It’s 2014, smack dab in the middle of the digital age and, if the futuristic movies of the last few decades were to be believed, we should have been discussing space travel, flying cars, hover boards (and in one disturbing case Pre-Crime Technology). They included dystopic futures where the entire world seems to have become an abandoned warehouse rife with zombies and assorted crazies, to utopias where every whim is fulfilled through the miracles of technology. What none of them included was the fact that we would still be discussing the question of equality between men and women.
The fact that this debate rages on, and that there are still those who are actively opposed to the notion, boggles the mind. If it were to be presented as a fictional premise it would be less believable than ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ disguising himself successfully for 20 years as ‘Ben Kenobi’ two blocks away from Luke Skywalker.
And yet here we are. Typing away on devices that would have been incomprehensible to the mind only a few decades ago, zipping information in seconds across the globe where it would have taken days, and letting the world know precisely what we think of our lunch in real time on a selection of handheld gadgets, while this infuriating debate persists.
The uphill battle that rages on to secure the right of women to contribute and participate in equal measure persists. Sisyphus himself would stare in astonishment, wondering what sins had been committed to require a punishment so severe. Women are literally fighting for the right to make society better, and many parts of society are fighting back. The proverbial ‘they’ put innumerable hurdles along the path of women’s progress in an attempt to trip them up, and then point to the slow progress of women’s advancement as evidence of their righteousness.
Despite the hurdles and the burdens thrown at the independent woman and the cultural biases against her, she has broken through the job market and managed to reach the pinnacles of many careers, all the while fencing with discrimination and an assortment of negative preconceptions.
The fact that a woman can succeed despite all the disadvantages along her path makes it seem that one of the primary motivations for opposing equal treatment might be a fear akin to that borne of watching someone catch up in a race while wearing a weight vest, making you wonder just how far and fast they would go without it. Instead of capitalizing on this unintended effect of throwing hurdles at women for decades (even centuries) that has resulted in a more resilient, persistent and dedicated female, many societies seem intent on adding more weight to make a determined woman’s run more difficult – almost as if her success would belie deeply held convictions on the roles that women should play.
The resilient woman is therefore forced to devote time and energy to constantly win these inane and senseless battles. A must, not only to ensure progression, but to also prevent a regression into molds created for her by those who seek to chain her. She must wield the machete of justice to cut away the vines of backwardness (that metaphor might have run away from me for a moment there, but you get the idea).
An independent woman is not asking for favors, she is not asking to be placed on a pedestal and receive charity. She is letting society know that she will work for what she wants, and she is demanding an equal opportunity to run the race. She demands to be allowed to succeed (and fail) on her own terms. She is roaring her indignation at having to waste energy that could be devoted to dragging reluctant societies into the future. She is tired of having the same rehashed excuses thrown at her in the name of tradition or custom. She is tired of having to hold back her potential because society is not ready to deal with it.
I am tired of having to watch as half of our potential is held back by chains of ignorance rooted in jealousy, forged out of fear, and backed by regurgitated anachronistic logical fallacies based on nothing more than some vague notions of alleged traditions and fabricated words spouted by generations that lived centuries ago.
So please don’t do her any favors. Don’t empower her… just stay out of her way.