The Cougar Chronicle

What gender equality means to me

Jasmine Demers, Managing Editor

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Gender equality is arguably the most important issue that we are facing in today’s society. We no longer live in a time when we can say men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and expect that to be some type of justification for treating each other differently.

We have to start treating gender equality as a fundamental human right, rather than just a women’s issue. As a self-proclaimed activist and a person who is very passionate about gender issues, I would like to share with you what gender equality means to me.

Gender equality means the complete obliteration of gender roles and expectations of feminine and masculine performance. It means that women do not have to be skinny with big boobs and long hair. It means that they don’t have to be motherly, quiet or small. At the same time, gender equality means that men don’t have to be aggressive, competitive or angry. They don’t have to be muscular or tall, and they don’t have to be the breadwinners. Rather than be forced into inheriting these roles, women and men can choose what identity fits best for themselves.

Gender equality is about changing the way that society perceives strength in women and vulnerability in men. It means not calling a woman “bossy” when she is showing leadership and not calling a man a “wussy” when he cries. It means not assuming that a woman had to sleep with someone in order to get a promotion, and not neglecting a man’s mental illness because he’ll eventually “tough it out.”

Gender equality means receiving the same wages for the same work and eliminating the wage gap for good. It requires that all people receive the same employment benefits, including maternity and paternity leave. It’s about removing opportunity barriers and allowing everyone to have the same access to promotion.

Gender equality means the elimination of rape culture. It’s being respectful of each other regardless of what they are wearing or what you assumed they were asking for. It’s about not blaming the victim. Problematic gender norms are at the very center of rape culture, including ideas of violent masculinity and feminine passivity. Gender equality also means we recognize that sexual violence occurs outside of these binaries. Sexual violence affects both men and women, as well as those who identify as queer and gender nonconforming.

Gender equality means recognizing that sex is not linked to gender. Although I am a female, my gender expression can still be masculine, and vice versa. Gender equality allows people to step outside of rigid binaries, and shows that people don’t have to be one thing or the other.

Although this is definitely not everything, these are the ideas that I believe constitute gender equality. I only hope that one day these outcomes will turn into reality so that we can continue to better our world by working to expand our empathy and respect for one another.

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