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Have your say: Gender Equality – part one

After the overwhelming response I had with my article Being a Woman, I knew I had to do another community article. I wanted to involved more people this time, so I set out to discover the honest opinions of my family and friends. I came up with an idea to do a series of articles titled Have Your Say. There will be a weekly topic and a lot of controversial opinions so keep your eyes peeled on the site for them! I love the idea of getting different people together to discuss topics that people really need to be talking about.

The first topic I wanted to do was gender equality. It is a subject that people feel strongly about; many people believe that gender equality is unreachable while others are more optimistic about the future of our society. Some believe that the issue of gender equality lies with women and others think that it will only change if both genders fight for true equality.

I believe that women and men should have the same rights. I’ve always thought that. It shouldn’t matter what gender you are, everybody should be treated the same. The roles that women and men play in society are not biologically determined – they are socially determined. Society has changed over time but the restrictions that have been put in place regarding gender have remained the same. As a society, we still believe that women can’t achieve everything that men can and this is wrong.

I would love for gender equality to happen, in fact, I would love equality to happen in general. The world would be a nicer place if people didn’t separate and judge each other by their skin colour, religion, social status or disability. I would also love world peace. Many of us would but in a world of hate, crime and war, world peace is just a dream, a fantasy that we hold onto.

Do I believe that gender equality will ever be reached? No. Honestly, I don’t think it will ever happen and there are many reasons why I feel this way. There’s no doubt that in the last fifty years, women have achieved more equality than they have ever had. As a gender we have fought for our rights but we still want more… we always want more. Although we are one step closer to achieving gender equality, I believe quite strongly that we cannot move forward any further. The reason you ask? Gender stereotypes still exist, that’s why. From the moment we are born we are wrapped in a pink blanket if we’re a girl and a blue blanket if we’re a boy, we’re told to act a certain way, play with ‘gender approved’ toys and our futures are mapped out for us depending on what sex we are.

In conversation we use terms such as ‘stop acting like a girl’, ‘man up’ or we say ‘pink is for girls’ and ‘women belong in the kitchen’ and ‘men shouldn’t cry.’ Gender equality does not only affect women though. There seems to be a stigma attached to this, people believe that because women are the ones who are complaining, it is our issue. Women feel that men are still seen as being the superior gender and to us this is unfair. Don’t think for one second that it is a female only issue, men have to deal with daily stereotypes too.

Men are expected to protect, care for women, be masculine, never cry, be strong and earn the money. Women are meant to be kind, nurturing, stay at home, raise the children and clean the house. These are examples of very old fashioned and very limited stereotypes of what each gender should strive to be. It’s 2014; it’s time that we left these ridiculous ideals behind. If a woman wants to earn a lot of money and start her own business and a man wants to stay at home and raise his children… why shouldn’t they?

In these modern times, we need to be brave enough to push away any stereotypes that get in our way. The world is full of stereotypes but life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, make up your own rules and do what you want to do. Your gender has nothing to do with what you can and cannot achieve.

Below are some opinions of men and women I know on the subject of gender equality, it’s amazing to see how people view the issue and how these quotes represent the different ways we all perceive the world around us.

I’d love it if one day there was worldwide equality for everyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, ethnicity or religion. However, with the media coverage of celebrities taking their clothes off and selling their pictures, it is changing the opinions of those in the world. I personally don’t think there will ever be a time where we are all completely equal with men. But I shall remain optimistic in case that day does occur – Jessica Dunn.

We will never achieve gender equality. We will become more aware just like we do with other equality situations but for the same reason races won’t be recognised as equal neither will genders. From personal experience relating to jobs, issues are happening on both sides. I’ve seen men disregarded that have had more or equal qualifications to the women but because of organisations that get taken over by a women’s clique – Michael Anderson.

While men are still making the majority of decisions for women throughout the world, we can never have gender equality – Beth Quinn.

