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Gender Discourse,  Social Issues

Is Gender Equality About Sameness?

As a conversationalist,  I hardly get bored discussing. I could go on for four hours non-stop (weird??). But, one thing, I never take for granted when engaging in long conversations is the opportunity to learn and argue issues. In the past months, I argued several issues with friends. However, the most reoccurring issue in my conversations with friends is how males understand and define gender equality.

What Is Gender Equality to a Male?

Some of my male friends make me feel like the advocacy for gender equality is a wrong cause. They think it is a profane and an overzealous venture of the females. Specifically, my summation of their understanding is that women want to be the same as men. They think gender equality is about taking power from men, to ensure male and female are on the same pedestal. When I question this opinion, some reply by claiming that women can never be equal to men. I then, tend to lose my words in explaining to these men what gender equality means. At times, I presume they nurse a sought of animosity against feminism and its gender equality doctrine. Well, I might not blame them for their perception. No thanks to toxic and radical feminists, who to an extent switch the narrative of gender equality.

Gender Equity Versus Gender Equality

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Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire

Howbeit, gender equality is not a fight for “sameness.” It is not about taking power away from men. Rather, it is about male and female equal access to political, social, and economic opportunities and resources. It is about understanding the diversity of both sexes and not allowing the biological definition of our gender to define our opportunities as individuals.

The best way I argue this, is by defining gender equity and how equity paves the way for gender equality. According to UNESCO, gender equity means “fairness of treatment for women and men,  according  to their respective needs.” Also, in the words of Pipeline, “the word ‘equity’ is dual-purpose . . . [it] sets the stage for equality.” Gender equity wants us to see our genders as ones that could assess equal outcomes. It is not to create a tokenism, power, or domination of any sort. And so, in the explanation and definition of UNESCO

Gender equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their abilities and make  choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favored equally. It does not mean that  women and men have to become the same. But that their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether  they are born male or female.

As such, gender equality is about laying the foundation for equality in terms of rules, regulations, and responsibilities that can make everyone access equal opportunities. For example, national labor legislation on women’s and men’s access to work-friendly policies. In this vein, gender equality, however, would solely not achieve the responsibility of creating the desired access without gender equity “tak[ing [it] a step beyond . . .  to recognize the social, psychological, physical, socio-economical, and other systemic factors that make each person different. These factors make it more likely for some people and less likely for other people to benefit from equality.”

In reiteration, gender equality does not in any way equate men and women. It does not support pride, arrogance, and ill-treatment of genders. Rather, it seeks that both genders thrive. In this case, there is a respect for the diversity of genders. It thus builds on mutual respect and understanding of individual needs. It supports marriage, care, and concern. And as well in advocacy, gender equality and equity are like friends who work hand in hand to achieve the inclusion of genders, integrity of genders, and justice for genders.

Some Explanations

Radical feminism/feminists: By implication, the word radical means extreme or excessive. The movement sees patriarchy as a big problem for women’s access to full inclusion. The ideals of the group include the following:

Reproductive rights for women, including the freedom to make choices to give birth, have an abortion, use birth control, or get sterilized
Evaluating and then breaking down traditional gender roles in private relationships as well as in public policies
Understanding pornography as an industry and practice leading to harm to women, although some radical feminists disagreed with this position
Understanding rape as an expression of patriarchal power, not a seeking of sex
Understanding prostitution under patriarchy as the oppression of women, sexually and economically
A critique of motherhood, marriage, the nuclear family, and sexuality, questioning how much of our culture is based on patriarchal assumptions
A critique of other institutions, including government and religion, as centered historically in patriarchal power (Thought.co)

Unfortunately, this movement has developed into men-hating and women disliking motherhood and more. The movements fail to appreciate the diversity of genders, to see how both genders can work hand in hand. Radical feminism could lead to toxic feminism/feminists. According to the Urban Dictionary, toxic feminism ” is the belief that women should always be higher up than men. Often backed with physical or verbal abuse towards the other gender.

For more context, you can watch this Tedtalk by Winy Mule titled “does radical feminism represent us?”

Sources

Pipeline, Gender Equity Vs. Gender Equality: What’s The Distinction? 2018  https://bit.ly/2YH0JKG

UNESCO, Gender Equality and Equity, 2000, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000121145 

Thought.co https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-radical-feminism-3528997 

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2 Comments

  • Olugbenga

    “It is about understanding the diversity of both sexes and not allowing the biological definition of our gender to define our opportunities as individuals”.
    Understanding the above statement and practicing it, is the key to having an equitable society, because the excesses of the radical feminists have kept alot of men silent on the support for gender equity, also the use of “equality” is not appropriate and it will always bring lots of fightback from the majority of men.

    • Fisayo

      I absolutely agree that the use of the word equality is controversial. However, the challenge is with the fact that we have classes of feminism. We have liberal feminism which is in way similar to what I have explained. Also there are radical feminism, ecofeminism, Marxist feminism and many others. These variations create controversies and thus allow everyone to lean on one side.

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