Feminism and The Fight for Gender Equality

Emily Davison

 

Published: 27th June 2013

A little over one hundred years ago Emily Davison ran out onto the track at the Epsom Derby, stepping out in front of King George V’s horse as she bid to further raise the profile of the women’s suffrage and their campaign which primarily included a woman’s right to vote. It wouldn’t be until 1928 that women received full voting equality.

Since Davison’s death Britain has seen Nancy Astor – the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons, Brenda Dean – the first female General Secretary of a British trade union, Clara Furse – the first woman to be appointed Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange and the British public has proudly celebrated the achievements of top female Olympians Kelly Holmes and Jessica Ennis. And most famously we had the late Margaret Thatcher, our first woman Prime Minister, in power from 1979 until 1990.

Despite all this feminists and gender equality campaigners insist that progress is slow; pointing out that women hold less than a third of the UK’s most influential jobs and that women are sometimes still paid less than men for doing the same work – particularly in non-unionised occupations.

Personally, of course, I am pro gender equality, but for me this topic can often be blown way out of proportion by hard line feminists who argue matters that I would deem negligible, using the word oppression far too freely and fiercely – as if it were going out of fashion. Today I’ll be exploring this subject further and in some instances questioning the motives of radical feminism.

“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst

Much like the modern day man, back in the day of Pankurst men had a pigheadedness about them. Traditionally men proudly consider themselves as the bread-winner of the household. You don’t need to be Einstein to know that men are physically stronger than women; but I’d say that the only great difference between men now and to those 100+ years ago is that the male species know that both genders are equal on an intellectual level and that it shouldn’t just be down to men to make the important decisions, be it domestically, politically or whatever. Whereas at the turn of the 20th century it was very much a man’s world.

Today there are some men that continue to stereotype and joke about the opposite sex – I mean – we’ve all heard the joke about ‘the blonde’, right? Certain men like to hark on about how bad women drivers are and make insubordinate comments linking women with the kitchen. These boyish comments may offend some women and definitely get the backs up of feminists, but these ‘jokes’ are meant in harmless jest and certainly don’t portray the true thinking of men towards women.

There is no denying that over the past century there has been a swing for the better in terms of gender equality and although most people have recognised this positive turn, there have been many media outlets that that have voiced concern regarding the snail-like pace in which they perceive change being undertaken.

Considering the accomplishments of certain women over the past century (ie; Thatcher, Furse & Dean, as per earlier in this article) I’d be inclined to disagree.

One-sided Argument

I remember watching a Breakfast News feature last year in which BBC research revealed that just 13.2% of High Court Judges and above positions were held by women, 15.6% of women made up the Directorship of FTSE100 companies and in politics only one-in-five government ministers were female.

Surely I can’t be the only person who sees this as an uneven comparative for the simple reasoning that these select jobs are typically more of interest to men than to women. Some people will likely point out that recent figures show more women study law than men at our universities, but without any statistics to back up my own claim I’m more than willing to chance my arm and say that more men apply for High Court positions than women, as they do for Director roles within FTSE100 companies and there’s absolutely no doubting that more men show an interest in politics than women.

This BBC News feature offered an extremely bias perspective on gender equality by failing to mention any professions in which women dominate the employment spectrum.

In recent times there has been many a broadcast and publication that has suggested that Britain should introduce board room quotas – or some form of change in the law – so that companies are forced to employ a set amount/percentage of women – particularly in high-powered jobs.

Feminism

Preferential Treatment

Surely job vacancies should be filled by the best candidate regardless of sex. By backing businesses into a corner and enforcing gender-based employment regulations it may mean that the finest applicant may not always get the opportunity to fill the said position – and if that were the case then it would likely have an economic impact.

It’s extremely difficult to prove but maybe there is an unconscious gender prejudice in some sectors, however, if I were a woman I would almost certainly find the introduction of quotas preferential and rather patronising.

This debate also spills over into the new-fashioned art of women fleecing men in divorce settlements. Having fought so hard for gender equality ever since the time of the Suffragettes, then shouldn’t women be seen to stand on their own two feet rather than rely on an ex-partner to top-up their earnings for years post separation – sometimes even decades. A father must be seen to contribute towards his children’s upbringing but should not be responsible for providing a lavish lifestyle for his former wife.

Talk about having your cake and eating it too. It seems to me that some women are out for everything they can get.

The Modern Perception of Feminism

With all this in mind it’s hardly surprising that the modern perception of feminism is somewhat distorted.

In this day-and-age feminists are quick to jump on literally anything that they deem as remotely favourable towards men, no matter how trivial the rest of us perceive topic.

