Since we started this blog I began noticing the amount of people (not only man) who still believe that women are inferior to men. Some of them claim that women in general are less intelligent (when confronted with opposing statistics claim that women have lesser percentage of extraordinary talent compared to men), others simply have some women hate issues, but what all those people have in common is a one argument that never fails to come up: strength. Men are stronger than women, therefore superior and more important (sic).
I am not blind or removed from reality. I acknowledge the simplicity of biological differences between sexes. Men are statistically higher than women, but does it mean they should look down on us?
First, let’s check definitions of two words that usually get mixed up in a debate about male strength. Identity and equality are two words that make a lot of difference in this topic, so let’s give it a look.
According to Oxford dictionary, “identity” means close similarity or affinity, whereas “equality” means the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. Having that in mind, as civilized human beings we should all agree that although man and women are biologically different (not identical), they are inherently equal. Just like people with black and white skin are biologically different, they don’t look identical, yet they deserve equal rights and opportunities. I know that even today not everyone agrees with me on the last sentence, which really spoils my fun of having such solid example.
If it wasn't for countless debates with hardcore misogynists I would probably never grasp the logic behind the claim that men are stronger than women and therefore superior to them.
When I was growing up I heard word “feminism” from my father who claimed that feminism ends when you have to drag a piano to third floor. This is a very common saying in Poland. It implies that women are helpless in absence of male muscle. I can’t stop myself here from adding that it was my mom who would always paint the walls in our house, hammer nails into the walls or try to fix broken things. I honestly don’t know how people place a piano in apartment on third floor or higher, but I can only imagine that it involves employing some labors, nothing really expensive (probably male, since they are stronger). Since feminist movement enabled me to access higher education and go to work, fighting for me to have equal pay, I would probably be able to pay four guys to drag my piano, or my sofa up the stairs. See? Feminism doesn't end here.
Females are supposedly inferior to males due to their strength because it provides them the unique ability to successfully defend a country. (Here again I cannot stop myself and have to add that Polish males don’t really have so many historical proves for successful protection of their homeland.)
Firstly, let’s admit that majority of those “defenses” are actually “offences” of other countries, so maybe – just maybe, if we didn't have the race to prove who is bigger and stronger we wouldn't have so many offences. But that’s not important here.
While only three countries in the world have mandatory female military service there are some remarkable examples of female soldiers that prove that women in army are not there by mistake.
Kurdish women should be famous by now as an example of voluntary military service. Kurds have a very unfortunate history of being screwed by Turkey and by Saddam Hussein. Many Kurdish families in Iraq have lost their sons and fathers. With this history of pain and loss women had enough. Kurdish women have nearly 30 years of experience in combat; PKK has one of the largest numbers of female fighters. Kurdish women are also a part of YPG in Syria as well as Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. Just recently media published few reports on Kurdish women training and swearing to fight ISIS, Islamic militant group, a spill out from Syria that is trying to take over Iraq and create Islamic State. I also heard some reports that ISIS ordered FGM on all females aged 12 to 45 in area under their control, but reports are denied by ISIS.
“Since the beginning, Kurdish women have played an integral role in the Kurdishmovement. They fight and they protest, they vote and they get elected to office. And somewhere along the way they achieved a (very complicated, highly controversial, maybe lasting or even replicable) liberation.”
“The main Kurdish party in the Turkish parliament, Peace and Democracy (BDP) applies a minimum 40% women's quota and always has a man and a woman as joint party presidents”
Kurdish women became politicized after witnessing horrible crimes and experienced murders of their loved ones. In the process they created an organization within PKK and had significant influence on Kurdish cause by fighting with both guns and pens, in Turkey, Syria and now Iraq.
I would also like to briefly mention Israeli Defense Forces, which are among two other armies recruiting all citizens for mandatory 2 year service irrespective of their sex. I picked Israel specifically because even though the country is surrounded by enemies from all sides and was attacked the next day after its creation, they never lost a single war. It’s remarkable to notice that females are 51% (MAJORITY!!!) of IDF’s officers, despite being only 33% of soldiers.
Women make up 33% of the IDF, taking into consideration their shorter service in comparison to males," Brig. Gen. Kalifi-Amir said. "51% of IDF officers are females serving as both career soldiers and reservists. Women also make up 3% of the IDF's combat soldiers and 15% of technical personnel. Additionally, there is a significant decrease in the number of women serving as secretaries, indicating a change in perception.
Earlier this week, Brig. Gen. Kalifi - Amir honored the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and said that "The IDF values human dignity as one of its guiding ethics in all its operations and activities. The IDF and its soldiers maintain this value out of the understanding that every human is valuable regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, rank and position."
Hopefully you grasp my point by now and we can move on.
I would really like to take the argument of male strength out of coal mine and into XXI century, the time of radical change in social sphere, but also in economy. As we moved from manufacturing economy into service economy in developed world, need for manly muscle strength reduced. Since we no longer need strong men to lift heavy bags in the work place as much as we need technology and caring customer service, men’s employment is dropping. Jobs that require strength, like lumberjack, are among worst paid jobs. I will say no more and leave the stage for woman who published a book on that topic, Hanna Rosin. Here are few quotes from her book, "The End of Men" that I find truly groundbreaking.
In 2009, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who continue to hover around 50 percent.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2011, women hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs – up from 26.1% in 1980. They make up 61.3% of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45% of associates in law firms – and both those percentages are rising fast as women come to dominate law and medical schools.
At some point in last forty years, the job market became largely indifferent to size and strength, and from then on, in many pockets of the workforce, men no longer held the cards. Technology began to work against men, making certain brown jobs obsolete and making what economists call “people skills” ever more valuable.
Of the fifteen job categories projected to grow the most in the United States over the next decade, twelve are occupied primarily by women.
Next time when you hear males boasting about superiority of their biceps, rest assured it doesn't really give them much advantage in the world we live in. If they want, they can go back and live in caves, but I’m pretty sure not many women would agree to move in with them. Life is simply too good for us ladies to take a step back, and we have feminist movement to thank for it.
You can also watch Ted talk by Hanna Rosin here.