Sunday, February 14, 2016

The real meaning of gender equality.

"How dare you talk like this with a woman?"
"This is not the way you should behave with women"
"How can police be so brutal towards women?"
I read many complaints like these, no doubt that they all are very well intended and express feeling of empathy towards women. There is absolutely nothing wrong in objecting to rude behavior or unwarranted aggression by the police or anyone else but these complaints are very gender specific. Surprisingly, even people who claim to be feminist and vow for gender equality also voice such complains which demand some sort of soft attitude towards women. It is puzzling to me on what basis while supporting the cause of gender equality some people feel that women should be treated differently under certain situations, especially when it comes to harsh criticism or some actions to maintain law and order. Aren't above complains indirectly mean that 'if someone does those things against men then it's OK or less offensive but those things are not acceptable if women are victims?' Or do they mean that men can handle those things but women can't, so please spare them from any such trauma? Aren't such arguments defeat the whole purpose of fight for gender equality? Any misbehavior or brutality should be objected, no matter whether it is against women or men or someone else. According to me "equality" means not just equal rights, but also equal responsibility at all levels. Equality doesn't come only with equal rights, but also with equal responsibility, suffering, humiliation, pressure, actually it means you will get equal of everything. One cannot demand equality and then ask for some concessions just because of their gender or race or whatever. If it is so, then it is not a true equality, but again some form of discrimination and aren't all these movements like feminism or civil rights originated to fight against any such discrimination?

There are some minimum standards for public behavior and we all should follow them. If it is wrong to speak with a woman in a certain way, then it should be wrong to speak like that with any man also. If it is wrong to push or attack women while they are part of any protest or street march then it should be wrong to do these things with men as well. Both men and women are human beings and feel the humiliation or pain in the same way, they both can be very sensitive so why to single out women? If these complainants in any way mean that women are more sensitive to certain type of language or are in any way weak compared to men then knowingly or unknowingly they are confirming widely prevalent stereotype of women being the 'weaker sex.'  This prejudice of 'women being weaker than men' is very old and deep rooted, fight to remove this prejudice is going on for several decades and such objections don't help this cause. If women really want equality, then they should object to any such preferential or differential treatment. This is very typical of patriarchal mindset where women are branded as very sensitive or weak and then offered some special protection and concessions at the cost of their freedom or right to choose. The practice of this type of mindset and preferential treatment is the root cause of such widespread gender discrimination all over the world.

I guess gender equality is very complicated and confusing subject for many men and women. I think most who demand ' gender equality' know what they are asking for but they don't know what all comes with it. It might be the case that many think that equality means getting all positive things like equal rights, equal pay, right to choose, etc., but not all negative things like unreasonable levels of expectations to perform, tremendous work pressure, brutal personal assessments or many other things which men face in their day to day lives. I don't think that it can work like this, women need to be open for all criticisms and scrutiny which men go through every day. It is not that men live very worry free and trouble free life. Men and women both are stereotyped in a certain way and we need to break these stereotypes for both of them. We all know that all genders (including transgenders) are discriminated in various ways and we need to remove all that discrimination. Equality specifically means not to ask or expect any different treatment anywhere just because of our gender. This is what equality means and this is what equality is. It really means not to expect anything more or anything less, but be equal at all levels. I hope that everyone who is against any type of discrimination try to understand the real meaning of equality and act accordingly. It is not an easy task, we all need to fight against many prejudices, stereotypes, traditions, cultures to achieve this task, many of them are very deep rooted in our own psyche, and if we flounder like this then we are going to make our task more difficult and complicated.

Let's make it very clear that if we shouldn't talk  or behave in certain ways with women then we should not be doing those things with men also and it is wrong to abuse a woman as well as a man. To understand what I mean by this, please check some of the videos where people react differently to physical abuse incidents in public places while male abusing female verses female abusing male. I know that these things cannot be generalized based on one study or one video, but we can sense that there is still a strong prejudice about both the genders which exists in our mind and we all need to fight against it. We need to stop such gender based reactions, we need to be sensitive equally towards all genders. If not, then I am afraid that notion of 'equality' will only remain on paper and on our blogs with no chance of becoming a reality on the ground. Let's work towards it and not against it.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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