overtly obvious about the first two that would suggest that men be taken more seriously than women in a million daily situations: buying tickets, waiting tables, eating dinner, talking to colleagues... and yet, I know from studies and my own behaviour that it is so.
If I'm not concentrating I can hardly help myself deferring very pleasantly to any damn man, no matter how unsuited, in any situation, for example. I just tend to do it regardless. I can't tell you how that sticks in my throat when it happens, though the resulting burst of shame and anger don't help me gain much ground. And if I, a verifiable geek girl pro-woman sort of person can be like this (unless I am struggling hard inside and 'correct' myself, which, incidentally, makes me experience a horrible churning sensation in the gut like the floor is about to drop out of the world), then it's some powerful juju, it is.
So, what the hell is that all about? Is it biology, hardwired into my mammalian brain or even the reptilian bits? Is it something that happened to make a natural female character into a particularly spineless form of pinky goo? Or is it the invisible smite of culture coming at me all the time through everyone else's behaviour? Because clearly if you ask me straight out in a blog I'd say that we are all, men, women, children, to be taken seriously and given the opportunities to express ourselves equally. Obviously. And that would cover race. It goes without saying. I'd just assume that I was unshakeable on the subject. And then I watch my own behaviour from the inside and...poof! I'm like a double agent for the bad side, spurred by anxiety (very palpable) and what I can only describe as a kind of calculated overpoliteness intended to keep my head safely below any enemy-style radars. Yuck!
But the primal kind of responses it evokes in me lead me to think it can't just be a cultural thing, or even a personal thing. And its ubiquitousness also suggests it must be rooted in the infernal relation of biology and environment (I mean social environment). Because it leads to inequalities, present political thinking suggests it ought to be eliminated or rooted out, but how do you do that? Should I prosecute myself for being a silly girly or would I be stupid to change my behaviour according to a plan? There's oodles of work to be done before we can find answers or explanations that really match the reality here, even though we must all be experts because we live it every day. I've yet to see a study on how male and female styles of behaviour mesh with each other to create benevolent wholes though, in spite of their many different strategies and plays. I'd like to see that but it's prob'ly because I'm a girl and want everyone to get along nicely....