In two previous posts in this series Let’s Talk! I shared my concerns about shared issues that impact humanity all over the world. In Nationalism: Have We Outgrown It? I briefly discussed some pros and cons and concluded that nationalism no longer serves humanity. I put forward a suggestion in Global Rule: Is It Feasible? that a world government may well allow people worldwide to tackle our common problems more efficiently. Today, I’m highlighting the issue of gender equity that has plagued us throughout our history.
I was born in 1951 to a strong, intelligent woman. As well, I’m an older brother to another, husband to another, father to a daughter who is CEO of the Canadian operations of an international insurance broker, and I’m a grandfather to yet another self-assertive and intelligent female. All of my female friends are talented with strong personalities. With that introduction, the words that follow should come as no surprise.
One of the greatest mysteries of the universe that has befuddled me my entire life is why so many men think that it is perfectly acceptable to treat women as inferior beings. As a retired History teacher, I’m perfectly aware that male preeminence can be traced back to the earliest beginnings of humanity. I also understand that gender attitudes that became entrenched in most human cultures were predicated on the superior physical strength of males. They were the hunters and protectors in a physically violent world.
While I understand the origins of male superiority, I am disappointed that the ‘superior’ men in earlier times failed to accept their females as equals in the decisions made within the family and community as a whole. I find it even sadder to see that the holy books of most, if not all, of the Great Religions, have preserved and promoted the myth of male supremacy – books that are revered as the ‘inspired word of God’ – and have put the heavenly stamp of approval on this gender inequity. Consider the Great Religions today; have any of them placed a woman at the helm or allow women to be ordained leaders? Shamefully, most do not.
Having said that, I would be remiss in failing to point out that human cultures through the ages have put a high value on women, especially in their role as the mothers of us all. Child-rearing, the maintenance of the home, and unity within families have always been the duties of women. Hence, mothers are universally revered – as it should be. Are the value and reverence rendered to women not enough?
Hell, no! While men are busy being reverent toward their wives and mothers they have, until the last century, denied them the political vote, the right to hold public office and to conduct their own businesses without the sponsorship of a husband, father, or brother. There are women in some cultures today who still do not have these rights, nor to they have the right to a formal education.
When I look around at my Canadian society and other similar Western societies, I see women who enjoy the same legal and political rights as men. Some women have earned leadership roles in every walk of life imaginable. And yet … and yet the glass ceilings still exist in our ‘enlightened’ society. Women must work a lot harder and much smarter to further their chosen careers than their male counterparts. There is still a considerable pay gap between the genders.
As I write this, I am boiling inside with anger and indignation at the abominable stupidity that promotes gender inequity. Why is it that anyone still believes that our genitalia determines our fitness to lead and to make vital contributions in every field of endeavor? Really? The strength of personality and skill set it takes to lead successfully will not be found exclusively with either gender. In this regard, there is no such thing as ‘equality’ among human beings. We are not all equal in intelligence, personal strength, emotional and mental balance, empathy – or in a host of other ways. But we are all equal in being worthy of respect and in the opportunity to enjoy the protection of the law as we seek to live our lives as well as we can.
Throughout my thirty-five years teaching high school students, this topic came up with great regularity. I shared with them that my life experience taught me that there is a real difference in how men and women perceive the world and think about the issues that face us individually and collectively. Do I thoroughly understand the nature of that difference? No. But I believe it exists. I also think that women can bring their perspective to the table to help us all to formulate and execute the necessary solutions to problems that threaten to destroy us all. Men have proved they cannot do the job alone. I don’t think women can either. I do believe the collaboration of their perspectives, intelligence and skill sets will lead to success. I believe this to be true in families, businesses of all kinds and every human institution.
Finally, I think that as long as men hold on to their chauvinistic beliefs and feminists do likewise, the gender wars will continue and everyone will lose. I honestly understand why some feminists are chauvinistic, dislike and distrust men, but it doesn’t matter how justified those feelings might be. They are counter-productive in either gender. These sentiments are also downright stupid and unworthy of us all.
Do we have several more centuries to sort this out? Look around folks … tensions around the world intensify with the passage of time.