Gender equality is something that never existed.
It’s sexist, but true. Look back to the early beginning, when the human race was still in its infancy. Agriculture was still on the horizon. The Mona Lisa was likewise in the future, despite early attempts involving caves, clay and crude pigment. That predecessor of the modern rifle, the spear, was busy being flung at whatever game wandered within range.
This was a society of hunter-gatherers. Food was everything: starvation meant certain death. Now great strength and speed were needed to hunt, and nature saw fit to bestow these to the male of the species. Nevermind that without women, the human race would be biologically impossible: when society eventually arose, it was a society where men did the heavy lifting and thus claimed credit for everything that went right. Women were mostly relegated to being at home (or whatever it was called in Mesopotamia)
In fact, in very few places in nature is gender equality present. The female black widow, after mating, kills her mate. The ant hive is rigidly controlled by a queen. There simply is a natural bias for gender inequality.
But we’re not animals anymore.
Human society, as a whole, has evolved to a stage where it’s no longer dependent on brawn. The information age has proved to be the Great Leveler, relentlessly steering the world to a point where the majority of decisive jobs can be carried out equally well by both sexes. We’re moving away from a world of manual labor to a world where generating, processing, sharing information is the key to success. In short, we’re shifting from musclework to brainpower.
I say we’re getting there, because whatever you might think, we’re not there yet. Women are paid less at work than men. Women are discriminated at. The list goes on and on. Yes, yes, and more yes: all of these issues exist, and they aren’t going to go away that easily. We speak of a world with true gender quality: I saw that to get there we’re going to have to rewrite not only legislation, but 10,000 years of human social evolution.
The problem isn’t legal. There’s no law saying Senators can’t be women, or that a woman can’t rule a nation: in fact, seeing as Sri Lanka had one of the first women Presidents in history, we can readily testify to that. But cast an eye over any government in the world and you’ll find more men than women in leading positions. Look at the top 100 successful companies in the world and you’ll find more men than women on the highest rungs of the ladder. This is fact, not fiction. Thousands of years of civilization – systems build upon other older systems, societies built upon older societies, generations raised to the beliefs of those who came before – thousands of years of social, technological and legal evolution: everything has boiled down to this.
It’s not just male social inclinations that do this: it’s women’s acceptance and condonement of this. How many mothers tell their daughters not to fool around, but to find a nice young man and marry? How many tell their girls that computers are a boy’s thing: they should be learning to cook “instead of wasting time on that laptop?” (Believe me, I’ve heard this being said many, many times to certain friends).
It’s also incredibly effective. This thing is being shared all over social media: the Aston Martin Pre Owned service is getting a huge wave of publicity for free. And that model? (She’s been lifted off Playboy). Is she unhappy about her role? I bet not. I bet she got paid a wad for that photoshoot and she was perfectly happy with it.
How many women willingly portray submissive, hypersexualized roles in public media? How much money is involved in all of this? These are the facts hiding behind the obvious “women are treated like crap” dialogues. How much of this is art, how much of this is erotica, and how much of this is real life?
See here. 28.8% of women wore sexually revealing clothes. Did that 28.8% of women refuse? Did someone put a gun to their heads? No. Like it or not, we have a system – society – that works, and legions of women condone this. Take this poster, for example. Must art bend to accommodate gender equality? Why? And if so, how far? Must we recast the Hurt Locker because there were so few women in that movie? Who wrote these scripts? There’s no single fine line here – it’s a criss-crosssing network of lines that only time can really change.
The good news is that things are changing. The bad news? It’s not going to change overnight. And barring some fundamental genetic changes, some things will never be equal – for men or women.