Why We Need To Be Careful About The Way We Talk About Gender Equality
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Politics and Activism

Why We Need To Be Careful About The Way We Talk About Gender Equality

Why We Need To Be Careful About The Way We Talk About Gender Equality

OK, so I do not even dare use the word feminism because I know that it will turn some people off, and then they won't take anything I say seriously.

This whole "PledgeforParity" thing -- although undoubtedly coming from good intentions -- seems a little off.

It's weird that they feel the need to say (and this is from the website) that "Worldwide, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement." Like -- of course? Isn't that completely, 100 percent obvious? Women are (more or less) half of the world's population. That's a hell of lot of people. We're talking several billion people. It is disturbing that anyone would assume that it is possible that several billion people had no contribution to social, economic, cultural and political achievement. Women are society, the economy, culture, and politics. Just like men are also all these things. Have you ever heard someone say, "Men contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement"? No. I have never heard anyone say that, and I have been alive for two whole decades. Doesn't that seem a little weird -- that we need to clarify that about one half of the world's population but not the other half?

Also, there is something I have heard a lot before and it has always bothered me: "We need to help women and girls achieve their ambitions and advance in the workplace." There are -- yes -- structural and non-structural biases (which are, in my opinion, even more dangerous because they cannot be eliminated by some kind of equal opportunity workplace law) in this world that make it very, very hard for women to advance in society (economically, and otherwise). But, honestly, putting forth this notion that women need "help" to advance is a subtle way of undermining. It's like when people say, "Women need to help other women advance at work" ... It is implying that women can't get to where they want to go on their own... Which is very, very dangerous, especially couched in such a seemingly well-meaning statement. It's patronizing. Are you implying that men should not help women advance at work? That women should not help men? It's a team. Everyone's on the team. The people who should "advance" are the people who put in the most and best work and who are most qualified. That's called fairness. Justice. Something we, supposedly, stand for in this country. And yeah, the world isn't fair -- I get that. But we need to play the game with the rules that are in place right now. And making certain statements is only making the situation worse.

Sexism, the wage gap, etc. are all very much real and present in today's society. Anyone who says they aren't is choosing not to acknowledge statistics. But, there is a danger of making the situation worse by making seemingly well-meaning statements. Words are very powerful. It's not just about what's said. It's about what's beneath those words. It's about what isn't said, and the implications that come along with that.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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