How to Create Gender Equality
I think this desperate need within society is not easy at all to bring into being – to put it mildly. However, as it’s been in the news again just lately, I would like to have a go at how I believe it can be done. We have particularly noted the wages problem in the BBC. And, make no mistake, we are told it’s much worse throughout the rest of the country. If one happens to have been born female, then those persons will receive around 17% less than their male counterpart, even though they may be doing exactly the same job in the same office.
Why is it not so easy to change this and bring in a satisfactory sense of equality? Because we have to change a deep set culture, or even lots of different sub-cultures, and much of the thinking that has formed that culture goes back a long way, ingraining itself into people’s thinking over many generations?
What is that ingrained thinking? At a basic level it really is a fact that Males are in charge. Because they are more intelligent? Stronger? Could it be that they are better? Females are, of course, lesser because they are not so clever or as strong, and therefore men need to be in charge. (That is a comment of sarcasm – please don’t write in to complain.)
What we tend to do is address symptoms of this disease. This means that we are wanting to increase women’s wages and make it, “equal jobs for equal pay” right across the board. The trouble is that such an action, once taken, still will not have addressed the thinking, just the symptoms that came into being because of that thinking.
Legislation would change things, though that would be somewhat of a blunt instrument. We know that laws can change wrong to right (and sometimes even change right to wrong), so we must not underestimate the power of a passed law by government.
However, I do think we need to address the issue of equality at its base. The foundational base is how people think. The way that people think has been formed by their family, the government, the educational system, the community that they mix with, the business pressures that they have been exposed to, the history that brought the issue into being, and even the language.
So it’s about changing people’s thinking. Changing the thinking that says men are superior, woman are inferior. That means influencing, educating, legislating and seeking to change the cultural mind-set that makes the acceptance of the statement above acceptable.
I listened recently to young lads, of non UK origin being interviewed on TV about what they thought about the so called “honour killings”. Their answers were horrific. They said things like, “If my sister had dishonoured my family, then, yes, I think she should be killed”. The whole idea that women are lesser, builds the strong presupposition that their freedoms of expression, their friends, their choice of dress, and all of their relationships must of necessity be controlled by men.
Sumptuary legislation, where ever it comes from, is always about power and domination. I hear comments like, “… but that woman chose to dress like this!” My question is one step further back. “Who pressurises them to choose, or to exercise their supposed freedom in that way?” The probable answer is their religion, the law, their culture, and all those facets of life that are their personally accepted conventions. Then we need to ask, “Why is it so?” The answer will be, “Because men dictate it”. (http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/sumptuary-legislation-2/)
We can achieve equality, but we need to deal with the symptoms, i.e. equal pay and opportunities and the like, but we also need to address the underlying cultural perception. We will need to do that by education, legislation and a strong argument against our historical position. In other words; a full scale attack on the current cultural position and underlying thinking.
Fences on Cliff Tops
Often times when we make new laws or change old ones, we are not thinking of the consequences unseen up the road. We would do well to do so; even when those decisions or laws are made with the best intentions in mind.
Early on in the UK, a law was brought in to make tenancy of rented housing more secure. The good reason for it was that some people were being put out of their rented house for very little good reason. However, the unforeseen consequences were that for a period it actually created homelessness. People were reluctant to give others a room in their house if they thought they would turn out to be a bad tenant. That of course was not the intention, but that was what happened.
I wonder, as I look at recent changes in legislation in the USA and the UK, if we are heading for unforeseen circumstances that we will not like. Of course, from a legislation point of view it may have been done for good reasons like equality and freedom, but are we really sure of the outcomes?
I don’t know, but I do wonder what our new freedom so called, our new equality so called, the removal of fences if you will; I wonder what they will bring up the road. I wonder if they will have good or bad effects on our society.
A few of my friends have commented on this subject of late, which has set me thinking. Every so often we have this flash of how progressive we are today, how clever we have become and how sorry we feel for those older or past that did not have our knowledge and so progress, and oh how civilised we have become.
I think that was the sort of zeitgeist around 1913 particularly in Europe and then of course came World War One 1914 – 1918 with all the civilised countries of Europe and then the world trying their best to annihilate each other.
Then of course the talk was that this was the war to end all wars, we would then become civilised. The progress of the humans could continue, we know so much better than those throughout history our forefathers and the like. The dream was of course shattered by World War 2 1939 to 1945 with its mayhem and destruction and inhumanity to mankind by very ‘civilised progressive humans’.
It doesn’t take long for things to settle down, and I would guess that there was positivity in the 50s and certainly, there was ‘peace and love man’ in the 60’s and we are back were we started, the accident of the universe allows us to get better and better, we after all know so much more than those who went before. Yes we have access to information at the touch of a button, we can get it on the internet, not that we always remember what we learnt or even had the wisdom to use what we know, but surely we are getting so much better, so much more civilised? Perhaps we should not mention the Stalin regime, or Pol Pot or maybe Iraq, Syria, Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovinian, do I need to say more?
As I think about the propensity to think that we are so much cleverer, wiser, knowledgeable than those who have gone before us, they didn’t know much did they, very superstitious, often using God to explain those things that they did not understand, at least that is what some would have us think. I am reminded, as I think about this ‘clever us now’, of an argument or was it a discussion between C. S Lewis that he relates in one of his essays. The question is put that how silly it would be to imagine that if there is a God he would be interested in this tiny place Earth, of course the argument goes, in history they looked up and saw the sky and they did not know how large it was therefore it could seem that the Earth was the centre of the universe, now of course we know better. I imagine Lewis pulling a book off the shelf and reading as follows, and perhaps saying “is this the sort of thing you mean?” and reading from the book he has pulled “in relation to the distance of the fixed stars Earth must be treated as a mathematical point without magnitude” “is that what you mean?” I am sure the protagonist would reply “yes, that’s just what I meant, that’s what we now know”. Then Lewis checking, as if he needed to, saying “Oh this is from Almagest, Book one Chapter five and it was written by Ptolemy 2,000 years ago, so they obviously knew that then!”
I can hear the protagonist saying, “Well what about the nonsense of the virgin birth then? We certainly know how children are produced, and maybe Joseph didn’t understand”. “That would be strange,” Lewis may have replied, “for then I wonder why if Joseph did not know the normal course of pregnancy he would record that on discovering his wife’s condition he was ‘minded to put her away’ Mathew chapter 1 verse 19.
We really must stop thinking that those ancient people did not have knowledge were stupidly ignorant of normal processes of life and therefore were duped by what the Bible would list as miracles.
So are we really progressive humans, infinitely more knowledgeable, wiser and definatly more civilised?
Edited By: Gena Areola