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How to promote gender equality? What is the true meaning of equality?

Updated on September 21, 2012
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Are men and women equal?

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I'd like to start by saying thanks ppos reny for requesting this Hub from me!

Men and women are not the same. They may be equal, but they are not the same.

Of course there are biological differences, including a wider corpus callosum in women's brains that may result in a greater ability to use both sides of the brain... thus the supposed "women's intuition." That claim, however, is often disputed and rather controversial.

Also, all women are not the same, as all men aren't either. Women may take on more masculine qualities, men may have feminine traits, and some do very well being more androgynous.

Overall, men and women should be treated with respect to their biological differences, but not ones that society creates. People should not assume that women are submissive and fragile, and should thus treat them as such, nor should we expect men to be the protectors and breadwinners. We should assume that men and women are capable of the same things. However, this is often not the case

The one thing people can do to promote gender equality is to stop rewarding gendered communication, thinking, and behavior. It is clear that men and women generally act in certain ways, only because of the positive reactions from society they receive for acting as such. For instance, men are praised and admired for being stronger, more aggressive, and less talkative about their feelings, while women are expected to care for children and to be beautiful superwomen who can do anything - including housework - effortlessly. Sarah Palin is a great example; don't you think she would have been less popular if she wasn't so pretty and if she didn't have a baby on her hip while she campaigned?

It's difficult to reverse what one has learned through gender models, social learning, and other experiences from childhood. We have learned the gender roles in our societies, and many of us have tried to conform to those roles so as to avoid censure and rejection. Men are generally attracted to more feminine women while women tend to go more more masculine males for this reason, not to mention sociobiological reasons that say men want nurturing women to raise their children, men should sow their seeds as much as possible to ensure the survival of their genes, men should be strong to support a family, and so on.

However, now is as good of a time as ever to challenge those roles. Women are running for president, and people support them. Men are having babies while many women decide they don't want babies at all until their careers have taken off through the second shift. The lines are blurring more and more, and we can encourage it and in others and maybe even ourselves.

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    • profile image

      Rusty 

      7 years ago

      glassvisage,

      Your hub made me think!

      First, some defining of terms and general comments:

      (A) I distinguish between sexual differences between men and women and gender differences between them. The former are biologically given and the latter are socially created. The former is nature and the latter is nurture.

      (B) By the expression "gender difference" I mean a non-biological quality, trait, or role that is attributed by society to one sex but not the other or in significantly greater quantity to one sex than the other.

      (C) Rights -- social, economic, and political -- are often based on gender differences (and so become derivative gender differences).

      Now to the heart of the matter.

      You say: (1) "Overall, men and women should be treated with respect to their biological differences, but not ones that society creates." and (2) "The one thing people can do to promote gender equality is to stop rewarding

      gendered communication, thinking, and behavior." In large measure, I agree with the main thrust of these statements, but I have some reservations.

      These two statements seem to me to presuppose the following hypotheses ordered loosely in argument form:

      (1H) "All gender differences are unjustifiable" (alternatively, "No gender difference serves a socially useful purpose")

      (2H) "There should be equality between the sexes."

      (3H) "There can be no equality between the sexes unless all gender differences are eliminated."

      (4H) "Gender differences (i.e., socially created differences) should be eliminated" (alternatively, "Society should stop making gendered differences between men and women.")

      I classify the above four propositions as hypotheses because they not axiomatic; hence, they are propositions to be proved.

      Re (1H) I think that much depends on the economic/technological (eco-techno) status of a society. In particular, I think a case can be made that in less developed societies in eco-techno terms, gender differences may have served a socially useful purpose. In today's more eco-techno developed societies, they may serve no useful purpose. Then again they might. I think that you would have to examine every gender difference objectively to determine the truth or falsity of (1H).

      Re (2H) the basic issue is not the truth or falsity of the proposition but its meaning. There is no such "thing" as equality. It is a relation between two (or more) "things" with respect to some measure. Unless the measure is specified (or clearly understood), a statement of equality is incomplete. Thus, the form of a complete statement would be "There should be equality of [some measure] between the sexes." Once an equality statement is complete, then the issue of its truth or falsity can be addressed. Actually, in something as complex as the relations between the sexes, one would have to make many complete equality statements and examine each. For example, "There should be equality between the sexes regarding measure M1," "There should be equality between the sexes regarding measure M2," and so on and so forth. You ask the question "What is the true meaning of equality," but I don't think you answer it.

      Re (3H), whereas (1H) and (2H) are basically value statements, I think (3H) is purely factual and empirical. However, I don't think it becomes an issue until the the truth of both (1H) and (2H) are established. Statemnets (1H) and (2H) are the fundamental statements.

      Re (4H), I think this follows validly from (1H), (2H), and (3H) providing they are esablished as true.

    • profile image

      tasnim 

      7 years ago

      it is nice to see people taking interest in such topics,,,,,

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR

      glassvisage 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      Rusty, thanks for the question. I meant what you have in the first paragraph. Women have a larger corpus callosum.

    • profile image

      Rusty 

      7 years ago

      In your third paragraph, did you mean the following?

      Of course there are biological differences, including a smaller corpus callosum in men's brains that may result in greater ability OF WOMEN to use both sides of the brain... thus the supposed "women's intuition." That claim, however, is often disputed and rather controversial.

      Or did you mean the following?

      Of course there are biological differences, including a smaller corpus callosum in WOMEN's brains that may result in THEIR greater ability to use both sides of the brain... thus the supposed "women's intuition." That claim, however, is often disputed and rather controversial.

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR

      glassvisage 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you all for your comments! Karanda, I agree that there really are differences between men and women physically. I'm really not ashamed to have a guy carry something heavy forme sometimes :)

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 

      8 years ago from Australia

      As much as I'd like to believe men and women are equal there are times when I see this will never be possible. But I'm not sure if that is because I am of smaller stature than most men and therefore there are times when I can't do what a man can purely because I don't have the same strength. Nice hub and food for thought.

    • ~jeanie~ profile image

      ~jeanie~ 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Nicely Spoken.

      Now where does someone like me fit in? lol right in the middle

      xo

    • Imaculate Johnson profile image

      Imaculate Johnson 

      9 years ago

      Nice hub ! Thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image

      ppos reny 

      9 years ago from Malaysia

      Thank you for replying on my request. This question has been bother me for quite a while now.I believe that respect can bring equality but sometimes it needs understanding more than respect for both gender to get along.It may take some time but I believe it will come true.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very well done!!! You are so right that it is hard to change how we are taught overnight. But look at how far society has come on other topics. Might not be as far as some would like, but you have to have several generations want to go through the change before it will happen.

      Thanks again for a very good article.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Glassvisage, thank you for writing about this important topic. The idea of equality is often misunderstood. In practical terms, no two people are equal, because no two people are the same. The equality that matters is equality under the law. The law should treat all people as equal, and then they will have the opportunity to choose their own path through life, based on their individual preferences and their unique abilities.

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 

      9 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Great hub. I still like to have my door opened for me by a man. But I believe in equal pay for equal work.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice topic. Nice hub. Gender equality is a relatively new concept in the great sweep of history. My favorite professor, Henry Alonzo Myers, put it much the same way as did glassvisage: men and women are obviously not identical but they are equal in ultimate value as are all human beings--hence one person one vote, equality before the law, etc. Who is to say what qualities would make one person "more equal" than another? Is it intelligence? Kindness and generosity? Athletic ability? Honesty? Artistic ability? Political or leadership ability? Hardest working? It would be hard to get agreement on who is most equal. Therefore, almost by default all are equal.

      Myers wrote an excellent book on the subject entitled simply "Equality."

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