We’re constantly working to ensure that men and women are considered equal, but even if they’re paid the same, treated the same, seen as being the same… Can they ever really be the same?
It’s a concept of men and women being equal that continues, even today, to haunt our society.
The idea that men and women aren’t equal is one that has been indoctrinated into us from the Old Testament… Or, more precisely, the story of Adam and Eve. So much so, that before the advent of Monotheism – religions that believe in a single, all-powerful God – the gods people venerated were both male and female, or even hermaphrodites.
Moreover, if you go back far enough in history, you’ll even discover that the earliest gods were, indeed, mostly female. A woman, after all, is the vessel through which life is conceived, transported and birthed. She is, as Gustave Courbet named his painting, the Origin of the World.
Personally, I was raised in a family in which it didn’t matter if you were male or female. My sister and I were treated equally and our parents expected the same things from us. They expected my sister to study and invest in her career, and they had no problem asking me to sweep the floors or do the dishes.
Yet a while ago, I was shocked to discover the thoughts some people have when it comes to men and women being equal.
“Women can never be equal,” a friend of mine said in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because… Think about it. If women are allowed to achieve their full potential and become CEOs and become big players in the game, then who would give birth to future generations? And who would take care of them?”
I think that the idea that all women would choose a career over a family is ridiculous. And why should they have to choose, anyway? Was I the only person who had heard of childcare centres?
“I don’t agree with that reasoning,” a second friend told him. “See, I don’t think men and women can ever be equal because they are different. They think differently, act differently, and are built differently. It’s like saying that a lamb and a lion are on the same level of the food chain, and I am certainly not specifying who is the lamb and who is the lion. They are both animals, they are both invaluable, but they can’t be equal.”
To me, if two things are invaluable to a system, then in that system they are equal – equally important, if nothing else! Saying that men and women can’t be equal because they are built differently is like saying that the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza are neither beautiful feats of engineering. They are different in the way they look and the way they were built, but they are equal in the purpose they serve and in the awe they bring to visitors.
“I think women are actually more equal than men,” answered another friend of mine over my birthday dinner. “What I mean is that that they are not equal in everything. Mandatory conscription is only forced on men, but not on women, for example.”
I think that’s a fair point, but whether it’s enough to show that women have it better than men in the game of equality is ridiculous… Don’t you?
My argument has always been that, no, we are not yet equal on all fronts. A lot still needs to be done in terms of wages, the law, and even more than that, mentality. We will get there one day, though.
The most shocking part? People will realise that the world will not end on the day that this happens!
Do you agree with any of James’s friends? Or do you agree with James?
Let us know in the comments section below.