Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon: Study Highlights Gender Stereotypes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A study conducted by Dr. Azza Sharara Baidoun which included 1,300 random students enrolled in Lebanon’s 11 official universities has revealed some interesting findings. The researcher sought to explore the concept of identity among male and female students alike, in addition to perceptions and stereotypes between the two sexes.

Ranging over various cities, sects, communities and social classes, the study’s results revealed that young women rejected the beliefs and behavioral conduct imposed on women by their families and societies. However; this rejection was a moderate negation of the stereotypes and did not reach the extent of an outright challenge.

As for the young men, they were ambivalent, thus yielding average results that fell in the middle of the spectrum between acceptance and rejection. However, compared to their female counterparts, the males were much more conservative than the women and did not accept the notion of equality between the sexes in their society whether in the home, public domain or in relations between men and women.

Some believe that this absence of gender equality serves the best interest of the men, since historically speaking the elevation of male status is founded on female inferiority. In fact; some even believe that women’s inferior status is necessary for the men’s sexual virility!

The primary basis for the male crisis, according to some, lies in the abusive violence against women in our contemporary societies, and it is viewed as a desperate and deplorable reaction to women’s liberation from their social and psychological inferiority.

However, the other stance was that of a progressive group of men who called on all men to focus on women liberation issues and to review the notion of their masculinity with the intention of putting an end to this destructive trend. They also called for getting in touch with their feminine side and abandoning the defensive position that makes them suppress that side whilst also letting go of the disparaging view that some hold of women on a global scale.

However, no unifying position could be found between the two genders with regards to women’s issues; this differed in accordance with their affiliations.

The study showed that Christians, as a whole, were less accepting than the Muslims in terms of the traditional role and descriptions of women. Moreover, it was found that Catholic Christians were even less accepting than other Christians.

Amongst Muslims, the Druze were less accepting of women’s traditional stereotypes whereas the Sunnis and Shia held very similar views of women and issues related to their cause. The Druze, however, were closer in their views to the Christians in terms of their rejection of the traditional role and image ascribed to women.

The study also found that the sons and daughters of working women were much more supportive of women and their cause, and likewise were against the traditional perception of women with regards to their roles at home and in the public domain.

Meanwhile, Western studies indicate that university students are affected by the field of specialization they choose to study so that those who specialize in the arts and humanities are believed to be more liberal and less attached to traditions than their scientific counterparts. But field studies have proven otherwise; the young men shared the same stance regardless of their area of study while the young women who were studying sciences were found to be more liberal and more opposed to these traditions.