Some aspects of formation of reality perceptions at men and women in countries of Central Asia
It is not a secret even for people who are far from social sciences that efforts for the equalization of rights of men and women already have been bringing its dividends for the last couple decades. But not everyone is aware of the fact that in the countries of Central Asia, such as Kyrgyzstan, or Kazakhstan the situation has changed only slightly. And regardless of the fact that in social, political and economical life the investment of time and energy for changing gender roles of women were significant, the process still reminds us of the work of an idle engine. May be we should look for the deeper reasons than we have gotten used to or try glance at the problem from another angle. All problems have at least two sides - speaking in the language of the researchers’ subjective and objective aspects, or internal and external reasons; and our subject of research is not an exception. Let’s look deeper at internal factors that hinder the change of the social role of women and try to interpret it as one of the reasons.
We all are products of social circumstances. But most of us are unaware of that fact. Few are familiarized with the concept and just some of us are ready to admit it. This is one of the reasons why change is an almost unaffordable task for majority of people. If you don’t know that you have been changed then you see no reasons to correct your model of behavior and if you are not informed of options then you simply don’t try to choose. Besides if the stereotypes of behavior and decision making have been conditioned by parents then an individual has few chances to change. What if the root of the problem lies so deeply that we don’t simply misunderstand it but moreover we don’t remember it. Let us look at the situation in Central Asia, particularly in Bishkek. Observations of young families in Bishkek city during the last several years and surveys of elder generations allowed me to come to a conclusion that methods of children rearing varied dependently on cultural difference of families, age of parents and family structure. But there was one thing that remained unchangeable. This was the way parents reacted when their children were learning to walk. The process takes place in every (physically healthy) person’s life at 10-12 m.o. When this factor was revealed we asked ourselves how we could be sure that it was what we had been looking for. How to check the reliability of that factor? The answer was simple. This thing should be the factor that would define the way of structuring the relation of a child with the outer world in the future. Second it should be implanted into him/her so early and so deeply that he/she wouldn’t suspect it existed. And finally it should presume gender difference.
For better understanding of the formation process of perception of reality let’s look at the way how parents react when their child during his/her first attempts to walk falls down and how the reaction varies dependingly on the sex of the child. Typical example #1; a girl tries to walk, falls down, the parents run to the child and give her a hug, kiss and calm her down. In Asian societies it is considered to be right to manifest some love and tenderness towards daughters having presumed she’s would do the same towards her children in the future. According to an observation, a child can fall down approximately 20 times a day during the first month of learning to walk. Very soon the reflex is fixed and the girl demands attention to her personality every time she falls or hurts herself and she gets it. Now typical example #2: a boy falls, the reaction of the parents now is different. Nobody runs, nobody hugs a boy and what is very regular is that he is even encouraged to stop crying and stand up (with help from the parents of course) but this time nobody is eager to manifest tenderness toward the boy. This is considered as the norm for rising boys in countries of Central Asia. The situation repeats itself 20 times a day. The boy is deprived of psychological support of his relatives. They deny him at the moment of crisis and he has to deal with the problem alone. But he wants to walk because his parent walk as they are the first (and maybe ultimate) model of behavior he has at the moment. It makes him feels unity with them as another option is to deny them and he cannot allow himself to do so as he is so dependent on them. So, there is only one way for him to solve that conflict. From one side there are parents who push him ahead to make him overcome crisis and from another side there is a hard floor that beats him 15-25 times a day. And at that moment a boy starts to pass the biggest crisis in his life after birth. What happens in his mind could be named madness if it wasn’t a statistical norm. The boy, in order to ease the pain after falling starts to deny the unity with his body. He learns how to perceive himself, his body and the environment around him discreetly. He stops perceiving the manifesting of reality through his own personality. The gift that he gets after successfully overcoming the challenge is called abstract thinking. Plus this is an attitude to possible challenges, because the basics of behavour are attitude and the bottom line of attitude is evaluation. The more objective evaluation is then easier humans overcome problems. And this is one of the typical ways of differentiation of educating kids in families of Central Asia that has far-reaching consequences.
To sum up all above mentioned it is necessary to say that gender role of women in societies of countries of Central Asia is not something that is defined by suppressing factors such as traditional domination of men or economic reasons. The last two factors are often taken as a stumbling block on the way to gender equality. To succeed in that way we have to understand gender models of social behavior through a deeper look into psychology of people and the way of their formation. Only under this condition it will be possible to perform change in the model of behavior in gender aspect.
Feb 5, 2007