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Made in India Magazine | October 26, 2020

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GENDER EQUALITY: MIRAGE OR ACHIEVABLE?

GENDER EQUALITY: MIRAGE OR ACHIEVABLE?
Daisy Akhtar

Gender equality is one of the top talking points of the twenty-first century. Can men and women be truly equal at any stage? In this piece, we look at some of the problems of the modern feminism movement, as seen from the eyes of men.

The word ‘feminism’ has become perhaps one of the biggest talking points of the internet these days. When Emma Watson, who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, gave a speech at a United Nations conference as a goodwill ambassador, she launched the ‘He For She’ campaign, which enlists the help of men to achieve equality for women.
The first problem with feminism is the choice of words. Yes, the dictionary meaning says that feminism is a movement that chases equality of genders, but then, we already had a word for equality. It’s ‘equality’. Why did we need the word ‘feminism’ in the first place?
The second problem with feminism has been its history of ignoring – and vilifying – the importance of male problems and rights. Have you ever seen a feminist speak about problems that men face in their lives? I haven’t seen any.
The third, and the most problematic, problem with feminism is the constantly changing goal posts of equality. For instance, the following are the five most often quoted issues that feminists bemoan about women’s state in society today, along with rebuttals.

1. The wage gap. Equal work for equal pay is the feminist mantra, which is altogether acceptable. It is the position of feminists that women get paid less for work that they perform to an equal standard to men. And yet, all critical studies of payroll information – which take into account quality of work, the number of hours, and the industry in which said work happens – have denounced the wage gap as a myth. The truth is that women tend to opt more than men for careers in teaching, care and the arts, which pay less than more ‘professional’ careers such as engineering, medicine, plumbing and carpentry. When corrected for these biases, there was found to be no gender gap in wages.

2. Under-representation of women in the top echelons. Feminists like to say that only 18 of the top 500 global CEOs are women, implying that there is over-representation of men in the world in general. But that over-representation occurs at all levels of the social ladder. For instance, 78% of homeless people are men. 85% of suicides are attempted by men. Depression affects way more men than it does women. In all ‘dangerous professions’, such as the army, cave digging, and bricklaying, there are virtually no women at all. So this over-representation of men, which gives them a perceived benefit at the top, also gives them a much bigger disadvantage at the bottom, and at the other rungs.

3. The hankering for equality. Feminists often tend to claim to fight for equality. Yet, when equality is proposed to them, they often reject it. The tennis Grand Slams, after severe lobbying on the part of feminists, conceded after years to make the prize money equal for both men’s and women’s events. That is in spite of an average women’s tennis match lasting half as long as a men’s tennis match. Equal pay for unequal work. In the same vein, there are many legal quotas given to women because they’re ‘disadvantaged’. Would feminists agree to remove them all in the name of equality? Not at all.

If women are serious about achieving gender equality, and if they’re serious about enlisting men’s help for achieving it, they have to first address the inherent problems and inconsistencies present in the feminist movement. Until then, equality will remain but a mirage.

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