Brussels Griffon x 2 I met on the g+ network. She is participating in the Write A Novel challenge which happens every November (Write a Novel Month). I read a couple of her posts and noticed that she was also taken by Emma’ s HeForShe speech. So, I asked her if she would post her thoughts on where we are and where we’re going. This is her gracious reply which I’ve now read five times.
Brussels Griffon x 2 apologizes for her post being “off the cuff”, which makes me slightly envious that she can rattle something close to a .literary .50 caliber “off the cuff.”
She presents a clear question. What is equality? I’ve noticed after my first reading and some searching around that there doesn’t appear to be a clear goal which is achieved by “equality” for the feminist movement. A well defined, achievable goal would define equality for us. Lacking that, the definition has ranging potential
Brussels Griffon x 2 goes to an extreme to search for a definition.. well I thought it was an extreme until further research reveals that for some congressmen, it is the topic discussed at breakfast. I’m currently very gratful that Congress doesn’t set Military policy in the areas of training — at least I think the don’t. I should check on that.. which I will while you are reading Brussels Griffon x 2.
I don’t believe I’m qualified to knowledgeably speak to #HeForShe, frankly. I’m not a good candidate to offer thoughts on #HeForShe because I’d be no more qualified than many of the others who are quick to shoot down the ideas, and the hope-infused energy aimed at this worthy topic deserving focus.
Notwithstanding that, I offer the following unreliable, unscientific nebulous thoughts backed up by no data whatsoever — besides my own life experiences and opinions and education. I am cognizant that my opinions on the matter are purely anecdotal, just as those of all these others who, in the wake of this freshened debate, have so swiftly swooped in and voiced a critical word with smugness. Moreover, I lack standing to speak without proper study of relevant scholarly source material on the subject that is supported by data and research.
What I’m trying to say is that given such an immense caveat, not only do I think my off-the-cuff G+ opinion, in response to your thoughtful posting, should be taken with a grain of salt, it should be taken with a silo of salt. A big silo. Immense proportions.
It’s quite an interlaced web #HeForShe spins, isn’t it? This quest to educate…when we can’t quite agree on what message we want to advance, let alone the propriety of the campaign’s name #HeForShe. And Emma admits a lack of a uniting word for that matter.
Commenting on the content of Emma Watson’s speech proves largely subordinate in the mission behind the words in the big picture. The question in neon lights is ‘how do we get to gender equality’ yet the question is meaningless if we don’t know where it is we are trying to go.
My personal issues come down to this: how are we talking about “equality” and addressing the problematic solutions attached to the paradigm are invariably entangled with a common type of character in the architects behind the solutions, namely self-aggrandizing egotistical politicians enamored with their name behind a populist flavor-of-the-month movement that has captured the attention of those whose attention is easily distracted.
What is “gender inequality?” We are different – Male; Female; Transgendered; Questioning. Neither are we equal in our abilities, make-up, or nature, regardless of gender or race or IQ or physical attractiveness or background or any other distinguishing trait you can throw against a wall and have stick.
Opportunity is limited on all fronts; the question is what’s behind the limitation.
What’s causing the glass ceiling? There are personal choices, economics, physical realities that account for some of the explanations but it’s complicated, isn’t it? When we throw around the idea of “gender equality,” what are we meaning to express as a desire for a norm? Emma Watson explained in her speech that “feminism by definition is:
’The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’
That sounds good. It sounds like an unquestionably good thing, as we all nod our heads in agreement.
What has always addled my simple mind is that it’s not a bad thing we are different, right? We are not equal physically, or biologically. Our differences are necessary for the human race to proceed to exist.
If ‘equality’ means completely equal opportunity, then I hope that means ‘true, honest opportunity.’ No exceptions to standards.
Let’s talk about gender equality for those women who want to join the elite forces in the military — like the Special Forces or Navy Seal Team. A soldier weighing 195lb / 88kg can fairly quickly pick up, and fireman-carry a 120lb / 54kg person to safety across a danger zone; the reverse is not so readily true — regardless of gender.
I know; I’ve tried it.
For every female senator who advocates females should be allowed to become Navy Seals, I get hot under the collar because it’s not about architecting one’s political career off the unknowing backs of those who don’t realize(but should realize) what the consequences are when you tinker with standards. Standards are, well, standard for good reasons. Reasons like, people die when we don’t do it this way.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta promised that the best qualified servicemen and servicewomen would serve in the elite forces. This is lip service to appease the dull-minded and uninformed. There already is a grueling culling process to select the most qualified servicepersons for these ranks. If you’ve never read any books on Navy Seal training, see me. I can refer you to some that give a good flavor as to both what it takes and why it takes so much. Start with “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. My own nephew wants to apply for the Navy Seals. He’s been training for the last two years. I haven’t told him this but I don’t think he will make the cut, no matter how many times he tries.
The point is, there are more service-persons who attempt to pass Ranger School or BUD/S and fail, than there are slots available. I’m all for a female Navy Seal so long as she passes BUD/S training under the same set of standards as any male applicant.
Two of my male peers died of hypothermia in Ranger School. They were not slackers. They were in the top physical and mental shape of their lives. They didn’t make it.
