Women and men are different.
This is not news. We are shaped differently. There are many other, often subtle, differences between us. For thousands of years the differences have engendered inequity, with no justification.
We were created equal, though men and women were given different responsibilities in caring for the family. Generally, men provide support and protection and women provide nurturing.
God gave each person equal responsibility for behavior. We are given freedom to make choices. The ability to make choices includes the obligation to accept the consequences of our behavior. Men and women equally choose and accept consequences for individual actions.
Ages ago, at a time in our dark history, for whatever reason, someone decided women were less than men. It could have been because women gathered together, maintaining knowledge. Some man may have desired power. Some priest felt threatened. It doesn’t matter. It happened. And it has continued.
Women have attempted to redress the inequities, seeking rights not just similar to men, but exactly the same. It took years of battling to receive even the right to vote, much less the right to own property and be something more than chattel property.
Many years later, the struggle persists. Pay for the same work is still much less for women. Men are allowed to stand up for themselves, while women who do this are considered bossy. Women drop out of sports fearing the appearance of masculinity. Men claim a right to ogle, touch, or verbally disrespect women in their presence. Women remain targets of sexualization, rape and brutality.
This week Emma Watson spoke to the United Nations about the issue of gender equity, addressing these needs. Additionally, she commented on the challenge men face because of this long held attitude.
Watson reminded us that men suffer, unable to discuss their problems, unable to ask for help. Young men commit suicide at a greater rate than other causes of death.
Emma Watson said:
“I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.
“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”
Many men support the women in their choices, honorably treating them as equals. Women allow their men to express their inner feelings. These actions appear to occur in private situations. Publicly, support and equity happens less often. No country in the world treats men and women equally. Too many young women are not allowed freedom to control their own lives, educate themselves, or feel safe in a crowd, in our country or any other country in the world. Too many men fear to share sensitivities, are disparaged because the respect and honor women, or find themselves compelled to participate in ribald and disrespectful actions toward women.
This must change.
How do you think this can happen? Do you have other examples of gender inequity? Please share your thoughts.