Thursday, June 08, 2006

The concept of equality of men and women

What is equality?

People still talk about lack of gender parity in today's society. I don't refute the fact that men and women are not treated equal but I have problems with the parameters that I used to judging the level of parity.

Here are some of the standard parameters:
- Who spends more time in the kitchen?
- Who in more likely to stay at home when needed?
- Who more likely to leave their jobs when the need arises?
- Who spends more time with the kids?

I do not agree to these being the parameters of judging the level of equality. I think, equality means having equal choices, having the freedom to chose. There is nothing wrong in playing the traditional roles - the husband the primary bread earner and the wife the primary homemaker. The problem arises when the society expects you to play a role against your wishes. When someone plays a role they want to, that is freedom.

I do more cooking than my husband, I spend more time with my kids, does that put us on unequal footing in our marriage - no. I am doing this out of choice, of my own free will. If does bother me when this is expected of me, by my extended family, that I resent. But as long as I feel I have the option of my 'playing' or 'not playing' the role traditionally assigned to a mother/wife, I don't actually mind the role/work itself.

People make a big deal about 'working women' working in the kitchen. And yet, no one ever talks about the fact that men are expected to drive when going out, men are expected to always have to earn and not really have a choice of staying-at-home and so many similar things. Just like expecting women to work and work-at-home is not fair, these expectations of men are not fair either.

Agreed, women end up doing more work if you add up the work at home and at workplace. Is that always unfair? Even at work, don't we all end up giving most of our key work to our few key people? Do we think it is unfair? No, because, we know those few people are capable of handling more. They why is it unfair at home, as long as the woman in concern is CAPABLE AND WILLING to handle the additional work. Its not too different from someone sick athome. Do we expect the sick and the healthy people to contribute equally to the work? We do expect the healthy people to take care of themselves, home and the sick people and this is totally fair - because the sick can't, so also in the relationships in life. There is nothing like absolute equality, we share the load in the ratio of our willingness and capability. And in my opinion this is FAIR.

This relative equality where each person contributes to a relationship (both physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and anything else) in proportion of their capability and desire in more fair than the absolute equality where I will do the dishes only if you take care of the laundry and I will drive half the way on the way to our destination on a vacation - all this while you resent doing the dishes and I driving.

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