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[Gender/Sex] gender-blind equality? or "different but equal"?

edited 2013-08-07 00:35:20 in Philosophy

If you are a proponent of gender equality (as I think most of us are), which position do you support more: gender-blind equality or "different but equal"?


By gender-blind equality, I mean de-emphasizing gender stereotyping and gender roles as much as possible, seeing gender as basically just a physiologically-relevant trait not unlike eye color or hair color but just relevant to reproduction.


By different but equal, I mean retaining some assumptions about gender, such as associated trends/stereotypes/personality traits, but being wary of and challenging inequalities between them.  I'm not exactly sure how to explain this because I don't hold this view; hopefully someone will do a better job of it than I do.


As I implied above, I believe in gender-blind equality.  And looking back at some early encounters I had with the concept of transgenderism, it seems that, simultaneously, I thought myself to be more progressive than the trans people I talked with, while they thought I seemed insensitively regressive.  That's because I feel that gender has almost no inherent non-physiological meaning (with its meaning being societally assigned), and I initially failed to understand that they felt it does have some sort of inherent meaning.  So at first I failed to understand why someone could even have a gender separate from their physiological one, because the way I understood the notion of gender pretty much had only physiological meaning.


And I'll be frank here, that's pretty much still my personal position, though I now understand how someone might feel if they differ from me in their take on this issue.  That said, I still don't fully understand what the non-physiological non-societally-assigned meaning of gender is, which is partly why I've stuck to my original position.  I remember trying to ask what being a given gender meant to that person, and the answer I got was always somehow linked to sociological phenomena -- such as men wearing dresses being seen as abnormal -- but maybe I just didn't read it right, or the person I talked to couldn't think up the best example at the moment, so I ought to keep an open mind about this.


In other words, what I'm trying to ask here is which position do you find yourself closer to?  Do you believe that gender has a significant amount of inherent meaning beyond physiology?  If so, what does it extend to?


If you don't believe in gender equality, feel free to chime in too.  Why not?  How are the genders unequal, and in what ways?  And define "unequal" for the purpose of your definition, of course.  Is either gender-blind equality or different-but-equal preferable to you, and why?

Comments

  • Everybody's different and that's okay.



    Because while you might not care that someone's a man or a woman, loads of folks are. And they want to be treated accordingly.



    It's the same sort of thing with stuff like ethnicity. Claiming blindness sort of invalidates the problems groups have. Because it's not just skin colour, it's inherited values and narratives and culture that comes with being born that way.
  • I'd disagree that values, narratives, and culture are things that people are born with.  Raised with, yes, from an early age even.  Born with, no.

  • Perhaps a better term is born into. But regardless whether you had it before birth or had it instilled after, it matters little because you're still stuck with it.

  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"

    I'm gonna stick to "different but equal" side, as long as it's not taken as a permission to place unnecessary emphasis on the difference. This way we don't have to logic-bomb ourselves over stuff like whether Olympic sports should be gender-separated, and similar issues.

  • "Different but equal" mostly due to social indoctrination, with deprogrammed peeps popping out of the woodwork everywhere. Ideally, all gender-associated traits could be divorced from their respective roles, if only to counter the new gender-essentialism(rationality as a tool of oppression, feelings an sich as a valid argument instead of examining the underlying cause).

  • edited 2013-08-07 23:33:45
    Loser

    I do not know enough about gender issues to really take a stance here, but I feel like one potential problem with taking a "gender-blind" approach is that it can sometimes be tricky to truly be gender neutral. To say it another way, in the spirit of being gender neutral and treating everyone equally people may end up just encouraging everyone to do things the way men (or women) have traditionally done them.

  • All that really matters is we could be friends~☆

    "different but equal"



    Would anyone mind explaining this concept to me in detail because I have no idea what it means, exactly? What are the differences aside from the obvious physiology? Once you're rid of somebody's body and their hang ups over it all you have is a human mind.


    I've never had a moment where I felt "Wow girls are considerably different".



    To say it another way, in the spirit of being gender neutral and treating everyone equally people may end up just encouraging everyone to do things the way men (or women) have traditionally done them.