Most feminists are quick to rubbish any male counter-argument. These counter-arguments could include:-

  • Family law tends to swing heavily in favour of women. Fathers do not receive equal rights over custody of their children.
  • Earlier this year the University of Michigan found that men, in America, are given much [63% on average] higher sentences than women convicted of the same crimes in federal court.
  • Studies into domestic violence have shown an equal balance between the genders; yet the spotlight tends to be shone brighter in cases where women are the victims. This is likely why so many people have a remarkably one-sided view on this.
  • In recent years there has been a great increase in various ‘women-only’ based activities. In the UK there are women-only swimming sessions and, believe it or not, some councils have introduced women-only tables in their libraries. And why is it that BBC Radio Four has a women’s hour, but doesn’t have a men’s hour?

There’s an abundance of other points that I could bring to fore here – but I won’t – for the risk of being seen as arrogant by a group of moronic men haters. And no – that doesn’t mean I have unconscious sexist side to me either.

Gender Equality

Tradition or Oppression?

Whatever your stance may be on this subject it’s plain to see that women are not the same as men. The two sexes vastly differ physically, physiologically and emotionally; and for me that’s reason enough to believe that men are better suited to certain jobs and that women are more favourable than men in other roles.

Historically I will accept that women have, in general, had a much tougher time of it than men. In the olden-days men were guilty of devaluing women, cynically dismissing the opposite sex as vastly inferior in near enough everything. However, women then played a vital part in Britain’s success during World War II and I believe that was the turning point. The power that women hold, the gap in terms of equality and such has bridged closer ever since.

Being even and diverse is not a problem whatsoever, but there is a very fine line between equality before then going on to receive special treatment. Sooner rather than later I expect to see this seesaw tipping more towards the woman.

Characteristics wise, there are many things that women can bring to the boardroom; women tend to think more rational than men, they’re calmer and more thoughtful too. These and many other feminine traits can be of benefit to the decision-making process.

There is a flip side to this though. The more high -powered jobs that are filled by women and with the greater influence that they have, then I predict with great certainty that divorce rates will skyrocket even further. It will be our children that suffer.

Traditionally women were around as their children grew up, they nurtured them. Women were at the epicenter of a strong household. Men were expected to provide and protect their families. Man has always been proud of this set-up. Everyone knew what their roles were, they happily stuck to those roles, the children grew up in a loving home and marriages worked. This was not oppression. It just so happened to be that each person stuck to their key strengths.

I conclude. Yes to equal pay but no to everything else on the feminist agenda.

The man on the street doesn’t see feminism as a fight for gender equality, he sees it as a relentless assault upon the male ego and the more you dent this ego the more worthless man senses he’s become.

2 thoughts on “Feminism and The Fight for Gender Equality

  1. Agree with everything you have written but would like to add a couple of points
    Previously women had a higher life expectancy than men in the UK – something like 4 years longer. Was this because they had an ‘easier’ less stressful life ie not the breadwinner without the responsibility of supporting the family etc. or because women are a stronger healthier breed (although not stronger in a muscular physical way)
    It will be interesting to see if this changes in the near future – a lot of women now work full time because they want to & because the money is required, & generally their other halves are happy with this as they have a better lifestyle. However the majority of women are still doing the bulk of the housework, cooking, child care, shopping
    & working full time. But as they don’t always earn as much, their job whilst full time is not perceived to be as important as the mans therefore the women still carry the load outside of the ‘days work’. If the kids are ill, need to go to the docs or dentist the women has to either put in hols, throw a sickie or lose pay. I believe that in the near future men’s life expectancy will be the same or higher than women’s as their life will be ‘easier’
    (Apologies if this is a bit garbled – just multi-tasking!)

    • I think from a my own male perspective, the most frustrating thing is seeing the media ‘pick on’ man. I chose the BBC News feature I watched last year to highlight this point, but it’s a continuous bombardment of pro-feminism stats being reeled off with little counter-balance. Have you not noticed that they always fail to mention the jobs that women dominate men in, ie schools, as the perfect example. I know when I was at school I found women made better teachers because it is what it is, nurturing children is mother-nature.
      Admittedly in a recession hit society that we live in today, then as you say, women are forced to work in effect, which isn’t necessarily a negative in terms of lifestyle as you say, but there are a whole catalogue of statistics which show that it does have a detrimental impact on couples – and not just because they spend lesser time with one another. I’d suggest that much of it boils down to damaging men physiologically – it’s in a man’s DNA to exert power and be the breadwinner for the household. Being equal when both are full-time workers, whilst his better-half also does the vast majority of the domestic chores is challenging to man.

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