TUMBY BAY - We all know that men and women are biologically different. This difference is necessary if humans are going to procreate and maintain their species.
Of itself this doesn’t mean men and women are not equal. It just means that men and women have different biological roles.
How many times have you heard the argument that men are usually bigger and stronger than women and therefore more powerful? This may be so but what has it got to do with equality? Absolutely nothing.
Neither gender can survive without the other. It doesn’t matter whether one is physically stronger than the other. The difference is essentially complementary, not one of strength.
Men and women should be different but equal. But they are not. Why is this so?
If inequality is not a product of nature it must, therefore, be a product of nurture.
It must be related to the way men and women are brought up and what they are taught. It must be related to the way influences work in their societies.
What are some of these influences?
One of the biggest causes of inequality is tradition. Or should that be the subversion of tradition?
This is the way things have always been done so why should that change now? Men have always dominated women and that’s the way it should be.
Is that really true? I think not. Even in Papua New Guinea you only have to go back a few generations and you come to a time when the gender balance was decidedly more equal.
Men and women had different roles but the power balance was equally shared. It had to be because the survival of the clan depended upon it.
It is only in recent times that traditions, cultures and customs have been reinterpreted to mean something else.
Another big influence has been religion.
No matter what the brand, religion has always been a men’s club. Among other things, both politically and socially, it has essentially been a deliberate instrument for the subjugation of women.
To see the truth of this, you only have to observe the level of equality of women in a country and contrast this with the strength of its religions.
In strongly Muslim countries women enjoy very little equality. In strongly Catholic countries the same thing is true. In countries with large secular populations there is a much higher level of equality.
Another influence is capitalism.
Right from the beginning of the industrial revolution employers recognised that when they employed a married man they were actually getting two people for the price of one.
They were getting the actual worker and they were getting a support system provided by the worker’s unpaid spouse.
Without that spouse the maximum effort could not be wrung out of a worker. It was therefore in the best interests of the employer that such a partnership endured. The institution of marriage had to be designed in such a way that this essentially unequal institution prevailed.
These are just a few examples of what created and continues to create gender inequality. There are many more.
What stands out however is their essentially antiquated nature. Most of them don’t fit into the high tech societies that now prevail in most countries.
Automation and robotics are doing away with the old concepts of labour. Religion is dying under the onslaught of science. Traditions that were once powerful have been rendered into the realms of folklore.
In the 21st century, even in developing countries, there is no need for inequality anymore. And yet it still persists.
It doesn’t make sense.