    Might. I've always believed that if it were possible for the whole world to be completely gender blind, it would simply be like removing the "masculine" and "feminine" from every activity or action or item and people would do as they like.

  • >getting rid of gender-related hang-ups


    Yeah, no, that's not gonna happen anytime soon, if ever, so it's 'different but equal' for now. Minimizing the effect societal pressure has on people denies many of 'em their experience, or shoves the responsibility for said experience unto them.

  • Would anyone mind explaining this concept to me in detail because I have no idea what ["different but equal"] means, exactly?


    I'm not sure either; I just came up with the term as a placeholder for an opinion contrasting with gender-blind equality.  I used to just think that the notion of equality was gender-blind, but then I discovered it was in conflict with the way some other people understood gender.


    people may end up just encouraging everyone to do things the way men (or women) have traditionally done them.


    @LouieW, you have a point.  But on the other hand, are those ways of doing things necessarily gender-specific?  Just because men or women have done something traditionally, doesn't mean the activity is gender-specific.  For example, just because being elegant is usually associated with women doesn't mean that elegance is inherent to the female gender.


    Or at least, that's what I'm arguing.  I believe that traits like that -- traits usually associated with a specific gender (such as elegance, submissiveness, and sex appeal with the female gender, or dominance, aggression, and brutishness with the male gender) should be dissociated from their gender associations.

  • edited 2013-08-09 00:18:11
    Loser

    Fourteenwings,
    Might. I've always believed that if it were possible for the whole world to be completely gender blind, it would simply be like removing the "masculine" and "feminine" from every activity or action or item and people would do as they like.

    From what I can tell we may actually not be too far off on this.

    I think the point of that last comment was to say that today many things seem to be associated with gender or have some kind of gendered meaning attached to them, so attempting to be gender-blind may be difficult in a society (or world) that sees those gender implications all over the place. I have no real reason to believe that the scenario you described would not be the case if those gender associations were greatly deemphasized. Granted, I do not know enough to judge how probable that would be.

    Glennmagusharvey,
    But on the other hand, are those ways of doing things necessarily gender-specific?  Just because men or women have done something traditionally, doesn't mean the activity is gender-specific.  For example, just because being elegant is usually associated with women doesn't mean that elegance is inherent to the female gender.

    Your point about tradition not determining whether something is gender-specific seems like a valid one to me. I wonder if there is a difference between saying that certain traits are gender-specific and being gender-blind though. For example, the statement that women can be aggressive but men are more likely to be may not be gender-blind, but you could argue that it is not entirely gender-specific either.

  • Gender-blind equality means no maternity leave or child support, among other things.  So I'm thinking that's a bad idea.


    In order to create social equality, we ultimately have to honestly recognize differences, weigh how much of a difference they make, and react by elevating those placed at a disadvantage by them, if any.


    Things like skin color we've observed to have rather little inherent effect beyond a few medical quirks.  Things like the organs between your legs, unfortunately, have quite a bit more.


  • Gender-blind equality means no maternity leave or child support, among other things.  So I'm thinking that's a bad idea.



    Or just have paternity leave as a general thing, like Sweden I think.

  • You've still got a good several months where it really does matter whose guts the baby is in.

  • Oh, sure. Aside from biological hang-ups, the differences between men and women are entirely made-up.


    But even though it's made-up, it still matters to people because we made it up. And like justice, like mercy, like hope, we can't shove these ideas back in the bottle. We're stuck with these things now.


  • But even though it's made-up, it still matters to people because we made it up. And like justice, like mercy, like hope, we can't shove these ideas back in the bottle.



    Well, good thing these concepts aren't even susceptible to change, guess we'll have to stone you to death in the name of Justice and possibly a deity or two.

  • ummm yeah they are


    Like remember the time when "justice" meant being able to get your hands bloody against someone who wronged you? Or when the penalty for theft was losing a hand? Justice has changed. 

  • I think the idea was that the change doesn't happen overnight, and dismissing the impact gender roles have had on the peeps living now with a 'welp, why can't we all be equalists from now on?' is a tad on the tacky side.

  • Oh, of course. Can't just close our eyes, tap our heels together three times and say; "I wish we weren't racists." 


    It's an idea. And ideas are the hardest things to kill.

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