Women are people too! Equality in the 21st century

"Equal rights for everybody!" - This...

There’s a lot of ‘equality’ going on.

What with the issue of women bishops, same-sex marriage and marital coercion, it’s difficult to define exactly what ‘equality’ is. I am not equal to my husband and that is just a fact. But then, my husband is not equal to me either. Being equal in value as a person is not the same as being equal in everything else.

For example, I have to bear the children and that impacts on my body, my days, my emotions and my world view. I believe that maternal love is the strongest, fiercest emotion in the world and differs from the love of a father. We are not equal in that.

Today I saw a trailer for a course for women in business. Forgive me, but I have been a woman in business, having been the co-founder of a successful business. As I went through an enterprise course for would-be entrepreneurs, I did not notice that accounts, sales techniques, employment issues etc were entirely single sex matters.

I used to subscribe to a magazine for women writers. I stopped my subscription because, as a writer, I want to keep company with humanity, not just half of it.

Visiting a male relative in hospital, he told me how he appreciated the care of all the nurses, but that it was particularly comforting to have a male nurse in whom he could confide. There were only two. All nurses are equal in their value, but in the justifiable hailstorm against discrimination, are we not in danger of diminishing, discouraging and belittling one of society’s best assets, our men?

Nursing and teaching are two of the areas in which there has been an increasing disproportion in the numbers of men and women. Schools desperately need more male teachers. In one school, for example, there are five women teachers for every male teacher. Should authorities, councils, government bodies, not spend money on attracting more men into work that is becoming too female dominated, such as teaching? The feminisation of society is ill-advised.

In our current society where broken families are becoming more and more common, our boys and young men desperately need men they can look up to and be influenced by. How do we teach our teenagers just what it means to be a responsible man today? This isn’t an argument for inequality of opportunity. It is recognising that equality needs to be nurtured or it becomes inequality once more.

As a woman and an employee, I never encountered discrimination in the workplace. I appreciate that other women have, and that is wrong. But it is also wrong to treat women as so weak they need a helping hand. To know that I had been awarded a job on the grounds of my gender would be as insulting to me as if I had been refused it on the same grounds. As an employer, I look for the best person for the job. They may be male, female or neither; black, pink, purple or striped.

The only place I have seen rampant discrimination is in some churches – and I must exclude my own church, the Methodist, where for many, many years, there has been mutual respect and co-operation. Our All-Ireland President next year is a woman, Rev Dr Heather Morris.

Equality is not uniformity. It is the happy, wonderful, exhilarating celebration of our difference and our respect for each other. Are we primarily men and women, or are we all just people who are amazingly, attractively, different?

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About Sheila

Writer of fiction and non-fiction, Christian, Methodist, and cat lover. Co founder of publishing house, Colourpoint Books, now Colourpoint Creative Ltd. Northern Ireland
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