Since my posts this month have not generated much dissent, I shall assume that most people agree that women face some societally created hurdles which men, for the most part, do not have to leap. Making yet another assumption, that you would like to see this changed, the question of how to progress toward a more equitable future seems quite relevant.
So, I ask you, how can each of us, as an individual, contribute to a more equitable future for women?
"What," you may be wondering, "is he doing asking us a question, this isn't Tuesday?" But rest assured, I am asking because I think the answer is important, and important to get from many people to obtain a variety of viewpoints. I also ask because I do not consider my own answer to be sufficient.
My personal answer is to contribute to a more equitable future by doing my best not to be inequitable personally. There are two components to this, one is to seek information about women's perspectives and priorities. Note that this is not a monolithic subject, one does not have a simple, cardboard-cutout worldview and opinion solely because one is a woman, nor should one, which is a main point of my post about women in politics. Once you are aware of the practices that many women view as dis-empowering, do your best no avoid them, the practices not the women.
Some common examples that come up repeatedly include, not assuming that because you know someone is a woman, that you know their opinion on abortion or whether they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008. As noted above, women are capable of coming to their own conclusions, which may not parrot popular perception of women's priorities. Of course, men suffer, perhaps less frequently or pronouncedly, a similar fate. As I noted when discussing the importance of feminism, both genders benefit when we take the time to consider others as complex individuals rather than copies of a prototype. That said, we should not assume it is a panacea to treat women like men. Women are acculturated much differently than men (please assume when I make sweeping statements like these I mean, "in general" or "on average") so treating women exactly like men would lead to inequitable results. For example, men tend to be more assertive in their communication style, which can lead to women being left out of intergender conversations, unless the woman has overcome her acculturation to be supportive and agreeable, or the men make an effort to provide an environment where the women feel comfortable sharing their views. In short, try to respect people equally, treat people equally, but don't assume that means treating them the same.
Now, I think that if everyone held this point of view, simply doing this would be sufficient. However, since there are institutions that resist the shift toward equitability, it seems desirable that we should, in addition to trying to live in an equitable manner, make attempts to reform these institutions. How we might do this is where my ability to answer runs out, so I must ask you for your opinion on how one might go about reforming these institutions.
Thank you for a good Feminist July, as always, comments make my heart smile.