For most of recorded history, women have been put in a box.
Not a physical box, but a box made of rules. The rules that say men can do A, B, C, D, E and so on, but women can only do Y. If women do anything besides Y, it’s wrong or unnatural, even if they're good at A. Even wanting to do anything but Y is a bad, unwomanly, unnatural thing. For example:
(And yes, men are stuck with a box of rules too. However the box for women has been far more restrictive and oppressive so that's the one I'm focusing on).
Fans of the box have several rationalizations why preventing women from doing anything but Y is totally not sexist or discriminatory. One of the classic arguments is that the rules simply recognize women are different, which everyone throughout history knew until feminists started fooling people. Unfortunately while "women are different" has indeed been a popular argument throughout history, humanity has never been consistent about what the differences are.
For instance, "women are stupid" has been a winner in many periods of the past, but only the hardest-core sexists use that one these days (I'm sure there are plenty more who think it but don't want to say it). Over the span of a few decades I've seen conventional wisdom swing from "women are too catty and bitchy to be friends with each other the way guys can" to "women bond with each other so much better than men." The definition of the difference shifts with time, much as our view of gender shifts.
Another approach is to insist the box is a biological construct. Women not wanting careers, craving marriage, and/or not liking sex as much as men is just the way they are. It's genetics. It's evolution. It's simply natural. This rationale doesn't work either. Natural differences aren't consistent across the board (beyond slam-dunks such as women being the ones who give birth). Men are on average, taller than women, but lots of women tower over the average man (and I'm well below the height of the average woman). Some women are stronger, faster and tougher than the average man, some women have a higher sex drive than the average man. Almost any difference, physical or mental, will show the same sort of variation.
Women in Military
Of course this photo is spoofing the subject, but only to bring more attention to it: For over 3,000 years in a large number of cultures and nations, women have played many roles in the military, from ancient warrior women, to the women currently serving in conflicts, although the vast majority of all combatants in every culture have been men. Even though women serving in the military has often been controversial, a very small number of women in history have fought alongside men. In the American Civil War, there were a few women who cross-dressed as men in order to fight. Fighting on the battlefront in disguise was not the only way women involved themselves in war. Some also served as nurses and aides. | Photo: Hot Shots Calendar | Link |
Some women want kids, some don't; some women want marriage, some don't; some women are sweet and demure, some have a temper to make strong men quail (I have friends in all these categories). Applying a one-size-fits-all set of rules on what women are allowed to do will never actually fit all women.
A fall-back defense against observed fact is that even if some women don't fit in the box, those women are wrong! They've been fooled by feminists into doing unnatural things like having jobs or not marrying until they're over thirty! So they should just get back in that box because that's where they want to be even if they don't realize it (case in point, conservatives have argued the success of Fifty Shades of Gray
proves women are only happy if they let men be the boss).
Even if I bought the idea that women who stay single/have careers/have premarital sex are going against their true nature, so what? Humans do lots of things that aren't natural — abstain from sex as teenagers, risk their lives to save a stranger, use medicine, cut and shave their hair. As far as I know, nobody has a blanket objection to going against nature — heck, "feminists don't shave their legs" is a criticism almost as old as I am. Going against nature is only an issue when nature is a euphemism for "the way I think you're supposed to be."
The box made of rules doesn't exist because there are no women want to do X. It exists to stop women from doing X regardless of their wants or their abilities.
That's a lousy reason.