Equal not similar

Equality must not be confused with similarity

Dr. Asima Mushtaq
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 12 2018 9:56PM | Updated Date: Dec 12 2018 9:56PM
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In the contemporary world, gender equality has become a much debated issue. Every now and then, we see people speaking in favour of or against the concept. According to UN, “gender equality means that men and women enjoy same rights, resources, opportunities and protections; it does not require that men and women be the same or they be treated exactly alike”. But more often we witness equality being confused with similarity and that’s actually where the conflict arises between those speaking in favour of and against this issue of gender equality. 

Since men and women are born different, differ biologically and psychologically, they have always been viewed as different sets of people, whether these differences exist in the way they communicate, think or act. These differences do influence their behaviour in their day to day activities. As women are stereotyped as emotional, sympathetic, and cooperative they are inclined to be helpful, expressive and more empathetic. Men on the other hand are stereotyped as aggressive, passionate, dominant and energetic which allows them to behave in a way that is different from that of women. 

In certain areas, men, because of their inherent qualities, be it physical or psychological, excel women. Similarly, women outperform men in certain areas. That does not make either of them better than the other; they are equal overall. This can be explained by a simple example. Two students may score different marks in two subjects; one might be good in math and another in science. One might score, for example, 80/100 in maths and 60/100 in science. Another one might score 65/100 in maths and 75/100 in science.  So, as evident, their marks in the two subjects are quite dissimilar but when we calculate the overall marks, they both score 140/200. Same is the case with both the genders. They may be different and better than one another in certain areas but, in general, they are equal. 

The problem arises when the equality is interrelated with similarity. The so called liberal feminists want men and women be seen as similar beings. They want them to conduct themselves similarly in all circumstances and areas. They claim to be the representatives and well-wishers of women, but in reality they are degrading the status of women. For them, woman has a worth only if she is “men like”. They set “being men like” a standard for women to be considered as worthy. For them, if women aren’t able to do whatever a man can do, they are subjugated. Can we ever expect the one representing or claiming to be representing men considering it reasonable enough to ask men to behave women like so as to be valued more? The men folk will take it as an insult to be asked to do whatever a woman is supposed to do. Then, how is it reputable for women to be asked to behave or act men like so as to be regarded as more “laudable”. Asking women to do whatever a man can do is disrespecting and insulting the women, not adding to her worth. So many examples from the day to day activities lay bare that woman can’t do everything a man can do; same holds good for men. Men are able to perform certain tasks comparatively at ease whileas women find the same tasks difficult; same is the case vice versa. For instance, when we have to lift some heavy object, don’t we call the men in house for help? What if you are asked to lift it yourself as you believe in “equality”? Won’t that be a kind of insult or disrespect? 

Asking men & women to perform similarly in all circumstances is kind of challenging the nature. Grace, beauty and contentment lies in accepting and respecting the fact that men and women are different beings. By their very nature, they are bound to behave & perform differently. Both of them outperform each other in certain areas but that doesn’t make either of them superior to the other. They are physically and emotionally different, born with different strengths and weaknesses so as to complement each other not to compete each other. The Creator created them different to perform different tasks. Woman was created not to do whatever a man can do, but to do what a man can’t do. 

(The author is Doctorate in Gender & Leadership Studies from the University of Kashmir)


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