It’s not about whether the person is male or female; it’s tough for good reason. It’s not like the services need to lower the existing standards in order to bulk up the ranks of the elite teams. So why lower the standards so that our elite forces are handicapped with the service-persons (notice ‘persons’ regardless of gender) who are NOT the most qualified for the role? A role filled by those who are called upon in the most dire environments. Doing so indisputably jeopardizes the lives of those whom they serve with in a conflict, Lowering standards to allow for ‘equal opportunity,’ only allows someone in who is not capable of carrying out what’s called for in extreme combat.
Again, I ask what is ‘equal opportunity?’ Those who cannot perform at the elite levels of an Army Ranger, can freely serve to support the Infantry or Armor units they are attached to in the arena. Service Support roles are vital to the machine of war. The proverbial Beans and Bullets. Mortuary Affairs, Medical Supply, Class V, Class 9 Tech Supply, etc. Equal opportunity to serve one’s country— yes. Equal Opportunity forced upon someone who cannot perform at the level required, regardless of gender? — please, I beg no, for the well-being of everyone involved.
I believe that making exceptions to standards intended to be applied across the board in order to account for gender or racial heritage or other perceived disadvantage or even disability, is a very dangerous road to moderate.
*I will refrain from the even more complex soup of discussion related to the difference between race and ethnicity.*
Here in the U.S., our courts have forwarded affirmative action in universities under the famous Bakke holding, and politicians, first under President Ford, have pushed female ‘equality’ in the military with the landmark decision to admit females to our service academies in 1976 — both of which fall under the goal of adding diversity.
Diversity is good. But both these governmentally-imposed actions were implemented under an altered system of performance standards.
The issues I have struggled to harmonize in my mind have been the disharmony between the attempts to forward the paradigm of equal opportunity through special muscle, in an attempt to remedy past wrong-doing or disadvantage, and the fact that the results are arguably asymmetrical at the other end after the intervention has been well in play for several decades. It’s highly debatable this statement. This could be subject of discussion in itself for hours/pages and pages.
Can those who have been offered an exception to an established standard, stand on their own after the helpful step stool has been pulled out from under their feet?
Ill-conceived, albeit well-intentioned “Furthering” can be harmful if done incautiously — That statement, to be fairly expressed, would require much time and care and thought, way beyond anything remotely appropriate for a social g+ posting in response to your invitation or +The Spirit of Captain America’s. Deserving of the level of a white paper at least.
I will offer that I’m certainly not smart enough to offer worthy ideas. I hate that I offer only opinionated remarks on what I do NOT want to see happen. Destructive as opposed to constructive. I hate that. I can only say that when you apply different standards to a class deemed or labeled ‘special’ with the intention to help them along the way with a friendly push, it disrespects everyone and the self-actualization of human beings.
I believe it can be hurtful. Standards should remain constant for the most part. When you push someone into the world where they need to perform in a position, they’ve got to stand on their own feet and perform, without regard to exceptions. I don’t believe in creating vicious cycles, setting people up for failure, and thereby in turn creating greater adversity for them.
I am left with many questions in connection with this campaign #HeForShe. I realize it’s a meaningful, worthy conversation-starter. But what are we proposing? What real, tangible efforts are we proposing to make beyond the engagement of conversation?
Perhaps conversation is enough? For now? I’d like to think our progression is further along than that by now, no?
I suggest let’s start with how we are thinking of ‘equality’ and continue our discussion from that.
This post is in acute critical need of editing but I thought I’d respond to you and +The Spirit of Captain America. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t read it all!
Now, back to my #NaNoWriMo!! I’m now algorithmically scheduled to finish by June 2015 — I’ve made progress
Sweet! Thank you so very much for sending this too me.
So, Equality? What exactly is that suppose to mean? I agree wholeheartedly with most of Brussels Griffon x 2’s ideas regarding what it is not. Setting people up to go into environments or dire situations where they are not fully qualified and likely to get themselves killed is stupid. While you were reading I did look that up. Congress Declares war, Congress can write laws of policy for the Military, which still have to be approved by the President (who can then write an executive order against the law as well), but they can not define military training. That is a matter of military expertise. So, they can write a law, which states that the Special Forces should have — ahh — 15% female population — but the can’t say “And take 50kilos off her back so she can get in.”
However, and this was interesting, in the infantry it is common for the female soldiers to be tasked with less weight and lighter training requirements — which I was surprised to find. If there is one place where Equality of the sexes is fairly prevalent, it is the Army. If you are a Sargent you get a Sargent’s pay. If you are busted with A-WALL you are busted. If you pass the tests and do the deeds, you are promoted. It is military. Not saying that there isn’t sexism or harassment or other stuff. But.. it’s probably the closest we have as an all around environment.
So, what is your idea for a definition of Equality? What goal achieved would tell us, we have made a milestone? Is a law enough? Apparently not. Enforcement? Still no. So, this is not a political question, nor can government give us Equality. That … right there, is valuable knowledge. Where, in your life, would you see Equality matter most? Perhaps that would help.
NOTE: I’m going to promise you something here, in writing, on my wall. You are not wasting your time. If I can achieve even a warble of a definition, I’m going to engage everything I have to helping you achieve it.