Well in my humble opinion, ‘She’ is the only ‘God’ but let’s understand how the world views her. It started with the existence of men (humanrace). A typical agricultural society had community associated upbringing and a very less advancement for our race to transfer knowledge. Humans just learned about growing their food apart from hunting which was essentially tiring and that’s when gender discrimination started and seeped through our knowledge of livelihoods in other segments as well. Millenniums apart and yet we are standing on our toes tossing our key of development into the river of ancestral knowledge pool.
Now, the sad part is that we are hellbent in throwing the key to this future away from our grasp because ancient civilizations found away to transfer their knowledge in various forms and that is all we are concerned about. An appropriate identification is our insubordination to the principles of human welfare due to conflict with stereotypic and religious standpoints, often limiting freedom guaranteed to us by modern reasoning contributing to equality.
Perception and Perspectives
Capitalistic economies have often used ‘women’ as a tool for financial stability. They are often understood as ‘an army in reserve’. Since, in a patriarchal society concept of women and care work is intertwined, they can be integrated and tossed out in an economy with simple measures. For an example, in case of labour shortage, the network of care activities is strengthened just to get women out in the labour force. This makes the first task of solving a larger crisis easier.
Families with low socio-economic status are often susceptible to this nudge and are flexible with future consequences. For additional handful income, they can also be lured in the informal and unorganized sector as well. Once the normalcy of any economy is restored, these care packages are withdrawn or nullified thus exposing female labour force to social cues of unpaid care work in families. This way an army of reserved labour force is contextualized for maintaining status-quo and not heading towards any real social change.
Socialist or communist regime may be in a hustle to claim a front row seat to gender equality, but hard part of truth remains undigested. Even in a stated controlled market, patriarchy is spreading wider wings. Representation in politics or higher administrative management is one such sensitive issue. Even though economic battle has been won yet ideological war of degrading women’s position in society is lost. This is also due to failure of the state to preserve individual liberty in all respects.
Markets often tend to use this gender difference in their favour by channelling themselves with social movements. Nevertheless, pink tax by women and now LGBTQ+ products is glut to this day. Corporates often do not harmonize with the cause and uses morality as to shield their business malpractices and promote their latent interests. Religion, as an institution, takes women and unidentified genders to even more corrupt and darker places to finally push them over the edge and deliver unwanted developmental externalities.
Word across the World
Although popular narrative of gender equality and equal opportunity is set ablaze, yet recent revelations have stated otherwise. This has happened from all fronts across geographies and polities.
Irish Constitution till this day dictates family as a fundamental and primary unit group of society and as a moral institution possessing imprescriptible and inalienable rights. Within the details, it explicitly talks about recognition of woman’s work within home and its importance to achieve common good for the state with a reasoning that women are not obliged to seek work that would result in neglect of their work at home.
Abortion laws in Poland and United States are another such examples. State of Texas has enacted Texas Heartbeat Act prohibiting elective abortion but stealthing is not yet determined as crime in the state making the victim prone to even further ridicule.
State Affairs infused with religious sentiment display inequality rooted in gender to even greater heights. Although all religions have rules inplace to attack liberty enjoyed by genders other than heterosexual-cis-man, it is strongly enforced in Islam across the world. In Afghanistan, some girls live as boys to taste social freedom in their early days. Bacha Posh which translates as ‘dressed up as a boy’ is an ancienttradition open to condemnation. This temporarily allows any girl to have a boy’s freedom like playing sports, receiving education, and travelling alone in the neighbourhood.
Gender has been widely discussed issue in India lately. It has a very low female labour force participation rate despite women amountingto half of its population. Although much of it can be explained by increased inclusion in higher education since 2005 yet certain characteristics remainsundetermined. Most of it can be related to triple burden and informal work arrangements. New enacted surrogacy law reveals ideological conflict of current regime with historical challenges that the institution of marriage brings with itself for women in general.
Abolition of gender biased adultery law and decriminalization by judiciary seems good indications yet exercise of government against recognition of homosexual marriages suggests otherwise. Official representatives of the government and supporters of ideological parent of current establishment continue to objectify women under popular narratives of menstrual issues, clothing and fashion, type of employment etc. Community and Institutional Vigilantism is having severe human rights crisis especially by denying freedom of choice to invoke religious sentiment in case of women.
