Gender Equality

I said I would write a post about my thoughts on gender equality. I’m almost afraid to go through with this because it has been a sticky subject for me in the past and I get intimidated easily. But I’m going for it anyway!  In a previous post, I mentioned that I found Wicca to be, in general, too goddess-centric. Yes, I understand that not all Wiccan’s focus on the goddess, but the Wiccan folks I met up with tended to be of the über-feminist persuasion. Why is it that in order to raise up one oppressed group, another has to be ignored, disregard, or flat out oppressed in return? Is it to speed up the process of reaching equality? A concept like “meet me in the middle?” I guess that would be logical, but it seems to be the natural progression of human ways to continue putting one group or another down long after a state of equality has been achieved. Not that women have reached that state yet, but they are getting close and I hate that there still “needs” to be a faction of man-haters amongst the feminists, giving the rest of them a bad name.

I’ve never openly referred to myself as a feminist. Although I am certainly glad for all that feminism has done for women, it falls short of where I think we need to be in terms of equality. There is a bigger picture out there concerning gender equality that feminism doesn’t fully address. It has done a lot for the biological female sex, but not so much for the “feminine”  (ironic since the very word feminist would seem to indicate otherwise)

In a patriarchal world, the men have everything. Who wouldn’t want to be a man in a patriarchy? I’ve read stories, fictional and biographical, wherein female characters say they wish they had been born a man rather than that they were respected as they are. And so, with that impossible desire in mind, women set out to earn the right to “be” men. And they have more or less succeeded. Although still biologically female, women can live out a masculine role. They can be tomboys, and dress like men (and, I must stress, still be considered sexy and respectable doing so). They can have masculine jobs and roles of power out in the public sphere. This is all absolutely fantastic. Honestly. I am happy that we can do all these things. I am also aware that there is still work left to make it even easier for us to achieve these goals.

But all this effort to earn a place in the masculine sphere has left the feminine even more oppressed than it was before. If a woman honestly desires nothing more than to be a mother and a housewife, others look down upon her. At best, she will receive pity from the feminists who believe she is a victim of patriarchal indoctrination. Not only are women “allowed” to participate in the public sphere and have careers, they are practically expected to do so. Today, everything that is associated with the feminine is significantly inferior to the masculine. Proof of this is especially evident when we separate biological sex from its gendered association.

Recall that I mentioned women can dress like men and still be considered sexy. I don’t mean this in a negative, they-are-objectified sort of way (although that happens too), but that they are not thought of as lesser for wearing pants, or even suits with ties, etc. A man who dresses feminine is laughed at. Not always. People try to put on a show of tolerance and acceptance. But do we really respect men who cross dress in the same way that we respect a women who does? Not at all.

And how about gays and lesbians? A lesbian, to put this in a very simplified context, is acting out the masculine role of desiring a woman. Both lesbians and tomboy-ish women are portrayed in the media as sexy, powerful, deserving of respect (there are exceptions, I know). Films about lesbian couples are usually of a serious nature (dramas) or they are action flicks. While there have been a few dramas featuring gay men too, in general, these type of films (and especially so for cross dressing men, gay or not) are comedies. Why is it so funny for men to act feminine but not so funny for women to act masculine (seriously, you don’t mess around laughing at manly women – that’s just asking for trouble)? Even mostly masculine male characters who try to fill a stay-at-home dad role are comic characters. It’s funny to watch men trying to take care of babies and kids on their own. Any even remotely feminine thing a guy does is subject to comedy.

I contend that this is because little to nothing has been done to achieve gender equality. We have almost achieved biological sex equality – but gender has been left out of the equation.

Some feminists have told me this isn’t true. That gender equality is a significant part of their agenda. Then I usually get a lecture about how I shouldn’t talk about things I don’t understand and that if I don’t have a degree in feminist studies to stay out of their business. Seriously? So only the academic elite are allowed to participate in a discussion that affects the entire world? That makes sense. I may not know exactly what is going on in the private academic feminist clubs, but I know what I see around me. And what I see is that being feminine (whether as a man or a woman) is not the least bit respected. I should feel as free to be über girly as I am to be masculine. Technically, yes, I am free to do so. But I want to do so and have it be understood that this world requires the feminine to the exact same capacity that it requires the masculine. It matters not which biological sex fills each role or combination of roles – only that we recognize the merit in BOTH genders.

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Posted on June 27, 2015, in Social Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “only that we recognize the merit in BOTH genders.”

    Gender is a hierarchy, with men in the dominant role and woman in the subordinate role.

    There is no point in recognizing the ‘merit’ of either role as the entire construct, by definition, creates oppression.

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    • I guess in the way we have the gendered aspects of identity set up into neat little roles that fit into the patriarchal system – the hierarchy is inevitable. I don’t think it has to be this way though. I also wasn’t considering gender in terms of biological sex, but more in terms of the generic “feminine” vs “masculine.” We can’t escape these aspects of identity. Some people will naturally gravitate towards one or the other. While it’s a nice thought that there can be a neutral gender (and some people may even come close to embodying it) it isn’t possible, nor desirable imo. The world would not function smoothlu if we were to take out the feminine. I strongly believe in balance. A ying/yang sort of thing. If everything feminine disappeared right now, we’d probably kill off the human species in not too long a time.

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  2. Yet another thought provoking article that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading. As a woman who has raised 4 children, mostly alone, and managed a successful career as a musician, I’ve had a lifetime to embrace my femininity and develop certain masculine aspects of myself as well. It is sad, but true, that society doesn’t honor Mothers & Nurturers (male or female), or Artists of all kinds. When my kids were younger & we had very little money, my oldest daughter’s teacher informed me that ‘maybe I should get a REAL job’. “My job is raising my children, and playing & teaching music.” was my response. I didn’t bother to tell her that I’m not actually capable of working in a ‘real’ situation, or that my main skills are not ‘job’ oriented, or that every penny I made would have gone into childcare, since I would have had to pay somebody else to watch my kids while I worked in some unfulfilling and meaningless ‘job’.

    Gratefully I continued down my own path to fulfillment, gradually acquiring more students, gigs, and skill level. And my kids grew up, open minded free thinkers that they all are, valuing home, family, creativity, and individuality.

    Liked by 1 person

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