Saturday, December 23, 2006


Is there any hope for equality?

Out of the blue a friend of mine remarked: Heba is an ‘old rag’ (Literal translation of an Arabic word that means a promiscuous lady, bitch or prostitute). So I asked why… to which he said, any woman that puts herself in a compromising position such as marrying ‘3orfy’ (common law I think is translation) is an ‘old rag’. So I asked him, how about guys? Why are they not ‘old rags’ too? This of course provoked the mother of all clichéd argument over the equality of men and women in a society.

The conversation went around in its usual (concentric) circles brushing up on human rights and equality in the world along with how different people with different passports are treated differently.. etc.. etc.. we all know the drill.

But one point came up that made me pause later on after a quick recap of the conversation. It’s that rule that men can kill their wives if they saw them cheating and get 1 year in prison while women get life for a similar murder. My friend Solomon very graciously asked that we bypass this point because it’s obvious that here if a woman finds a guy cheating on her it can be his wife but not the other way around. The law itself gives the man that right.

This is where I pause amidst other points that were said because I wonder now if there’s any point to my believing in equality in such a society. Is there any hope for equality inside a society whose very own law is biased towards a man? Is there any point in trying to see equality in society if everything else around doesn’t advocate that equality? ‘Do onto others what you would have done onto you.’ That’s a powerful statement that I believe in and nowhere in others does it say just your same gender. I believe that what rights I have should be given to others, but how would that work with a law that says otherwise, with a mentality that says otherwise and with a logic that says otherwise. Yes ladies and gentlemen, there is a logic that says that in society, men and women should not be treated equally. Constitutional rights have long gone, but does it even make sense to ask for equality within the society?

One topic that came up was the appearance of women on a beach for example. The usual for guys is to have swim wear that covers a part of their body and for women to have swim wear to cover a greater portion of their body. Now where’s the equality there? ( I say let all women dress in the same way that men do) The point that Solomon brought up is that there’s a difference and that this difference causes a different standard to be applied on men and women. I said yes, but the same abstract rule applies, which is to cover the arousing sections of bodies (although I must say that most parts in a woman are arousing). To which he replied, but that just means the implementation is different and should be different in society.

The differences in general are there, but who knows enough about both genders to make this distinction I wonder… The point is that even with a skewed scale, people think that they’re actually implementing a sort of equality in their own way. Women are in a more compromised position and so they are more accountable, women are weaker and therefore equality is to be over protective of them… Now how can you deal with a problem like that if people claim that the problem doesn’t even exist?

So my question is: Is there any real and practical prospect of equality? Is there any hope that a society can provide equality at some point in time? Can this ever stop to be a losing battle?

I present the question to those of you out there with an answer. I don’t really know the answer to it but if I were to guess, I would say that there is no real hope. Try as we might to change people’s outlook on genders, there are things far greater than just outlook that are in play. There’s the law and the notion that difference in gender implies a difference in standards. There are people that are holding on to religious values in a dogmatic way that disables any logical argument to intervene. There are people too set in their ways to heed any voice of reason.

The real question isn’t education, most people are educated enough to know what equality’s about, the real question is what you believe and what you feel. As advanced as we are, we’re still guided by our emotions that our intellect cannot control, we know things to be untrue and yet our emotions are trained to believing them. It’s all about what people choose to believe and what side of the conflict they pick.


Eventuality said...

May I comment? :)

What is equality? Can you actually define it precisely...can you come up with a notion of equality that when applied, will actually mean that all people are equal? And what kind of equality are we talking it equality in rights or responsibilities? Equality in treatment or behaviour? I think equality is such a wide subject and accordingly can never be applied consistently.

I believe in basic human equality, that is humans are all equal regarding their humanity and their 'basic' rights. I believe there is no basic difference between men and women regarding rights, but since men and women are different then we have to tweak and customize some of the rights that each gender has. And I'm not talking about stereotypical notions like 'women should stay at home and raise kids'.

Wael Eskandar said...

You may comment, but I can see you already have :)

I think I was talking about equality within a society. To give the woman enough privileges in society as men are given. Equality is not dressing a woman in pants and asking her to lay bricks, although it's okay to do that.. but equality is not condemning a woman just because she has to work late..

The way that there's always 2 measures to deal with even the most basic of things is a bit confusting and disturbing. I agree that rights are not expected to be similar, only equivalent.

Eventuality said...

Yep, I think you've just expressed it aptly: rights don't necessarily have to be similar, but rather they should be equivalent.