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On the subject of gender equality

The thread on the wrestling *controversy* got me thinking about gender equality in general.  I can understand the hoopla surrounding the wrestling issue but the side of the issue related to women’s rights and gender equality really missed the mark with me. 


Girls needing equal access and competing successfully in a male dominated sport does very little to advance the cause of gender equality.  It is an anomaly that is unlikely to have any impact on addressing the ongoing issues of gender equality.  With the exception of the role of athletics as a means to gain college scholarships and therefore higher education, I would put promoting gender equality in athletics at the very bottom of the list of things that could actually help thousands of young women gain some measure of gender equality. 


There are several areas that desperately need our attention as a society that would do wonders in helping women to achieve their fullest potential.  First we need to help young women gain control of their own reproductive system.  We think that because the means (birth control and abortion) exist, that we don’t have a problem.  The number of children living in single female households make up a larger and larger portion of our US households particularly in inner cities, rural areas, Native American reservations, Appalachian regions and other traditionally low income states and regions.  The mother, the child and the taxpayers lose in this situation. 


NOTHING will condemn a young woman to a lifetime of poverty faster than having a child while she is still a child herself.  As just one example 78% of all black children are born out of wedlock.  That translates into a lifetime of poverty for both the mother and the child.  I don't see this issue as a race issue.  I see it as a gender issue.  We have to identify and support role models who can help these girls identify life goals and dreams that transcend single motherhood.  We need to help all young women set career goals and give them the opportunity to achieve them.  Preparing young women to be financially self-sufficient before parenting will do a lot of gender equality. 


Second, we need to ensure that young girls are provided tutoring and support in learning math and science.  Careers that are in demand require more advanced skills in math and science.  Career openings in health care, computer technology, languages and engineering all are growing and require these skills.  Ensuring that our girls can meet the academic demands necessary to prepare themselves for these math and science based high-paying careers will open doors of opportunity for them.  Encouraging girls to pursue careers in the trades will open doors of opportunity for them.  Women can be successful plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs, mechanics.  We don’t do nearly enough to encourage them to choose non-traditional careers that are attainable. 


Third, we need to help young girls put their body image and their desire for fame in its proper perspective.  A recent survey of school aged young people showed that, more than any other desire, young people desire fame.  Above family, career, material things, and relationships kids want fame.  Their role models are professional athletes, Hollywood stars and music celebrities.  When our young girls have their life aspirations skewed to aspire to a very abnormal way of life, they will not make the choices and face the challenges to achieve realistic goals that can put them on a path to equality.  When young women correlate their self worth to the size of their jeans, we are making women second class citizens in a world that correlates a man’s self worth to his education, his profession, his earning potential. 


Fourth, we need to insist that EEO laws providing for equal pay for equal work and protecting women from sexual harassment and discrimination on the job are enforced.  We need to remove the stigma of filing an EEO complaint, a complaint that can ruin a women’s career.  Wage disparity still exists in many workplaces and the glass ceiling still exists.  Mothers face barriers to advancement in their parenting years.  It is a particularly daunting situation for those women who are caught trying to juggle parenting, caring for an elderly family member and trying to maintain their career.  We must do more to enforce FLMA laws.  We must do more to provide tax credits to compensate for parenting and care giving.  If we want to help women gain equality, we need to make more strides in addressing these issues.


Finally, the feminists must speak out.  The feminists’ failure to speak about issues like the recent cases of rape in the military, the sexual assault and beating of Lara Logan covering the revolution in Egypt, honor killings, domestic violence, the rise in crime by, and incarceration of, women, the increase in substance abuse by women and the increase in violence and degradation of women in music and video games is appalling.  Where are the feminists??


If hundreds of media outlets covered stories like about these events fairly, truthfully and without the bias of political correctness we could begin to have an honest discussion and take firm action in addressing the gender issues that still exist in our culture and in cultures around the world.  Until feminists speak out with outrage and use the power that women possess as consumers, professional, workers, and political leaders, there will be no long term change.


I was the only female student in my high school drafting class; I have a thirty year career history that has frequently placed me in traditionally male businesses and positions.  I learned early on in life that women will never be able to level the playing field with their bodies.  It is only with their brains that women can compete and wield power.  While I understand the natural inclination to view the wrestling issue as women’s rights and gender equality issue, I wish that the same amount of passion and debate would be applied to incidents and issues that bear a much greater impact on effecting long term sustainable change.

