Women have proven they’re capable of doing anything a man can do. Which turns out to not always be a good thing.
I was brought up in a conservative, Catholic country and absorbed a whole lot of misogynist narratives.
There were the usual suspects: boys don’t cry, girls can’t do maths, guys sleeping around is cool but girls sleeping around is slutty, and so on. There were some local flavours, too, like a nice little rhyme to say that if you don’t beat your wife, her liver will rot. Yeah, I know.
Somehow, I managed to not fall for any of that. You see, I was the sort of kid who never just believed what people told me. I kept asking: ‘but why?’ and not letting anyone get away with any kind of ‘that’s just the way it is’ type answer.
Unless you can give me a good reason why men and women should not be equal, why would I believe they shouldn’t?
Needless to say, I wasn’t Catholic for very much longer and went on to do a Philosophy Ph.D.
The simplest argument
Until now, I think that the simplest and best argument for gender equality is just that: if we can’t prove that there is an objective difference between the genders in some respect, then we shouldn’t act like there is one.
If women’s brains are not in fact less capable of doing maths, then don’t tell girls they can’t do maths. If men’s brains are not in fact less capable of emotional intelligence, then don’t bring up boys in a way that makes them ashamed of having emotions.
If there is no difference in the quality of work a man and a woman do, then they should be paid the same for it. If what you have between your legs does not impact whether you can wash the dishes, repair the car, take care of the kids, support the family, and do a million other things, then we should not assign those tasks in a gendered way.
It is that simple.
So wait, where’s the dark turn coming?
For years, I’ve been seeing this as an argument for the empowerment of women in a male-dominated society.
I found it amazing to watch the fall of consecutive artificial barriers made up to prevent women from achieving educational, professional, artistic, or any other goals. It is beautiful and inspiring to see just how quickly they managed to prove their worth and catch up on pretty much every front.
Personally, I was always extremely proud of my partners, because even when they didn’t actively fight for women’s equality, every minute of their lives was a continuing testament to the fact that women are perfectly capable of doing pretty much anything men can do.
But recently I feel I’ve watched my reasoning turn on its head.
I started seeing it after I joined Medium, because it’s so prevalent here. But you can find examples anywhere.
Because while we have no reason to think that what you have between your legs determines whether you can do maths, cook, or lead a company, we have equally little reason to think that it should determine your capacity to act morally. As far as I know, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that it does. Women are just as capable as men of being both morally amazing and deplorable.
Except for centuries, women had very little power to make that capacity known. But now this is changing.
So as all gender barriers fall, it is truly heart-warming to see women grow and prove that wherever men managed to spread misogynist hate, women are equally good at spreading misandrist hate!
Men might have spent centuries developing misogynist narratives under the pretense of religion or science, but women are catching up remarkably, spreading misandrist narratives under the guise of feminism! And just as many men are forming their various self-pity circles where they can spew out their hatred of all women, many women are quick to catch up spewing out their hatred of men on a whole lot of social media and blogs, with Medium at the forefront.
In fact, reading Medium convinces me more and more that women are just as capable as men of being anywhere on the spectrum from mildly insensitive to complete bellends — they’ve just not been given a chance to prove themselves before. But they’re catching up very quickly.
So until anyone can offer me some good evidence to the contrary, I will remain steadfastly feminist and keep claiming that there is absolutely no difference between the genders with respect to how much hate they can spew, how much self-pity they can wallow in, and how much utter dickery they can engage in.
But it goes both ways.
Medium has offered me many examples of mutual understanding, compassion, and kindness, too. Here, I have read some of the most wonderful texts showing that we can indeed look past differences and seek out ways to build something better, together.
I’ve read guys talking to other guys about feminism and helping them find ways to overcome the toxic upbringing they’ve received. I’ve read women who managed to see past the discrimination they’ve experienced and ask why men are taught to behave in such destructive and harmful ways. I’ve read many people who question this pointless gender war and continue publishing even though their work is likely deprioritised by the feed algorithm which doesn’t see it as extreme enough to get clicks.
There are no gender differences in our moral characters. Women, men, and people of any other gender can choose to be just as hateful and horrible as each other — or they can choose to be just as kind and constructive as each other.
Let’s stop trying to prove that one gender is better than the other and just focus on all being better, together.