Wednesday, September 14, 2011

gender equality

hello internet.

today i am going to talk about a controversial subject: gender equality. it can be a difficult topic to approach, so i am going to start with a great joke:

question: if a tree falls on a woman in the forest, does it make a sound?
response: what is she doing out of the kitchen?

i suppose the first person could tell the joke differently, and say: 'if a tree falls on a woman while she labors in her kitchen-in-the-forest, does it make a sound?' but that sounds far too wordy.

okay, enough silliness. maybe. the fact is, there is a lot of demand for women's rights out there nowadays. most of the demand, i would assume, comes from women. there are too few men advocating for women's rights, and that is totally uncool. i strongly believe that women are in most cases equal to men, and in nearly every other case superior to them. historically, (and currently) men haven't looked at women this way. throughout the years men have prescribed certain actions and behaviors for women, effectively putting up walls around them that limit them from reaching their full potential. women's rights has been a bigger issue on the political field during recent years, and most people would admit that there has been a lot of progress.

none of this is what i want to talk about.

though there has been progress made in the realm of gender equality, i would argue that not all of this 'progress' has been positive. though our society has been breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles that have limited women for centuries, i believe that if we are not careful, this idea of gender equality could go too far. i am afraid that we may get so concerned with gender equality that we may forget some of the things that make women so much better than men.

in expressing this, i don't intend to demean any woman that has aspirations for excellence in the professional world. i just want to express my feelings that women do not need to be men to be happy. in breaking out from these barriers of limitations, women should not forget who they are or what they have historically done. just because women have historically been confined to childbearing and childrearing does not mean that a woman must now become a lawyer or a doctor to be successful. gender equality means that men and women are equal to choose a profession. in this discussion it should be realized that each gender has areas in which they excel above the abilities of the opposite gender. gender equality also means that men and women deserve (and should expect) mostly equal treatment (note that i say 'mostly'). let me touch upon both of these aspects of gender equality:

1) men and women should be able to choose a profession of their choice.

women and men should take careful consideration of the numerous circumstances surrounding their individual situation as they make career decisions. these changing circumstances may make it impossible to dictate or even suggest what would be right or wrong for a specific individual. here are some thoughts to consider in the meantime.

men and women are different. there are the obvious biological differences and the more subtle emotional and logical differences. these differences are important and beneficial. there may be exceptions, but the crying child doesn't go to mommy for no reason. the child goes to mom because mom is a great comforter. she loves and forgives and is patient with her child. this may have something to do with the fact that mom gave birth to the child, but that isn't the entire story. when science gets 'good' enough (advanced enough?) to allow men to carry a baby in pregnancy, it will not change the inherent differences in behavior and emotion between man and woman. this has great implications for career choices. society is made up of families who are made up of parents with children. the children of today form the society of tomorrow. very simple concepts. someone needs to teach the children, and the majority of the teaching should NOT be done at school, but in the home. so in making career and educational choices, a woman should consider her options carefully. a professional business path may be more appealing (and lucrative) than the option of being a mother. are they mutually exclusive? maybe, maybe not. are men and women equally capable of both? i would say no. both can be successful in business. both can have a measure of success with children, but whether you believe in God or no, the biological fact of womanhood (or maybe more specifically motherhood) involves the care and nurture of children. this should influence a woman's career decisions.

another quick comment. what is culturally seen as 'successful' or 'unsuccessful' should not be a major consideration in a woman's career choices. motherhood used to be the only option for women. now that there are other options, a woman should not leave behind motherhood as if it were somehow as outdated as societies' inequalities. whatever you choose to do, do it well. in this lies success.

