Perm National Research Polytechnic University (PNRPU)
We may face gender inequality at any time. One day, each of us feels injustice and prejudice. For a long time, it was believed that the phenomenon of the struggle for equality is women's business. But new movements such as HeForShe prove the opposite. It has long become apparent that gender equality worries not only women but also men. Gender equality is a problem that socially, economically and politically affects all people. The senior adviser to the executive director of UN Women, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, once said, “Initially we were asking the question, ‘Do men care about gender equality?’ and we found out that they do care”.
Many of us think that they know what feminism is. Feminism is a political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This movement began to actively develop during the 19th and early 20th century. Feminism paid attention to the equal terms of a contract, marriage, parental rights and property rights for women. Feminism was the beginning of the understanding that gender equality is the norm of the society.
I believe that feminism is not only about women but also about men. Unlike the feminism of previous eras, in the 21st century, the women's movement no longer fights for access to education, the right to vote and the rejection of corsets. Now its goal is first and foremost - gender equality. Emma Watson, one of the modern feminists, in her report to the UN in 2014, stressed that without the participation of men, the struggle for equality will remain a fight. Obviously, the concept of gender equality implies a voluntary step by both sides towards each other. There is an opinion that men should not struggle for gender equality. But male feminism is not an indicator that the stronger sex shows weakness. On the contrary, it points to healthy changes in society. After all, the matter is no longer in feminism, but in the fact that any woman, like any man, has the right to be herself and no one should make this choice for her.
To understand the topic, we need to perceive what gender inequality is. If we analyze where gender inequality comes from, then we can understand that since our childhood we are taught how a man should behave and what a woman should look like. Dad says that boys don't cry. Only weaklings do. Mom says that first of all a girl should be beautiful, and should not show what is there on her mind. But what if these are all stereotypes imposed by advertising companies? For example, gyms and sports nutrition companies are waiting for men in pursuit of power. Beauty salons, plastic surgeons and the fashion industries want women to spend huge amounts of money on their services in pursuit of perfect looks and beauty. But this is all fictional. A woman after a heap of plastic operations, fasting, extensions of hair, nails and eyelashes will not always reach the ideal of beauty. A man after chemical nutrition and exhaustion after the gym will not always improve the health and strength of character. Companies just make profit of us.
Besides even in a developed society, there is inequality. It is believed that men and women have equal rights when they apply for a job. But it is not always so. I am studying at the university to become an interpreter and I am constantly told that the employer is more likely to prefer a male interpreter because a man is believed to be more stress resistant than a woman. But in stressful situations, resourcefulness is also important. In general, I believe that such features as stress resistance and resourcefulness do not depend on gender. Also, it is known that sometimes women get less money for their work than men. But women make no less effort at work than men. Gender should not affect the salary and position of an employee. Everything should depend on the skills, character and education of the person.
Moreover, not only women but men also feel unequal. A Famous actress, Anne Hathaway, delivered a speech at the UN. She told how she lacked her father in childhood because he was working very hard. Then, when she became pregnant and took maternity leave after giving birth, she lacked her husband. He was torn between work and family. Anne asked, “Why does not a man have the right to get maternity leave to care for a child as well as a woman?” After all, a man also wants to share joy and responsibility with a woman. But he cannot do this because he has to work. She offered not only to respect the right of a woman but also a man to care for a newborn. Some will say that a man does not need it. But I suppose that men also have the right to spend time with their families and help their wives in caring for children during a maternity leave. Also, Ann hopes that in such a democratic country as the United States, where same-sex marriage is already allowed and gender equality matters, there will be a change in this matter.
As it can be seen, gender equality is a part of a democratic society. Only in a democratic society, a person has the right to choose, has freedom of speech and freedom of expression, regardless of gender, as it is written in The Declaration on Equality, adopted at the 4th European Conference of Ministers on the equal rights between women and men.
To prove that gender equality is an advantage in a democratic society, we compare two countries - the United States and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is an absolute theocratic monarchy. The absolute theocratic monarchy is a form of government where religion stands at the head of the state. The head of state is the main official of the church, which has unlimited supreme state power. The rights of women in Saudi Arabia are set by a system of rules and restrictions imposed on women living in Saudi Arabia based on patriarchal Sharia law. Women in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from taking part in the elections. Saudi Arabia for a long time was the only country in the world where women were not allowed to drive a car. Also, according to the data form 2009, the country ranks 130th out of 134 countries in respect of women's rights. It is also the only country that received a zero score on political and public rights granted to women.
The US is a federation with a republican form of government, which has a division of powers between federal and republican authorities. The creation of the USA in 1776 was the first attempt in the history of mankind to implement the idea of democracy on the scale of a whole country and not a city-state. This idea was reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution adopted in 1789. In the USA, thanks to democratic ideas, the topic of gender equality has been developing for a long time. Men and women have equal rights for education, marriage, work, self-realization. For example, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were running for presidency on equal terms.
On the other hand, one might think that democracy does not affect gender equality. But this is not true. Gender equality is possible only on condition that every citizen is equal before the law, regardless of gender, status and financial situation, and this can only be achieved in a democratic society.
After all, there is still a negative opinion on the phenomenon of feminism. Someone thinks that feminism offends men and makes women masculine. But this does not correspond to the reality. Feminism only gives an equal part of freedom to a person of either sex. It does not provoke a conflict between the sexes. In any person, there is a female and male energy. It can manifest itself in any situation. For example, when a man expresses feelings and emotions, some female energy is manifested in him. And when a woman is engaged in inexact calculations, for example in mathematics, the male energy is manifested in her. The human exists in harmony. Femininity or masculinity cannot be limited to actions and stereotypes.
Overall gender equality is important both for men and women. As Emma Watson once said, “We want to end gender inequality - and to do that we need everyone to be involved”. Feminism means the same rights and obligations to all people despite their gender, not only for women. Furthermore, democracy is the basic condition for gender equality. If we want equal rights, we must start with ourselves. We should stop thinking inside the box, which is very difficult, but utterly important. We should learn to respect the human right to be whoever he or she wants, regardless of gender.
As for me, I still face difficulties, but I have learned to explain to my mother why I wouldn’t do anything to attract the attention of men. When the guy once said that I was too smart to become his girlfriend and that the girl should be stupid but beautiful, I realized that the problem was not in me. I do communicate with people who proved to me that gender stereotypes have no place in real life. My infantile friend Alexey has shown me that fashion and cosmetics may not only interest women. Another friend of mine, Dasha, loves physics and the exact sciences, but she is often reminded that they are more comprehensible for men. However, she does not give up and continues to be the best in school. There are many examples. But the main idea is that you should remember - gender equality is your issue too. If you want to change the world, begin with yourselves.