Gender-based III: But Why Cannot We Expect Women to Just Help Themeselves?

First of all, obviously, one woman alone can’t change the system she’s born into and that spreads over hundreds of millions of minds. D’uh. But more than that, it is also not fruitful to expect the people on the receiving end of discrimination to make our society a better place without concessions of those swimming on top, while leaning back in the meantime.

Why?

In a system of suppression, adjusting is always the best survival strategy if you want to avoid conflicts. No matter if in regards to women, who restrain from personal freedoms by not walking alone outside after ten at night, or children of working class families, who opt not for the university, but the family business because it’s the path of least resistance. Resistance of a kind which I, being the straight white male with middle class background that I am, never experienced or would only experience if I tried my luck on a construction site rather than in the academical career that was almost handed over to me.

Thanks to this reality the expectation that the system will change if only the suppressed change won’t lead anywhere sensible. The society must change. The expectations and decisions of the people “in charge” must change to become more permeable to skill and less category-based. A world must be created in which women experience social reward for their efforts like men would – not grudges and slander. We are on a good way in this regard, sure. But as shown above, much is yet to be done.

As to grudges and slander: Next to the articles above, I’m led to believe that there is a tendency for those people to say “not me or society, but the women in question are the ones responsible for their own well-being” to be the same people who lash out on feminists – hence on women who actually took on this fight.

As one cannot fail to mention, this works the other way around just as well!

Men must not be judged for becoming the caretaker of the home rather than the main source of income for the family. It must be okay to not try to get laid this friday. And there must not be shame in deciding not go to war. The expectations that we as a society have in regards to men must be stripped of their affinity to violence and, in some regards, power (not that control and independence wouldn’t be good traits, but the critical point here I guess is in the way these are expressed and demanded).

The often heard insistence that women need to carry the same burdens as men if they want the same rights is something no significant feminist disagrees with. Still this is constantly demanded, not to talk about the problems of the status quo, but to construct an us-vs-them-atmosphere.

Even more important: The call that women only needed to take matters into their own hands for things to change is not a path that leads to a better society. It is a mechanism to protect privilege, to protect how things are out of fear that if the hierarchies become more permeable, that if things change, ones position in this world might be at risk. But not only does this have nothing to do with equal-chances society we claim to be. In fact, I think that it is this mechanism that has held human civilisation back since the dawn of time. More egalitarian societies function better than heavily patriarchical ones in any conceivable way. They are more productive, they can provide a better standard of living, more individual freedom, and so on.

But privilege is always relative to the standing of others, and power is all too often conceived as power over others. The notion that protecting ones niche, ones own domestic kingdom, is of more worth than a change in hierarchies of which everyone would benefit is probably as old as the most primitive division of labour and it is damaging to us all.