I came under fire two weeks ago for a piece I wrote about women becoming objects of shame after casual sex encounters while men come out unscathed. Some readers felt that by admitting that this is how things are, I was betraying feminism.
Let me say here that I am still on the gender equality bandwagon. I am still that pesky feminist. I however believe that it will take so much more than highlighting our unconscious gender biases or even eliminating them to get here.
Is gender equality an achievable dream? Yes. But is it within reach in the foreseeable future? No. This is the truth and saying it does not mean that I have suddenly flipped sides and that I’m now rooting for the downfall of the woman.
I had a group of children over this holiday season and I observed, in horror, how the girls wanted to, even offered to spread beds, pick up after and even prepare meals for the boys.
DEEP-RUNNING MESSAGES OF BIAS
The boys mostly were content just sitting in front of the television. It’s sad how deep-running these messages of bias are.
That said, I think that besides these unfair expectations and standards we communicate to our boys and girls, there are other barriers to gender equality. First, there is the biological disadvantage that sees working women slowed down by childbirth, whether the fathers are involved in child care or not. The truth is that we will not see an equal number of men and women in boardrooms because women often make the free choice to put family ahead of career. Then there is the fact that a lot of women still opt out of the c-suite because of how hectic they perceive life at the top of the food chain to be.
The truth is that even if we highlighted and were able to unpluck all unconscious gender bias, it would still take some time for the numbers in those boardrooms to be equal.
We are told to dream big, that whatever your mind can conceive you can achieve – this is all good. But in your pursuit of success this new year, set realistic goals. Set goals which are actually attainable.
A friend of mine landed his dream job a few years ago. On the day that he reported to his new job, he promised himself that he would buy the car he had been lusting after for his birthday, which was nine months away. This was not a cheap car and he set this goal knowing that his income was fixed and that he had no plans of starting a side hustle within the nine months. He expected that somehow, because he now worked in this flashy office doing the work that he always dreamed of, money would show up.
Unsurprisingly, his birthday came and went with no flashy car in sight. Surprisingly, he was so disillusioned by his failure to acquire this car that he quit this job.
Don’t let your unrealistic expectations disappoint you this year. This should go for all areas of your life. And above all, don’t expect the world to suddenly right itself and make all of us equal in an instant; it will take time, work, and the acknowledgment that sometimes, even feminists don’t have gender parity all worked out.