We haven’t solved this gender question fully — we are still grappling with equal vs different!
Each time gender violence gets us thinking, there is an outpouring of protests, views and campaigns. We are reminded of the skewed equation between genders in the public space.
Our response to this is a very black and white one mostly — men don’t respect women, and thus women should be treated with utmost respect. What that translates into though, we are not sure of. Clearly a man cannot treat a woman the way he treats another man. And yet, the message of ‘treat women as equals’ is to be honored — worth questioning is HOW? Does anyone (including women) know how exactly this will pan out?
That apart, we question structures and laws. We set up reservations so that women can make it to elected positions (though often they end up acting as proxy for their husbands). Yet, religion for example is left unquestioned — has anyone vocally questioned Religious leadership that seems to be predominantly male dominated (both current and mythological)?
Then there is the ‘evil men, pious women’ narrative — what about women who want to be bad girls? And what about women who are on the wrong side of gender abuse (law for now is irreversibly tilted in favor of women). And inspite of all this, millions of women continue to be self-exploited, bound by generations of conditioning and social norms — thinking of it as ‘normal’.
Finally, is there any equality that in general mankind has managed to fully achieve?
(WARNING: Sweeping statements made to drive home the point)
The 1% runs the other 99% economically. We still have a caste hangover in many parts of the world. Nation states discriminate legitimately (check out visa norms for developing vs developed countries).
And, we justify inequality created at birth (by Nature / God) as Karma!
So if we are going on the path of questioning inequality vs equality, it is childish to make a snap conclusion and arrive at a set of desirable norms — they run the risk of being fragile and impractical.
Instead, a deeper questioning of equal vs different is warranted. How does Nature manage this? What is desirable? What is acceptable? What is practical? What is worth striving for?