2 Replies

Re: On the subject of gender equality

I both agree and disagree.  When you say that the limitation from male-dominated sports can be a scholarhip (and thus ultimately a college education) issue, I think that is a HUGE "but."  Unless there is a female equivalent activity for each child to have an equal opportunity, then that one cancels out traditional gender separation for me. 

Reproductive decisions do cast fate in a certain direction, but I have witnessed aid piled on girls who got pregnant and elected to keep the child or children.  Many repeat their initial, it is not as though they don't know better, and none of them are starving around here, for sure. 

I do not buy into the thought process that any pregnancy is really an "accident,"  especially these days. I  think that some studies show that young women and teens in particular actually actively plan - or at least do not wholeheartedly attempt to prevent - their childbearing. 

In our efforts to provide for and protect the innocent child who had no choice about being born, we often end up simply enabling the mother to be a societal dependent, and maybe her deadbeat boyfriend, too.  I see it right down the road here every day, and it is costing me my patience. 

I think that the Equal Rights Amendment not passing into law in the late 20th century actually spoke loudly as to the real regard our society has for half of its members.  How different do you think the situation would be if that one piece of legal protection had been amended to the Constitution? 

We heard that when Obama was elected, we had entered a post-racial age in America.  It has not taken long for that to be proven so untrue.  Wake County (Raleigh) is making national news now for attempts to dismantle its diversity policy...the loud meeting-disrupting protests are reminiscent of 1960s Richmond.  I think many people felt we'd entered a post-feminist era too. 

Wrong, wrong,WRONG!

Old prejudices are alive and thriving.  I have always worked in a man's world, except for a few years of teaching, too.  My hobbies are either predominantly practiced by males, or are rather gender-neutral and practiced by women who do not mind getting dirty/bloody/injured a bit. 

My occupational position is that "there is no glass ceiling in a hog house."  My own mother is mortified that I'd rather do this than slave night and day grading papers and writing lesson plans for a fraction of the money.  Pride or profit?  Which feeds your kids?

One thing about a girl playing a sport: It is a huge distraction from pleasing males and making them happy lying on your back.  I have not seen but one teenaged female athlete in all my life have an illegitimate child.  I think that observation would be borne out in stats, too. These girls simply have a totally different agenda.  (See this link...the positive effects are even broader and more important in terms of self-esteem, body image and drug avoidance, too:

As for mixed -gender athletics, it dispels the mystery when you spend time together as colleagues or teammates, rather than seeing each other constantly as sex objects.There were some early crushes between kids in our neighborhood who played sports together, but not one of us actually dated or ended up together as a couple.  Sports made us more like siblings, and the thought of getting sexy with one of them seemed was just "not quite right."

Girls with athletics in their life mix are generally better students, better adjusted socially in general, and earn their own fame, instead of fantasizing about easy ways to gain it.  Bruce Springsteen didn't sing about "Glory Days" for no reason....

As a final comment on this post, I will offer this point:  I cannot remember the score of any game I ever played in, how many points I scored or steals I made on the court, the number of baserunners thrown out at second, etc., but I do remember and retain affection for every girl I ever shared team identity with, even forty-some years later. 

There is a sense of belonging that sports have the power to give, and it lasts a lifetime.  Sports can teach you how to work with others, how and when to delegate, when to assist and when to drive towards the goal yourself. Where else can kids learn that?  Not everyone is fortunate enough to grow up on a family farm....

 I credit our separate sports involvement at least partially with Mike and me being able to sustain a lifelong marriage.   I will add: there were some guys whose sports behavior revealed their true nature to the point that I'd NEVER have gotten involved with them romantically.  If you can be a jerk in front of a crowd, you will likely be an unbearable one behind closed doors. 

We cannot solve the problems of the entire female gender by allowing a few girls to compete with guys...but, we just might save a few, and they may be good examples for more.  I fail to see the harm it does to let them earn their place on those paying fields where they can qualify. 

Who does it hurt?   

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Given Title IX, I am not so sure any school can refuse a female the right to participate in a sports program:

Title IXTitle IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 bans sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds, whether it is in academics or athletics. The majority of Title IX cases filed against K-12 schools involve sex equity in athletic programs.

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