Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gender Equality

Alas the privileges and freedoms we have as men and women are not equal. Yet it is also true to say that neither sets of rights, for the male or the female, encompass the other: if today we gave women all the same advantages that men have, the system would be biased in favour of women. This reveals the oldest dichotomy in human history: between the sexes we support each other, though often in very symbiotic, rather than equivalent ways. Regardless we must strive to ensure that the same options are available to both sexes.

Marxists argue that without understanding sexual identity thru the lens of capitalism, we are presented with many contradictory and reactionary positions, the effects of wealth at every echelon of society affecting those contradictions, that it is - quantifying the value of these roles under capitalism introduces inequalities in the dichotomy: raising a child does not always guarantee the same monetary returns as working as a banker, doctor or barrister and certainly not in the short term. Free market capitalism does not value us equally. 

From where does this inequality stem? The problem must surely lie in the various forms of sexual segregation we undergo during education, particularly in sporting activities where the early opportunity to undermine later misconceptions and other imbalances between the sexes is not realised.

The UN has the following to say on gender equality in sport:
"Sport provides women and girls with an alternative avenue for participation in the social and cultural life of their communities and promotes enjoyment of freedom of expression, interpersonal networks, new opportunities and increased self-esteem. It also expands opportunities for education and for the development of a range of essential life skills, including communication, leadership, teamwork and negotiation. 
The participation of women and girls in sport challenges gender stereotypes and discrimination, and can therefore be a vehicle to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In particular, women in sport leadership can shape attitudes towards women’s capabilities as leaders and decision-makers, especially in traditional male domains. 
The positive outcomes of sport for gender equality and women’s empowerment are constrained by gender-based discrimination in all areas and at all levels of sport and physical activity, fuelled by continuing stereotypes of women’s physical abilities and social roles. Women are frequently segregated involuntarily into different types of sports, events and competitions specifically targeted to women. Women’s access to positions of leadership and decision-making is constrained from the local level to the international level. The value placed on women’s sport is often lower, resulting in inadequate resources and unequal wages and prizes. In the media, women’s sport is not only marginalized but also often presented in a different style that reflects and reinforces gender stereotypes. Violence against women, exploitation and harassment in sport are manifestations of the perceptions of men’s dominance, physical strength and power, which are traditionally portrayed in male sport."
UN Inter-Agency Network on Women & Gender Equality, "Women, gender equality and sport."
This early segregation of our social development and later into fraternity and sorority groups would seem to be the cornerstone of the division of the sexes. There is clearly a need for integration in sport, instead grouping athletes by ability and not gender, whilst providing more televised coverage of sexually integrated events. Otherwise we must continue our perpetual lament of the sexual disparity we see as a result of our initial sabotage, continually restarting the feminist fight with each new generation.