The story I’m about to share happened in July but I think it raised an interesting point; something I believe is important to think about while we tackle this idea of equality and trying to create a new social order through which this equality can be seen.
After watching the Netherlands send Uruguay out of the World Cup (yay!), a group of friends and I (three ladies and two guys) were walking towards the car. As two of us ladies were making moves to go into the back seat, the third female friend was climbing into the front seat until she changed her mind and told our second guy friend to move in to the front seat. As I was about to go into the back, there was a sudden realization that three girls in the back and two guys in the front just did not sit well with me. “That’s not equality,” I thought to myself. “What? All the men sit in the front and the women sit behind them? That’s not right.” Not one to keep my opinions to myself, I voiced my objections out loud and for a brief second thought about jumping into the front seat before my guy friend was able to get there. No one in the car really bought into what I was saying, they brushed off my concerns and the excuse of “long legs” was given as an explanation for the preference of my male friend.
As I thought about this incident later, I thought, “was I wrong? Was my presence in the front seat really promoting equality between women and men? Would the decision to practically shove my friend out of the way in order to get the front seat really have been indicative of equality?” I realized that I often see incidences of gender inequity in situations that most people don’t. If my mother ever asks me and not my brother to help her in the kitchen, I’m quick to call out “sexism!” If my father is allowed to sit down while I have to set the table, I object quietly to myself, thinking, “my husband will be setting the table” (arguably this particular complaint might have more to do with my laziness and wishing I could be sitting also rather than my deep commitment to equality between women and men).
Is this going too far? Is the means through which to promote gender equality to question every action and decision someone makes based upon the assumption that we are raised in a society in which gender inequality is so deeply embedded that it extends to all realms of life? Is pointing out every instance of potential gender inequality the means through which to create change in old world thinking? Does equality mean sameness?