Gender Equality?

 From the wider screen of the news to the more intimate communications of close friends and family, a message of the moment seems to be  gender equality.  Sounds wonderful – what could be wrong with gender equality?  It’s time men were liberated from macho, emotionally restricted roles designed to fit them for a competitive workplace and for war, and time women were liberated from being valued mainly for childbearing capacity and expectations of being the constant nurturer dependent on others for abundance.  It is time that men and women can relate freely without an underlying concern with sexual intercourse.  However, as I listen more closely, it is not those particular liberations – or any others – that seem to be the main message promoted.  The message seems to be that men and women are the same.

While it is wonderful that men are getting the same parental leave as women, and wonderful that women can achieve the position of CEO  (I hope at least one parent or grandparent is there to pay attention to the children), male caretakers are not the same as female caretakers, and female CEOs are not the same as male CEOs.  One is not better than the other, and neither is the same as the other.  Both have gifts to give that are intrinsic to themselves, and both definitely deserve equal pay for their gifts. Equally valued does not mean same.

What, then, about those men who believe they are women and those women who perceive themselves to be men?  What about those who prefer to sleep with someone of the same gender?  Does that not support the idea that maleness and femaleness are the same?  Not being a member of one of these communities, I cannot venture to speak with the authority of participatory knowledge. However, I would  venture to guess that a male-inside person is distinct from a female-inside person; why is there an issue if both are same?   I am acquainted with female-female couples and male-male couples.  It is not difficult to distinguish one from the other.  If males and females are the same, then why is there an issue over preference?  The one would thus be just like the other.

Equally valued,  having equal access to the common benefits of society, does not mean that everyone must be treated exactly the same.  I appreciate equal pay for equal work; I do not wish to have to morph into a participant in a male culture in order to do that equal work.   I am proud of being female.  Again, I cannot speak from experience, but I assume that there are men who do not wish to adapt to a mainly female culture in order to equally participate.  I would certainly hope that there are men who are proud of their masculinity.   Asserting that men and women are same destroys both masculinity and femininity.  It is an error in an otherwise welcome movement of our times.

If one gives equal sunshine to both a shade loving plant and a sun loving plant, neither plant will thrive. This is an equal treatment which is destructive.  Also, if one fails to give water to either plant, both plants will die.   However, just as they require different amounts of sun to thrive, so will plants require different amounts of water.  Declaring them to be same is counterproductive.  On the other hand, giving each varied plant just that amount of sun, soil, water that plant requires promotes life.

Let us cherish the wonderful diversity that we have; Let us make sure that each has what he or she needs to thrive.  Let us refrain from making one better from the other, hence deserving the most of what is necessary for a good life.  There is enough for all; we do not need to be same to receive it.

Peace,   Diane