This subject came up over a cup of tea the other evening and the man of the house asked "Why would women want to be equal to men?" then added, "I just don't get it." He went on to discuss how women were doing all sorts of work now that was seen as unpleasant in some way, and how women are spending so much time out of the home at work and then burning out or being stressed. I didn't say much but I listened and I'm going to write here about what I think. I know you're excited!!
I think I understand what he was trying to say but it would be easy to misinterpret his words as chauvinistic or misogynist if you didn't know him, so I'm just saying in his defence that he's a nice guy and I'm sure he wouldn't mean to offend. I think he was meaning that he didn't understand why women would want to 'become' men or to 'become' manly in the way they live and work. Maybe I completely misunderstood, but I think that perhaps a lot of people think that. I think that the whole feminist movement has in some ways been terribly misunderstood. I'm sure there are some radical thinkers that took the idea to extremes, and I understand that sometimes that is the only way to elicit change in society, but the heart of the matter really is, I think, about choice. And about fairness. Really.
Surely it makes sense for a person, male, female or otherwise (that might stretch your imagination a bit, but yes, it's possible) to be paid the same amount for doing a job regardless of gender. It would be like working out wages based on sexual orientation or hair colour, to pay one gender more than the other for doing the same job, would it not? And surely we would see that as entirely irrational and unfair wouldn't we? So the old headline, 'Equal pay for equal work' makes sense. It is fair. It is just.
Now I could do a lot of research on the subject, or even a little, but for now I'm just having a little chat over a cuppa with you and wondering how many bastions of maleness have been broken through in the name of the feminist movement? I know that once women did not go into the bar area of pubs. Now they do. Most places anyway. Not all women go into bars, but they can choose to now if they wish. I'm not sure if they were actually banned before or if it was just socially accepted that it was 'not the done thing' for a woman to go in...
Choice is the big thing really. Women were in a position where they didn't believe they had the right to make choices about things in their lives. I suppose that is what got them moving in the first place. They found out during the wars that they could do the work that men had traditionally done. They had to while so many men were away fighting. Women discovered that they were strong. They discovered that they could do things they hadn't had to think about before. Sometimes I get frustrated with the whole men versus women thing. Sexism is right up there with racism, making life unpleasant and far more difficult for everyone that it could be if we all relaxed a bit and accepted one another as people with differences. We are all different from one another but we all have commonalities as well. It is fair for each of us to have the freedom to make choices for ourselves and our lives so long as we are considerate of how our actions affect others.
Maybe I'm too simplistic in my thinking, but I see things become so complicated all the time and all we really want from one another is to be accepted and appreciated. We want to be treated fairly...all of us. We want to be able to exercise choice. Being of equal value doesn't mean being the same. Often our value is in our uniqueness. I think it's okay for men and women to have groups that are sacred to one gender or the other. Women like to get together to talk about things that interest them and it has to be okay for men to do the same. Women don't like men to break in on their 'girly' times...but many seem to think they should be able to be in everything the men are doing. Sometimes I think that men have been lost somehow in the feminist debacle. Can I call it that? I mean the things that have gotten just plain silly; things I've heard of like women growling at men for holding doors open for them or offering to help carry something heavy or awkward. I don't consider it an offence for a man to offer his help to me in this way. I feel happy that another human being is willing to see that they can make life better or easier for me in some way and is also willing to act on that. I don't care if they are male or female (or other) I just feel recognised as a fellow human being. I called it a debacle because I think in the rush to find fairness, choice and equal value, somehow half the population has become reluctant to help the other half simply because they might be 'shot down' for doing so. I actually feel cranky sometimes when I am struggling with something difficult and I see other people ignore me and leave me to struggle alone. I think sometimes that the feminist movement is to blame; or the misinterpretation of the actual goals of the feminist movement (unless I've completely missed the point - do let me know if that's the case!!).
I'd love to hear what you think about this. I'm sure some of you will have things to say. I know there are still situations here and around the world where workers are still paid according to gender. We still have a way to go, but along the way, do you think we might just learn to be a little kinder to each other. If someone offers to help you smile, and thank them. You can make someone else feel valued and appreciated by allowing them to help you. Have you considered that? Sometimes I've said no, I'm fine thank you...but it wouldn't have hurt me any to let another person help me. We would have exchanged a few words and smiled...connected for a minute or two. Isn't that important...to connect with other human beings and not to block them out. Just a thought. It's time to see each other as of 'equal value'. It's time for fairness in the workplace with regards to conditions, wages and salaries. It's time for fairness and justice and kindness. Divisiveness has had its time. We need to be building bridges, not tearing them down. You have to make yourself vulnerable to connect with others. You risk being hurt or used or 'taken for a ride' but isn't loneliness and disconnectedness the plague of our times...despite all the fancy communication devices we have. It's got to be worth letting your guard down a bit sometimes and letting others in.