My earliest memories are of opposition to the notion that women are an inferior gender. I was profoundly feminist in the 70’s and 80’s, and while I do think that feminism will always be at my core, it is not my total belief as it once was. I do still believe that all relationships of unequal nature are constructed from a gender blueprint that is understood by almost everyone. This is not to say that the oppression of women is worse than other oppressions, just that it is common to most cultures, and in my honest opinion, instructive to all members in how to treat someone you have power over.
This is changing. More quickly in the western world, but signs from countries like India and China are showing a surge in feminist awareness. Education and example is key here.
With change however comes extreme resistance. We saw a peak of this in the 70’s and 80’s with the death of the ERA. And a bit of a stasis in gender issues over the past 30 years. Perhaps it is more of a push pull between forces for and against women’s rights and while women continue to make progress, I am often stunned that we have not seen more gains. Considering the rapid and amazing changes that have occurred for the GLBT community, it is strange that gender remains so stubbornly static in our country.
But in fact the rise of the rights of women in this (and many other countries) is rather remarkable. When I was young (in the 60’s) I remember that almost all of my gender role models were unacceptable to me. In fact for my first 4 or 5 years I believed that it was an error that I was female. It really wasn’t until I became a young adult that I fully accepted being female. That is when I understood that gender issues are deeply political and sociological in nature.
And the obvious changes are just in my lifetime. Think of the changes over the past 50 years. Try 100. I cannot even fathom the astonishing difference in my life, from the life of an average woman 500 years ago. However, we can never forget that most women still live in a world of our past. The status of all women must be improved all over our world.
I do not think women are better than men. Nor do I believe that men are better than women. I have seen studies that show that helping women improve their lives profoundly impacts the community around them for the better. I suspect what we need in our world is a more female perspective of our priorities. A balance, not dominance. And gender (or any other difference) should not be the defining marker of a human being.