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Perspective: The definitive difference between woman and man

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Pronouns have sparked discussion on how to define men and women. Despite many observations, our gender is not determined by biology or perceived identity. Rather, it depends on how others treat us.


To clarify: if you are punished for your life choices, you are a woman. For example, if you decide to have a family and you have complications during pregnancy, in certain states you need to be on the brink of death before doctors can intervene. If you decide to work while raising a family, you will be criticized for not putting family first. If you decide to stay at home, you will be asked why you are not working. Of course, your family, friends and complete strangers will comment on your parenting. At work, you will earn less, be passed over for promotions and be given extra duties for no additional pay or benefits. If you complain, you will be branded as not “fitting into company culture.”


If you are rewarded for your life choices, you are a man. No one will question whether your work impacts your family, few will find fault with your parenting, and having several children, even with multiple partners, will never result in the questioning of your professional capacities or personal choices. You will be promoted, given raises, and listened to during meetings. Your work will be valued…and you will wonder why others are unhappy.


I’m Frances Jaeger, and that is my Perspective.


Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.