Friday, January 18

Does "equal" mean "the same"?

"All men are created equal" it says - 'men', in this case, meaning 'all of humanity' and not just the gender. And this principle doesn't mean all humans are the same. We're not all identical - and that's a good thing. Just imagine everyone on the world (or just every second person) were like me ... you wouldn't want that, believe me.

One of the mistakes feminists might have made in the past was to push the idea of women being equal to men (which is what feminism is about, when all's said and done) too much towards women being 'like' or the 'same as' men.

Equality doesn't mean all women have to be like men, it means they are considered equal to men. Being considered equal means, among other things, being treated like an equal. That is, in the end, what feminism is all about. We want equal treatment by the law, by society and by the corporate world. We want equal pay for equal work, our equal share of the rights and duties in society and an equal treatment in front of a judge.

A woman shouldn't have to be like a man and it shouldn't be allowed to belittle a woman for just being one (as it currently happens in the election campaigns in the United States). In a world in which equality between men and women were normal, it wouldn't happen. But this is something we still have to work on.

To be equal to a man, a woman should not have to change her looks or behaviour. She should be respected as a fellow human being, with all the little quirks she has and with her looks (no matter whether she's an attractive person or not good-looking at all).

In the 1960s women burned their bras, because they considered those pieces of clothing 'oppressive' (although I personally do not see a bit of cloth as something oppressing me). The claimed that an emancipated woman would not wear clothes men thought hot (because the emphasized the looks of the woman wearing them), would not use make-up or in any way make herself more attractive for a man. But isn't such a behaviour just as oppressing? Some women like to wear clothes they look attractive in. They like make-up and flirting and even, God help me, sex. And why the hell should they not? Humans are supposed to like sex - and women have just as much right to do so as men.

From the beginning, one of the ways of ridiculing women was to show how the 'emancipated women' looked when they were finally just as men. When they would wear trousers (well, that has happened in the meantime, but I'm talking about the end of the 19th century here), drink beer and leave their men alone at home to take care of the household and the kids. This, the society thought, was going to happen once women had the same rights and possibilities as men. When they were just the same people as men.

And, in many ways, women actually played into the hands of those telling the horror story of the emancipated woman. Of a woman who, in essence, would be just like a man with something more around the chest and something less between the legs.

But then, what is the point in being like a man? Women can do a lot better than that.

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