Friday, August 26, 2016

Womens’ Equality Day

August 26, 2016 is the 96th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the long-overdue right to vote. This date was officially designated as Women’s Equality Day in 1971. It is, I think, only fitting on this day that we commit ourselves to making women’s equality a reality, rather than just the reason for yet another designated “special” day. That reality will naturally mean different things to different people, but there are a few core precepts that deserve a place on anyone’s list.

  • – For the abrogation of both “men’s rights” and “women’s rights,” replacing both with “human rights” that are acknowledged irrespective of gender. Rights exclusive to one group or gender cannot exist without denying those rights to the other.
  • – For ideas to have value on the basis of their logic, benevolence, and integrity, rather than being accepted in spite of or because of their having been put forward by a woman or a man. The first step toward the realization of such a goal is for both men and women to set aside defensiveness when considering a perspective that appears different on the surface that our own, and to recognize that using dismissive terms like “womansplaining” and “mansplaining” fail to further the dialog, much less the understanding or changing of others’ perspectives.
  • – To recognize and address sexism when it taints a discussion or behavior, but to not strive to brush aside every point of disagreement or every personal dislike by deeming it an example of sexism. Men and women are genetically and culturally-inclined to perceive some things differently, and while the cultural imperatives can be revised over time, genetic conditioning is the product of many millennia, and therefore slower to be revised. Both are better discussed and understood than attacked, if one’s commitment is to achieving gender cooperation and consensus.
  • – And ultimately, to strive to be respectful and fair in one’s dealings with others, including those with whom we disagree. Just as a true friendship cannot be based in absolute agreement, neither must enmity be based in different points of view. By granting to others the benefit of the doubt until such time as it proves unwarranted to do so, we enhance the likelihood that other people’s understanding will grow more sophisticated and accepting of us. It is only through such mutual understanding and respect that we can hope to transcend the ugly realities of sexism, misogyny, and misandry and enjoy living in a state of genuine rather than forced or feigned equality.

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