Underexplored dimension of ‘Who to Blame?’
Widely considered impressions of gender are under the heads of inequality, discrimination and exclusion. These are popular theories with differing approaches. What we fail to observe is that it is completely different from all other types of inequalities in both context and scale. In my opinion, gender-based exclusion is a sole accomplice that cannot be traced as any geometrical shape.
Consider this for an example: Excluded communities based on caste, social class, religion, linguistics is often statistical minority in any polity. Take an example of any community and try to understand their distribution and their relative position in power structure across nation-states. Now compare it with gender. There might be some similarities in actions to suppress but there is no significant overlap. Women, even if they outnumber men are downtrodden in a country. They might be only a bit less in number comprising almost equally half of a country and yet unrecognized in society, market and institutions.
This categorizes them into ‘qualitative minority’ which exposes them to ‘systemic inequality’ which is true for all the countries with varying degrees on the scale. This means they are not at the bottom of the pyramid where they are controlled by very few, neither are they typical middle class which at times is suppressed but frequently oppresses too depending upon on time and place.
In any case of exclusion, imbalance in power and authority is the key reason. Even if universal category of ‘Men’ can be blamed for this power imbalance, sex is not a typical identity in social settings. If that was the case, then a minor sex change surgery would have been the answer. It is the gender expression that decides flow of power and thus decides future of any particular social identity. Perhaps this will explain why a ‘trans-man’ is not as privileged as a ‘cis-man’.
With an agreement to aforementioned fact, it is easy to track as to how gender expression has stipulated that a heterosexual-cis-man is at the centre of this power configuration. For an example, search out the history to find who has been at the most influential position, or who has often initiated change or even in present day who are the gender or social activists fighting against. It is not ‘man’ but a typically and stereotypically designated heterosexual-cis-man whose wishes are to be respected at the end of the day. Additionally, it is vital to identify if this model of gender suppression is exclusionary and what similarities does it have when compared with other models of exclusion.
Is there a solution to this problem?
First-hand experiences of gender inequality revealed that ‘freedom’ is at the forefront of this attack. As we have already established that gender inequality is dissimilar to other forms of exclusion, mere denial of freedom in any respect brings change in position of an individual or community. Even if the process of gender suppression is not new, an alarming association of current political uprising in both developed and developing countries has direly affected the cause even more. Consider events of recent past as breeding grounds to deepen pandemic induced inequality.
This is primarily due to ineffective planning practices insocial and administrative domains. Failure of democratic and participatory model of governance in many states is another reason. There are other strongholds like rudimentary thoughts, stringent frameworks and which contributes to gender inequality. Some of it is deep seated and often significantly impacts our present norms and institutions. It usually aims to restore the glory of the past by directing any social change is towards a time where the dominion of heterosexual-cis-man was well established. Since institutions frequently coalesce are and are derivatives of one another, it becomes easier or them to avoid any argument which might demean their position in either institution of governance.
Additionally, legal system is tiresome and has been set to ensure that limit of freedom for a particular category (heterosexual-cis-man) is indefinite. There are absolute laws of adultery designated as crime for women to maintain family structures intact as the name of only male is carried forward. This doesn’t remain as such in homosexual couples as they are already equal in accordance with gender norms thus marriages are banned to prevent plurality.
Any sexual activity not leading to childbirth is considered unacceptable thus banning any form of sex which is not in line with how heterosexual-cis-man practices it. This also exposes the philosophical root cause of designating abortion as crime while stealthing is yet largely acceptable, which is fruitful activity by heterosexual-cis-man in a realm of infinite freedom to have a final say in consequences of any and all activities.
As withholding freedom is only move in the playbook and to ensure denial of equal freedom both institutions of governance - religion and constitution, are projected together. Challenging this projection is the key here.
A legal solution to this can be following ‘Harm Principle’ proposed by J.S. Mill to stipulate civil and gender based criminal laws. To sum up, insurance of equal freedom is the only way to achieve gender equality. This might be repetitive, resistive, and radical, yet the only possible solution to aprolonged gender problem.