2) men and women deserve mostly equal treatment

this is true. remember that women and men are not the same. sometimes we look at events or situations and say, 'ah hah! that was sexist--the man was somehow preferred.' but rarely (if ever) do we look at events from the opposite perspective to say, 'ah hah! that man held the door for that girl, but not for the man behind her! how sexist!' women tend to expect premium treatment from men, and i think that it should be given to them. whether or not they deserve it. women are not men, and do not need to be treated as men, but should be treated with more care and respect. this is sexist. it is also what most women prefer.

a brief story. in high school, i was in a class taught by an older gentleman. he was very good at what he did and everyone loved him. looking back, it was more of a college class format than any other high school class i had. this included occasional side conversations as the teacher lectured. on one occasion, this girl in the front row was continually talking. though the teacher was not angry, he did have to ask her to quiet down a few times during the class period. finally, at one point he interrupted his lecture, walked up to her and asked, "do you believe in equal treatment for men and women?" she responded, that yes, she did. he promptly slapped her in the face as he often did, playfully, to his male students. she didn't say a thing, though she was certainly surprised! i have often thought about that instance, not trying to judge whether it was 'right' or 'wrong,' but just to consider the expectations of women in regard to gender equality.

do women want equality or fairness? are they the same thing? are women already equal?

i would be interested in responses from both men and women.

in conclusion i would like to share with you this horribly politically incorrect demotivational poster. i hope it makes you smile.

with love,


  1. Men and women are equal, not the same. I think the worlds view of gender equality is making women the same as men (never the other way around). when we can accept the different strengths men and women have, we'll see that we are equal.

  2. I think maybe the biggest issue is respect. We can be all kinds of equal and still have no respect for the other gender. I have been a stay at home mom for over 3 years now, and I noticed a marked difference in the way I was spoken to, socialized with, and treated when I became a mother, by both men and women. The sad thing is, WOMEN don't respect other women who have chosen to embrace their natural roles. Somehow the whole world is convinced that the innate abilities and tendencies that women possess are worthless. I think we're pretty equal. Women can own land, vote, choose almost any career they want. What's lacking is respect for what every woman yearns to be: a child-bearer, a mother, a homemaker.

  3. Jeremy,

    Thank you for inviting me to read your post--I think you make a great point with arguing that we should respect women who choose to stay at home. Creating gender equality for women definitely means respecting a woman's decisions with what she chooses to do with her life. People who treat SAHM's with disdain are just as guilt as those who disdain career women. My mother was a homemaker and she was incredible, I love that she chose to do that for us.

    However, I do disagree with a few of your other points, specifically the arguments that women are better in general, are more suited to nurturing and that women and men should be treated differently. So here it goes :)

    While I value my gender, I never liked it when people would tell me that women were better than men. For the large part, I believe it sends a message excusing bad behavior for men, and also really demeans men. I don't believe we should EVER praise one gender over another.

    In terms of being more nurturing I think that is obviously a maternal instinct that would arise after giving physical birth, I mean, it's biology. However, I'm not a baby person. While I like kids fine, I've never liked babies. Having children is also something I've seriously considered, not doing. Likewise, I've met other women who feel similarly. Again, I think telling this to men inhibits their abilities as fathers, men, strong and nurturing fathers are just as necessary as a strong and nurturing mother. I've also met some men who were way more nurturing than me and I think that there are some men out there who are more suited to being a SAHD than a woman would be. I think it just comes down to the individual.

    Lastly, in being treated differently. When a man opens a door for me, it's polite and I always appreciate it. However, if a man doesn't open a door for me, neither am I offended. It's a provocative thought to think that women might also open a door for a man to show respect for him (interesting idea...I may have to blog about this later).

    In regards to the story of the teacher who hit the girl, I don't think that it matters that she was a woman, I think it matters that they were his students. It was completely inappropriate for the teacher to hit either his female or his male students. I think the same goes out in the world. Hitting is bad. Neither gender should it. Now, granted I know men like to get in play fights and even duke it out when there is a problem. I've gotten in many play wrestling matches with men and even a few with my girlfriends. Now, biologically, men are bigger; their bodies produce more testosterone, they grow to a larger size and have more upper body strength, a man hitting a woman will usually inflict much more damage than a woman hitting a man. When a man is abusive towards a woman it is always to create a power relationship and to control another person, which is why it is so reprehensible. The fact that men may more easily dominate women because of their size is probably what makes it more common for domestic abuse to be committed against women.

    I hate personality tests...I think they're limited to the beautiful and unique people we are. People are people and everyone is different. That's the view I tend to take towards gender--everyone interacts with their gender in a different way and that's great for the individual, however, prescribing specific roles and characteristics often scrubs out the beautiful marks of personality and individuality that make us all different.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. I meant, I think that they limit us from being the beautiful and unique people we are.