“Regardless, I don’t believe everyone is equal. We weren’t created so. There are reasons why men and women are not the same. Complimentary, yes. Equal, not even close. Lack of equality isn’t linked to hatred and fear. We weren’t made equal. It’s pathetic how people throw fits over things you can’t change, and shouldn’t. Feminism isn’t the same as wanting equality for others based on their race, sexual orientation, or anything else. It’s nothing but excuses. Not every woman can or should have the same job as a man. Such as certain military jobs, civilian jobs that require certain physical and mental strength and abilities.” Ktlyn XXXX (I have redacted her last name intentionally, as she is an example and I am not attempting to cause her any harassment or embarrassment.)
I have been working this week on a post regarding the real motivation behind restrictive reproductive legislation. Don’t worry, I am still working on it and will be posting it in a few days. But today I came across a heated discussion in a women’s rights advocacy posting which I found simply bizarre. A woman argued that women are made differently and we lack both the physical and mental strength to do certain tasks and therefore, we are not equal, we do not deserve equality. This is the basic premise that sums up the ideology which feminism is fighting: women have a weaker mental and physical fortitude than men.
Yeah. And where did that idea come from? Sure, women are physically different, generally smaller and, as animals, designed to be able to give birth and nurture their young. Men tend to be larger and stronger. They are animals, too. In the animal kingdom their size and strength is meant to impress a mate and drive off other males of the species. However, the female can still reject him, and frequently does. The most vicious and dangerous creatures in the wild are females protecting their young. Size and strength is no indicator of ferocity. That is the animal kingdom, though, and I only give it as an example of the initial purpose of size and how it accurately plays its role. But we are more than just animals. We are evolved. We are a species of intellect in pursuit of more than procreation. This is what separates us from the animal kingdom: our desire to build, create, invent, and learn; our pursuit of happiness; our aspirations to create a better world for our children. Sadly, what also separates us is our ability to destroy and prejudiced hate. The animal instinct which has predominantly endured is the endeavor to force the population into submissive control of an alpha male, rather like a troop of baboons, a wolf pack or a lion’s pride. However, there is purpose in the animal kingdom, safety from predators or competition in hunting grounds, leading others to food, or the taking of larger prey in numbers.
But we are no longer nomadic social animals. In the West, we do not need to hunt in numbers for food, nor gather our young to the center of a camp to protect them from wild predators. We do not, typically, fear being eaten. We live in relative safety and are free to use our minds and abilities to accomplish more than mere procreation. We are driven by more than primal instinct. We are inspired by more than fear and purpose has transcended from survival to aspirations of achievement.
So, how does this apply to equality? It is pretty simple, really. Science shows that there is no definable difference between the brain of a man or woman, but that the differences from one to another exist between all humans, making us each individuals. While hormones play a role in what is stimulated in the brain and genetics determine physical gender, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that men are stronger mentally and women inferior. Our mental fortitude is dependent only to our individual ability and that is subject more to environment and social conditioning than biology. Each person has their own sets of natural tendencies, gifts and difficulties, but those differences cannot be defined by gender. They are unique to each individual. Hormones play a role in development, but do not define an individual. Your gender does not determine your fortitude, it does not create a stronger or weaker mind, it does not limit your ability to learn or comprehend. In all these things which set us apart from being wild animals, men and women are equal.
Gender equality, as it turns out, is not a new idea at all. Over five thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, female citizens shared complete equality with their male counterparts. In a culture which revered happy, harmonious home life, they did not depend on female subservience to accomplish it. Women were completely equal, able to own property of their own accord and receive and leave inheritance. They received the same rations for the same work. Educated women were doctors, priestesses, judges, and governors, even pharaohs. They aspired to positions of power and influence. They held all the same rights as men in courts of law, in marriage and divorce. They even practiced contraception.
This gender equality was part of their economic, religious and social systems. Men and women created their own contracts of marriage and women were free to marry who they wished and negotiate their own contracts. Yes, they recognized that men and women were different, but that character, education, intelligence, talent and leadership abilities were not a product of sex. Despite the other faults of the civilization, in this aspect, they recognized women of all free social classes as equal to men.
So what happened? Other religions and cultures derived from those religions preferred male dominance and female subservience. As all civilizations rise and fall through the course of history, so, too, did that of Ancient Egypt, but their pillar stood thousands of years as a working society of gender equality. The decline of Egypt had nothing to do with affording women equal rights and, in fact, stood far longer than those misogynistic empires which surrounded it– longer than any other civilization in history. As Egypt declined, other religions swept in to fill the void. Far from being revered, women were blamed for man’s fall from grace. They were taught to bare the weight of that shame.
Which brings us to today. Science has shown that women and men are neurologically equal. The inequality between men and women is not one of physiology, but of conditioning. Women act inferior because they are taught to do so. Girls raised with a continuous negative self-image, one of inferiority to men, are conditioned into obedient, submissive women who believe they are meant to be subservient. They believe it is natural and is supported by the will of their God. Religious texts have gone to great effort to define the roles of women and restrictions on them. These teachings have been fed generation to generation. It is only with the acceptance of religious freedom by governments and broad scopes of education that we find the re-emergence of gender equality. Women have been forced to prove their value all over again and reject male dominance as the status quo. In many instances, this has been a difficult and ugly battle, which still continues today all over the world.
Yes, men and women are different, but a combination of history and science has proven the concepts of equality or subservience are those of social conditioning and not of biology. This applies not only to women, but all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or any other defining element. Raise them from childhood instilling the belief of equality, and they will believe they are equal and will treat others with that same respect. They will never deny themselves an opportunity because they feel inferior.
We are more than animals. We are more than primitive instincts of procreation and survival. We create this civilization we live in, build it person by person, child by child. If we teach our daughters submission and our sons to expect it, the cycle continues. But if, instead, we teach them partnership, equality and respect, we change everything. If we promote and help those brave individuals standing up against misogyny and bigotry in their parts of the world, then we support a better humanity than what we inherited. We must use our voices to confront ignorance and respond to the rhetoric of social conditioning seeking to create a hierarchy of humanity based on gender, race, religion or orientation. No person is born better or more valuable than another. Gender equality is just one of the many aspects of human equality. The more we speak out, the larger we grow, the more powerful the idea of equality becomes, until it is a force commanded by the populace.
We are one woman, one world.