Equal =/= Same

March 24, 2013 at 8:15 am (Rants) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There is a small debate going on over in the comments to my recent post on feminism. This post is a clarification of my original manifesto. After reading the comments it became clear that I needed to clarify some definitions.

Equal does not mean the same. Same is identical and human beings are fundamentally different from each other. Women and men are not the same, we are different in our biology and are culturally raised with differing norms. Society is a complex organization; not just my society but every society.

I am what I am and no one is the same as me.

I can do things other individuals cannot  – sometimes this is relevant to my gender, sometimes it is relevant to my society and sometimes it is relevant to nothing.

Equal means having the same status, rights and opportunities. If a million dollars is spent on exploring men’s health issues than a million dollars is also spent on women’s health issues. If I want to work in construction (despite my supposed lack of upper body strength) than I am allowed to work in construction. If a man wants to work with the elderly (despite his supposed lack of care-giving genes) than he is allowed to work with the elderly.

Equal means expending the same amount of money and resources to explore gendered issues.

Equal means getting the same wage for the same experience and/or education. I don’t care who has a family to support. As a single person, it was a historical precedence that I would earn less because the assumption was that someone (my father) was supporting me. Thinking like this is out-dated. How much one earns should be based on skills, experience or education. What my earnings go to support is no ones’ business but my own!

Spot of Sunlight

I have been an avowed feminist for 40 yrs, since age thirteen when I discovered the very first issue of Ms magazine on the newsstand of my very small traditional town.

I’ve done a lot of thinking in those forty years. My views have not been static. I’ve been able to study and clarify definitions and thoughts. I don’t like how my society is stigmatizing/commercializing men either. I want us all to be equal and able to access basic human rights and opportunities.

Let men stay home raising children. Let women work construction. Let us all do what makes us happy; keeping in mind, of course, the precedence “As it harm none, do what you will.”

Hide and Seek

I started my post on feminism thus:

As I trudged to work Monday morning through four inches of newly fallen, hard packed snow I yearned (once again) for someone to take care of me, to say “no dear, you stay in that warm bed, I’ll trudge out to earn a living and keep you in books and raspberries.”

I don’t necessarily want a man (I just want someone) to occasionally take care of me! I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of having to do it all alone. I could easily envision a large, communal space – like this – where I have others to rely on when I need to. Sometimes, I think my quest for independence has limited me too much. I worry that this makes me a bad feminist even as I know it does not. We define our own lives within our own terms.

Our lives change. Our definitions change. I recall my grandfather, my mother’s father, stepping up and having to change his life view many times.

Cemetery

As a young father, he came to a new country alone to work for a farmer from the old country who sponsored him. His wife and children followed later. One of the tasks at his new job was to milk the cows in the morning. He had never done this before because in the old country milking cows was women’s work. He sucked it up and asked his wife to teach him how to milk a cow even though it hurt his pride. He did what he had to do. He redefined what his society said was the norm.

This was a skill (this ability to redefine) that would serve my grandfather in his twilight years as well. When my grandmother was ill and they were both in their seventies he learned to cook and do laundry because my grandmother was no longer able to do these (traditionally women’s) tasks.

This tale is not just about feminism and equality, it is also about connection.

Rain

What am I willing to do?

What am I willing to re-learn?

What am I willing to re-define?

Equal does not mean same.

Equal does not mean that I take something away from someone else.

Equal means that we all have access to the same rights and opportunities no matter our gender, race, or creed.

Yes, I am a feminist.

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1 Comment

  1. me2013 said,

    Well said

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