I believe we’ve come a long way with regards gender equality. Women are finally being accepted into doing what was traditionally seen as male jobs, such as work in engineering and on building sites etc… which is a very good thing.  Then the rise of lad culture came about. It’s going downhill again. Lad culture (seeing woman just as provocative pieces of meat) needs to be stopped and we need to start treating each other with respect. There’s a reason why ‘Dapper Laughs’ is out of a job – Sofi Haigh.

I don’t think we will achieve gender equality either, purely because there will never be a time when absolutely everyone can let go of the past and move forward with a clean slate. One side or the other will always feel undervalued or as though they are ‘owed’ something. If it’s not women because of years of oppression it will be men in the face of feminism popularity. Sad but true, we will just never stop defining ourselves in terms of our gender, therefore no equality – Amy Tocknell.

I don’t know if we can say that gender equality will never be reached, I don’t think for a second it will happen within our lifetimes although I hope I’m wrong. There are just so many things standing in the way and it’s not just men directly, I saw a girl of around nineteen post a comment in response to the while dapper laughs thing saying (and I quote) “I don’t give a fuck about women or women’s rights [sic] I’m not a feminist, I think it’s all bullshit” and “why should I care about rape, I’ve never been raped” and I think this ‘it’s never happened to me it’s not my problem’ is one of the most damaging things. The whole Dapper Laughs debate is another prime example, no-one should be defending a man who says a woman is ‘gagging to be raped’ regardless of whether or not he’s a comedian, all that does is a) act as a trigger to anyone that has suffered that, b) make rape victims feel like their pain is a joke and c) almost endorses rape in that ‘oh someone famous is joking about it so that makes it ok’ it all just acts as another way to ensure women ‘stay in their place’ and until these damaging attitudes are eradicated nothing is going to move forwards – Saffron Palmer.

I’ve always been unsure where to stand in terms of gender equality. Of course, I believe that all genders should be equal but I don’t believe it’s possible for our human race as someone always wants too much or takes too much from another for it to work – same as with communism. I find that feminism is a useful cause however it is pushed too far sometimes, yes the no Page 3 campaign is a brilliant idea, but I don’t see anyone trying to take away billboards of a zoomed in image of David Beckham in just his boxers? I think that whilst women were oppressed for many years, and are still oppressed in some ways, in order to achieve true equality, feminism has to be revised into a stance for equality in general rather than the media sensationalised way it is being broadcast now which makes some women appear extremist and in some cases scarily superior. I think the best way forward is not to judge by gender but judge by person. Treat those how you would treat yourself, be them male, female or whatever gender they choose to be – Tasha Williams.

In some places everyone is treated the same in others they aren’t – Tamsyn Marrs.

I think that women need to realise that in the last fifty years they have already made big strides in equality. I would like the movement to carry on and for women to get paid equally and have more equal rights to men. The situations with equality are different regarding the situation. In relationships, the male has natural protective instincts and therefore should be the dominant one in the relationship; however the relationship should be equal with decisions and housework etc… One example of a male’s natural protective instinct is in the army. You can’t have a woman on the front line because a man’s first instinct is to protect a woman, in a situation of danger, it will lead to injury or worse. In the work place, gender is more of an issue due to the fact that people don’t get paid the same and some people don’t want women to be in high paid positions. There are many stereotypes in place regarding gender and it is hard to escape these on a daily basis. However, I believe that gender shouldn’t be an issue and both men & women should become whatever they aspire to be – Declan James.

Thank you to all of my family members and friends who contributed to Have Your Say: Gender Equality Part One. The next part will be posted soon. Comment below with your opinions on gender equality.

Comments

  • Great article and some good points there. I don’t think we will really achieve gender equality but we can’t give up on the chance that it could happen xx

  • Good article. I like to think that we will achieve it some day but it will take a good while because we need to ‘phase out’ all of the negative stereotypes associated with both sexes. However, even in my short lifespan I have seen positive changes such as women doing men’s jobs etc and more women in business. And of course we must not forget that our monarch in the UK is a woman! You don’t get much higher than her! :)

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